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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Marathon Running and Lying Don’t Mix

Comments (78)
Boston Marathon, mile 25, Beacon St., 2005

Boston Marathon, mile 25, Beacon St., 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Success rests in having the courage and endurance and, above all, the will to become the person you were destined to be.” - Dr. George Sheehan

When I heard that presidential VP candidate Paul Ryan said something like he had run a “2-hour-and-50-something” marathon, I knew immediately he was lying. I don’t know a single person who has ever run a marathon who doesn’t know the exact time it took him or her to do it. The 2-hour-and-50-something language didn’t ring true to me and I smiled when I read Andy Burfoot and George Hirsch’s essay in the NY Times titled The Honorable Clan of the Long-Distance Runner.

This isn’t a political post but my disclaimer is that I have no time or energy for Paul Ryan so my bias is out of the way. But I simply hate when people lie. As a kid, my parents made it painfully clear to me that lying isn’t acceptable. I remember being punished a few times before the age of 10 – once was for stealing baseball/football cards (my cousin Kenny’s OJ Simpson card and another friend’s cards – a bunch of them) and once for lying about where I had been. In each case, I was grounded, but also had to admit I had lied and then tell the truth to the person I had deceived, which was even more painful than being grounded.

Those are the two lies I remember. I’m sure there have been other white lies or lies of omission since then, but I feel confident from about age 10 forward I turned off the “it’s ok to lie” switch in my brain. It’s part of my approach to life – I am honest and direct, even if the information is painful to hear or to say. I try to say it in a soft way when it is painful, but I don’t dodge it.

If I make a mistake, which I do often, I own it and correct it. I view making a mistake as very different than lying. I used to exaggerate more and my first business partner Dave Jilk would often call me on exaggerating and we’d have long conversations about the difference between exaggerating and lying. I ultimately agreed with Dave and now I try not to exaggerate – I’ll be optimistic in the face of an uncertain outcome, but I try never to exaggerate about historical or factual data, and when I do I correct myself publicly.

I hate lying. It’s a non-starter for me. I have passed on investing in companies that I wanted to invest in because I thought the entrepreneurs had lied to me about something in the deal process. I’ve disengaged from companies I’ve been involved in because I’ve been lied to, even ones that were doing well. I’ve stopped interacting with people who I had developed a relationship with because they lied to me. I’ve ended friendships, including long ones, over deceit. The stimulus for my first divorce was a lie from my ex-wife (an affair that she had.) And I simply have no time to develop a relationship with someone who I think lies.

Marathon running is the ultimate example of this. You can’t lie about running a marathon; you will eventually get caught if you do. Every marathon I’ve been involved in (now 22 of them), including several with under 250 people in them, has a tight set of rules around finishing that are easy to understand and are recorded diligently. I think I can, without looking, tell you the time of all 22 marathons I’ve run. I can’t get it to the second, but I learned after my first marathon when I was a teenager that you get to drop the seconds – a 5:07:40 marathon (my Boston time) is 5:07; a 4:05:27 (my Chicago time) is a 4:05. But there is no such thing as a 2-hour-and-50-something marathon (which turned out to be a 4:01, which is still super impressive in my book.)

Just finishing a marathon is a huge achievement in itself. Paul Ryan’s 4:01 is faster than my PR over 22 marathons (4:05) – it’s beyond me why he would feel compelled to lie about this. He should be proud of his 4:01!

Don’t lie. It’s simply not worth it. And if you are going to lie, don’t bother wasting your time with me.

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  • http://freepository.com John Minnihan

    Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but lying – for those that ‘seem’ to do it a lot – is almost always pathological. It’s ingrained in their makeup and there’s simply no set of circumstances in which they won’t lie.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      That’s part of why I don’t have time for people who lie. But I’ve also encountered many “selective liars” who aren’t pathological, but lie about very specific aspects of their life.

