21 May 2009 ~ 40 Comments

Fake It Til You Make It?

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “Fake it til you make it” before. Sadly it’s an all too common trait in marketing, and often in life.

During a broadcast on Ustream the other day I had a viewer actually recommend that people fake their success until they’ve achieved some level of notoriety on the internet. He claimed that you had to fake it when starting out or no one would take you seriously. Shockingly, lots of people agree with him.

I beg to differ.

Throughout my career online I’ve always done my best to represent the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. In fact, the first info product I ever made showed me in a 150 square foot shack with no plumbing, bathroom, or kitchen. There was no mansion, no yachts, no Ferrari’s.

Of course as advertisers, we are always toeing the edge with a bit of hype and slight embellishments (but still true) that work in our favor. But flat out lying and “faking it til you make it” is just plain dumb in my mind.

Here’s why…

Fakers almost always live in fear. Fear that someone will find out they are lying. Fear that they are not worthy. And fear that they are not as good as the next guy.

Fakers are liars. And liars live a very dismal existence. Liars never get ahead. Even if they do make the money, fakers don’t all of the sudden become upstanding citizens. The level of lies just continues to grow.

And don’t be fooled and think that the “Fake It Til You Make It” motto is just for the broke and upcoming marketers. You’d be shocked at some of the well known guru’s who are continuing to fake it even after they’ve supposedly made it. It’s more prevalent then you might think.

Here’s a hint… If you are faking anything, you can’t be successful. If your foundation is based on lies and deceit, you’ll eventually reap what you sow. Sure, you can pocket a few bucks here and there by swindling some gullible people, but in the end you still lose the karma game.

Of course sociopaths don’t give a shit about karma. It doesn’t even register in their mind. The only thing they care about are themselves.

There’s another saying that I’m sure you’ve heard as well. It goes like this… “The Truth Shall Set You Free.”

One of the reasons I’ve done so well online is because my prospects and customers truly believe I stand up for them. They like the fact that I call bullshit when I see it. And they appreciate when I’m willing to go to bat for the little guy.

Having the reputation of a honest marketer will do wonders for your business. I dare the fakers to give honesty a valid attempt and compare the results. You may be shocked.



PS: I added a PS to address Donnie’s question in the comments section, and it’s a good question. He posts…

“Karma is a bitch, I agree. But i also contest that if someone doesnt appear successful, The masses normally will not buy, especially educational/information products. “

I agree that the masses will likely be tough to convert into buyers if the seller doesn’t appear successful. And rightfully so. That’s the way it should be. I think the vendor has to “earn” that right, not fabricate it.

This is also why I tend to think that marketers shouldn’t be so quick to create their own products while posing as the expert. Instead, I encourage people to either interview an expert and leverage their skills and success, or market as an affiliate for a product they believe in and know works. Once they’ve attained some success with that, then it’s okay to leverage that in their favor.

Unfortunately many are too eager to run before they learn to walk.

Also, I’m not here to pretend I’m holier then thou. I too have made some mistakes in my marketing that I’d like to take back. And considering my roots as a child are deep in lies and deceit it’s an extra sensitive issue with me. As marketers it’s a bit too easy to fudge the truth, and this post is just a reminder to my readers and myself that while it may seem like a shortcut at the time, it’s often like a Supertramp song that “Takes the long way home”.

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40 Responses to “Fake It Til You Make It?”

  1. Tina 21 May 2009 at 4:18 pm Permalink

    There’s another phrase “fakers” should remember, too. What goes around comes around. These people should beware because one day they’re going to wake up thinking everything’s goin’ swimmingly, and suddenly will find themselves victim of their own fraud.

    I’ve been so blunt honest online it’s painful, but I can’t imagine doing it any other way. Probably couldn’t if I tried, cause I’m too bloody transparent! :-)

    Anyway, I’m with you, Jason. “Fake it till you make it” is, in my opinion, just plain wrong.

  2. Donnie Kiernan 21 May 2009 at 4:35 pm Permalink


    Karma is a bitch, I agree

    But i also contest that if someone doesnt appear successful, The masses normally will not buy, especially educational/information products.

