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.

Examples:

  • 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:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beyond-Good-Friedrich-Wilhelm-Nietzsche/dp/1907523448

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Must-Have-Hidden-Instincts-Behind-Everything/dp/0099437929

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Virtue-Signaling-Essays-Darwinian-Politics/dp/1951555007

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”.

Why?

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:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Grooming-Gossip-Evolution-Language-Professor/dp/0571173977

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mating-Mind-Sexual-Choice-Evolution/dp/0099288249

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blank-Slate-Modern-Penguin-Science/dp/014027605X

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Social-Animal-Elliot-Aronson/dp/1429233419

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tribe-Homecoming-Belonging-Sebastian-Junger/dp/0008168180/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=tribes+junger&qid=1581851149&s=books&sr=1-1

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:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_(Durkheim_book)#Findings

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:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tribe-Homecoming-Belonging-Sebastian-Junger/dp/1455566381

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

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Explaining-Postmodernism-Skepticism-Socialism-Rousseau-ebook/dp/B005D53DG0

https://guykawasaki.com/how_to_prevent_/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda_(book)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Theory-Leisure-Oxford-Worlds-Classics/dp/0199552584/ref=asc_df_0199552584/?tag=googshopuk-21&linkCode=df0&hvadid=310785600414&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=10406058693544651792&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9045935&hvtargid=pla-435423031115&psc=1&th=1&psc=1

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

vs

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.

Why is meritocracy considered false, and alternatives offered

I sometimes need to explain why is meritocracy not accepted. And, since I couldn’t pinpoint a single reliable article about it, so to send it over for a quick read, here it is one now.

Quick premise #1: this is a summary of publicly available information

I provided many links too.

Quick premise #2: what is meritocracy, what is productivity

Meritocracy” is a societal framework in which achievements are considered to be obtained through “productivity”.

Productivity” is the ability to create more than we consume.

Meritocracy examples

Timmy studied well for the exam, and got a good degree. 

Frank is a good plumber, and his ability to help his clients gets him good work.

Productivity examples

One day, Timmy will be a doctor. Through using years of study, he’ll create hundreds of years of life for other people – who would, otherwise, not live at their full due to health problems. Or, at the very worst case, not live at all.

Practical examples

Timmy studied 8 years to be able to cure Peter. Thanks to this, Peter was given the possibility to live the rest of his life. 8 years of Timmy’s time generated 70 years of time for Peter.

Frank fixed Luke’s sink in 1 hour. Thanks to this, Luke didn’t have to spend 1 month learning how to fix the sink by himself. 1 hour of Frank’s time generated 1 month of time for Luke.

Why is “meritocracy” deemed false

Not only not everyone adopts meritocracy as a framework: its adoption is in constant decline.

Here’s some examples of opposing views:

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/oct/19/the-myth-of-meritocracy-who-really-gets-what-they-deserve

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/12/meritocracy/418074/

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2019/04/belief-in-meritocracy-is-not-only-false-its-bad-for-you.html

Summarized very quickly this point of view:

meritocracy is considered false because “productivity” is considered an unfair metric

meritocracy is considered false because people are intrinsically unable to make fair productivity judgements

Why is “productivity” not a fair metric

Productivity, the main pillar upon which “meritocracy” stands, is considered not to be a fair metric for the following reasons:

Disagreement with existence of internal motivation and free will

He who doesn’t believe in “meritocracy” believes that people lack intrinsic motivations ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-agency ): what people do is entirely consequence of their context. The infamous nature/nurture equation, for them, is 100% nurture (and the just mentioned self-agency, inexistent). Hence: individuals don’t matter. Only groups matter. Because your ideas and personality are going to be 100% reflection of the “group you belong to”.

Taking those “meritocracy” examples given before, here’s an updated version of them. Seen through these new lenses:

Timmy studied well only because he grew up in an environment who led him to study well. 

Frank is a good plumber only because he grew up in an environment who led him to be a good plumber.

Why are people considered unable to make fair judgements on productivity

Not forgetting what just said about “productivity” (the how it’s not a fair metric), we also have to take into account that people belong to groups – and, since freedom of thought is just an illusion, and all of who we are is due to the group we belong to, we’re gonna be naturally and unconsciously biased to favor who belongs to our group.

Timmy studied well only because he grew up in an environment who led him to study, and his teacher acknowledged so with a good degree only because they belong to the same group.