      • http://freepository.com John Minnihan

        I’ve seen situational lying frequently, like to recast events to shift blame or cause, or to take undue or extra credit for something. Is that what you mean by selective lying?

        • http://www.feld.com bfeld

          That’s on the edge of it. Shifting blame is often not necessarily lying, but denying reality. There’s a subtle but important difference. I’m not a fan of shifting blame, but you have to go down one level and see if there’s really a lie going on or a difference in interpretation of information.

          • http://freepository.com John Minnihan

            that takes a lot of energy to determine the difference + I suspect you (like me) invest the extra time only when dealing w/ someone with whom you’ve had prior good experience

          • http://www.feld.com bfeld

            Yup. I always operate from the perspective of giving someone the benefit of the doubt. This includes the “fuck me once rule” where I give the person a yellow card, forgive the past, and try again. But they get a red card the second time.

  • Larry McKeogh

    The beauty of sport is it clears away the ambiguity and lays bare a persons soul. There is no cheating – either during the event or after. The result is what you’ve done in preparation. No excuses, own them.

    Some of my worst results are the one’s I am most proud of because of what it took to get them. Lying to change the facts only denigrates the effort that was given.

    As you’ve pointed out it also gives you glimpse into a persons make-up. I wouldn’t expect it to differ in other areas that are not so straightforward. The individual will always be looking for ways to cut corners.

    Thanks for the post.

  • http://twitter.com/jblarge J. Brent Large

    I couldn’t agree more. I think this is a very important post. Your stature in the startup/business world has come from a place rooted in honesty. That’s important. At the university I attended, while I was there, the business school instilled an honor code. Everyone signed the pledge. The students all knew it was a farce. The business school kids all cheated. A bunch of their tests were multiple choice. They shared answers, looked over each other’s shoulders, did anything to get good grades. On the flip side the liberal arts students didn’t have this fancy new honor code, yet they were mostly graded on essays and papers. They couldn’t get away with cheating if they tried. The business school honor code was propaganda. And on some level that stuck with me. Business stressed the importance of ‘getting it done, no matter the cost’ as opposed to honesty. Since then I’ve seen it plenty of real life business examples that have backed up my initial hypothesis. Obviously this isn’t everyone, but lying for an advantage isn’t an anomaly either. It’s good to see someone fighting the good fight.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Incredibly insightful post. I remember in the 1980s when I was in business school at MIT and HBS started trumpeting their “Ethics course” (or maybe it was a program, or a building – I can’t remember anymore). I thought it was weird and it disturbed me at some deep level that “ethics” needed to be taught in business school. I can envision everyone cheating on their ethics exams!

      • http://twitter.com/jblarge J. Brent Large

        Totally. It’s impossible to change deep-seated personality traits with codes or memos or company policies. The bottom line is a self-regulating culture needs to exist. Sometimes that includes a fancy code and sometimes it doesn’t.

        • http://www.feld.com bfeld

          Agree. That’s along the theme of “you can’t fundamentally change people” which I agree strongly with.

          • http://twitter.com/jblarge J. Brent Large

            Full circle. Paul Ryan.

    • Larry McKeogh

      Cheating (or lying) results in short term gain. When the truth comes out it can cost more in the long term.Might as well do it right the first time. (preaching to the choir)

  • Jon Kelly

    I couldn’t agree more. I won’t forget my marathon PR if live to be 100. From what I understand as a non-climber, his claim about doing so many Colorado 14′ers was also not well received.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Correct on the 14er thing. Several of my Colorado climbing friends came down hard on this one also and I completely agree – I remember ever 14er that I’ve climbed and I don’t count the 13ers and the ones that I didn’t summit.

  • http://simplifilm.com/ Chris Johnson

    Brad:

    The problem is our society makes “coming clean” so very difficult. (The other idea: people that trumpet their own honesty are often grinfucking you). Meat based brains are not always error free sources of information storage and retrieval.

