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- Oct 31, 2011
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Lets have a discussion about integrity, brand marketing, and where the line exists (if at all). Where does "fake it until you make it" cross the line from best intentions to outright deception?
I take 'fake it' as doing the things that matter, even if they don't give out results in the short term. AKA Desert of Desertion.Lets have a discussion about integrity, brand marketing, and where the line exists (if at all). Where does "fake it until you make it" cross the line from best intentions to outright deception?
This may be relevant to 'fail more to get success'.When applied externally, I think fake it until you make it can have disasterous results. In my 9-5 (really 0630-1500) it could mean an incompetent senior engineer signing off on an instruction that leads to a catostrophic failure of a helicopter and the death of tens of marines or sailors. All because some faker’s unfounded confidence moved them up through the ranks until they had a position with technical authority. Fortunately the system is good at preventing those situations.
It's not a white lie.My opinion is that my life, and thus my business, should be founded on integrity. I don’t even like white lies, but I’ll admit I’m not perfect. If I pass someone in the aisle at the cubicle farm and they ask me “How’s it going?”, I’ll usually reply, “Good! How are you?”
Great Post REP+ I agree with this!I have an extreme opinion on this topic. Personally, if I don’t have integrity, I have nothing.
Around the fourth grade I made going to the Air Force Academy my sole focus in life. As I learned more I made it my obligation to live by their cadet honor code, “We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does” This was followed by the Air Force core values of “Integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do.”
I understand I sound like a tool, but these values have served me well.
In regards to the “Fake it ‘til you make it” discussion. I think the value in that truly lies within your own mind. That attitude has some power to make you take action on the things that the little voice in your head tells you that you can’t.
When applied externally, I think fake it until you make it can have disasterous results. In my 9-5 (really 0630-1500) it could mean an incompetent senior engineer signing off on an instruction that leads to a catostrophic failure of a helicopter and the death of tens of marines or sailors. All because some faker’s unfounded confidence moved them up through the ranks until they had a position with technical authority. Fortunately the system is good at preventing those situations.
More realistically, fake it until you make it may be something as trivial as filling out your About Us page with fictitious employees from Mr. Miller’s gym class. I didn’t really care for that portion in the Millionaire Fastlane, but MJ said it started as an inside joke and he questions the ethics of it.
I’m very hard on myself, but I have learned that everyone has different standards. I don’t think any less of MJ because of that example, I just wouldn’t personally want to use an approach like that. I prefer the “radical transparency” that Ray Dalio discusses in “Principles: Life and Work”
My opinion is that my life, and thus my business, should be founded on integrity. I don’t even like white lies, but I’ll admit I’m not perfect. If I pass someone in the aisle at the cubicle farm and they ask me “How’s it going?”, I’ll usually reply, “Good! How are you?”
I’m interested to see where this conversation goes.
I would have rolled the dice. I am a gambler. I would rather risk it all and lose it all then live with "what if"Pretending to be bigger than you are is to me where the phrase comes from. It is also how every single company operates in the beginning.
There normally comes a point, like in @Vigilante 's story where your company has a choice to make..... raise your hand and admit you can't handle it (and potentially lose that customer) or roll the dice (and potentially lose it all).
In our company, we have several spots where we 'got too big, too fast' and ended up losing several clients and several good staff because of it. Now we are very clear with clients when we cannot do something. When we start with a potentially large client, we are very clear on the front end that we do NOT want all their business. Not at first. We want to ramp up so we don't let them down. Most are amicable with that.
Knowing I that had a point in our past where I should have stepped in and said 'no, we are not ready to handle that for you yet' .... @Vigilante if you went back in time, would you have stepped in and stopped the snowball and potentially lost Walmart to save the company or would you still have rolled the dice?
If you value intelligence so much, why does your grammar and punctuation suck so badly?integrity is being loyal to our values
i value intelligence over stupidity
let's say we are sent to prehistoric times . we encounter stupid cave men
what is right here ? being loyal to our intelligence and ignoring the cave men ?
which is integrity
or putting us down to the level of the cave men in order to adapt to the prehstoric society ?
same thing in our society
there are stupid people and smart people
do stupid people deserve to have a better life than smart people ?
this is the core of your thread.
my answer is no
intelligence must win every time over stupidity and do what ever it takes
and i will be loyal to that decision
this is integrity by definition
Dave thank you for sharing this story. Probably not an easy thing to do.I started a company called U.S. Install. It was an idea, wherein we would use subcontractors across the United States to perform consumer electronics installations. My company itself would not own any trucks, any ladders or screwdrivers... we would simply provide overhead absorption to other companies, giving them additional demand for their existing workers. The demand would come from retail partners I could offer the service to who did not need to have their own W2 installation expense... they could simply refer the jobs to us, we would subcontract the jobs out, and then rebate the retailers for a percentage of the installation expenses. For simple math, we would
Install a television.
The consumer might pay $99.
The installer would keep $80.
We'd keep $10.