Frank is a good plumber only because he grew up in an environment who led him to be a good plumber, and he gets to work only because his clients belong to his same group.

What are “groups”, and why are they considered vital to understand people

“Groups” are the “human features” you can be described with. They’re based on many factors, some of which are: ethnicity, religion, gender, nationality… They’re, more or less, what your identification document has written on.

Since, as stated, individuals are deemed incapable of truly personal ideas, and what they believe to be their ideas are in fact 100% consequence of what experienced by belonging to a group, what truly matters is what group you belong to – think of groups as a factory for mass produced goods, and said goods being people: millions, and all the same. You don’t need to look each product to understand them: all that matters is the mold from which they were made of.

So: productivity is not your achievement – but your groups’. And, since intrinsic motivation doesn’t exist, it’s not even an achievement: it’s just a status quo – a condition upheld through social means. As in: things that are so because we believe them to be so.

What alternatives are offered

Since “meritocracy” is false, some alternatives have been offered.

None of them is based on “productivity” – since, as noted, productivity is deemed not to be a reliable metric.

The single biggest trend, right now, is sharing quotas: since “productivity” and “meritocracy” are fallacious concepts, and that achievement is just a matter of putting people in the right social context, the suggestion is to bestow achievements (rather than let them be a consequence of “meritocracy” – since, as already noted, “meritocracy” is considered false), and splitting them between the many groups.

E.g. I have 100 job offers, and 1000 candidates belonging to 5 different groups. Since productivity and meritocracy are fallacious concepts, I’m not gonna hire based on that: I’m gonna identify who belongs to which group, and hire based on that.

Some currents of thought believe in splitting achievements in an even manner (from now on, everyone gets the same),

E.g. I hire 20 candidates from each of the 5 groups.

Some others in splitting achievements taking into account how much did these groups have been given in the past, aiming to have an equal split of achievements throughout the entire timespan analyzed (taking into account an extended timespan, by the end of it everyone has to have achieved the same).

E.g. Since, during previous recruitment efforts nobody from group #3 and #5 has been hired, this time I’m gonna hire only people belonging to group #3 and #5 – until each group has an equal number of employees.

“What should I do?”

This article is not about “What’s best”: it’s a summary of public available information.

Stop trying to fix your business with fame

As you might’ve noticed, “fame” is how many businesses hope to fix their problems. For instance: many marketing strategies are aimed at, ideally, merely increasing an idea’s visibility and social validation – in hope that doing so will propel it towards its success.

It obviously doesn’t work. Which is why parameters such as “shares”, “likes” and “views” are considered vanity metrics. As opposed to real metrics – the dreaded ROI.

Yet: people pursue them. With all their strengths.

Why? Let’s find out.

A scientific perspective on why people crave fame

Humans are social creatures – meaning they’ve evolved to live in packs (small conglomerates of around 250 units tops – let’s all say thank you to Robin Dunbar for figuring this out). Amongst these packs, there’s an organization (read this twice: organization. Which is very, very different from hierarchy) based on competence. Averagely speaking: the higher the competence, the higher the social validation – or, in “street language”: fame.

Example: Carl is extremely competent. Hence, everyone looks up to him when there’s a big problem to be solved – generating social validation (“fame”) for him. Out of the basic need of knowing who to call for help.

This is an extremely ingrained mechanism within the human psyche: we’re naturally brought to go after conspicuous individuals because there used to be a time, millennia ago, before modern civilization, in which our life depended on that.

By this, you can see already where is this going: fame can be used to cheat.

How to cheat with fame

Since people are naturally attracted by fame due to a cognitive bias that reads “fame” as “competence”, the less honest people might try to use this to their advantage: by adorning a product with fame, people will naturally lean to think it’s a legit one – even though it might very well not be one.

Out of bon ton, I won’t be naming famous cases of hype around subpar or downright awful products – you already know them.

What happens when you cheat with fame

Short term damage:

  • You’ll attract the wrong clientele Your product should be aimed at people who need to solve something. By hyping up something, you risk attracting the very worst clientele you can think of: social climbers. Social climbers are terrible customers, for a long set of reasons (I’m pretty sure you can name a few: think of a customer there just to be seen having a look at your product, without really buying anything).
  • You might be swiftly outpaced by a genuine product If you’re unlucky enough to be in the same market of an actually good product, and that includes good marketing, their merit (read: sales) will crush your fabricated hype.