    People make mistakes, and then people cover old lies with new lies, and that makes things worse:

    The gymnastics that we had to deal with for President Clinton’s “plausible deniability” or all of the MLB sluggers caught with roids was tedious…or Who believed any of it? And why did we have to go through all that shit?

    The biggest danger for me is that optimism (which is a credit) creates an odd disconnect from objective reality. I want things to be good. I want people to be good. But…where’s the line between speaking normatively, oversimplifying, and deception? There may be no “bright line,” because we may believe that A is not A.

    How does a former liar become trustworthy? My answer is: be humble, be prepared, have empathy, control your emotions, work hard, talk less, strive for accuracy in the way you speak to the point of pedantry….read a shit-load of philosophy and realize you fool nobody so it’s impractical.

    I was REALLY INSPIRED by your “fuck me twice” motif in ‘Do More Faster,’ because it’s a framework to let people come clean, and make contributions again. I have fucked a lot of people once because when you’re on the respirator…your kids may not eat if you don’t have cash…

    This is personal to me because salespeople are often put in positions where we have to talk too much, and every thing we say is an opportunity for failure.

    Thanks for writing this, man.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/V7LGTBIAONDXFOC4A7LRH6LD7U George

    This is not a politicial post? LOL. Oh please! By pretending this article is not about politics, Mr. Feld is conducting his own subterfuge. Is Mr. Feld seriously wasting 1000+ words on a VP candidate’s marathon times as an important example of lying when our President’s administration has been caught in lies about a whole host of things – the latest being about what happened in Libya (yea, its all about a video)? Or is Mr’ Feld’s position that lying is in the eyes of the beholder? If Mr. Feld wants to seriously take on the issue of truthfulness, I would think that there are far more powerful examples going on today than Ryan’s “enhancing” his marathon times. However, the example suits Mr. Feld’s political agenda.

    Mr. Feld, If you want to put out a blog post about truthfulness, don’t pretend that the example you are using is not meant to serve a political agenda as well.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      George, I wish you had the confidence to put your full contact info in this post so we could go back and forth about it.

      There is no question in my mind that the Obama administration has lied about many things. In this post, I am not advocating for anything concerning voting for Obama, nor do I plan to in this election cycle. I’m extremely disillusioned about national politics and the deep deception from many of our political leaders.

      I expressed my bias against Ryan at the very beginning of the post. It’s up to you how you want to interpret it, but I’ll be clear that I am not advocating for Obama either.

      At this point there are very few national politicians that I have time for and are spending any time with. The presidential election is not one of them.

      • http://petegrif.tumblr.com/ Pete Griffiths

        I find the fact that someone like yourself has come to a conclusion like this very disturbing for two reasons:
        1) it is indicative of a widespread disengagement amongst even highly intelligent members of our society
        2) it is predicated on what I believe to be a grave implicit error – that because things are shitty one outcome is as good as another. (This may seem an overreaching conclusion but I believe it is a fair approximation of the consequence of disengagement.) But it is clear to me that elections and their results do matter no matter how disillusioned we may be about politicians or the system. Had Gore defeated Bush I very much doubt we would be in quite the situation we are in now – I very much doubt we would have had the military interventions we engaged in. The point is not whether you approve of what Bush did (full disclosure – I don’t) or not. The point is that despite all the gridlock, corruption and incompetence the results of elections still matter. Not as much as we would like them to and not as much in accordance with our ideals as we would like, but differ they do nonetheless. And they tend to matter the most to the most disadvantaged members of our society. There is a huge difference of approach set out in this upcoming election and whilst we cannot be confident how it would work out if Obama gets elected any more than if Romney gets elected we can be entirely confident that it is highly likely to lead to very different end states and that these end states will matter to millions of Americans and likely millions of others around the world. This is not something to disengage from!
        So – Brad – please please please don’t disengage. You have passion for so many things. This is NOT something to let slide by. :)
        pete

        • http://www.engag.io/Abdallah Abdallah Al-Hakim

          I agree. Elections do still matter

        • http://www.feld.com bfeld

          Pete – you are very correct.

