The Fake It Until You Make It Mentality Should Stop

bad-adviceWhen I finished college one of my earliest managers would repeat the phrase “Fake it until you make it” at least a dozen times a day. As a rookie, this was sounded awesome because obviously, I wanted to “make it” just like Mr. Manager did.

I haven’t heard this phrase in a long time – and then I heard it this week and it gave me the chills. NO! Please stop giving anyone this advice. This is a terrible soundbite that simply allows someone to believe they’re passing along sage wisdom to someone who actually thinks that’s what they’re getting. Unfortunately, the person getting this advice fall for it. But what the hell does it even mean? There are no implicit instructions. There is no training for this. And there certainly isn’t any improvement plan that informs you when to stop faking it. (I cringe knowing I was dumb enough to parrot that same phrase to others. My apologies to who ever heard me say it.)

Reconsider your own definition of “making it.” Is it just based on the outward appearance of the person giving you the advice, or is based on other factors such as their professional achievements, their level of trust and their overall authority on a subject? Looking back on the guy who gave me this garbage advice, the only thing that showed me he made it was the fancy suit, the corner office and the foreign sports car parked in his reserved spot at the company. I didn’t know anything else about him. I quickly realized he only had a couple of nice suits, he eventually lost his office (demotion) and the car was leased. And the rest of his life was in shambles. Oh, and the fact he was a complete douche bag.

If you’re presented with the opportunity to give someone advice, please refrain from telling them to fake it until they make it. Instead, help them find their path, show them the resources needed to improve and inspire them to work towards simply making it.

Help them make it or they’ll just get really good at faking it.



Eric Miltsch

Co-founder at Dealer Teamwork LLC
Eric Miltsch is a successful automotive digital marketing professional specializing in search, social & mobile strategies.
Eric Miltsch

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  1. I do see your point and I agree that pretending to be someone or something you’re not is a bad quality. But I wrote this post ( about a year or so ago encouraging people to fake it until they make it. I don’t interpret “faking it” in this context as being a phony so much as emulating successful traits and habits. Curious what you think of it now…

    Here’s the TLDR; “Fake it ‘til you make it” isn’t supposed to be about being phony or pretending to be something that you’re not. It’s about observing people who are expert at something or who have traits or achievements you admire. Then reproducing the techniques and habits they’ve developed that got them there.

    • Michael,

      Thanks for checking this out. I agree 100% with your concept of observing & reproducing successful habits. My motivation for this post was purely referencing a specific subset of the automotive consulting ecosystem who simply try to make it, by faking it. Continuously. And without ever having been in the trenches, creating anything of value and simply never emulating the traits of other successful contributors.

      You’re looking at it from a logical perspective – the people I’m referencing aren’t.

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