The concept of faking it till you make it is very prevalent especially in the tech world and by tech, I’m not restricting it to just the gadgets and gizmos, EVs, and your typical IoT stuff.
I’m talking about the broad tech field ranging from crypto to biotech, and everything in between. It’s no longer new that even the most “reputable” tech founder might have some skeleton in their cupboard.
While many have blamed young tech entrepreneurs for eventually turning into exactly what they claim to be fighting… Which is the big tech, we always have to understand that the moment big money gets poured into those budding businesses, the game changes, and the pressure mounts on the company’s figurehead to double or quadruple whatever fund they’ve gotten from their investors in order to pay them back.
I mean Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t called a lizardman when he was just starting Facebook. He was a revolutionary until the big money came. At least, that’s the image that was manufactured for the public until other “co-founders” started suing.
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While it’ll be disingenuous to say that the tech market isn’t a cutthroat competition-obsessed industry, everyone is literally vying for the attention of everyone and that’s where the need to stand comes in.
If you’re following along, you’ll get the destination I’m heading to. Tech entrepreneurs have to literally make “exaggerated” claims or literally absurd comments about how their new invention will change the world and perfect everything wrong with your life.
These buzzwords often get them front-row seats in the Forbes magazines. The race to become the next big thing. The next Steve Jobs or the next Elon Musk and so forth.
The need to be different I’d very important in every field and that is exactly what many tech entrepreneurs do but sometimes, many take the “trying to be different” to the next level.
Unless you don’t read tech news, you may have heard about a beautiful woman called Elizabeth Holmes. I won’t describe her but in her peak, she soon earned herself the prestigious “female Steve Jobs”… “self-made Billionaire under 30″…. She even made the Forbes’ 30 under 30 list which if you’re a millennial like me might make you feel like you’re already too old and may never be able to achieve anything again in your life because you’re in your 30s and you are still not yet a Billionaire.
Elizabeth Holmes’ invention would change medicine forever. The ambitious invention would make use of a single drop of your blood to determine everything wrong or that would be wrong with you.
I’m sure if you’ve been to the hospital and it’s time for a blood test, you can vividly remember the humongous amount of blood being drawn out of your body every now and then for laboratory examinations. Now imagine doing all of that using Judy one drop of blood and that’s it.
The problem is science experts aren’t buying this. And even though this kind of ambition would be an amazing thing from everyone’s point of view except there are some issues.
Miss Holmes would also shoot herself in the foot with her weird business practices, her antics, and her manufactured persona… I’m talking about the deep voice, the black turtleneck to mimic Steve Jobs, and her big beautiful eyes that she uses to stare into her investors’ souls to pull out hundreds of millions from them… Not quite literally but rumor has it she barely blink.
While Miss Holmes might be labeled as “doing too much”, there are in fact more nerds in silicon valley’s tech start-up market who have defrauded their potential customers of billions thanks to their charisma.
Should I say Elon Musk is a con man? Because he’s fond of making claims but not delivering on those promises or at least, not as at the time he often promise to deliver those promises. Sometimes, I feel as though these were just media stunts used to prop up his company’s market share prices. But Saint Elon Musk is untouchable to his fanboys who would do anything to protect their messiah.
But the faking it till you make it trend isn’t new and one can say it applies to almost every tech entrepreneur at some point. There was a time Ferruccio Lamborghini had to put bricks in one of his cars during an exhibition in Turin to make the car appear as if there was an engine in it.
Fake it till you make it
Many tech start-up founders are often described as “faking it till they make it” due to a variety of reasons. This phrase encapsulates the practice of projecting confidence, competence, and success even when the reality might be different.
This is very evident in their often manufactured demeanor as they overpromise but often under-deliver. If you’re expecting the Tesla Roadster by now, I think you should just give up. And Cybertruck will probably be delivered in the next decade…not quite literally but you catch the joke.
Here are some key reasons why this phenomenon is prevalent among tech start-up founders:
- Attracting investors: Start-ups heavily rely on securing funding from investors to fuel their growth. To convince potential investors to bet on their ideas, founders often need to present a compelling vision and show signs of early success. Even if they haven’t achieved significant milestones or have limited resources, founders may exaggerate their progress and downplay challenges to gain investor trust and secure the necessary capital.