          My own struggle with the dynamics of this are intensely frustrating to me. I’ve been thinking it a lot more than I want to these days, especially as my inbox is flooded with propaganda from people I otherwise might be interested in. And, when I try to unsubscribe, I can’t because of friendly neighborhood politicians don’t have to conform to CAN-SPAM.
          I expect I will vote for Obama because there are several threshold issues that Obama supports and Romney doesn’t, the biggest being pro-choice. I simply can’t vote for someone who isn’t pro-choice at this point.
          I fantasize about the socially liberal, fiscally conservative president who seems to be completely elusive. I’ve never viewed myself a Republican or Democrat; it’s clear that neither of those labels represent my actual value system.

          I guess I’ve come to a place where I view “disengage” as how / where I want to spend my time. At this point, at least in this election cycle, I’ve decided not to spend my time or money advocating for either presidential candidate. However, I will vote, and I will continue to be incredibly proud and respectful of the democracy we get to live in here in the US.

          • http://petegrif.tumblr.com/ Pete Griffiths

            Good to hear. Many thanks. :)

          • DJ
          • http://www.charliecrystle.com Charlie Crystle

            welcome to the plutocracy

          • http://petegrif.tumblr.com/ Pete Griffiths

            “Democracy is being allowed to vote for the candidate you dislike least.”
            Robert Bryne

          • http://www.facebook.com/tollison John Tollison

            I’m sure you’ve heard of Gary Johnson, who is not only socially liberal/fiscally conservative, but also beat Paul Ryan’s fake marathon time, and beat Paul Ryan’s actual marathon time… after the first two legs of an Ironman: http://blog.nj.com/njv_paul_mulshine/2012/09/gary_johnson_a_potential_spoil.html

          • http://patrickfoley.com/about Patrick Foley

            Glad to hear you are still voting. In my opinion, our process works in reverse now – pols conform themselves to what “likely voters” say they want. Certain groups vote more than others and their views are disproportionately represented – their likeliness to vote (as a bloc) makes their positions more valuable to politicians over time. Especially for those toward the center, the only way to get politicians to care is to vote.

            For those on the extremes, the same is true, but it’s all that much more important to get involved in the primary process (national and local).

            Campaigns will always be mostly noise, but I always get sad when people get so disillusioned that they surrender the privilege of voting.

      • http://freepository.com John Minnihan

        Don’t give up on electrons!

        Stick with ‘em and eventually you’ll have a positive experience.

    • http://petegrif.tumblr.com/ Pete Griffiths

      What a bizarre interpretation of the article. I would have thought it blatantly obvious that the reason this example was used was simply its transparency but apparently you are so immersed in some form of political spin meistering that you find it impossible to conceive that others aren’t. Rather depressing.

      • http://freepository.com John Minnihan

        Pete, your response states [essentially] what I was abt to write; saved me some typing

        • http://petegrif.tumblr.com/ Pete Griffiths

          :)

  • http://engag.io/ William Mougayar

    Good one…So true. Those numbers are engrained. I remember when I ran my first 1.5km in 6min 15 sec in high school, when I swam 50 meters in 34.9 seconds and I know the number of times I broke 100 in golf.

  • @FakeBradFeld

    If you say you run a marathon but actually walk part of it, is it lying to say that you ran the marathon?

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Nope. To run a marathon is to cover 26.2 miles during the race within the time limit of the race. It doesn’t matter what pace you run or walk during the course, as long as you finish before the cutoff time. If you spend 10 minutes in the porta-potty taking a dump, that 10 minutes still counts against your time, but the notion that you took a 10 minute break to take a dump doesn’t disqualify you.