Long term damage:

  • Economical failure Profits are turned in out of people buying your product. People buy, and keep, your product if it solves their problems. So: if you hype up something, and it ends up not actually help people, reality will put you out with a spinning head kick – coming either from disgruntled customers, better competitors or both.
  • Ethical failure (brand image damage) There’s very few brands as bad as the one “he who hypes trash”. For the same reason because people are attracted to fame: there’s an equally big cognitive bias for which people develop a very strong feeling against who doesn’t keep promises.

Long story short

Stop thinking about fame: start thinking about how to explain to your clientele how can you help. Fame is just a byproduct of how good you are at this (nominally: if you made something really useful, and you were good enough in marketing to explain this to your clientele, people will spread the word of how useful you are – or, in other words: your social validation will grow up).

Use fame as a secondary metric, rather than an objective. Your bank account, and mental sanity, will thank you.

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.

Solutions

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).

…solutions?

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.

How to bootstrap businesses with little to zero capital

“I need more money to become a business”

“You need a good capital to start a business”

I hear these phrases on daily basis – here’s an article with which debunk them once for all.

Caveat: this article is useful only if you actually want to work

A lot of people do not want to work: they want someone else to hand them out money. They’re, basically, economic parasites – and there’s really nothing surprising: there’s entire species whose life-cycle is based on living at someone else’s expense >> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasitism

If someone doesn’t want to work, there’s really not much to do: their life objectives are different than yours. You can surely send them this article, or anyway talk with them – but it’s just not in their nature. It’d be like talking a tiger into become vegetarian.

If you have a hard time wrapping your head around this, there’s another article about it incoming.

First of all: the mindset

Divide et impera: if you don’t have enough money to do a business as big as you want, start with a smaller venture. Earn money, set profits aside, build your capital – success: you now have the capital you needed to bootstrap a bigger project.

Please don’t use the excuse “What I want to do is too big to start small”: the bigger the business you’d like to do is, the more you can divide it into smaller parts. Being otherwise would be like saying “This cake is too big to make slices out of it”.

And here’s a way to structure a business – no matter the size:

The business pipeline

Your business is a conveyor belt with various steps – and here’s a graphic representation of the most common ones:

“Common ones” disclaimer Businesses can be of various nature. This pipeline in particular is thought mostly from service-based businesses – the ones that can be more efficiently run with little to zero capital (we were talking about starting with zero capital, right?): you just have to know your work. But, the underlying sense is the same for just about any kind of venture. For instance: if you’re to develop a retail business, step #6 is going to be named “Sale” instead of “Work” – which is exactly the same purpose, business-wise (#6: an activity that rewards your client with what was he looking for, and you with $$$).

I don’t think I need to explain what every single phase is about: they’re all pretty self explanatory.

About how to carry them out: that’s where your professionalism lies in. And that, you can’t buy with money – unless you think you can hire someone else to know your profession (but, at that point: why are you needed? Just to slap your name on the product and get profits off of it? Money is a reward for your help: i nobody is paying you, it means you’re not helping anybody).

“Further phases” involves secondary processes, like remarketing. But, as the name suggests: they’re secondary processes. The most important part is what led you to there.

Important note: if something goes wrong, you have to check previous steps

The fact they’re in chronological order does not means once you’re done with one you’ll never go back – quite the opposite: you’re going to do mistakes and, when that happens, you step back to see what you’ve done wrong. And, the more you go further, the more steps you’ll have to check back.

Here’s a practical example:

a sale went wrong.

Next steps? Sequentially, check if:

  • You know how to sell (“Selling” is oftentimes confused for “cram your product down your potential client’s throat”, because there’s very few good salesmen around. Instead: selling is genuinely helping your potential customer through his choice. You can see really good salesmanship in here: https://youtu.be/ijRWBFY9Sbw )

Do you? Next step:

  • The lead generation was successful (were these prospects brought in the right mood to receive a sales meeting? E.g. If the lead generation doesn’t make a good first impression, they’ll be wary of you – dooming your pitch to failure)

Was it? Next step:

  • The prospecting was successful (were these prospects the right ones? The fact they’ve shown interest doesn’t mean they are. For instance: they might be broke, or confused about what they actually need – and, hence, their interest misguided)

Was it? Next step:

  • The offer development was successful (was the offer actually good? Lead generation has to make a promise, but it’s up to your offer to keep it!)

Was it? Next step:

  • The market study was successful (in a very few words: are you sure you know enough of your industry to understand how to help it?)