    So does lack of fame and success equal ignorance and therefor disqualified to sell a product they may be extremely familiar with?

    Would YOU promote a product sold by a person who only has a 100 person list and under 100 page views a day? Would you even take the 5 mins to check out the product? Im not trying to be rude, Im asking a sincere question.

    On a separate topic, I enjoy your posts, ustreams and tweets. Keep on keepin it real!


  3. Chris Hughes 21 May 2009 at 4:36 pm Permalink

    Awesome post Jason. I agree with you 100%. Although people still need to feel that they are successful so they can understand the mindset of being successful and having a prosperous business, they can’t put a front up to their prospects otherwise the prospects will feel like they’ve been cheated. Lying to people doesn’t work online, especially with Social Media and how transparent everything is now.

    Great Post,
    Chris Hughes

  4. Brandon Fredrickson 21 May 2009 at 5:10 pm Permalink

    I really don’t even understand why people get into the IM niche until they have had some success in another field. The fact that people go to IM *first* before actually having any experience is probably why we have so many shitty products in this niche.
    The funny thing is it’s actually a lot easier to make money in niches outside IM. My clients have all already made several million $ this year because I’m a hell of a good marketer. Thing is, I have no idea if I’d be able to make it in IM.
    One thing I can say though is I would not have to fake it. I have the stats and numbers to back up anything I’d do. I can show the success I’ve had in another very competative niche and give people an honest reason to give a rip what I have to say.
    People that think you have to fake it till you make it are not just liars, they are uncreative (except in the lies) lazy fucks.

  5. Jason Moffatt 21 May 2009 at 5:32 pm Permalink

    Hey Donnie,

    I answered you post in the PS of the blog post.

    I appreciate the question and do understand where you are coming from. Unfortunately I think there are some things that people just have to earn.

  6. Jay Deiboldt 21 May 2009 at 6:00 pm Permalink

    Thats the biggest load of horse shit i’ve ever heard that you HAVE TO fake it till you make it in this biz.

    All you really have to do is work your ass off and provide excessive amounts of value to those around you including your customers, contacts, JV’s and prospects.

    That’s all I did, and it’s worked smashingly so far.

  7. David Bohmiller 21 May 2009 at 6:02 pm Permalink


    Great post. My background is in personal training and fitness management, and I’ve definitely seen the fakers in that arena.

    They may have some initial success because they often play to their strengths, but sooner or later, their customers/clients realize their glaring weaknesses…then, POOF, no more business (renewals, referrals, etc). I’m sure it can happen in any niche.

    Thanks for the post and I’ll look forward to your next one.


    David Bohmiller

  8. KarenKramer 21 May 2009 at 6:02 pm Permalink

    I really wanted to comment on this whole Fake it thing… but that little Jason Flavicon thing in my browser bar is freaking me out. It reminds of the old 1950’s movie “The Fly” with the tiny little human head on the fly… I keep expecting to hear a tiny little Jason voice say “heeeelp me”.

  9. Koorosh Vahabi 21 May 2009 at 6:06 pm Permalink


    I always got an iffy feeling whenever a marketer or a success coach I respected would tell me to “Fake it till you make it.”

    I couldn’t articulate the feeling, but I knew it wasn’t the best advice.

    And at the end of the day, it just doesn’t work.

    You have a cool and “under the radar” opt in thingy.

    Very cool.



  10. Ken 21 May 2009 at 6:47 pm Permalink

    hmmmm or ride on your buddies coat tails until you make it. Either way it pays the bills, right?


  11. Jason Moffatt 21 May 2009 at 7:09 pm Permalink

    Why the anonymous cheap shots Ken?

    No balls?