      In the last decade there has been a huge movement toward “run/walk” patterns for longer distance. I can actually cover 26.2 miles faster using a 9:1 run/walk pattern than I can if I run the entire time.

      • @FakeBradFeld

        I disagree. If one says they run a marathon it means that both feet are leaving the ground at the same time for the entire distance, which, by definition is not walking.

        While the run/walk method has become popular, or a movement, just means there are a lot of people who are just trying to survive the distance of a marathon. Just because is is popular it does not mean it is running and does not mean you have changed the definition of running.

        You have it in your book bio that you are running a marathon in each state, which is not true and you are embellishing – I would not go as far as saying you are lying. Maybe, Dave Jilk can explain embellishing again to you. A successful guy like you should not have to embellish, but it is still not running.
        As a marathoner myself, I hate when people say they run when they actually walk a marathon. By the way, the porty-potty example is just unfortunate (shit happens) and not relevant to the run/walk embellish.
        runverb (used without object)1.to go quickly by moving the legs more rapidly than at a walkand in such a manner that for an instant in each step all or both feet are off the ground.

        • http://www.feld.com bfeld

          Ok – then we disagree.

          I have a running coach who is a serious marathoner and have been working with him for a number of years. He strongly encourages this approach. Jeff Galloway – an extremely accomplished marathoner – has popularized this approach – http://www.jeffgalloway.com/.

          As I watch people walk through the water breaks to get their fluids because there literally is no way to run in the congestion of a water stop in a big city marathon, I think they’d also disagree with you.

          • @FakeBradFeld

            Sounds like your coach is just trying to get you to survive a marathon and I am sure he does not recommend this to all of his “runners”. Galloway has created a way for many people to “do” marathons, to experience the thrill of being a part of such an event.. People who run marathons are not walking marathons, they are running – see definition above.

            I do not want to criticize you, really I do not, but you say you run marathons and you actually run/walk marathons – there is a difference. I think after “running” 22 marathons, you should try to run one. You can do it.

            We are talking about lying and how it does not mix with marathoning. Your point seems to be that running and walking are the same. Check out the sport of racewalking, those participants will disagree with you too.

            @DJ Yes, walking the uphills of a 100 miler is a strategy. When one is doing that distance the difference between walking the uphill and running the uphill does not have that much of a difference in time. Do you really want to compare running a 100, or 50, to a run/walk strategy of surviving a marathon? Most people also survive ultras and do whatever it takes to complete and sometimes they walk, but they don’t say they ran the entire ultramarathon – that’s lying.

          • http://www.feld.com bfeld

            While I still disagree, I’m not interested in being accused of lying and the word “run” is not an important one to me. In fact, my bio said (before I just modified it) “completed” so I was already using that language.

            I’ve just changed it on feld.com and foundrygroup.com to eliminate the word run. It now says:

            Brad holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Management Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Brad is also an avid art collector and long-distance runner. He has completed 22 marathons as part of his mission to finish a marathon in each of the 50 states.

          • Kyle S

            You are feeding a troll, Brad. Pardon my language but @FBF is full of shit.

          • @FakeBradFeld

            Not trolling, not grinfucking either.

          • Kyle S

            Oh, and to the topic at hand, I remember my high school cross country PR to the second (17:23 in a 5K) so I am also skeptical that someone could misremember a marathon time by over an hour.

          • @FakeBradFeld

            To be clear, Paul Ryan lied…I thought you were embellishing or not being clear, or summarizing as something wrote above.

          • http://www.charliecrystle.com Charlie Crystle

            Giving overview or incomplete information isn’t lying, it’s summarizing.

          • @FakeBradFeld

            Sounds like a politician!

          • http://www.charliecrystle.com Charlie Crystle

            better than parsing to the tidbit and nitpicking about it.

          • http://patrickfoley.com/about Patrick Foley

            I suppose it depends on what your definition of “is” is …

            Hal Higdon’s son qualified for the Olympic trials walking through aid stations: http://www.halhigdon.com/training/51137/Marathon-Novice-1-Training-Program. Has he done enough to conform to your definition of “running a marathon”? Is being Olympic-caliber good enough?

