It’s not that hard to fool people

Some companies are not real companies.

For a variety of reasons.

Maybe the company is a total scam and has legitimately shady business practices. Maybe the company is operating with no profit because it’s just a play toy for some trust fund kids. Maybe the company is just a creepy guy who owns a truck and sends random people to your home.

Maybe the company doesn’t sell anything, but has millions of dollars from investors and has to placate the board. Maybe the company is merely a front for funding a family’s expenses. Maybe the company is a bunch of minimum wage workers running around controlled by the top brass behind the curtains.

Reminds me of my first agency job, which felt like it wasn’t a real company. About a year into my stint there, it occurred to me that we didn’t have actual clients, we just came up with innovative ideas and pitched them to large organizations who never actually paid us for real work.

We once spent six months doing a market research and rebranding project for a huge skincare company. They paid us hundreds of thousands of dollars, and never even implemented a single goddamn thing we did. It was maddening.

And yet, it kept our agency in business, preserving the illusion that we were a legit shop doing meaningful work in the world. My whole experience could be summarized with perhaps my favorite song lyric of all time.

It was just true enough not to be a lie.

Because we weren’t not a company. There was an office, employees, a whiteboard and even a dog. That counts for something, right?

Maybe it’s just a reminder of how much some people can get away with in this life.

Myself included. It’s actually not that hard to fool people. And in fact, there is value in the process of doing so.

Rand, the great magician and investigator of psychic and miraculous claims, did a whole documentary about this. He said magicians are professional fakes. They are honest liars who are deceiving us. But it’s okay to fool people, as long as you’re doing it to teach them a lesson which will better their knowledge of how the real world works.

Reality is a funny thing, isn’t it?

It’s not about deceiving people, it’s about distracting them. It’s not about duping the audience, it’s about misdirecting them. It’s not about dishonesty, it’s about capturing people’s imagination through selective perception. It’s not about sneaking up on people, it’s about transforming them through the power of the unexpected. It’s not about manipulating people, it’s about wielding power through the advantage of being underestimated.

And the best part is, people want to be fooled. They loved being fooled. They can’t wait to be fooled.

Sure beats the truth. 

What are you grateful that you’re getting away with?


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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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