Distinguishing real from fake companies

Distinguishing real from fake companies

Albeit at first sight many companies seem legit business, they’re in fact not. 

In order not to get scammed by purchasing what they do, or wasting time unsuccessfully trying to be hired by them, here’s a quick guide about it.


With “company”, within the modern entrepreneurial context, we mean a free market business venture: a team of people who make a living from helping other people – be it so through providing a service (e.g. Plumbing, dentistry), or selling goods (that includes experiences – for instance: a concert!). In other words: they provide their clientele with clear value for what they paid for.

Within this scenario, the economical landscape is self regulating. Meaning that the individuals themselves give equilibrium to this system – practically speaking: companies that don’t help go out of business, because people don’t pay to them – whereas companies who do help thrive, because people find what these companies do necessary (and pay for it).

Tangible proof that there’s lots of fake companies


Inflation happens when you have to inject printed money (literally: fake money – because it doesn’t reflect a tangible help provided to society) into companies that can’t make a living on their own.

(“But companies need to stay afloat to keep workers’ wages! It is real help!” this one makes as much sense as a plumber who can’t fix your sink but still wants your money: if you can’t provide help to society, you need to learn how to do it – not to handouts)

Here’s a fun website to understand how bad is it: https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/monetary-policy/inflation/inflation-calculator 


Test 1: recruitment

When real companies recruit

  • they do so meritocratically: they hire the best skills – not the best politicians.
    • “Politicians” meaning someone good with words but bad at work – or, in other words: con artists. I don’t need to explain why hiring con artists is bad.
  • they have a clear idea of what they’re looking for
    • They are FAST: if you know what you need, you just go get it.
    • They’re honest: “yes” or “no”.
    • They’re easy to deal with: if you know what you need, it’s just a matter of checking things out – just like doing groceries: you know the recipe? Then, it’ll be easy to list the ingredients.
  • averagely speaking, they do so very often! Both because there’s plenty of problems to solve around the world, meaning lots of work to do, and because it’s incredibly hard to find effective professionals within modern society.

Test 2: proactivity

Real companies are very proactive. Meaning that, in general, their answers are

  • Prompt (hours – days, at most)
  • Clear
  • Decisive (you can do things according to them)

Don’t be tricked by the “I’m busy

Being so busy that you can’t handle your business properly is not good nor normal. It is somewhat acceptable during times of transition – but, as the name suggests: transition. It shouldn’t be the norm. So, if someone is constantly busy, they either can’t manage their company or they’re giving an excuse not to work – both cases: very likely, not a real company. Because when you’re actually out there for work, you learn how to run your business (even just out of sheer hours spent on it) – and you’re on the lookout for new opportunities.

Test 3: attitude

Someone actually interested in doing work isn’t too worried about formalities or “power”: they’re just there to do work. If instead you feel like visiting the court of some despotic tyrant …you very much probably are: human interaction is very, very easy. Even dogs get it (you did notice dogs get along well with people, right?). So, if you see difficulties in establishing a good communication line (as in: one in which communication doesn’t get in the way of accomplishing things), one of the parties is almost inevitably arbitrarily hijacking the system. For instance: to create a power dynamic – or, in plain english: “playing hard to get”. Because they know your brain has a bias that gives value to what is hard to get. Basically: conning you into believing they’re more important than they actually are.

Test 4: awards and credentials

Awards and credentials are status symbols: they’re “surrogates of value”. So, very simply put: why bother with surrogates when you can have the real thing? If you actually are offering something, just show the damn thing. Don’t give me gold painted plastic souvenirs: show me the product and let me evaluate with my own eyes. Same for skills: you’re really that good at something? Show me what you made so far. Show me how you can solve a problem on the spot. Show me how you can ask relevant questions.

If instead you get lost in trophies and titles… That’s probably all you have: a smoke screen. Behind which to hide a big nothing.


Unfortunately, they’re all about damage control. If someone gets to adult age (which, for the record, is 18 years old) without the mindset to be a proactive member of society, they very likely never will have one.

So, more or less, you’re left with 2 options:

  • Avoid fake companies, and look for the real ones.
      1. People are extremely unidimensional: don’t expect them to be sloppy in one field and, suddenly, extremely professional in another one. So, if you see trash from the get go – that’s all you’re gonna get. So as to say: don’t try to fix broken companies. If they are, it means they like it.
  • If 1 doesn’t work: create your own company. 

I know it can be tough, especially in a society that encourages you to live your life as a spectator, to think about creating a company – but, if there isn’t someone who can help, that’s all you’re left with.
Good news is: the fact there isn’t another left is great for competition – because it means you won’t have much…! And society still needs to go forward – meaning there still is a request for what you do.

An interesting question for another time: how is it that these fake companies live, then?

Which is a question that, if you’ll investigate, will bring you on one of the most “exciting” (euphemism for disturbing) journeys of your professional life. 

But, nonetheless: they don’t live a good life. Sooner or later, they fall – and, depending how bad it was, you might find their management in jail.

Quick explanation of NFT craze

Quick explanation of NFT craze


You surely heard (or, better: you surely have been bombarded) about the NFT and how everyone is flocking to it like hungry Piranhas. And, since nobody seems to have bothered to write a true explanation about what is it about, there it is now.

What is the NFT

An NFT is basically an extremely swift and reliable way to identify a single file in a univoque way. Making it a lot easier to say “This specific file belongs to me”.
In technical terms: it works as a blockchain one end product watermark.

What’s all the fuss about, then?

A very famous visual artist called “Beeple” sold one for 69 Million $ (I give it a 85% chance the number was a sexual pun). The NFT was a postmodernist image. So, people said:
Hey, he’s made a ton of money with almost zero effort: I want to get rich too!”. And jumped en masse on the NFT craze. 

In a fewer words:

The NFT craze started because people think of it as a “get rich quick” scheme: tons of money made with little to zero effort.

In a bit more words:

“Tons of money made with little to zero effort” is the street term for speculation: doing money over nothing – instead of the intended purpose of money. Which is: to facilitate an exchange of work. Where “work” is intended “something that brings value to people” (even pets understand what “value to people” means. Which is why they bring you gifts and respect you. So: don’t try to pull any clever postmodernist “depends on what you mean by value” move – ed.)