- Building a brand: In the highly competitive tech industry, creating a positive perception of a start-up is crucial for attracting customers, employees, and partners. Founders often adopt a “fake it till you make it” approach to build a strong brand image. By projecting confidence and expertise, they can instill trust and credibility in their target audience, even if the start-up is still in its early stages or facing uncertainties.
- Overcoming imposter syndrome: Imposter syndrome, the feeling of being undeserving of success or doubting one’s abilities, is prevalent among many entrepreneurs. Founders often grapple with self-doubt and fear of failure, especially in the early stages of their venture. By faking confidence and competence, they attempt to overcome their own internal doubts and maintain a positive mindset, which is crucial for leading a team and making critical decisions.
- Creating momentum: Start-ups face immense pressure to demonstrate progress and achieve growth quickly. Founders may adopt the “fake it till you make it” mentality to create a sense of momentum and forward motion. By projecting an image of success, they can attract early adopters, gain media attention, and generate buzz around their product or service. This perceived success can then translate into actual growth and market traction.
- Survival in a competitive landscape: The tech industry is highly competitive, with numerous players vying for attention and market share. Start-up founders often face intense pressure to differentiate themselves and stand out from the crowd. By presenting themselves as confident and innovative, even if they’re still figuring things out behind the scenes, founders can create a competitive edge and garner attention in a crowded marketplace.
Although many of these futurist dreamers tell us how they’re better and how they will change the world using buzzwords like crypto, NFT, blockchains, revolutionary, and so forth, it’s work noting at the end of the day that these guys are just salespeople trying to sell their business to the consumers and potential investors. It’s that simple.
Transparency, authenticity, and ethical practices are essential for building long-term trust with stakeholders. As a start-up evolves and achieves real milestones, the need for “faking it” diminishes, and genuine success takes its place.
The problem is that in most cases, this applies to those that thrived. Knowing that most businesses fail, even if they do not, your investors can throw you under the bus at an instance if the circumstance doesn’t benefit them or their own brand image.
I want to believe that Elizabeth Holmes won’t be going to jail if her business was self-funded or crowdfunded… I mean funded by the not-so-rich.
She wasn’t found guilty of faking her single drop of blood to cure all diseases claims. The judge simply says that the potential customers or “victims” should know better.
But she was guilty of defrauding the rich. Are you getting where I’m arriving now?
Psychopaths, Sociopaths, or just people who just wanna make money
Point is money had always been the bottom line at least for most “revolutionaries”. Even the most innovative person in the room still has a goal to make money at the end of the day.
While most make good use of their money such as giving to charities that they own…oftentimes, to evade taxes because NGOs are often tax-exempted.
Donating to WHO and championing vaccinations until everyone hates you for it. I mean I’ve never seen anyone in modern times that loves Bill Gates… Don’t quote me on that.
However, the said revolutionaries are often referred to as sociopaths or psychopaths because of how well they can lie or how they can manipulate a system to their favor while hurting everyone else along the way or any other dubious means just to stay ahead of the billionaire race.
But I want to believe that these people are just after the money and they have laser-focused attention on the big B!
Is it bad to amass so much money that you would ever need in your entire life… NO! I am a capitalist myself. But should you screw other people up in the quest for money? Well… People have different moral standings which can be influenced based on several factors such as their religion, ethnicity, economic background, and personal ambition.
However, changing the world and making it a better place is also important. Since wealth is created via the exchange of values for money.
Many labeled Elizabeth Holmes a sociopath…some said she’s got psychopathic tendencies. I’d say she wronged the Wrong people.
I’d say her mistake was trying to “fake it till you make it” in the medical field. This is a field that shouldn’t have any gray area. You’re either saving lives or ending it. It’s that simple.
It’s not like the EV industry where you can make ridiculous claims such as saying your car is capable of full self-driving capacity and can even be summoned via a smartphone in another state while the cars are in fact crashing into moving objects right and left.
I mean your claims could end people’s lives except you keep saying “Keep your hands on the steering wheel”. So what then is the point of full self-driving capacity when drivers still have to keep their hands on the steering wheel… I know what it is… It’s called “trying as much as possible to avoid a possible lawsuit”.
But you catch my drift. In medicine, it’s super-regulated because the premise of the industry is to save people’s lives. There’s no comma. SAVE LIVES!
So the fact that Theranos was making weird diagnoses because they were literally diluting people’s blood samples to make them more in order to straight up test those blood using traditional methods as opposed to their non-functional Edison machine that would test one drop of blood and detect all ailments, people started getting misdiagnosed.
