Sales · Business Development

Fake it till you make it?

Martin Scott ► ► CyberSecurity Consulting

January 13th, 2016

I'd like to hear others input on the "fake it, till you make it" motto. I'm not talking about deception, but more of over selling yourself and then filling any gaps as you go. Or maybe that is deception. I really have no idea. Whats considered too far or shady? Or is it just best to not go down that path?
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Matt Filios Growth Catalyst

January 13th, 2016

Hi Martin, 
I'm not a big fan of the "fake it 'til you make it" philosophy. It is generally easy to sniff that out and realize that someone is not upfront with reality, and they quickly lose much to all credibility. I'm more a big proponent of "act like you've been there before" mentality, which was taught to me ironically by my peewee football coach. Visualizing what it would mean to achieve success, or failure for that matter, and how you would act and react prepares you much more for what you have in front of you as a business leader, or really anyone in life. It's much more rewarding in the long run as well.
Hope that helps.

Dave Reimherr Founder at Magnificent Marketing LLC

January 13th, 2016

I would say to never, ever lie or deceive, even a little as that is a very slippery slope (and frankly, never worth it).  But you gotta believe in yourself right?  And I assume you wouldn't be getting involved in something you didn't think you were good at.  I can appreciate not having much to point to in the areas of success stories as you get going, but point to what you can and at the beginning, sell on being hungry and having to succeed as some people might respond to that.  As you grow, you will have more to point to and then you'll just continue to build on that.  

Sage Vann Building User Joy at Rooster Park

January 13th, 2016

I think the key here is not in the faking it part, but the 'making it'. Many times the internal emotional response to doing something grand or new is one of fear. Many popular neuroscience books discuss 'Impostor Syndrome', the feeling that strong, intelligent people often feel as if they are an impostor and that if everyone know how much they were 'making it up' or 'faking it' that they'd be laughed off. The truth is, that's where learning and growth happens. At the end of the day, you do it, do it, do it, and then one day, you realize that all the actions you have lined up in sequence along the way have empowered you to become the image of the person who was 'doing it' all along. I like Amy Cuddy's rephrasing of this old phrase, "Fake it, 'til you become it".

David Albert Founder & Principal at GreyGoo

January 13th, 2016

I think it's pretty simple. Fake it all you want, just never promise anything you can't ultimately deliver on based on the expectations you've set for a customer or client. If you are 100% confident you can, then you aren't truly being deceptive.

Dmitry Tyomkin Software/Operations Exec Evaluating Busdev/Tech Leadership Opportunities

January 13th, 2016

I think it depends on where you are in the product life cycle. If you are building initial set of customers and they know you are a startup, it may be fine to combine real capabilities with things on the roadmap in one list in order to try and gauge what are customer's priorities, before you build it. I would be totally against faking it all the way, like building a fake interface that has no substance. If you are instead in the steady growth phase, your reputation becomes paramount and "fake it" becomes a no-no, it would be enough for few disappointed customers to bash you in the corridors of a conference to spread the word and cut your growth short. 

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January 13th, 2016

Folks are asking if  "Fake it till you make it" as an acceptable practice or approach and one we can, in good faith adopt for ourselves.


  • Its the biggest breach of trust anyone can ever commit.
  • Its is a recipe for disaster for you and those depending on you to get things done. 

When people are depending on you, when time frames are important, when folks need your "results" and must depend on them as "reliable" so they can then go forward with their part of the process, task, faking it really hurts them.

There is no shame in admitting that you can't do something or don't know how and instead of faking it till you make it, own up to reality instead.

What you can do instead, after admitting that you are not the right person to "do the task" is offer to help find the person with the skills and experience to do what needs to be done.

Faking it or bluffing is easily seen by anyone who taps you for doing something. They know the basics and can see you bluffing or evading straight answers. When you fail, and you will was the adverse reputation you just created for yourself worth it!

Own up to yourself and be honest to yourself and even more so with those depending on you to get things done. Never try the fake it 'till you make it route to respect, success, gaining trust, promotions, clients, colleagues, customers  because you have seriously adversely impacted those who trusted in you when it all shakes out.

Bushra Saman Javed Co-founder of IU Media and Publication society, Proactive Learner, Enthusiastic, Team oriented

April 22nd, 2017

For short term it might appears appealing, but if you want your venture stand in market for long life avoid it as much as you can.

Jeff Mills Global Vice President of Sales at iMerit Technology

January 13th, 2016

Also, follow up with the client you lost.  They will be frustrated in 90 days if your competitor didn't deliver.

AJ Johnston Owner at Law Office of Ann E. Johnston

January 15th, 2016

"Fake it, until you make" is not referencing lying.  It is referring to being assertive and confident, but, not aggressive, candid and decisive, but, not wishy-washy, and willing to learn and grow, not fudging. Yes, it stings when you lose to a competitor, but, you can look at yourself in the mirror without cringing.  Lies will catch up with lairs.  Maybe not today, but, it is going to catch them at some point.

Josh Miller EVP, Country GM - Zapper USA

January 13th, 2016

Shocking candor is more powerful and more sustainable than faking it till you make it.