In other words: check the whole pipeline until you find where the problem was. The ability to do so is called entrepreneurship.

Again: the answer to “I don’t have enough funds”

If you don’t have enough money to start a business as big as you want, start with a simpler business: solve a smaller problem. For instance: wanna do movies, but you don’t have enough money/network to do it? Start with commercials. Don’t have enough money/network for that? Start by being a runner. Don’t have enough money/network for that either? Start by washing dishes, in the meantime you study on the internet (which is free) how these things work. In other words, and I’m going to write it big, once again, so that it sticks:

Split big problems until they’re small enough to be handled successfully by your current abilities, and use the incoming profit and knowledge to grow.

Yeah but it’s unfair: I know how to do big right now. I don’t want to lose time working my way up” You can absolutely do this: do you truly have the knowledge to make something big from the get go? Go pitch CEOs and executive producers from day one: if you have a good idea, they’ll accept. That’s what they do for a living: shipping good ideas.

It is beyond me how can you know how to create something successful without having had to work your way up to get there – but, if you anyway know, that’s how to do it. The pipeline about how to run it is in this page, just above this paragraph.

Earn money, keep some profits aside, build your capital >> there you go: you now have a capital to invest. Rinse and repeat until you’re doing the things you’d like to.

Internet manners on LinkedIn turned into social experiment

If you’ve added me on LinkedIn, you might remember my first message: something in the lines of “Why have you added me?” (e.g. “What’s the reason for this connection?”, “How can I help you?” etc. etc…). Out of a mix of courtesy (if you look for me, courtesy dictates it’s me that has to start the conversation) and duty (I’m on LinkedIn for work: if someone contacts me, it’s my duty to understand what help can be provided).

But,

curiously/unfortunately,

the Internet had other plans.

Premise: what do people want?

The answer to this question is vital to just about every endeavor involving people – for the very simple reason that: it involves people. And people are not tools: they have their own personality. And with personality comes personal tastes (how to achieve) and goals (what to achieve). Meaning that: everything they do has to align with what they’re looking for.

And what is it that they’re looking for?

Keep this question in mind for the next sections.

Adverse reactions

Curiously enough, the reaction to my intro is 60% of the time a negative one – either passive aggressive (ghosting or contact deletion) or open hostility (various shapes of the concept “If you don’t want this connection you can just delete me”).

“Curiously” because the basic structure of a professional conversation is: “What can I do for you?”, succeeded by the intention/problem. And from there, the conversation starts (e.g. “Yes, I can do that: tell me more, and let’s see how can we do something together”).

Hence, if this is not welcomed, something out of the professional world might be the reason for this connection.

…love?

Think of this scenario: you knock on your dad’s door, he opens, and asks in a mildly positive tone “Why have you come here?”. Would you be happy about this? Of course not: it’s your dad – you’d expect a warm welcome. Maybe not even said question: after all, he’s your dad, and he loves you. That in itself is assumed to be a reason good enough to see each other. So, being questioned about the reason of that visit would make you sad – because that’s a sign that, maybe, he doesn’t really love you.

And I think this is one of the reasons people get upset about being questioned for why they are making connections: they’re not looking for professional endeavors. They’re just very lonely. Which is fine – but: LinkedIn is a professional networking site, not a club nor Badoo. Different places are meant for different endeavors.

Machiavellianism

A basic tactic of antisocial* behavior is to act as if you’re not interested in human interaction, so as to fake a higher social status and try to gain the upper hand in a power negotiation (a hostile negotiation). Or, in plain English: to try and not look needy – even though you are. Because needy people are “not cool”: if you’re needy, it means you don’t have – and people who don’t have are “not cool”. Please keep in mind that we were looking at the matter with a powerplay optic – which is very different from a meritocratic/illuministic optic (a positive, prosocial one).

Within this optic, answering the question “What do you need?” would play against your plan: how can you be “He who has all”, if you open up the conversation with “I need […]”?

*for the love of God: learn the difference between antisocial behaviour, and asocial behaviour. Antisocial behaviour is one that hurts others, and asocial behaviour is avoidance of social contact. One is highly dangerous to the community (it actively seeks hurting people), the other is from mildly harmful to neutral (best case scenario, you don’t add nor subtract anything to the community. In the worst one, your inaction might hurt when action is required).

What people want from their work

Have you kept that question of before in mind? Good: you now have the answers. Because people nearly always act towards their goals. And I can’t stress enough the act: words can easily be deceitful, maybe even unbeknownst to who utters them (people can be misguided, and act on cognitive dissonance). But acts are a lot more complex to fake – hence, it’s way easier to spot the truth if looking at what people do.

