It’s no surprise I love Seth Godin’s post from yesterday: The danger of vague claims, as I usually find inspiration in what Seth has to say. This post though, rings particularly true to me. This is how I approach my life, both business and personal. In a business setting I think being up-front and honest buys you so much more than trying to fudge any facts to try to get ahead. At one point or another those facts will be revealed, and then you will have to try to defend them — and look weak. For instance, one of our competitors claims its product is the “#1 best seller”. Then they put an * next to that claim and, in the fine print in very tiny letters on the bottom of their box, they state that they are “#1 best sellers for the under $45 category.” They also happen to be the ONLY product that sells that cheap – so of course they are the number 1 best seller in that category. I really truly believe that consumers are not that dumb, and that they will think twice about buying from a company that starts an interaction with a vague, sort-of-not-truthful claim.
I have also seen this done on resumes, and again I just don’t understand the point. To see a resume that states “Harvard University” clearly in the education portion, only to realize during an interview that the person only did a one week professional development course there, seems like a dangerous vagary. If that person really feels that “Harvard” is the only thing that will get them in the door with a potential employer, what happens when the employer asks about the Harvard degree, only to find out it is only a one week program? Then what? Won’t the potential employer immediately distrust you? Is that the feeling you want to convey at an interview? Aren’t you better off leading with your strengths and the truth about what you bring to the table? Doesn’t everyone eventually see through the smoke and mirrors?