Speculation is the subversion of what money was intended for. And it’s “subversion” exactly because it brings negative consequences

What happens with speculation

The first thing that happens is inflation: money loses meaning and, therefore, value. What you could buy with 10€ now you have to spend 15€, because inflation devalued money.

The other consequence is “economic bubbles bursts”: huge amounts of money are poured in into something, until everyone realizes it doesn’t make any sense. And the “bubble bursts”. 

Here’s some really good recent ones:

Here’s a simple scheme to show the various phases of an economic bubble:

If you’re smart, you might easily be able to pinpoint our current position in it, for the NFT craze.

Why are people attracted to speculation

  1. Some people are exploitative: they want to have without working for it. Here’s a very good article about it: Life in the Fast Lane, Part II: Developing a Fast Life History Strategy 
  2. Some people are just clueless about how society works (a mix of how society does its best to misguide people into not understanding how, and how some people are too naive to disentangle those dynamics by themselves), and don’t know how to make money from their profession. So, they might get attracted to “get rich quick” schemes.

What’s the alternative to speculation

It’s normal free market dynamics: I work for you, you pay me. A kid as young as 3 years old can figure this out: if you think “what’s fair”, there’s no need for explanation.

The reasons because audience tests do not work

Any time you see “test audiences revealed that…” there’s more than a 95% of chances it’s going to be useless – here’s the main and the two secondary reasons. And then, obviously, also a solution.

The main reason: Hawthorne effect

The Hawthorne effect is a voluntary psychological bias (people are aware and willing to do it) that kicks in whenever a subject is aware of being tested.

The two possible outcomes are:

  1. The subject, afraid to look bad during the test, will modify his answers to align with trendy opinions rather than what he genuinely thinks (conformity). Important: people, outside exceptions, are terrified of looking bad. Especially if strangers, and of a somewhat high status (e.g. Advertising professionals).
  2. The subject, knowing that his test is going to influence someone else, will alter his answers to skew the final judgement towards his favorite conclusion – rather than saying what he genuinely thinks about the topic.

The 1st secondary reason: tunnel vision

The more we think about something, the more we get acclimatized to what we’re analyzing – including errors and biases. Or, as they call it: job conditioning. This means that: there’s a very limited window within which answers are going to be reliable.

This is the very same mechanism for which, many times, the work we’ve done the day before doesn’t look that great anymore the day after: the day before, we might have worked so much that we stopped noticing errors. The day after, instead, after being well rested, everything popped up. Within the music production industry, is called “ear fatigue”: the more you mix something, the less you notice errors – and so, you have to be very careful about being quick and taking rests.


Given those problems, here’s 2 quick workarounds and a not so quick one:

Quick ones

Create test in which the audience is not aware they’re being tested

Do not create tests who require an excessive amount of effort

Here’s a quick example: want an honest opinion about a trailer? Air your trailer in a TV shop, and observe carefully how the clientele reacts to it. And, afterwards, have your analysts blend into the clientele and ask about the trailer in a dismissive way (e.g. Hey that’s a great TV! What do you think about it? I wanted one for my boy, as graduation gift… [gets answer] Oh, by the way: what the heck was that trailer?!?!?)

Not so quick one

And not only “not so quick”: it’s also going to be very 1984ish.

Outside exceptions, the emotional processing unit of our brain is largely outside our control – in detail: the limbic system (“reptilian brain”) interprets emotional responses to what the neocortex understood (gray matter). Which means that, unless the test audience is ex KGB agents or Oscar winning performers, their immediate emotional physiological reaction during the screening is very likely to be genuine. Hence: hook them up to a polygraph and an EEG, and evaluate what data says.

Here’s a practical example:

A hates B > A is shown X, a great work done by B > A is amazed by X’s quality, and his physiological parameters are altered by that (e.g. Heart-beat goes up, “goose bumps”… You know the drill) > A remembers that X has been done by B, focuses, and ignores his feelings so to normalize the cognitive dissonance* > When A is asked what he thinks about X, he’s going to answer “It sucks!“, because he doesn’t want to miss an opportunity to get back at B. Even though, in truth, X was great.

*cognitive dissonance is when we’re harmed by having conflicting thoughts (e.g. “I’d like to be A, but I’m B instead”). It is solved by either taking action (assertiveness/competence), or pulling out excuses with which sweep the problem under the rug (weakness/incompetence).


These solutions have a “problem”: tests made like so, are likely to give truthful outcomes. And …do people really want them? Many times, tests have huge conflicts of interests: they’re purposely skewed so to find the conclusion the testers wanted. Reliable tests, instead, might say the exact opposite of what were you thinking – because that’s how science works: scientific research is discovery. And you might discover things you haven’t imagined – or liked. It’s a bit like reading a book: you might have an idea of what’s going to happen in the next pages, but you’ll never know until you read – and you might not like what you’re going to find out.

And this, by the way, is the third problem: many times, testers are biased and not willing to be honest about using and reporting test audiences.

Perplexities about the BIG5 system, and alternative to it

The BIG5 is amongst the best personality analysis tests, but it still doesn’t make much sense

Don’t even try to name the Myers & Briggs test: that is not a test – and I’ll write, sooner or later, another article about it. Explaining the farce that it is.

The BIG5 seems to have quite strong limitations in its analysis capacities due to the very narrow view of human decision making it seems to have – probably on purpose? Because, once studying human nature that closely, it’s hard not to notice these features don’t align with how people behave. 

Let’s have some examples:

The problem with “conscientiousness”

The usual example of “low conscientiousness” is the “young men who waste their time playing video games in their parents’ basement” archetype – and nobody wouldn’t agree about how that is not a showcase of conscientious behaviour

…if we are thinking through the lenses of business development for a free market economy standpoint (as in: developing a useful product to be then marketed to the population). Because, if we think about conscientiousness itself, as in “ability to stick to a task until completed”, modern video games offer challenges who require an incredible amount of conscientiousness: the infamous “video game grind” ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grinding_(video_games) ). Which, long story short: is a video game dynamic specifically engineered to require people to waste hundreds of hours doing incredibly repetitive tasks, with the promise of a “reward” (e.g. A more powerful video game weapon). 

