My colleague Dave Dee, Marketing Director at GKIC, had an argument with a guy the other day.
They were debating the “Leapfrog Principle.” Leapfrog is Dan Kennedy’s teaching that you don’t just obediently climb the ladder of your industry. That takes 40 years. According to those rules, you don’t get to actually become a leader until you have a colostomy bag strapped to your leg.
No, you appoint yourself expert, skip the bureaucracy, and advance to prominence as fast as humanly possible. You assume leadership and LEAP to the top.
This guy he was arguing with had taken this to mean you can just CLAIM to have million-dollar success stories under your belt, you can claim to be a world class expert, and you just start advising people about situations where you have no hard experience.
This guy’s website claimed he’d done all kinds of million-dollar deals when in fact he’d done zero.
NO NO NO!
Dave Dee fiercely argued this is brazenly unethical.
What the Leapfrog Principle originally meant was that once you HAVE the chops, once you can DELIVER the goods, you don’t seek permission from the Good Ol’ Boys Club and “pay your dues” for a couple more decades. You start doing and proving right away.
Unfortunately, the world is FULL of would-be and could-be experts who plaster “case studies” and “testimonials” all over their website which are actually fiction. The blind lead the gullible and, as a wise Jewish rabbi once said, they both fall into a ditch.
This is EPIDEMIC. Even more so in Social Media, where….
-People live in a touchy-feely gooey reactionary emotional haze, where actual facts are merely troublesome, conversation-stopping buckets of ice water
-Most people don’t have the patience to do a single Google search or fact check before spending money, opining, or trashing somebody’s reputation… let alone dig through Page 2 or Page 3…. let alone seek out original sources.
Fake testimonials are rampant.
Fake case studies are rampant.
Fake “New York Times Bestsellers” are rampant.
Especially in the business space.
There’s a list of companies you can call, where you’ll spend about $250,000 to guarantee 11,000 books per week for a couple of weeks (which is the threshold). They buy your books through the book distribution system. All the right switches get triggered, and presto, you’ve got the New York Times next to your name for the rest of your life.
Some people who do this do actually have customers for all those books, and they are real bestselling authors.
Sometimes all those books just get shipped to some warehouse somewhere. That author is now a “fake” bestselling author.
(HINT: The way you tell if someone bought their way to the top of the NY Times Bestseller list is, there’s 150 books for sale on Amazon for 1 cent.)
If your speaking fee was $5,000 before, now it’s $15,000. So 20 speaking gigs later, you’ve paid for the whole shebang.
I once heard a guy who runs one of these companies give a speech to a roomful of authors about “Authenticity.”
Now, what’s the problem with this?
I’ll tell you what the problem is.
Let’s start with the entrepreneur space, our own tribes of copywriters and people who start brand new businesses. People like YOU and ME who speak the language of sales and marketing. What’s the problem with you and me accepting this?
WE are the folks startups come to when they need to get customers. WE are the place where people who spent their life savings starting a coffee shop or publishing biz or consulting firm or software company, come to get advice.
Everybody comes through our space. In 2010, a couple named Nigel and Lesley Eccles took a train from Scotland to my workshop in London. They ran this tiny little company that hosted Fantasy Football.
Nigel had to explain to me what Fantasy Football was, because I’m a cretin when it comes to sports.
After he explained it to me, I explained to him why his customers buy and how to get inside their heads.
His little company was called Fanduel. It’s the billion-dollar sports company that you now see on EVERY TV screen during every commercial break in every sports bar.
I can assure you, in 2010 Nigel was just like you: Terrified, desperate, only one chance to make this work, and the clock is ticking. I had lunch with him and Lesley in a cafeteria across the street from the hotel. I got the impression they’d spent every last penny to be there. And there was no guarantee Nigel was going to succeed. He was living by his wits and the best advice he could find.
Entrepreneurs have spouses and families and reputations on the line.
If they succeed, they build entire ecosystems. Birds nest in their branches. Just imagine how many industries Bill Gates created because he got Microsoft off the ground. How many software companies, hardware companies, retailers?
The PC made the internet possible. How many industries did the internet spawn?
When an entrepreneur wins, it’s a victory for everybody.
When an entrepreneur loses, it’s a LOSS for everybody. Dreams die. Possibilities die. Futures die.
Everything in the world hinges on entrepreneurs. Without entrepreneurs, there are no jobs.
There are no industries.
There are no schools.
There are no churches.
There are no hospitals.
There are no farms or stores or food supplies.
And there are no big corporations. Because all big corporations started out with an entrepreneur and a vision running a small company.
The future of the world hangs in the balance, based on what we teach the new entrepreneurs. We have a moral and social obligation to do the very best job we can.
And NOBODY has the right to dispense thin advice when they have no track record or direct knowledge. Nobody has the right to kill an entrepreneur’s future by feeding their own greed.
So if you’re a fake expert dispensing fake advice, collecting money because of your fake bestselling book or your fake credentials or fake testimonials, then I don’t care whether you believe in Hell, Karma, or Natural Selection, it’s gonna catch up with you sooner or later.
But not before it catches up to some innocent trusting person who entrusted their dreams and their future to YOU.
Dude, you better be able to deliver the goods.
The entrepreneur space has an obligation to be ethical and tell the truth. Because IF MARKETERS DON’T TELL THE TRUTH, IF ENTREPRENEURS DON’T TELL THE TRUTH, then nobody tells the truth and the whole economy crashes sooner or later.
If you don’t believe me, go spend a week doing deals in Moscow or Kiev.
ONE LAST THING:
Let’s call it “The false confidence of the truth-teller” and “The insecurity of the liar.”
Truth-tellers almost epidemically believe that the goodness and truthfulness of their product or message will magnetically attract customers. (Especially when celebrated with a positive mental attitude and “pure” thoughts.)
Truth-tellers believe good guys naturally win, and virtue conspires to make you successful.
This is not true.
This is especially not true because liars KNOW they have an inherent disadvantage. Liars know they have to hustle to stay ahead of the karma curve. So liars work HARDER to broadcast their message than good guys, who are often a tad self-righteous about the superiority of their goods.
I for one am guilty of resting on my laurels at times because I know “my stuff is actually better”. So if you’re one of the good guys, you need to set your ego aside and hustle twice as hard to get your message out.
Goodness is usually a liability at the very beginning. Why? Because a lie can travel around the world twice before the truth has time to put its shoes on. Your goodness and virtue WILL catch on sooner or later… but notice I said sooner or later.
Be very wise. Be careful who you listen to. And if you’re one of the good guys… step up your game. NOW.
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