The Elizabeth Holmes In All of Us

There is a big scandal surrounding the start-up Thermos and its founder, Elizabeth Holmes Her actions are indeed despicable. However I want to look at an aspect of her that was admirable.

Life is hard. Things have to be done all the time, and it can be unclear whether we’re qualified for the tasks at hand. Often, the only way to find out if we’re qualified, is simply doing it. This leads to some embarrassing failures and frequent hilarious successes. There is something to be said for “fake it till you make it.” While selling life insurance, I learned that people expect me to be the expert. They don’t know what I don’t know. If there are gaps in my knowledge, it isn’t immediately obvious. This allows me to “act” like an expert. There’s something obviously tempting to trust people in white lab coats or business suits, because they look like experts.

Many people experience success when they don’t feel they’ve earned it, which is called, “Imposter Syndrome.” My way around this syndrome is just not worrying about it. I never reject myself or call myself out of my BS. I’m right until proven otherwise. This self confidence encourages others to place their confidence in me. People want to be associated with winners, and it’s pretty easy to seem like a winner.

I’m sure there are YouTube videos and articles which purport to have “charisma hacks” which allow the user to naturally attract attention and endearment. I’m sure among those hacks are: maintain extended eye contact, deepen your voice, dress in a way that resembles your idol. Elizabeth did those things. From a character study perspective, her biggest crime isn’t that she used hacks, it’s that she got caught using hacks.

My philosophy is, we’re all frauds. No one acts 100% the same in every setting with every person. Don’t lie, but embrace the act.

One thought on “The Elizabeth Holmes In All of Us

  1. Yo. Consider that Bernie Madoff already had done everything you suggested. Problems arise when clients, customers, or investors change their life circumstances in reliance of the things Elizabeth or Bernie claimed were true. Certainly, we would feel badly for the elderly widow (or widower) who is left penniless because a carrier refused to pay life insurance benefits on a policy which had failed to be correctly procured. It is randian brutal to live in a society where it is unsafe to assume that ersatz professionals are truthful. On whom could we rely for a second opinion to assure us that our blood lab results were correctly reported? For a third or sixth opinion? Brutal. HR

What do you think? Right? Wrong? Pure poppycock?