And what’s more conscientious, than using hundreds of hours on the very same repetitive task until completion?

So, we can’t say these people aren’t conscientious: there’s something else going on. Other reasons for which they decide not to “be productive”.

The problem with “agreeableness”

The usual example of “agreeableness” is those people who get along with everybody, and are universally appreciated. 

But, here’s the problem: you know someone who was really famous for his ability to be liked by people? Ted Bundy ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Bundy ). And, in general: psychopaths are very well known for being liked (e.g.  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0191886913012245 ). Even though they are absolutely not “agreeable” people: they’re the social equivalent of cancer. Their only purpose is destruction.

So, clearly: we can’t say these people are agreeable. There’s something else going on.

The problem with “openness”

“Openness”, in the BIG5 system, is the ability to be open to new ideas – to be creative. So, the usual example of “openness” is those people always curious about theories. Including extravagant ones. For instance: the ‘60s hippies are considered extremely high in openness. Due to their “anticonformism”.

But, here’s the problem: try to speak to those hippies about free market economy. Try to speak to them about the importance for society of building a stable family, and the dangers of drugs on mental health. 

So, clearly: we can’t say these people are open – the opposite: they’re radicalized. They don’t really think: they have a readymade list of reactions to be applied to the world. They’re “hammers looking for nails”. 

There’s something else going on.

I could go on, but you can get the gist by now

The BIG5 system seems to focus on the circumstance rather than the intrinsic personality. Hence failing at its very purpose: to understand human personality – to understand the person behind the actions.

The solution

So far, I think there’s only one factor that matters: what I colloquially refer to as the “social attitude spectrum”.

Let’s get back to the “disenfranchised young man refusing to participate in society” example made in the “Problem with conscientiousness” part: they don’t want to spend considerable time with activities that would improve their career or their society, and prefer to waste countless hours on video games. And, here’s some very interesting deeper insights about a part (this is really important: it’s not all of them – and I might write about the “other good part” because it’s a completely different matter) of them: 

  1. They’re nearly always very critic of their social context and personal situation (e.g. Work sucks/I’m unemployed, Society is unfair, The economy is stuck, etc…)
  2. If you try to help them by providing professional advice (e.g. Let me give you a hand write a better curriculum, Let’s sit down a moment and think about your career choices…), they refuse your help and proceed to attack you (e.g. Do you think I’m so stupid I can’t look for a job?It’s not me: it’s the economy There’s no jobsDo you think you’re smarter than me? – or even just flatout temper tantrums devoid of rational components)
  3. They are extremely hostile towards in game participants

    1. They refuse collaboration with teammates, trying to solo everything and “be the hero”
    2. They show zero mercy or respect for opponents – for instance, doing the infamous “tbagging” (https://www.giantbomb.com/tea-bagging/3015-142/)
    3. They’re extremely resentful of whoever bests them, relentlessly accusing them of cheating or other unfair practices – everything to admit they’ve been simply bested by someone else
  4. They are very interested in gaining fame through “get rich quick” schemes – for instance: by trying to become a YouTuber or a Twitch streamer, or through participating in trading and other high risk endeavours.
    1. Both being a YouTuber and trading can be taken seriously – but these people don’t want to: they want to just “push through” without planning. And “just make it happen”.

Stacked all these points together like this, the frame is pretty clear: antisocial behaviour.

  • Refusal to have decent manners with sports opponents. 
  • Refusal to collaborate with your teammates
  • Refusal to take responsibilities for your actions
  • Crave for fame

It’s not that they can’t be conscientious: they just refuse to use their conscientiousness in a prosocial way (e.g. Building a career that would make them useful for other people).

They perfectly know what would be the right thing to do, and use that knowledge to avoid doing it. They exhibit antisocial behaviour.

A graphic representation of the “social attitude spectrum”

As always: it’s a spectrum. People are not “completely evil” or “completely good”: there’s also the in betweens.

Interpreting decision making processes through this optic

I’ll go for some examples, to make it quicker (bear in mind: this, explained in detail, would be a HEAVY book):

Career building

  • Prosocial behaviour
    • I have to choose a career who will make me financially independent, capable of building a happy family, and who’ll provide something good for society
  • Asocial behaviour
    • We’ll see
  • Antisocial behaviour
    • I have to make sure nobody is better than me, because that’d make things harder”

Meeting somebody

  • Prosocial behaviour
    • I want to understand who am I meeting, and I’ll start by offering them a welcome to show them I want a good outcome
  • Asocial behaviour
    • We’ll see
  • Antisocial behaviour
    • I have to understand if he’s got resources that could be useful to me, but I have to make sure he won’t get any help if I acquire them”

Sports training

  • Prosocial behaviour
    • I need sports to stay healthy throughout my lifetime, and I enjoy it both due to know I’m doing something right and the intrinsic fun of it
  • Asocial behaviour
    • We’ll see
  • Antisocial behaviour
    • Hard work sucks: where can I get anabolics? I want a status, not hard work”

I could go on with examples, but I’m sure you get what I mean.


I find somewhat ironic how modern academics went to great lengths to concoct a very complex system such as the BIG5 (the research who backed its making was quite ingenious and complex), whereas, instead, a way more efficient system was, basically, what our ancestors used since the dawn of time: distinguishing between good and evil people – and, do notice: it’s not by chance. Our ancestors had to deal with much bigger problems than ours – from hostile animals to illness and strife. They had to work together, slowly building a better environment where to live easily and peacefully – the one we’re in right now.

Difference between arts and propaganda

Difference between arts and propaganda

I somewhat often end up having to explain what’s the difference between arts and propaganda, and it’s not really a fast answer – so, behold…! An article about it!!


  • Art
    The purpose of art is to be beautiful. To give joy and fulfilment to its audience – catharsis, as they call it.
  • Propaganda
    The purpose of propaganda is to convince its audience to do something – usually, to advantage its maker or his group.

Emotional response

  • Art
    As already said, art gives positive feelings – joy and fulfilment being the most typical.
  • Propaganda
    Mostly, propaganda focuses on negative feelings – because pain/desperation is a great way to push people to do something: “This is wrong/you’re in danger: you have to act”. 