And here’s where the social experiment was: to witness people’s interactions within the professional world, and to understand what is it that they move forward to.

What impostor syndrome actually is, and how to fix it

The basics

Impostor syndrome is a strong feeling of inadequacy when facing a challenge.

Where does it comes from

Our brain is, very broadly speaking, split in 2 parts: one that gathers information from reality and elaborates its meaning (neocortex), and the other who autonomously decides how to feel about it (limbic system). The first is the one we use to gather information from the world, the latter is some sort of database about what to make of it.

Here’s an example of how it works:

there’s a huge spider on our leg: our limbic system has some very old routines that prime for a fear reaction, but our neocortex can stop it through recognising that one in particular it’s not poisonous and it doesn’t even bite humans.

So:

if you’re feeling inadequate is because you actually are, and your subconscious is warning you so to take action about it.

So, you might be asking

What to make of it

You have 2 choices:

  1. Become competent enough to not feel inadequate anymore
  2. If 1 doesn’t work, stop doing what you’re doing: you’re not good enough for it.

What not to make of it

Don’t try to fool yourself into “everything is fine”. Most of all: don’t try fool others into believing you’re confident in yourself – maybe becoming abusive towards those who might involuntarily remind you so, by asking you to do your job: if you feel inadequate you are. It’s not the end of the world: you should just become competent enough to not feel like so anymore.

Does feeling insecure make you automatically not competent enough?

Yes: the first prerequisite of professionalism is being sure about what you’re doing. If you’re not, you’ve not mastered yet what you’re doing. In some peculiar cases one can have the skills to do the job, but have not quite understood that yet – and that still classifies as incompetence: it shows lack of clarity about your profession, and takes away assertiveness in decision making.

If you’re insecure and pretend you’re not, you’re not only incompetent but also dishonest: you’re fooling people into thinking you can be trusted.

Politicization of “impostor syndrome”

The term itself “Impostor syndrome” is a political weapon: it makes the assumption that one can be competent but not aware of it. Maybe out of “shyness” – something, apparently, being cherished as useful value by some (???). When, instead, it’s just a rationalisation triggered to fight off cognitive dissonance (cognitive dissonance is the stress born out of lying to ourselves – in other words: our conscience): we’re aware of being incompetent, we feel inadequate, we don’t like it, we make an excuse to pretend we’re adequate even though we’re not.

Within the current social climate, “impostor syndrome” is being instrumentalized so as to build a peculiar narrative: “I’m a very sensitive and shy person: you have to treat me with great care. For instance: do not make me aware of my shortcomings and obey my wishes, because doing otherwise would hurt my feelings. And if you hurt my feelings you’re a bad person”.

In other words: emotional blackmailing.

If you do stumble upon someone acting in such a way, the best practice is listed in “What do make of it”.

Further reading

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Social-Animal-Elliot-Aronson/dp/1429233419 4/5 of this book is trash – but the part about cognitive dissonance, which is the technical term for “impostor syndrome”, is quite legit.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blank-Slate-Modern-Penguin-Science/dp/014027605X

What if psychopathy is the main cause of bad marketing?

First of all, let’s clear a bit about what psychopathy actually is: 

psychopathy is the opposite of altruism: it’s the wish to hurt and take advantage of people. “Disregard of their wellbeing” is not an accurate description: that would imply being neutral. Having psychopathic tendencies, instead, means to be interested in hurting. So, we’d be talking about envy, narcissism, malice… Or, in technical terms: dark triad behaviours.

For the sake of brevity, we’ll skip the reasons why people end up being like so (that is a really lengthy topic – and quite interesting too!).

Now that that’s clear enough,

you can’t do marketing well if you have psychopathic tendencies: you’ll lack the motivation to spend energy understanding what your audience needs. 

You’ll just want to take their money or admiration. Regardless of what is it that they actually need.

Not only you won’t care about their needs: you’ll be upset about them having prerequisites – as in their actual needs and tastes, for a purchase. Because that’ll put obstacles between you and their money/admiration. Between you and the exploitation of their resources.

So: rather than creating a genuine connection with your audience/clientele, so to get to know them and understand how to help them, and have a part of their resources so as to merely be a reward rather than a booty, you’ll just want to ram your product down their throats – maybe using social engineering or power to help you do so (e.g. Fame, fake altruism, guilt tripping, hard selling, blank slateist theories, etc…).

