Difficult to Speak the Truth
May 19th, 2011
One of my favorite movie lines ever was from a movie with Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson. I think the movie was called “A few good men”.
They were in a courtroom and Tom yelled out: “I want the Truth”, and Nicholson replied with “You can’t handle the truth”. The reason I loved that line so much is because that’s how I feel in this world. People can’t handle hearing the truth about stuff unless it’s the truth that they want to hear. It’s unbelievable.
If someone says, “I want your honest opinion, do you think I am pretty?” and your honest opinion is “Actually no, you are one of the ugliest people I’ve seen in my life”, you can’t say that even if they beg you for the truth. Actually, I can kind of understand that one. People have feelings and that would be hard to hear. But in the business world, where people should
be less sensitive, they are not. It is so fake.
Add and I were at a conference yesterday in Shanghai. We went there with a company we are consulting for. They are small and super cool. Anyway, the topic was about the internet and social media (Facebook, Twitter) etc. (We have a hilarious podcast coming out next about the real story there). We’ve been sharing more of our “real opinions” in the VIP room because it’s a private place where we don’t have to be shy. We can be free and say whatever we want in there without having to worry too much about weird comments.
Anyway, the conference sucked (The lunch was not bad at least). The speaker was from a large multinational PR company. He was basically saying a bunch of obvious things about the internet and making everyone believe that “viral marketing” is easy if you go through his company. It was a joke, but most of the audience actually thought it was pretty good. Many of the people there were from other large companies that had nothing to do with the internet. They “bought into” his long and stupid presentation and I’m guessing his company will get a lot of business from that.
There was a question and answer period at the end of the conference. Anyone could ask the speaker anything. I started getting nervous and my heart was racing. I wanted to say my honest opinions. I wanted everyone in the room to know they were being tricked.
There were probably about 150 people in the room. About 95% were wearing suits. I was wearing jeans, a golf shirt, and a pair of sunglasses to give you an idea of what was going on.
Everyone was polite, in a fake way, and it was so annoying. I get this feeling every time I’m in one of these situations. Time moves slowly. I hate it. I have so much to say but I end up saying nothing. I feel like I’m cheating the world or something. Even if people don’t agree with my opinion, I somehow feel it’s evil if I don’t at least share my true feelings.
One thing I hate about business is that so many businesses just try to sell their stuff to everyone. There is just so much lying involved. The truth is that most people should NOT buy most products. When I look around at the English learning market for example, I see a lot of businesses just trying to sell rather than teach. Of course they teach something, but they don’t care if a student pays $2000 USD at the beginning of a course and either learns nothing or doesn’t go to class. Actually, them paying and not going to class is the best situation for the school. They just get free money and can get another paying student to fill the classroom. It’s sick.