Creative process

  • Art
    Art comes from our subconscious. Hence, we can’t really predict how it’s gonna be: it’s a discovery process for the artist himself. His conscious role is limited to, more or less, steering his inspiration correctly (e.g. Sleeping well, framing the briefing in the right way, making sure there’s enough budget…) and then learning how to concretize his inspiration (e.g. If you’re a musician: learning how to play an instrument well enough to perform the ideas you have).
  • Propaganda
    Propaganda is made for purpose: there is no space for improvisation or inspiration. There’s many selling points decided beforehand, and the product is just a delivery system – a bit like a virus carried out by a body. 


How can they be described?

  • Art
    Something that describes its beauty: beautiful, evocative, refined, majestic, timeless…
  • Propaganda
    Something that describes its ability to change people’s thoughts: thought provoking, provocative, scathing, abrasive… 

Economical feasibility

  • Art
    Art, being beautiful, sells a lot: people like it and want to have it.
  • Propaganda
    Propaganda doesn’t sell: it’s unharmonious and, sometimes, flatout ugly – and that’s exactly the point: if people would feel ok with themselves and have a great day, how likely it is that they’ll “Take action to start a revolution”?
    Hence: the point of propaganda is not to be consumed (as in: bought by an audience, for enjoyment), but to introduce certain political messages within the market. 

Workplace dynamics

What’s it like to work in a place who makes these products?

  • Art
    An arts production studio is a highly meritocratic place, where artists try to create the very best they can: it’s a very engaging experience, and everyone tries to help each other.

The first rule for a propaganda making machine is: conformity. Everyone has to think the very same ideas – and everyone who doesn’t is an enemy. This obviously quickly escalates in a somewhat totalitarian experience where “power” is all that matters. Slowly grinding people’s psyche to a fine dust – and having all those “mental health issues” you see so often talking about (this is one of the very best ways to get there).

Credentialism – or: how to destroy economies through useless titles

Credentialism is, probably, society’s biggest problem – yet, nobody talks about it.  Most probably, because a lot of people are taking advantage of them. What is it? As you’ve surely experienced plenty during your professional life, titles oftentimes mean nothing.  By “titles” I mean every label that can be used to confer prestige to something/somebody […]

How to pick the wrong music for soundtracks: choose by the lyrics.

A very common trend in many recent soundtracks: to choose its music tracks according to song lyrics – which, by axiom, requires the use of songs. That, unbeknownst to many, are not the only musical form (interesting, isn’t it? Because “song” is commonly used, since more or less a century ago, as standard definition for music piece. A topic probably worth another post).

One example, amongst the many (that I’ll keep anonymous, out of bon ton – albeit series aficionados might be able to spot it): I’ve recently watched a TV series with an episode containing a very important scene with the death of a woman, whose soundtrack was the well known song “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone” – even though (and this is the main problem), emotionally speaking, it didn’t connect with the scene. At all. Because, here’s the problem: lyrics are not music. Lyrics are words – another, completely autonomous, reality. So autonomous that you can make art just out of lyrics: it’s called poetry.

Music has an emotional content on its own, indipendent from lyrics.

Lyrics might have words matching the context shown. But music, the actual sounds that compose it, are not granted to do the same.

This is the very same reason because you don’t have to learn to listen to music: you just do it. You can listen to music never heard before, with instruments you’ve never seen, and done by people you’ve never met, and like it – something that, for those who want to, happens on a daily basis. Same cannot be said of lyrics: you have to know the language and sociological context. Share grammar, syntax, glossary, culture… There has to be lot of shared common grounds, so to make verbal communication possible. Because, again: language is abstract symbols, that receive meaning only when you share enough cultural context to understand what they refer to. Music is not: music is an experience – like watching a sunset or the smell of freshly baked bread. You don’t need somebody to explain what it is: you just feel it.

The problem is rooted in how those who choose the music in these occasions don’t have music knowledge – and by “music knowledge” I don’t mean being updated about who’s at the top of the latest Spotify chart or trending on Google searches: I mean, given paper, pen and piano, being able to write a symphony. Or a Hard Rock piece, or a Reggae one – able to make music.

Google at the resque.

So, in the moment they were given the task to choose which music to have, they were disarmed: where to look for? Because, to pick something from a colossal topic such as music, to make an informed choice, you have to understand how it works. A bit like when your car suddenly stops, you open the hood, and all you see is a grovel of mechanical things: chaos. You have no idea what’s what, and how to figure out a solution – whereas, when your car repairer does that, he knows what he is looking at. And how to make sense of it, and fix it – he knows how to make order out of chaos (a treat for all of you Jungians out there).

So, back again to music: should I use violins? Maybe better plucked strings – a guitar? Maybe an electric one? How many strings…6? 7? 8? What tuning? Or maybe better synthesizers – analog? Analog modular? Digital? Digitally stabilized analog? Maybe virtual? …virtual analog, or software ROMplers (can we truly call them synthesizers, by the way?)? And so forth – and I could go on for a very long time, with all the infinite possibilities. A very simple task for someone who understands orchestration, composition, instrumental practice and all that makes music – but for someone who doesn’t? Hieroglyphics. Uncharted territory.

So, how to hack it? Simple: lyrics.

This project is an epic movie with medieval-like imagery mixed with futuristic science fiction, with strong references to Norse mythology

Ah, simple: let’s Google what songs have lyrics about Norse mythology – there it is! Led Zeppelin!

Even though: does Led Zeppelin’s music style matches well with epicness, futuristic science fiction or medieval imagery…? Not at all. (This is another example, by the way)

This also opens to another very interesting topic: why are not musicians chiming in to help? It’s not that the world doesn’t like music anymore: everyone likes music – even those who don’t know yet they do. They just need to show up and say: “This is what I do for a living: let me help you!”.

In conclusion

Whenever you have to choose music for a soundtrack, choose, first of all, music. Lyrics are a nice optional.

If you don’t do so, there’s no amount of apologies or rationalizations that are gonna fix what you’ve broken: your brain is the one who likes music – whether you’d want it, or not. Reason because I’ve made an example about sunsets and fresh bread smell: those are direct neural inputs, that give you back feelings – they bypass entirely your cognitive side. Just like music does. Reason because brains are surprisingly good at picking good music – until we decide to mess with them, of course (which is, more or less, same principle I’ve spoken about in this other article of mine: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/difference-between-rational-social-purchase-lorenzo-lmk-magario/ ).