And if they don’t comply…? Wrath. Because they *dared* to not comply with your bidding. “My clientele is too ignorant to understand what I’m offering”, “I’m being treated unfairly by the market!” and so on…

Can the market be unfair?

Free market economy means people are free to choose what they like. If they don’t find so in you, they can choose not to purchase your offer. Which means that your product is not market fit. In that case, you can do 3 things:

  1. Find what is it that it’s not working and fix your offer (business development).
  2. If 1 doesn’t work, pivot (change your offer – still a business development practice, by the way. A “heavy handed one”, let’s say).
  3. If 2 doesn’t work, accept failure – and move on!

If you don’t want to follow these steps, but you still want people to buy what you do, we’re leaving free economy and we’re entering controlled economy: an economy in which individual transactions are not anymore under the individual’s control. Google “Holodomor” or “Great leap forward death toll” as per how controlled economies tend to go.

Maybe it’s just lack of experience?

No: it’d be like saying that an inexperienced entrepreneur would resort to bank robbery to fund his projects, out of inexperience with more refined funding systems.

Tactics like hard selling, spam or emotional blackmail are born out of dishonesty: they’re the birth of minds who disregard who they are talking to. Who sees them merely as ambulant ATMs – hence, not deserving to be treated like humans. Taking one case: spam. Spam means you haven’t spent time analysing your prospect, and are sending him marcoms regardless of being fairly sure they need them – hence, leaving to them the prospecting (analysing businesses to understand if they can be prospects) that you should’ve done. Meaning you’re commanding them to do work for you, for no other reason than your greed.

Maybe it’s inadequate tools?

Let’s take Mailchimp as an example: has Mailchimp commanded you what to write in those eMails, who to send them to and how many? No.

There’s your answer. Also because:

Humans are born to be communicators

Humans are born to be communicative AND collaborative. It’s written in our DNAs: our eyebrows, our eyes (both eyelids and pupils), noses, mouths, vocal chords… A great deal of who we are is about communicating in an effective way. So, if someone truly is interested in communication, he’ll find a way to do so.

If instead they don’t? Then, there must be something off right at the beginning of the process. For instance: they genuinely don’t care, because they just want to prey upon their brothers.

Haven’t you just said that humans are born to be communicative and collaborative? How can there be some who’d want to prey on other people?

Because psychopathy is a deviant behavioural pattern. And, being so, it won’t deny our nature – quite the opposite: he who has those traits will not have a happy life. Because, deep down, their conscience will punish them for going against such important principles. Giving them phenomena like depression, cognitive dissonance and all those things we get to know when we do something out of what’s good – the good old “feeling bad about having done something dishonest”. Nothing new.

Unless they get to Ted Bundy psychopathy levels: at that point, they’re just machines.

Don’t forget communication needs 2 parties

It’s not just a matter of who’s talking, but also about who’s listening: this same article can be written from the other perspective. So to cover what happens when he who listens to your offer has psychopathic tendencies. Even though I’ve already listed what to do in these cases:

  1. Find what is it that it’s not working and fix your offer (business development).
  2. If 1 doesn’t work, pivot (change your offer – still a business development practice, though).
  3. If 2 doesn’t work, accept failure and move on.

As in: if you find a way to deal with them, do so. Otherwise: accept failure and move on. Be tolerant about the others’ wishes, for bent they might be, and move on with your career: not every prospect ends up being a client, not every deal gets closed. If you take those failures as obstacles, they just become lessons – which which you’ll understand better and better where the road to success actually is. Just like an inventor making tests to find the perfect form for his work.

Further reading

This is a colossal topic, with lots of contradicting information – just like it usually is, for psychology and business development.

Take these books with a whole handful of salt: some theories are legit – some others are just their author’s wishes.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Factor-Personality-Self-Entitled-Materialistic-Exploitive-ebook/dp/B00DV3LRY6

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Must-Have-Hidden-Instincts-Behind-Everything/dp/0099437929

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mating-Mind-Sexual-Choice-Evolution/dp/B001YYOOLC/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beyond-Good-Friedrich-Wilhelm-Nietzsche/dp/1907523448

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Grooming-Gossip-Evolution-Language-Professor/dp/0571173977

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blank-Slate-Modern-Penguin-Science-ebook/dp/B002XHNM5S/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1600366667&sr=1-1