We'd give $10 to the retailer.
So far, so good. However, the retailers we were interested in were national retailers. We began to assemble a database of installers. Contracts, credentials, insurance... we had just a few people in a few cubicles in Minnesota running the "company." In theory, a job would come in, we would subcontract it, and everyone makes money.
So we started. With Walmart. (you can probably see where this is going before I even get there). We beat out several competitors for a live test with Walmart, under the pretense we would be able to scale this if successful. So far, so good.
We started with Walmart in Kansas City, MO. Single market, a few Sam's Club locations. No big deal. We found an awesome contractor. Everything went smoothly. So smoothly, that 30 days in, we added a second market. Then a third. Then a fourth. Then we added Circuit City's Fire Dog installations in select markets.
We never lied about how we were doing what we were doing (subcontracted labor) but we stretched the truth about what our capabilities were. We figured, as most do, that we would cross that bridge when we came to it.
Then we came to it.
Walmart's appetite increased much faster than I could glue things together. The world's largest retailer was my first customer. Balls of steel, but without really any infrastructure or capability to perform. Overpromised. Undercapable. Some times, it's not that easy to cover a "white lie" which is a cute label we use when we don't want to really get introspective on a real lie. I was definitely over my head. People trusted I was who I said I was. And I was... sort of. But the sort of not was about to let down the world's largest retailer and the people ... the faces... the real people that entrusted me as they stuck their necks out for me with their job credibility resting on the contractor they committed to. I had to find a solution - for them, not for me. Saving face was over. Now it was time to figure out how to finish what I started as much to save all of the people that were involved. Real people, real lives, real jobs. It wasn't a game.
I didn't have several months to get capitalized, or really even several weeks to methodically backfill Walmart markets all across the United States.
In a fire sale, I sold the company right when things were about to get real. I had oversold my capabilities. It cost me the company.
Fast forward to today. It's a decade plus some later, and the company that acquired my operation from the scrap heap still handles some consumer electronics installations at Walmart today. The idea was right, the intention was right, but the execution was horrible and the integrity was questionable.
There probably would have been a better path. This became one of the scars that I wear even today.
I think this a great litmus test.what happens if you were ‘found out’.
Obviously because I told this story for everyone to read, I felt it was OK and didn't cross any lines. (Using "if the truth came out" litmus test above.)More realistically, fake it until you make it may be something as trivial as filling out your About Us page with fictitious employees from Mr. Miller’s gym class. I didn’t really care for that portion in the Millionaire Fastlane, but MJ said it started as an inside joke and he questions the ethics of it.
My knee jerk, moral reaction, is that a lie is a lie. Faking it is a lie directed at misinforming another person. My personal policy is that I don't knowing nor intentionally lie, cheap or steal.Dave thank you for sharing this story. Probably not an easy thing to do.
I think this a great litmus test.
What if you found out your fitness guru who lost "tons of weight" actually lost it because he had liposuction and a stomach staple?
What if you found out your guru who was selling seminars on how to get rich actually had a net worth of only $3000? But in his advertising was claiming, "I'm started 10 companies, got millions of downloads, and travel the world." Both statements are true which is why the guru uses slippery bro-marketing language to conceal the former truth with the latter.
Obviously because I told this story for everyone to read, I felt it was OK and didn't cross any lines. (Using "if the truth came out" litmus test above.)
But yes, I've heard some negative feedback on that portion of TMF and I can understand why. For some, it's over the line because it simply isn't true, inside joke or not. The real question, who is that untruth injuring (or helping?) -- if a potential customer sees a larger company, they might think we are more stable and not going to disappear overnight. If a potential competitor sees a larger company, they might think they're too small to compete. I felt both "conclusions" of someone seeing a larger company were true, hence why I probably justified it. But more than a decade later, I can see why this starts to dabble in the realm of "bro-marketing."
I used to do the same thing, in my mind thinking it's okay I'm married.My side gig is a website that I run alone. I’ve hired some writers in the past, but otherwise it is just me. However, I don’t want the site to be a personal brand. This could be helping or hurting the business. Who knows, but that isn’t the point of this post.
When I write on the site I will often use the word “we” instead of “I”. It is kind of the Royal We. No fake photos of other employees or anything like that.
This is my white lie. This is me “faking it”. It still bugs me when I do it so I avoid it as much as possible. Unfortunately, making the brand a personal brand (I) bugs me so much more.
I feel mostly ok with it because I’m not selling the company to be something huge. I’m not trying to change opinions or fool people into thinking the website is something it isn’t. The about page says that I made it, but even that makes me cringe. I just don’t want to be the face of the site (for better or worse). I’m simply not Pat Flynn or Gary V.
I know this is very small compared to the other examples, but this is my little ethical dilemma I sometimes think about and is in line with the photo example MJ references.
^ Depends on how you define "pretend" but in majority of cases there's a name for it and it's called "marketing".Pretending to be bigger than you are is to me where the phrase comes from. It is also how every single company operates in the beginning.
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