The difference between rational and social purchase

I often find myself needing to explain this concept – which, unfortunately, is not exactly short nor straightforward. So: here’s this post about it.

How people buy

There’s 2 main decision making systems that propel people in life

1- What I like (passion/need – rational purchase)

2- What will make me liked by others (trait signalling – social purchase)

Here’s the 2 in detail

Buying because of passion (rational purchase)

These are the things we buy because we genuinely like them, regardless of what others might think of it.

They make us happy, or serve us well.

They make sense even without others’ opinions about them.


  • Buying a pickup truck, to have enough space for all the tools we need at work
  • Buying a piano, because we like to play it
  • Buying a gym membership, to stay healthy and powerful whilst not cramming our house with exercise equipment
  • Buying a sports car, to go race in the weekend at the track
  • Buying a soundtrack, to improve narration and artistic quality of our movie
  • Getting a PhD, to contribute to scientific development

Buying because of social aspirations (social purchase)

These are the things we buy because we want to influence how others perceive us.

They don’t have to make us happy, nor be useful – if they do either, it’s a byproduct.

They don’t make sense without others’ opinions about them.

As example:

  • Buying a pickup truck, to have a bigger car than the others and to look adventurous/crafty – or, in urbanite jargon: “manly”
  • Buying a piano, because we want people to think we’re classy
  • Buying a gym membership, to impress girls
  • Buying a sports car, to impress girls
  • Buying a soundtrack, because he who we’re buying it from is famous – and we want to shine with reflected light
  • Getting a PhD, to impress girls with an intellectual aura and try to make money through government funds (e.g. Research or being hired from schools), tricking people into thinking you’re actually interested and prepared about your field

When goods are bought because of this, they can be defined as “status symbols” – for the reason you can easily guess: they’re meant to signal a certain social status. Some sort of “social medals” that people arbitrarily pin on themselves, so to speak.

Which ones do we enjoy?

You don’t enjoy social purchases: you use them to build your persona.

Their purpose is to create an artificial appearance of yourself, so to influence the way others treat you. Most often, with the purpose of acquire membership to a social group, so to enjoy its favors (e.g. Employment, social validation, sexual attention, money…).

Often, but not always, not only you don’t enjoy social purchases: you grind your teeth and go through them. Which is the reason because many describe the process with which they acquired their skills as gruesome: they didn’t enjoy it because what they were after was power – so, acquiring skills was just an awful grind.

Think of social purchases as some sort of social equivalent of a badge (which is what they actually are: status symbols). So to prove membership to a club – and be eligible for its benefits.

Rational purchases, on the other hand, are the ones we truly enjoy: they either make us happy (e.g. Playing a piano) or help us create something (e.g. A pickup truck with a large bed, so to load quickly and easily our jackhammer and power generator). They bring joy to our life.

Yes, even a large pickup bed to load your jackhammer and power generator brings joy: ever felt the joy of having exactly the right tools for your work? With which everything in your craft flows beautifully? Same joy you can feel when back at home, tired after a hard day of work – but knowing you’ve done good, and spent your day meaningfully.

Why do people end up using status symbols, rather than just being themselves and let others genuinely appreciate what they are?

This is a very complex topic, worth an entire book about it.

Summarizing very quickly, here’s the logical process:

since there’s people too lazy to bother genuinely understand what they see (reason), and want shortcuts (status symbols)

…other dishonest ones are profiting from this deficiency, tricking them by adorning themselves with status symbols that signal traits that don’t actually belong to them.

Or, using scientific jargon (biology): dishonest signalling. Like those flies who paint themselves black and yellow, to make you think they’re super dangerous paper wasps.

On the left, one of mother nature’s nastiest creations (paper wasp). On the right, a harmless fly who pretends to be one of them (Myathropa florea).

Further reading

Here’s a good start about the basics of this topic:




Bonus track: how do we spot someone who purchased socially?

A very simple, but extremely effective test, is to question them about their purchase. Not in a malevolent way, of course: be genuine, polite (not formal) and curious. Which is also a good overall attitude towards just about everything in life.

That will send social purchasers haywire, for 2 reasons:

  1. The purpose of the social purchase is to signal a status. So, if you question it, you’ll be either seen as an attacker to their status, or as a witness that this status symbol is not effective and its bearer is a fraud – both scenarios to be met with hostility (an enemy to win, or an undesired witness to get rid of)
  2. They don’t have a rational explanation about why they did it – and, at the same time, they don’t want to look stupid. Because that would be detrimental to their social value, and therefore aspirations. So, very likely, you’ll be again in the “undesired witness” scenario – and they’ll try to get rid of you. Usually, by defamation (psychological projection: since fame is all they’re about, they’ll strike you where it hurts the most for them).

Pros and cons of work from home, and when it’s the right choice

I very often see talks about work from home, but never with clear ideas about how and when it works – and, particularly: when it doesn’t and why. So, since we’ve used it since our inception, and tested it for all that it is, here’s a post about it.

The pros

If your business can use work from home, it beats on site work in everything: productivity, life/work balance, flexibility, scalability, etc…

I won’t get into the nuts and bolts of it, because that’s a natural consequence of being able to organize your company as a “working from home one” (e.g. You’re gonna have to rely heavily on virtual project management)

Saw that underlined being able? It’s because of what you’re about to read in next paragraph

…it’s time to press it (the big purple one): https://www.myinstants.com/instant/drama/

The cons

The problem with work from home is a showstopping one: people, as in “humans”, our species, are not meant to work like that. So, it’s extremely rare to find employees that can be productive within this way of working.

In detail,

(but not that much – otherwise, it’ll get a series of books)

it’s because of human nature: humans are social animals with a powerful leaning towards vertical hierarchical structures – meaning that, outside exceptions*, the perfect work environment is one in which

  • There’s other people physically around them, to create a “pack” in which they feel belonging to**
  • Within this pack, there’s a leader that guides them

When these conditions are satisfied, the vast majority of people become motivated – and, as you can imagine: remote work destroys both of them. Because even though you’re in a team, you’re physically alone and your leader is not there with you.

