Do you ever think about who you can really trust?
In today’s divided society, perhaps the only thing everyone can agree on is that we live in a cynical world. In fact, that could be the very reason why we’ve become so divided in our communities and across our nation.
Think about it: Everywhere we turn, we hear the phrase, “Fake News.” This was coined by our president, who hasn’t been afraid to let his distrust and cynicism show. Other politicians have adopted the “Fake News” phrase, too. It’s become part of our lives now.
I’ve used it.
I’m sure everyone reading this has used it at some point. No matter what side of the aisle you stand on, politically, at some point you read or heard something you determined to be “Fake News.”
Technology hasn’t helped, with the ability to create deep fakes, or photos and videos that appear to show people in situations they were never in. Movie fans relish these capabilities, which have re-cast Tobey Maguire in a trailer for the newest Spider-man movie and replaced the DeLorean with a Tesla Cybertruck in Back to the Future.
These are obvious “fakes,” created for our entertainment. But rarely is “fake news,” or an accusation of fake news, so harmless.
But without the ability to ascertain what’s real and what isn’t, no one can fault anyone for using the phrase. We live in the age of fake news from every direction. Integrity has gone out the window.
And, ironically, as much as we are all too quick to declare things we don’t understand as “fake news,” when we see, hear or read something that matches our world view, we take the bait – hook, line, and sinker.
It must be real, if it matches other things I’ve heard from sources I trust. It has, to use a word Stephen Colbert coined in 2017, “Truthiness.”
That is to say, it feels true even if it may not be factual and there’s no data or information to back it up.
This remains a problem today. Just as we’re quick to declare information that does not match our preconceived beliefs to be “Fake News,” we’re equally ready to embrace “truthy” sentiments from nearly any source.
Why do we not question the status quo? Is it because we believe it to be true?
Sometimes, it is. But more often than not, it’s because we’re uncomfortable with the unknown. We don’t want to take the time to do the research ourselves. We don’t want to question our beliefs. We may not like what we discover.
You hear something, so you believe it. It must be true if you read it on the Internet, right? We claim we don’t fall for that, but we continue to circulate memes, aphorisms, and bad advice.
This phenomenon extends beyond the internet.
“A professional told me, so that’s definitely what I need to do!”
“Why would my advisor lie to me if he’s being paid to provide me with the best advice?”
If you’ve ever had these thoughts or used these sentences, you’ve fallen into the status quo.
It’s comfortable there. But, as the character of P.T. Barnum said in The Greatest Showman, “Comfort is the enemy of progress.”
Let’s talk about Fake News again. The phrase Fake News is, in essence, not the truth, either. News considered to be fake is hardly ever fake in its foundation. It’s been skewed to meet an agenda – usually on either side of the political spectrum, but sometimes to enhance or destroy the reputation of a company, an organization, or an individual.
The same goes for everything in life. But especially when it comes to sales.
Let’s take an example from Jordan Belford, the “Wolf of Wall Street,” himself and think about the phrase: “Sell me this pen.”
What really happens in this scene? The salespeople try, unsuccessfully, to sell Leonardo DiCaprio’s character a pen. Until one clever salesperson takes the pen from his hand and then asks Belford to write his name on a piece of paper.
That salesperson just created a need.
It seems as if every salesperson in the world, nowadays, pulls lines from “The Wolf of Wall Street.” But, like most of the salespeople in the room with Belford, they are failing to sell something people need – or even something the salesperson believes in.
Many don’t care what they sell you as long as they turn a profit. It doesn’t matter if they’re selling a hair dryer, shampoo, or the latest, greatest IPO. They are selling lines of garbage. The product may be the greatest product in the world. But if someone is selling it to you for the sake of selling it, rather than believing in their product and – most importantly – knowing you NEED the product, they are just more “Fake News.”
One of the longest lasting, most successful marketing slogans of all time came from Honda. It was simple. No big endorsement deals. No superstar driving it. The ad featured only the car, a renowned brand with a reputation for quality behind it. “Honda, the car that sells itself.”
That was confidence, not cockiness. The Honda people believe in their product. Rightfully so, because it was a good product. That was all they needed.
If we know this deep down, if we understand the concept of “Fake News” and that most people have an agenda, why are we – as a society – so susceptible to the wolves?
Why do we not challenge the status quo?
If you had a salesperson call your house with what sounded like a good idea, what would you do?
What if you had a company you trusted, that you’ve done business with before, suggest a new product? Would you have the same reaction as you did to the cold-calling salesperson?
Your knee-jerk reaction to the first scenario might be to ignore the sales pitch out of hand. In the second case, you may jump up, grab your credit card, and make the purchase eagerly.
Both responses would be risky – and possibly wrong.
Hang up on the cold-caller and you could be missing a great opportunity. Trust the known commodity and you could be missing out on a better product sold by someone else. Or worse, wasting money on something you don’t need at all.
The right answer in both cases? Do a little research.
It’s harder and takes up more time, but in most cases, you’ll be happier with the long-term results.
In honor of going against the status quo, we will not even make mention of our typical business in this writing. We will just simply mention that there is rarely only one option.
There is no magic potion, magic pill, or shortcut – only hard decisions in life. Those decisions are only made easier by putting the work in.
As Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” (Or maybe he didn’t say that? Some evidence shows “Fake News” may have an even longer history than we imagined!)
So, the next time a salesman tells you that this is the way it is, challenge him or her and ask what other choices you may have.
If they can’t give you another option, then they are not the right option.