I’m currently obsessed with these women who have swindled and tricked seemingly intelligent, wealthy men out of their money. When the story of Anna Delvay hit the newsstands four years ago, I read everything I could about the case. Not because I admire her, but because I (still) can’t understand how anyone could do what she did—and get away with it for as long as she did. My friend Katie and I keep joking that we’re just going to start telling people that the wire is on the way. Over and over and over again.
And don’t get me started on Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos. Just four years ago, her company was valued at more than $9 BILLION. She had 800 employees. And members of her board were some of the most well-known and well-respected people in the world. And now she’s headed to prison.
You can kind of see why she did what she did. Tech entrepreneurs have been faking it until they make it for eternity. Her undoing was that it was a healthcare startup. They were testing a prototype on human beings—without FDA approval or any real technology that anyone had approved. It’s illegal, unethical, and wrong, but it’s fascinating from a behavioral psychology perspective.
In the final episode of this season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Lenny Bruce says to Midge, “Ninety percent of this game is how they see you. They see you hanging with Tony Bennett, they think you deserve to be there. They see you hauled off to jail for saying f–k at a strip club, they think you deserve that also. Wise up.”
Fake it until you make it is a common refrain among entrepreneurs who think the only way to succeed is to hustle all day and all night long. But there also is something to be said for hanging out with Tony Bennett versus people in a strip club. Perception is reality.
I know this doesn’t have a lot to do with communications yet, but we’ll get there on this week’s Spin Sucks podcast episode.