*outside exceptions truly means that. So, don’t even try to engage some “I’m the chosen one” cognitive bias: unless you don’t belong to the human species, that analysis is going to be appropriate 99.999% of the time.

**Have you seen this new funny trend of “employee branding”? That’s what it is about: they found out that people like to be in packs, and are actively leveraging on it to be more persuasive in their recruitment. By “advertising their pack”.


Warning: “science” ahead.

…or you thought you can ace building and managing a team with just street knowledge?

You have to see humans for what they are: social animals. We’ve evolved from primates, and inherited a surprisingly high amount of behaviour from them. Including the social ones: we are, more or less, high tech monkeys.

You might be confused by the widespread of technology and culture – but you have to remember that’s the product of an infinitesimal % of human population (e.g. How many of your friends can build a microchip? Or write an orchestral symphony? If they were all that’s left of humanity, what would industry and culture look like? Bearing in mind that, for humble your friends might be, if you’re reading this post it means you belong to a very lucky part of humanity – so, they’re a highly positively skewed demographic: as you read this, there’s people without running water). And, most importantly: a recent one! Just 2000 years ago, we used to dress in robes and 99% of Earth’s population worked as farmers. And, even though 2000 years it might sound like a lot, it’s absolutely nothing from an evolutionary biology standpoint – as in: how has our brain evolved! Because it’s from our brain that all of our behaviours come from. And our brain evolved to its current state around 50.000 years ago – an age in which human society looked an awful lot like what primates look now like.

Us, not that long ago …biologically speaking, that is.

Who’s the right kind of employee, then?

The right employee for remote working is an extremely rational one – or, if you may: intelligent one. Because through reason he can

  • Gain the required competence to self administer his day (since you won’t be there all along to follow him each step) and be successful at his tasks (since he won’t have anybody besides him, from which copy/steal his work and/or blame of his failures)
  • Be satisfied by success, rather than just the feeling of belonging to a social environment (since the team won’t be physically with him)

I have a fun experiment to explain this one with a metaphor:

Do you have a friend that does athletic exercises by himself at home, without making posts about it on Instagram or broadcasting it to everyone he has around? That’s the right spirit for remote working – because he knows how to be intrinsically passionate about something, without instrumentalizing it for social validation (“the pack” we were mentioning before).

Inversely: do you have a friend that “I go to the gym otherwise I wouldn’t do anything: I need a trainer and my buddies to motivate me”? That isn’t the right attitude for remote work: that’s looking for a pack to belong to, with outcomes being a byproduct.

Books to expand about this

These books are the “starter kit” to understand the mechanics I’ve just wrote about:






I know it’s a lot of material: building a business is not an easy nor straightforward task.

If you want to, see it as food for thought for when it comes to management: how many times have your managers struck you as someone in possession of this knowledge?

Have fun in the trenches!

Bonus track: stop being pretentious and call it for what it is – remote work!

“Smart work” is just a smug buzzword to try hype up something normal – as in: working in remote. Also because, as you’ve just read, and probably experienced too, most of the times this way of work is actually a stupid one. So, let’s just look at it for what it is: a different way of work. One is on site, one is remote. Some teams prefer one, some others another one. No need to “be the usual people”, and try be cooler than the others.

Understanding, and actually fixing, mental illness at work.

When people read “mental illness”, they think, by association, of some sort of “psychological virus”. That can be cured through seeing a doctor and taking medications, just like you do when you catch a virus and the doctor gives you pills and rest until it’s fixed – and, then, life goes back to normality.

Doesn’t work like that. At all.

Let’s dig up why:

the kind of mental illness it’s usually discussed within a professional environment, is due to overwhelming amounts of stress. And stress is an “emotional pain reaction” to a real world phenomena – think of it as the powerful impulse your brain gives to your hand when you touch a red hot stove, but, in this case, about your wrong life choices.

And this is the very important first step to truly understand mental illness at work:

stress is a symptom, not an illness. You don’t have to ignore it, and, for the love of God, or whoever you believe in, you don’t have to suppress it through medication.

Stress is your brain’s way to tell you “You’ve got your hand on a burning stove”.

Suppressing workplace stress is the equivalent of taking anesthetics so to keep your hand on a burning stove.

And, by this, you already are on the right path to actually fix mentall illness at work. Because you understood that stress is not an illness nor a cause to be fixed, but a symptom.

Symptom of what? What’s the cause?

Stress in a workplace is the symptom of hostility. Hostility happens when people arbitrarily decide that they want to be like that. When people want to cause stress to each other.

Or, in technical jargon: when the social capital reaches low levels ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_capital ).

This is very important to understand, because many try to blame “complex works” for stress. Which is just scapegoating their ill intents: they don’t want to admit they know they’re hurting people – and probably take pleasure in it too (more on this below). When morale is high, complex works are a ton of fun.

Because, when people are cohesive, nothing can stop them. Not even fear of death. Which is one of humanity’s most defining traits: the capacity to band together, and do great things. The capacity for brotherhood, and belonging.

For instance, here’s an interesting study about this:


Suicide rates are higher in times of peace than in times of war. (For example, the suicide rate in France fell after the coup d’etat of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte. War also reduced the suicide rate: after war broke out in 1866 between Austria and Italy, the suicide rate fell by 14 per cent in both countries.)

For someone new to sociology, it might sound extremely weird – but it’s not: during warfare, people have real problems to think of. So, out of pure survival instinct, they ditch all the hostile pettiness of peacetime life – like being envious of your neighbor’s biggest car, or your colleague’s promotion. Because, think about it: if your house has just been bombed, and you’re being hounded by a foreign military, would you worry about what your neighbor is driving…?

And, to expand, there’s a whole amazing book about this:


So, why are people hostile to each other?

This is the best part:

because they want to.

And why do they want to?

There’s many theories, and science is not exactly firm about this. One of the best theories I’ve found about it, is explained in this book: https://www.wlupress.wlu.ca/Books/T/The-H-Factor-of-Personality. If you know the BIG5 theory already, you’ll rapidly catch up with what they found out (HEXACO is a small, but radical, revision of the BIG5 theory).