          • @FakeBradFeld

            By the way, I have run Boston and NYC and was able to run through the water stops.

          • TeddyW

            If you’re really fast, the crowds at the water stations are thinner. If your pace is 9’20″/mile, there is no way to run through a water stop in the Chicago marathon. The crowds are thicker at this pace.

          • @FakeBradFeld

            Good point. In that case walk 5-8 seconds at the water stop, pick up your water and start running. Plus, one should not need water at every water stop, so by walking at every other that is less than 2 minutes overall.

          • http://www.cazoomi.com/ Clint Wilson

            @bfeld:disqus – check out the improvement in race time on this 40 year guy who went thru the course of one of my favorite clients, Chi Running.

            Astounding times:)

            http://www.chiliving.com/blog/entry/chirunner-tells-his-story-one-year-after-workshop/

            ~Clint
            @cazoomi

        • DJ

          Come off it. Ultramarathoners walk to.

      • RBC

        +1 Brad. Many people get discouraged from participating in athletics because they can’t run as fast as Usain Bolt. Brad is quite clear about his approach on this blog – @FBF maybe you should stop by more often.

        • @FakeBradFeld

          Yes, Brad is clear about his approach if one reads his blog, but everywhere he writes that he “runs” marathons. So, if you pick up one of his books and read his bio it reads he is running a marathon in every state. Obvious to his blog readers is that he runs/walks marathons. Since this is a blog about lying, embellishing and marathoning, I think it is a good place to have this discussion about running vs. walking. Is it embellishing? Is it a movement and makes it okay to say @bfeld is running a marathon? Did we change the definition of running? Just something to talk about.

          I would love to stop by more often for a quality discussion. I hope to see you in this forum again.

          • RBC

            To use an analogy – many people don’t explore nature in their backyards or cities because they are no lions nor elephants like they on the Discovery Channel. Just ask a kid though, there is a lot going on in the grass, in the moss, and with the birds – but because we stick with an exagerated expectation of what nature is like people stop exploring the wonders outside their window.

          • @FakeBradFeld

            not sure I see how it relates to the definition of running vs. walking marathons. I think it is great that people experience marathons, especially since many of the walkers/runners that I experience do so for charity (ex. Jimmy Fund, MS, etc.), but I would also say that the run/walkers that I know are very clear that they did not run the entire marathon. I think if something writes in their bio, books, speaking intros that they are running a marathon in every states they should be running the marathon, not running/walking. It is just my opinion.

  • http://freepository.com John Minnihan

    Another thought on the premise that a runner remembers his/her times w/ clarity:

    I don’t [generally] run + have not done a marathon. My thing is/was motorcycles – I can tell you how fast I rode my street bike and where + when it occurred (145mph, summer of ’92, I-70 crossing the KS-CO state line + again on the far west end of Morisson Road).

    Same goes for when I practiced my jumps on the Wombat: I [crudely] measured the hillside and adjacent field space, as well as the height of several limbs in nearby trees so I cld assess the height + distance of my jumps. I may have been a little off, but not much – 70 ft / ~30ft.

    Whenever I tell a story abt my bikes, these details never change – they don’t because those are the facts, it’s what happened. It’s the truth. So I can relate to how vividly runners recall these stats, even years later.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Great example – my guess is that this is true for many specific accomplishments that have a time linked to them.

  • Anon
  • CliffElam

    Interesting, I had this exact same discussion on a marathon training run with a friend (who has run sub-3, b*stard that he is).

    I guess I’m more gentle about people because it’s often hard to tell when someone is making a mistake, mis-remembering, or actually lying. And since I can’t look in someone’s head or heart I reserve judgement until I can see a pattern.

    I simply don’t know much about Ryan overall to determine a pattern.