  12. Greg Turner 21 May 2009 at 7:20 pm Permalink

    The phrase “fake it until you make it” does not refer to lying. Rather, it refers to the Be Do Have model as opposed to the Have Do Be model. In the former, “fake it until you make it” refers to the admonition that one should first take on the inner game of what ever it is that they want. If you are poor and you want to be rich, “fake it until you make it” means be rich in your thoughts, your outlook on life, in your attitudes. It means taking on the belief system of a rich person. It means feeling internally that you are successfully before success appears outwardly. This will lead to doing things that ultimately will get you having the riches. The father of modern hypnotherapy, Milton Erickson, M.D. always said something very similar – “act as if.” As I have laid it out, I believe in this 100%

  13. TroyNotes 21 May 2009 at 7:52 pm Permalink


    This is a fascinating grey area. Where is the line between a comfort zone needing to be stretched by vivid imagination and leaps of faith from outright deceitful lies?

    I come from a music performer background, and for a bit studied street performers, and music videos. A person doesn’t start out with any music instrument in their hand and wow audiences at any scale, and it’s a rough road full of rejection. Especially if you’re not into crowds like me.

    It’s one of the bravest arts for a performer sitting on a street playing music coming straight from their soul, to an indifferent crowd, for hours for a few dollars, and have the guts to come back day after day until they make it or fail – if they can accept the latter. I’d wager that’s true in the marketing space as well.

    Both faking it and growth start out as dreams don’t they? If people don’t experience that which doesn’t exist they will never get there. If that’s faking it till you make it, so be it. Practice faking it long enough to you believe it, then others believe it, and then it’s actually achieved then it’s no longer faking it. This is true of all behavioral change. I think the key here to faking it, is that fakers never reach the point they are the images they project and suffer a continual hell you mentioned of their own creation. So it’s all about congruence.

    As a marketer there seems to be different tiers, where the rules change. On 1 to 1 media (like we are in), we want realness. I’d wager that faking it can almost always be detected, and since I don’t watch TV, I can say at the mass control seminar see who is or is not congruent with their core, in different roles. It’s very obvious who is not comfortable in a spotlight or jumping up and down shouting who.

    To contrast Most of the top 40 musicians are manufactured by clever advertising and people want that. They want people larger than life they can look up to even if they can’t be touched. Eben in his last talk with Frank had a great point about the crooked televangelists living double lives. I went into it a bit here and had a video of the ‘farting preacher’
    I’m sure many people know it’s staged, but they follow it anyway, because they want to believe.

    Faking it when no potential to truly make it, is a hole that can never be filled and is why America is largely in the sh*thole it’s in financially.


  14. MichaelDWalker 21 May 2009 at 8:19 pm Permalink

    Hi Jason,

    Cool topic for discussion.

    I have no problem with “fake it til you make it”
    if we’re discussing faking that you’re confident when you’re not. But as far as faking it otherwise—it’ll destroy your credibility, stress you out and can get pretty ugly if you’re not careful.

    Will give you the 2nd most extreme example from my own life:

    In my previous job, we had a guy fake it through the hiring process with H.R. & my boss and got hired without me ever getting to interview him.

    About 2 hours into his 2nd day on the job, I asked him to
    go work on a piece of equipment that he’d told H.R. he had plenty of experience with. Well, it soon became painfully obvious to everyone that he didn’t know one end of the equipment from the other. To make a long story short, we had to let him go from our department because he literally could not do anything he claimed to be able to do and had simply used some trigger keywords that made it sound like he knew what he was talking about to H.R. & upper management.

    He tried to “fake it til he made it” but unfortunately, it blew up in his face big time.

    Sad thing was he had a wife and two very young children under 4 years old. They hadn’t lied to us & yet they were going to suffer because of his “fake it til you make it” nonsense.

    On behalf of his wife & kids, I tried to give him a 2nd chance & set him up with an interview for a job he swore up & down he had experience at & that he wasn’t BS’ing me about.

    Same thing happened again. He got the job but was let go about a month later due to the same problem. Kept trying to “fake it til you make it” & used up every ounce of good will
    his wife & kids were getting for him. Really sad story.

    For me, just shooting straight with people makes you less stressed, people soon know they can take you at your word, and a lot of times you’ll get work because even if you don’t have all the skills–they’d rather hire & train a less skilled guy who is honest instead of keeping some guy who
    is “faking it til he makes it”.

    Sorry I got a little long there–could write a book on how many times I’ve seen it backfire & be dangerous.