Which, long story short, says that some people are just more prone to be manipulative and manifest their anger with aggression – something I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise to you: you’ll know that temper varies greatly amongst people. You’ll have some people that can stay calm in the direst situations, and some who can’t wait to explode in your face. Some that are always there for you, and some who you hear only when they need something from you. Some that are kind and forgiving (maybe even when they’re not supposed to), and some who just love a good revenge.

So, how do you truly fix mental illness at work?

Fix your recruitment department, to make them stop hiring hostile people.

Hire people who genuinely like* their profession, and respect their colleagues.

There is no amount of psychotherapy and benzodiazepam on this galaxy to make bearable an unbearable workplace. And, most importantly: why would you want to? We only have one life: why live it in dull misery?

And, after such an ugly topic, here’s some beautiful music. To close on a positive note.

*in that instance, I prefer “like” to “love”. “Love” is for your kids, spouse, parents, dog, cat (even though cats tend to be a bit …you know, “cats”. But we love them anyway).”Love” is something that gives you meaning. “Like” is for something fun.

The need to destroy beauty

How many times have you heard these phrases below?

The sequel sucks: don’t go beyond the first one!

It was perfect already: why did they have to ruin it like this?

Which, indeed, are curious ones – for the simple reason that talent doesn’t go away: it’s there for a lifetime. For a great artist, being great is just who he is: even if they wanted to, he can’t stop being good at it.

So: let’s investigate a bit about what’s the mechanisms beneath these peculiar situations.

The main culprits

The next scenarios are the most probable situations that brought destruction of the former glory – be it a beautiful movie, a great logo, a great company, and so forth…

Use your common sense to understand, in each particular scenario, which one(-s: can also be more than one…! Society is complex) is the most likely case.

1 – Social climbers

Success attracts, first of all, social climbers.

Social climbers do not have productive skills: all they do is charm management into hiring and promoting them. Which, unfortunately, due to the intrinsic nature of mankind, is a successful tactic with lots of people. Think of them as some sort of “business lampreys”.

One of their first priorities will be to lower quality standards of whatever are they involved in, so to make sure their incompetence won’t be glaring. The second, will be to hamper anyone around them – so that it’ll be harder, or flatout impossible, to have competitors to their position.

So, if your ideas work, unless your recruitment countermeasures are on point, your activity will be very soon flooded by useless hacks on the lookout for a trendy status symbol to pin on their chests. And, of course: they’re gonna destroy your creation, with all their power plays and malevolence.

2 – Activists

If you ever studied Antonio Gramsci, or anyway Marxism, you might be confident with the concept of “cultural hegemony” – in case you’re not, there it is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_hegemony

Long story short: these people are like social climbers in their interest for fame, but they differ in its ultimate purpose for they want to use it as catalyst for their ideologies. They want to corrupt* your project so as to convert it into a propaganda** weapon. With which broadcast their idologies*** in an attempt to convince people to adopt them.

So, not only your initial project is going to be a mockery of its former self: it’s even gonna be turned into a propaganda weapon. Double the fun!

*corruption is whenever your betray the intrinsic, or promised, purpose. The typical “I was here to do X: why, instead, Y is happening?!?“.

**propaganda is whenever you sell your ideas in a subliminal way and in situations not supposed for it. For further info, here’s a good read about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda_(book)

***ideologies are, basically, dogmas: a world view (or, more precisely: framework) you take as it is, no questions asked. And, when you do, the world becomes split in 2: those who believe (allies), and those who don’t (enemies). The desire itself of questioning authority is sign of being part of the enemy: those “who don’t”.

3 – Inferiority complexes

Certain people have a very interesting mix of lack of both willpower and psychological equilibrium (as in: the ability to enjoy life). It’s a particularly nasty mix, because lack of psychological equilibrium brings great suffering to those without a high social standing – which, usually, is achieved through great competence. But, lacking willpower, these people won’t have the means to achieve such excellence.

So, here’s the conundrum: they’re not the best, nor do they have the tools to become it.

…what solution is left?

The infamous “Easiest way to have the tallest tower” riddle: destroy the tallest ones! So that yours, the only one left standing, is gonna be the tallest.

In this case: destroy the previous standards of excellence. Craft new corrupt ones, in which you win and, most importantly: they lose. This system pays them back in 3 ways:

  1. You’re now the winner
  2. …even though you’re not
  3. The satisfaction of usurping those who, time ago, made you feel envious – a bit like dumping a garbage truck on your neighbor’s car, after years and years of envy for it.

Further reading





Why Duchamp as banner?

Because it’s a perfect example of the 3rd situation.

The purpose of art is beauty. And it takes training and exercise, to perfect our ability to create it. It’s stunningly similar to learning another language: you learn to both the practical ability to articulate your thoughts into reality, and the mental capacity to think in this new way.

You can somewhat easily spot good art*: when appreciated the right way**, it makes you feel better.

There’s only 2 kind of people who would feel the push to flip an urinal and call it art:

  1. People with a profound hate of life. That, when given liberty of expression, seek to create misery and destruction – because that is what they have inside.
  2. Pranksters – like, for instance, John Cage (albeit them too need a good amount of nihilism in them: a truly positive person wouldn’t have wasted that much effort for sarcasm).

*every genuine artistic expression is art. Not all of them, of course, are of the same quality. For instance: kids are genuinely artists (because they’re too young to have developed all the Machiavellian attitudes of older people) – but, obviously, their artistic refinement level is just about nonexistent.

**for instance: those possessed by ideologies cannot appreciate art. Because, for them, there’s no “beauty”: their idea of “beauty” is “conform to my ideology”. The world they see is “allies” and “enemies”. “With me” and “Against me”.

Not all modern art is bad

Pretty, isn’t it?

And, in music, how about this:

Why crowdfunding doesn’t work – and solutions

I very often see projects either already running a crowdfunding, or in the process of evaluating crowdfunding as funding system.

The first are about to fail, the 2nd will fail – none (want to) realize so, and will push ahead until reality will arrive to cash all the checks they’re writing.

Let’s dive a bit into details.

Where the problem starts

Crowdfunding is a tool to generate funds with which finance your project – think of it as a piano.

Generating funds is a strategic business operation. It’s a vision who concretizes your goal, in which there’s use of tools thanks to mastery of their use – think of it as a symphony.

And that’s exactly where the problem lies in:

do people actually know how to plan a strategy to generate funds?