Imagine getting diagnosed with some bad disease that you don’t have because the result said so. Imagine the emotional turmoil you must have put people into and how devastating that would have been on their mental state.
This is why I agree with the psychotic tendencies of Ms. Holmes. Because you should at least understand that going into the medical path can hurt lives and get others killed… Literally!
Except, of course, she wasn’t guilty of that. I’m not a legal person and I don’t know the nuances of laws and crimes but while the general public was pissed at the potential danger of Theranos’ absurdities, the rich and wealthy that invested in the business and those that literally accepted the company’s test labs to be in their branch offices instantly threw the company under the bus and distanced themselves from Ms Holmes.
The investors came crashing down demanding their money. I mean she’s already serving her 11 years sentence because she was guilty of defrauding her investors. Not for questionable and dangerous medical practices that could potentially kill people. Nah!
I’m not attacking the rich. I’m just saying don’t defraud the wealthy. They’ll throw you under the bus and get you prison time… Also, don’t quote me on that.
The Dark Side of Over-Hype in Silicon Valley: From Ego to Prison
Let’s talk about the dark side of Silicon Valley, where the over-hype culture and the relentless pursuit of changing the world can lead young entrepreneurs down a treacherous path.
The tech industry has long been synonymous with innovation, disruption, and the desire to make a lasting impact.
This mindset is commendable and has given rise to some of the most influential figures in our modern society.
However, it has also created a breeding ground for ego-driven individuals who are willing to go to extremes to achieve their ambitions.
One of the most significant ramifications of this over-hype culture is that some young entrepreneurs become so consumed by their grand vision that they lose sight of reality.
They become blinded by their own ego, convinced that their ideas are infallible and that they are destined to change the world. In their pursuit of success, they ignore warning signs, dismiss feedback, and trample over ethical boundaries.
Unfortunately, this path often leads straight to prison. The annals of Silicon Valley history are filled with names of individuals who started with noble intentions but ended up behind bars due to their fraudulent actions. Take the case of Elizabeth Holmes, the once-celebrated founder of Theranos. She went from being hailed as the next Steve Jobs to being convicted of defrauding her investors. Her downfall serves as a stark reminder that even the most seemingly invincible tech entrepreneurs can crumble under the weight of their own deception.
Holmes’ case is not an isolated incident. We’ve seen other young entrepreneurs, driven by ego and a burning desire to succeed, fall into the same trap.
One such example is Adam Neumann, the co-founder of WeWork. Neumann was hailed as a visionary leader who was revolutionizing the concept of office spaces. However, his excessive self-confidence and questionable business practices ultimately led to his ousting from the company and a tarnished reputation.
The ramifications of defrauding wealthy investors versus swindling the masses are distinct. When defrauding the rich, consequences tend to be severe and swift.
The wealthy have the means and influence to ensure justice is served. They have teams of lawyers ready to fight for their interests, and they are not afraid to use their financial power to bring down those who deceive them. Elizabeth Holmes experienced this firsthand when her investors demanded their money back and pressed charges against her.
On the other hand, swindling the masses can have long-lasting effects that reverberate throughout society.
When everyday people fall victim to scams or fraudulent schemes, they not only suffer financial losses but also lose faith in the system.
Such incidents erode trust and create skepticism towards future innovations and entrepreneurs, making it harder for genuine visionaries to gain support and funding.
So how can young entrepreneurs avoid falling into this dangerous trap? The first step is to cultivate self-awareness and humility. Recognize that changing the world is a lofty goal that requires hard work, dedication, and integrity. Understand that setbacks and failures are part of the journey and that success cannot be rushed or manufactured.
Secondly, surround yourself with a diverse network of mentors and advisors who can provide honest feedback and keep you grounded. Seek counsel from those who have already achieved success but have also experienced the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. Their wisdom can be invaluable in guiding you through the challenges you’ll inevitably face.
Lastly, prioritize ethics and transparency in everything you do. Build a culture within your company that values integrity and holds itself accountable. Remember that success achieved through deceit or manipulation is fleeting and often comes at a high cost.
In conclusion, the over-hype culture in Silicon Valley can be a double-edged sword. While it can inspire and motivate young entrepreneurs to dream big, it can also lead them astray if not tempered.
Personally, I wish Miss. Holmes the best. I’m sure she has learnt her lesson and she may bounce back in the future when she gets released.