    Great topic to discuss~


  15. Fabiana 21 May 2009 at 11:07 pm Permalink

    I gotta tell you…this post is a big eye opener for a lot of people and what you say here is right indeed…..

    Great job, keep rockin’

  16. Rick 22 May 2009 at 3:40 am Permalink

    Good writeup Jason…
    Testimonials/Results should always be true.. however, when it comes to getting any new biz off the ground, I believe you should “act as if” you will be successful: dress, look and act the part of a successful business person.. duplicate and mimic what proven successful (and reputable) people have already accomplished… DO NOT fabricate and spin half truths about your results or material things that you don’t have (like creating a video with you driving out of a driveway of a mansion you don’t own, etc.) Be honest and real.. but always “act as if”.

  17. Terrance Charles 22 May 2009 at 9:16 am Permalink

    Great post, it’s different variations to it. But, I normally say not to fake it until you make it, but to portray yourself as a leader and expert, give value and build trust. What works for someone won’t always work for you, so you always have your level of success that you can share with others.

  18. Jon Gall 22 May 2009 at 9:47 am Permalink

    I notice there is a bit of misunderstanding about the statement “Fake it til you Make it”. This is basically a “mindset” that one needs to acquire in order to progress. Believe it or not, every successful individual went through the “fake it til you make it” process. It’s all subconsciously done.
    In order to receive, you must first believe… I’m sure you will all agree with that statement. In addition, do not be misled by statements and quotes. Get your priorities straight and set your goals on high and do not allow anything or anyone to prevent you from achieving what you set out for. As a Motivational Speaker, I stress the importance of the “Three P’s to Success”. They are be Persistent, be driven by your Passion, and have Patience because success does not come over night. I wish you all nothing but continued success in your business endeavors. God Bless, JG

  19. John W. Furst 22 May 2009 at 9:53 am Permalink

    I am 100% with you Jason.

    You’ll get in life what you deserve.

    If you fake it, you’ll get what you deserve, too. There’s always a way to move forward no matter where you are in life.

    Let other people do their outdated, fake, mass market marketing routine.

    Long live authenticity and story telling.


  20. Jason Moffatt 22 May 2009 at 2:37 pm Permalink

    It’s obvious that people have different interpretations of the phrase “Fake it til you make it”.

    I’m all for psyching yourself out mentally and programming your subconscious for success. If you need to fake yourself out, I’m all cool with that.

    But the moment you are fabricating ANYTHING to the public is when I think it’s weak.

  21. gareth 22 May 2009 at 5:22 pm Permalink

    I didnt read every bodies comments yet but will after this.

    Yeah I agree with this even if it holds you back at first.

    There’s another saying – You cant please every body so you may as well please yourself.

    A faker has to please every body and stop being them self in the process.

  22. Ken 22 May 2009 at 5:25 pm Permalink


    No cheap shot need bro but I’ve seen the rise of you from the
    30DC, The Warrior Forum, buddies, etc. You got where you are b/c the crowd you know. I mean let’s keep it real, your main niche from day one has been marketing opportunity. You fall right into the Fake it until you make it category. That’s my opinion, kind of like assholes, everyone’s got one. But hey, you’re boy Frank even admitted he started his career off faking it before his FTC bust.

    I give you props for where you’re at BUT do not knock the
    guys out there following in your footsteps.

    You’re a master at social engineering and a social networking.



  23. Jason Moffatt 22 May 2009 at 5:55 pm Permalink



    I got my start in a total niche market that has nothing to do with marketing. That’s where I made the bulk of my income for the first two years, and then I leveraged that into the marketing realm.

    And while it helped to have friends to lean on during the process, I would of done just fine without them. Most of my early profits came from PPC and my own ability to write copy.

    That has absolutely nothing to do with having buddies in the industry. I was marketing to people who didn’t have a clue who Frank, Ed, or any other gurus were.

    So it would be helpful if you knew what you were talking about before making false accusations about me.

    Also, I built a following by providing value to people and having unique and clever ideas. Not by making up bullshit.

