“Act as if!”
“Say yes and then figure it out!”
“Fake it until you make it!”
There’s another name for “faking it until you make it” – it’s called lying.
Look, here’s the thing, I get the Richard Branson quote “If someone offers you an opportunity say yes and then figure out how to do it”, but there’s a built in proviso there … you have to be able to figure out how to do it.
In typical Branson fashion, he expects that the people he’s advising will take that opportunity and apply his own level of hustle and demand for excellence to it.
He doesn’t mean figure out a way to take the money.
He means figure out a way to deliver.
If you’re not the kind of person who can do that; if you’re going to return a product that’s mediocre, or worse, do not say yes. Do not take the ‘opportunity’, because in the long term, you’ll do more harm than good.
We live in a day and age of under-delivery. Every other person on the internet is claiming they make a million dollars and you can too!
Let’s put aside for a moment that the numbers show us that less than 2% of women-lead businesses ever break the 7 figures a year barrier, and ask ourselves …
Why wouldn’t they claim that?
It’s a lie – but it’s a lie everyone else is telling too.
And there appear to be zero consequences – only upside! – to telling it.
I Am Complicit
I didn’t mean to be. It was never my intention to spread this cancer.
But, like most people, when I started my business, I took the clients that were available to me.
In my defence, I start from an assumption that everyone has value to add – why would you be in business otherwise?
To my eternal damnation, there are plenty of people I’ve worked with and helped who I knew weren’t adding value. But they’d already bought. They were clients. And I felt like it was my duty of care to deliver, regardless.
These days, I deal with that by having firm rules about who I will and won’t accept as a client. No broke life coaches. No ‘business coaches’ who’ve never run a business. No pick up artists, dating coaches, or whatever other fancy name you want to give the hypno-rape crew.
I look at some of the people that I’ve put into the marketplace, and I’m ashamed. They’ve taken my content and distorted it into something dark and something I wholly disagree with.
They’ve taken something I intended to help people, twisted it, and turned it into weapons to hurt people.
And most depressingly?
They’re making money doing it.
Some of them are making more money than me.
Because at the end of the day, we can’t forget this:
For every douchebag on stage selling “Do no work and money will rain from the sky!” – there are thousands of douchebags buying it.
Don’t get me wrong, the douchebag on stage is bad; this isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card. But the douchebags buying are equally as rotten.
The whole system is a damn mess.
But we’re all responsible for that – those on and off stage.
Every time you catch yourself thinking,
“There must be an easier way!”
You’re playing into everything the industry counts on to make money.
The industry counts on your fear.
The industry counts on your exhaustion.
The industry counts on your avoidance of growth.
The industry counts on your ‘just wanting to be happy’.
When you’re brave enough to accept that it isn’t easy; that in fact, this will be the hardest thing you could possibly do (which is why so few people do it) – then you starve the evil forces within the industry of oxygen.
How You’re Being Manipulated
We know the numbers.
So, how is it possible that all of these balloon wielding, fake-box leaning, beach-laptop-using middle-aged pin ups are “making seven figures!”?
Short answer: they’re not.
There are a few ways in which people justify saying they’ve got a “seven figure business”:
- Seven Figures in Sales: this is actually the least offensive one. It’s still inaccurate – but at least it’s based on real numbers. This is calculated by looking at the average lifetime value of a client, instead of cash. Of course, the fall down in this is that lifetime value is an average amount of cash over a number of years.
- Seven Figure Business: this seems to be the most popular one right now. If you’ve made $100,000 a year for 10 years, they say, you’ve got a seven figure business. In which case I’ve got a $10Million business. Except I don’t. Because that’s just not honest.
- Seven Figures On A Piece of Paper: having a plan to make a million dollars is exactly the same as making a million dollars!! FAKE IT UNTIL YOU MAKE IT!!
- Mythical Seven Figures: a.k.a they’re straight up lying because everyone else is saying seven figures and how are they going to get clients and make money if they don’t do the same.
We make jokes about people taking photos in front of Maseratis they don’t own, but that’s an actual thing. Some of the more obnoxious internet marketers in the US have started declaring on their websites that their fancy cars are leased because of the number of complaints from the public and FTC investigations.
It doesn’t take a lot of money (especially in the US!) to lease a fancy car and rent a house in the seven Hollywood Hills. You could easily do that on under $500k a year, depending on how you structured your priorities.
I was asked a couple of years ago to be on a podcast about ‘millionaires’. I turned it down by saying that I’m not a millionaire – because making a million dollars in your business is very different to keeping a million dollars. And my definition of millionaire is someone who could write me a cheque today for a million dollars.
The host responded with
“That’s an interesting definition”.
When I looked at the podcast later, and saw the guests they’d had on, I understood the host’s snark. Lots of people, when asked to declare themselves millionaires, will find a way to say yes, no matter how creative they need to be to justify it.
BUT LEELA: AUTHORITY!!! POSITIONING!!!!
Look, here’s the thing about ‘fudging’ the facts for authority and positioning.
Already, after readying that set of dot points, aren’t you feeling like when you see “seven figures” in the future, you probably won’t trust it? That it doesn’t really mean anything?
Because when enough people manipulate and lie about a thing, that thing stops having any weight to it – any credence.
When you game a system, and everyone learns that the system has been gamed, you destroy the very thing you’re trying to build – not only for yourself, but for everyone else.
Case in Point: the whole ‘bestseller’ thing.
“I’m an Amazon bestseller!”
Sure, my freaking cat is an amazon bestseller – because she, too, can find a ridiculously small category, then, she can make her book free (or 99cents!) and have everyone she knows download it at 2am so that she rises to the top of that category.
WHAT’S THE POINT?
Everyone knows that’s the game you’re playing. So when you put “Amazon bestseller” in your bio, all that tells us is that you’re someone who is more interested in titles and shortcuts than you are in truly honing your craft.
I still consider The New York Times one of the few ‘real’ bestseller lists – but that said, it’s slowly losing that status for the exact same reason. People buying their way on for ‘authority’, while simultaneously destroying that authority, piece by piece, for the people following them.
It’s the moral equivalent of burning down your house because you’ve already lived there, so who cares about the next person?
Or of destroying the planet, because you’re not going to be alive to worry about the consequences.
You got yours.
Fuck everyone else.