Or: if I give you a piano, can you play Mozart?

A bit more into details

It’s not that crowdfunding cannot intrinsically generate funds: it’s just that people grossly underestimate, for various reasons, how hard it is to generate funds. They think “crowdfunding” will make money by itself.

Here’s a practical example: say you want to raise 1M £ for your project. Think of these 2 ways:

  1. Investors (B2B marketing) Market the project to 4 investors (people who work in your industry, and can reinvest their profits in it), professionally trained to understand the idea you’re selling, who will then fund 250.000K £ each.
  2. Crowdfunding (B2C marketing) Market the project to 100.000 consumers, bearing in mind they possess no professional training in the idea you’re selling, because they only want to enjoy the product (e.g. No need for mechanical engineering degree to enjoy a nice car), who will then fund 10 £ each.

Or, simplified:

Market your idea to 4 individuals with great professional preparation in your field


Market your idea to 100.000 individuals with no professional preparation in your field

This is a very practical way to look at how funding works – and how crowdfunding is such a titanic task. Way, way outside the capabilities of the people usually looking for it: those without access to investors and/or capital.

The “so good will sell itself” fallacy

Two main reasons because this is grossly wrong:

1- Market saturation It might have worked if your idea would’ve been the only one seen by your potential consumer. But, within the crazily information overly saturated society we’re in, do you actually think people will stop and think about your pitch just because it’s yours…?

Think of these images: this is your idea

This is the ideas that, on daily basis, a consumer gets bombarded with

What exactly is the reason because he should focus on yours? (Hey, this is legit marketing: that’s the UVP concept! Whoever figures out a good one is on the good way to get the cake)

2- Marketing skills Say you’ve got a great idea: are you sure you know how to pitch it in such a compelling way that people will feel the need to buy it? And that includes overcoming any asymmetrical information problem that there might be (nominally: how much does your consumer understand about your product? Say you’re a car driver: if I tell you this new car I’m offering you has 550Nm at 6500 RPM, do you instinctively know if that’s what you need? The answer is obviously no – unless you’re a real car aficionado. Which is a negligible % of your customer segmentation)

Solution: ask yourself real questions

No matter how much you fantasize, reality will always arrive. So, better to make it happen right now: be honest with yourself. Can you sell to millions of people at once? Like the top players of your industry do? If the answer is “Yes”, you would’ve already had a capital ready to be invested, from the last time you developed your business development skills – as a matter of fact: you’d be probably leading a huge corporation. Because generating revenues by selling ideas to millions of people is what corporations are for. They don’t build buildings and hire thousands of employees just for laughs: they’re needed. Entrepreneurship is just about the most difficult, and important, achievement ever accomplished by humanity – and, you could say, the biggest difference between us and the rest of the animal realm (ever read about Dunbar’s work about human intelligence?).

Not like that? Can’t sell to millions of people at once? It’s alright: go to corporations, or investors. That’s what they do for a living: they propel ideas in the world.

How to spot intellectual dishonesty

Lots of people claim to have solutions for articulate problems, and tour the world offering their “expertise” for public consumption: seminars, masterclasses, public talks, webinars… Their ideas, most of the time, have a solid internal logic. But: do they actually work? Will they, for instance, actually help solve your entrepreneurial problems? Only one way to find out:

Offer them to work with you

If their ideas truly work, offer them to apply them with you: bring them an elegant presentation of your offer, and serve it with your best manners – just like every time you hire a contractor. Nominally, here’s the logical process:

You claim to understand A: come solve A for me, and I’ll pay you for it

The 2nd part is very important: tie the payment to success – just as much as you pay for your car when it’s fixed, or your groceries when you’re going out of the market: a mutually beneficial exchange of services. The very basis of free market economy. In an intellectual environment: you offer your problem solving service to me, I reciprocate with part of my wealth. And, if either of these parts don’t go through (e.g. The problem solving service doesn’t solve the problem, or the successful service doesn’t get paid), it’s not free market: it’s predation. And predation is not sustainable.

If their ideas are honest, they’ll gladly accept.

If they are not, they’ll avoid your offer.

They know their ideas are bogus, and will do everything necessary to avoid partaking in collaboration: it’d expose their farce. And here’s a quick list of the usual rethoric weaponry for these occasions.

Excuses they’ll use to avoid responsibility

Premise If someone uses these excuses, the battle is lost: they can’t and won’t help you – which are just consequences of each other: if someone doesn’t want to help, he won’t build the skills necessary to do so – ending up in not being able to help. This to say: debate them if you wish to explore human cognition – but, keep in mind: it won’t bring anything productive, and will expose you to the risks of their anger.

1- “I’m too busy

They’re building a narrative that sees them as honestly willing to help, but “unfortunately” they’re “so successful” that just don’t have time for your quibbles. It’s a really good excuse – up until you realize they can vouch for someone else, just like every professional in this world does (“Sorry we’re busy: contact this colleague of mine […]”). They won’t do that because

  1. They didn’t build a skillset. Hence, they didn’t get to meet others who did the same. Because, don’t forget: expertise is not built in a vacuum. You get to meet others who are equally talented – just as much as a heavyweight boxing champion got to meet plenty of other heavyweight fighters.
  2. They genuinely need people to have problems, because afraid that everyone who solves his problems might “take away business from them”: a predatory mind can’t think in productive frameworks. There’s only resources to be exploited.
  3. They, very likely, don’t like the idea of someone in their same business getting work. Because corrupt power is a zero sum game: the more others have, the less you will. That includes potential employees: if you hire people to amplify your productivity, you’re still “sharing the glory”.

2- “It’s best if I help many by teaching, rather than few by doing

This one is a real treat: they can’t focus on your case because they’re busy saving the world. *cue superhero theme*

Same solution as before: too busy to work yourself? Suggest someone else. Maybe one of the “many” they said they’re preparing with their “wisdom”.

3- Ghosting

When they genuinely don’t know what to do, they’ll simply ghost you: they’re either too terrified to face the threat of their bogus ideas debunked, or just genuinely don’t care about your necessity. Either case: no way out.

Long story short:

never, ever, trust anybody not willing to take responsibility for their ideas. Or, as they say: not ready to put their money where their mouth is.