    If you knew much about me, you’d know I had sales chops way before I ever had a computer. Which would probably explain why I was able to start making money from day one once I got online. I never had to ride someones coat-tails. What I did was just pure genius positioning.

    Sorry you seem to be jealous about me making wise decisions.

  24. Donnie Kiernan 23 May 2009 at 5:47 am Permalink


    Thanks for addressing my question.

    The reason I posted that is I myself did the whole “keeping it real” method when marketing my first product. I am VERY knowledgable on the product (unconventional strength training for civil service(military, police, firefighters)) yet my product did poorly, most likely due to the lack of hype and any succesful JA’s.

    Now since then, ive learned 100X’s more about IM than I knew when I launched it, but I still had the basics, such as sales copy, a list, video streams, etc.

    My point is, I feel with more hype and people knowing who I am online, the same product(20 dollar Ebook) would have been a 20k Launch product.

    On the otherhand, I understand where you are coming from, you must be successful in order to preach success. Very true, but success in the real world does not automatically equal success online, unfortunatly.

    Thanks again,
    Donnie Kiernan

  25. Ken 23 May 2009 at 6:57 am Permalink

    Like i said, you’re a social engineer.

    You used the relationship of many to get to where you’re at.
    You used your talents of social engineering to make it happen.

    Good job carry on.

  26. Mike Marin 23 May 2009 at 8:36 am Permalink

    I totally agree. Thats why I think alot of people struggle online, because people are faking it till they make it and giving bad advice.

    Learn from the Best. Forget the Rest.

  27. Marcus 24 May 2009 at 7:28 am Permalink

    I am amazed at all the expert Internet Marketers “Faking it til they make it” Just seems dishonest to pretend to be an expert when you have nothing to show you have been successful.


  28. Brian D. Shelton 26 May 2009 at 8:44 am Permalink

    I think Greg’s got it right with his “interpretation” of the phrase. And, J-Mo basically agrees…given that interpretation – fake YOURSELF into BELIEVING and good things will follow.

    But, as has been mentioned, faking success, or worse, faking knowledge, is both wrong and dangerous.

    The problem I have always seemed to encounter is my own lack of willingness to fake it, which then translated into doing nothing at all to make it.

    Fortunately, guys like Jason have shown that you don’t have to fake it to make it, you simply need to ACT, learn, and repeat.

  29. Vince Samios 27 May 2009 at 10:52 pm Permalink

    Hello All,

    I was the “a viewer” who started this debate – its time to chime in…

    “a viewer actually recommend that people fake their success until they’ve achieved some level of notoriety on the internet.”

    WRONG WRONG WRONG (borrowed that one from you jm)

    My advice doesn’t extend beyond the phrase:

    “fake it UNTIL you make it”

    My contention is that when entering a new market, you shouldn’t waste your time becoming an expert, since you don’t know if it will be worth your while. CV’s and Resumes are also perfect examples of faking it until you make it.

    One word in there needs to be emphasized… “UNTIL”!!!

    One of my quotes “If you can’t be outstanding, you may as well just stand out” – its a similar concept.

    Anybody who suggests “fake it until you make it” isn’t good advice is idealistic at best, fake and ignorant at worst…

    I love reading comments from the unsuccessful groupies who are offering the 2c they haven’t earned yet. Yes I agree – its shit that FIUYMA works – but it is down to earth, solid and proven advice.

    Jason you pride yourself on telling it how it is – yet you won’t stand up and say “yup, I faked it.” – Your “down to earth” image is so important to you, that you are clashing opinions with the most successful people in the world.

    Props to Ken for calling it how many many people see it. Personally I’ve got the insider scoop on the IM “Guru’s” and to be brutally honest, you would be better off saying “you know what, I did fake it for a while, but now I’ve got solid legs to stand on. I made it and the ‘until’ has come into effect”

    Claiming to have never faked it, is fake in and of itself.

    I will also contend that any internet marketer who is worth their chops, isn’t just marketing to internet marketers… most of them are, and personally I think that’s bordering on abusive. Hopefuls are being used by the “guru’s” – so many of whom are regurgitating crap they have never personally implemented. Others have been so successful selling to the IM niche, they have dropped all their non-im businesses and are just selling and reselling the same old material.

