“You’re kidding me” or when authenticity turns out to be fake

A group of people spreads the word that your company; ABZ, isn’t environmentally friendly. That, at the opposite, ABZ is a big polluter. Somebody else publicly calls out one of your products to be a fraud. If none of these allegations are true, you could possibly sue these accusers. On what ground? False or misrepresentation. Why? So you can defend your (corporate) integrity or product’s reliability.

What happens if these charges are true?


Different types of financial and social consequences can ensue. Atop of possible legal ones. Volkswagen is learning the lesson the hard way these days. [1] Lumosity has paid the price for it [2] and is still struggling with the aftermath. This happened to people as well. Among others, think of Richard Nixon, Bernie Madoff and, more recently, Donald Trump (with Trump University).

All of this because Volkswagen and likes did something very simple: they failed to deliver on the claims they did to the people they wanted to be picked or chosen by. Let them be car drivers (Volkswagen), people looking to improve their brain capacities (Lumosity), voters (Nixon), etc.. Put differently, because Volkswagen and likes lied.


In many ways, developing some desirability and reliability is something hard to achieve for a company or even a manager. Yet, it’s important to succeed at it. At least for two (2) reasons. First, so you can stir up other people’s interest and earn their trust. Second, so you can then attract enough people who’ll either want to work with you or buy from you, depending. Making that desirability-reliability combo something your team and company both need to survive. Figuratively and literarily speaking, I mean.

If not being transparent about the truth left Lumosity, Nixon and the others with bigger problems to resolve (e.g. loss of reputation, of revenues and high legal fees bills, for instance) than rewards to enjoy, to favor truth or authenticity then seems to be a better seduction strategy.


With all things related to any strategy, you can always expect to find some sort of seduction shortcuts or “top 10 (if not 5) ways to successfully seduce” somewhere. What you cannot not expect at some point though, if you have twisted the reality or sugar-coated it too much, is to see someone you’ve seduced to experience disgust or hatred towards you. Something Trump, Madoff, Nixon, Lumosity and Volkswagen all seen happen. Interestingly, every time the truth was uncovered afterward, employees’ and customers’ first words all seemed to express the same disbelief: “You’re kidding me”.

When this happens, you know there’s trouble ahead.


Every manager and company wants to be attractive and relevant to job seekers, customers and even shareholders. At what cost are you willing to be? At the expense of truth, authenticity? As History shows, it might not be the best of ideas.

Signature PF