Fake it until you make it?

fake it until you make it

I had a client a few years ago who hired a copywriter. She had been in journalism for a few years but had just entered the online marketing world.

Without discussing it with me (a big no-no as I’m the impartial entity in this team dynamic!), she had convinced him to hire her to do a launch series for a brand new program. At a cost of $5,000.

He was also relatively new as a business in the online world. He didn’t have a huge email list and we were still working on building that sense of “know, like, trust”.

Her plan was to send out 13 emails in 10 days to announce this new program.

It was something she had read about online and thought it would be great for his business.

I advised against doing this and explained to him my reasons why and the negative results that could come from it. I also reiterated my strategy for his business, which we had already been working on developing.

He went ahead with it anyways.

Unfortunately, my predictions came true.

He spent over $5,000 on a service that not only didn’t bring him any clients to the new program but also lost him a whole lot of subscribers. He even lost one really big name in the online industry that was his perfect ideal client.

$5,000 that we could have spent elsewhere, on things that would have actually supported his business growth.

So what happened here?

Well, the woman was faking her expertise and experience in order to get a big payday. One that she didn’t deserve as she hadn’t yet put in the time to learn about the online world.

You also may be wondering why my client didn’t go with my recommendations?

Because mine was the slow and steady route. It wasn’t about an instant win (which as we know, became an instant failure). Overnight successes are rare – which is a blog topic for another day!

The Fake It Until You Make It Mentality

I am not an advocate of people who choose to “fake it until you make it”. In their personal lives or professionally.

It really goes against everything I believe in.

I believe in:

  • It’s okay to not know everything. Be everything. Do everything.
  • It’s okay to have weaknesses, flaws and imperfections.
  • It’s okay to be vulnerable.
  • You can’t learn just by “throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing if it sticks”. Especially if the actions you’re taking will affect someone else.  A child, student, family member, friend, work associate.

And two of my biggest problems with the fake it until you make it mentality?

  1. It’s inauthentic.
  2. And it can be harmful, as in the case with my client.

Why do people choose to fake it?

  • to fit in
  • or to impress someone
  • or even to make more money, claiming they’re experts in something when really, they’re not.
  • Or maybe they’re trying to be a “people pleaser” when really, the other person would have probably preferred just honestly knowing it’s not something they can do.

Not sure if you’re faking it? Here’s some questions and thoughts to ponder:

  • Do you not accept and acknowledge your flaws or weaknesses but rather cover them up, pretending like they don’t exist?
  • Do you try to appear overly confident in order to cover up what you don’t know?
  • Are you open to taking trainings, to learn new things? Or do you pretend like you already know everything?
  • Are you really showing up as you for the people around you? Are you being honest with them?
  • Are you doing the bare minimum to “pretend” like you know what you’re doing?

To wrap this all up with a neat authentic bow, I’m going to ask you to:

  1. Have confidence in yourself – who you are, right now. Accept that you have flaws and things that you don’t yet know and take a moment to feel confident in what you do already know.
  2. Focus on what your strengths are – you are not superhuman.  No one is. It’s okay to have weaknesses. Either work on improving them or decide it’s better to focus on what you know how to do well.
  3. If you are really interested or passionate about something, dive deep into exploring new ways of doing, being, learning – don’t just skate along the surface being superficial and pretending like you’re an expert when you’re not.
  4. Be vulnerable. Let people know when you don’t know how to do something or it’s not your area of expertise and could be better handled by someone else.
  5. Be open to growing, both through hands-on experience and training.

Education and experience [+ honesty] – they all go hand in hand. And they make for a more authentic business (and life).


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