    Is it worth raising the fact that I was banned from the ustream chat? Well yes it is, because at the end of the day Jason, you market yourself as a guy who “tells it how it is” yet you apparently don’t like it much when somebody is calling you out. Fair enough too, you speak about living in fear, is this first hand experience?

    I know you are going to claim there was no banning – but there was. Be it the result of your own actions, or one of the other moderator, it happened. Enough said.

    Now this isn’t personal and it would be a mistake to take it that way. I like you, I like your stuff, I just hate hypocrisy.

    I faked it many times – I’ll admit that happily. ‘Until’ has kicked in for me, as it has for you.

    Keep it real, and keep telling it how it is.

    Much Love,

    Vince Samios

  30. Scott Sharpe 31 May 2009 at 9:03 pm Permalink

    I couldn’t agree with you more on what you wrote, but I believe that phrase has different meanings and different interpretations depending on the context.

    For me the term “Fake it ’till you make it” has two meanings..

    The first is the one you just described and relates to manipulating the opinions of other people. Which is disgusting.

    The second has a meaning of self. Faking something to yourself. Calling “the things that aren’t as though they are”. Stepping into who you want to be and pretending you’ve already attained it.

    Just my thoughts.

    – Scott

  31. Cuzin Tim 2 June 2009 at 8:13 pm Permalink

    This is spot on for me right now man. Back around last Thanksgiving I had my master plan when I found IM to come on, be the guru, never ask questions and only answer questions.

    I quickly found these were good people willing to “help” others such as myself. Oh and there was a ton for me to be learned as well. Now, 7 months later after taking action I realize the fault in that plan.

    I have some success in niche marketing but when you look at it as a vast whole there’s sooooooooooo much $$$$ in the make money online niche that that’s where you make the real money.

    Personally I still have this blue-collar mentality that I’m quickly losing as I realize a real living can be earned online in niches. Yes, once I get a good enough income from it, I will earn the get money online niche but until then I will earn my lumps and go with it….

  32. Max Rowby 8 June 2009 at 12:25 am Permalink

    I’m not sure I know much about anything… But the fact the Jason can draw 35 good articulate comments to his blog is a testament to his engaging style & cool. As my father used to say: Hansome is, as Hansome does.

  33. Leo Fogarty 10 June 2009 at 1:21 am Permalink

    Faking it online is just a disaster. You will be found out, we all leave digital footprints

  34. keith 21 June 2009 at 7:43 pm Permalink

    Absolutely spot on philosphically. Thats why i am going to do affiliate marketing for those who are experts:)

  35. Michael Shepherd 21 November 2009 at 7:40 pm Permalink


    When I first saw your character image my first impression was ‘well we won’t go there’. :-) (Again, character assessment not talent. ) But the more I dig into your information and read your posts the more I grow to like you and understand why you are getting the buzz. Sometimes I think you go a bit overboard on the ‘I’m a cool guy routine’ but hey I get it, we are in the marketing game. Anyways, I say all this to say, you are a very sharp guy and I think you got a lot of character despite my first impression. I agree fully with being forthright with our current success. I am a newbie so I am right at that decision making point and I believe that every starting point has its own unique benefits. So why lie to my market, prospects, and customers? In my opinion it would only be a matter of time before I would slip and loose long term credibility. I do not think that me being a newbie will affect my ability to sell personally. Sometimes ‘us commoners’ can feel a bit disconnected from the gurus not knowing what secret agenda might be behind the scenes. Many of us newbies tend to have a higher trust level for those that have just broken the success barrier or one who is documenting their journey. (they feel that they are not alone and can relate). So why do not more us of ride this benefit until we are in a position to ethically be labeled as a guru? That is my thinking.

    Anyways, hey man I expect to meet you one day I really do. I believe I will be one of the great ones in due time. Until then, thanks for the great information. I am now a loyal follower.


  36. mark grove 24 May 2010 at 8:38 am Permalink

    Yeah,not being honest will get you in the end.Especially,money wise.


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