    I’ll give a counter-example: Joe Biden. I don’t think he’s lying, I think he just lives a serially fabulous (as in “fable”) life. Al Gore, same way. Newt double-ditto. Lord knows I know many business leaders who do the same. Maybe there is a fancy psychological term for this, I dunno.

    Anyway, possibly the reason I am more reserved in my judgement is that I have kids and I see the complexity of the growth of a mind/person every day and see how they change and engage the world. And I know that happens with adults, healthy ones, too.

    -XC

  • crainbf

    Certainly agree about the lying bit.

    I must say though I ran 8 marathons stopping in 2010 and I don’t remember any of my times precisely. (Although definitely way more precisely than Mr Ryan!)

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Did you remember them within a couple of minutes?

      • crainbf

        Well, I actually thought my fastest marathon was 3:54 and went to check and it was 3:50 so fairly close. My last marathon was a 78K in the mountains and I thought I’d finished that one in 9:20 or so and when I checked that one was 10:08…

        But if had run a marathon in 2:50 I’d probably remember:)

  • http://twitter.com/BradBernthal BradBernthal

    I could get pretty close to relaying tennis set scores over the past decade, even down to practice sets. Good psychological insight on serious athletes’ mental framework and memory.
    Slightly different but related topic — there is a fascinating line between lies and self-deception in entrepreneurship. Lies and self-deception ultimately come from a similar place: one’s imagination about a state of affairs that don’t reasonably exist today.
    A liar can’t be trusted. The right amount of self-deception, on the other hand, strikes me as required for entrepreneurs (or, for that matter, anyone who invents meaningful new things that don’t yet exist). Key language here is the “right amount” — this is context specific and subject to debate. If people really know what they’re up against, far fewer would do it. This self-deception gets played out with others as entrepreneurs recruit team, investors, and early customers. Those around entrepreneurs later often use affectionate language that they were “conned” into joining the team. Self-deception also gets played out in the demands of entrepreneurs of people around them – viz., often want the impossible from those around them, preferably done yesterday (see, e.g., Steve Jobs’ “reality distortion field”). The vast majority of entrepreneurs I know who do something important relays, in retrospect, that they had no idea how difficult / challenging / brutal it would be.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I refer to this type of “self-deception” as “suspension of disbelief.” It’s the same concept you have to apply to a movie or a book.

      • http://twitter.com/BradBernthal BradBernthal

        Like the more neutral framing once the idea is up and running The interesting part to me is the psychological origins of the leap about conceiving a world that does not exist. In addition to moral judgment, another reaction to unusually good liars that I’ve been around is “I could not come up with that — how did s/he come up with it?” Imagination about a state of affairs that don’t reasonably exist today is what gives rise to great startup ideas . . . and great harms and untruths.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/TomLabus Tom Labus

    All he had to say was “I’ve run a few marathons”.

    If you made through any race you know to the second your time, weather, hills and other stuff that stock in your memory of the race.

  • http://byJess.net/ Jess Bachman

    Great post Brad. Nothing with calcify your contempt and patience for lying like dealing with an angsty teenager everyday. But on another note, most lying is trying to cover for a mistake, or something your not proud of. But the act of lying is just elevating that mistake to the next level. Keep doing it and you end up getting canned as the CEO of Yahoo. Always best to get the ugliness out below the knees before you end up elevating it to eye level.

  • laurayecies

    I couldn’t agree more with this post and many of the comments. There is nothing more disturbing to me then being lied to. Even if it is on a non-important topic – it is insulting to the relationship. My husband and I have placed a very high priority on this for our relationship and in raising our children.
    One of the things I think is most important in developing a business culture is to develop one that encourages honesty. If people cover up problem they can’t be solved but a punishing atmosphere will encourage lying or avoidance of sharing the truth.

  • http://www.charliecrystle.com Charlie Crystle

    I’ve always wondered why people say “to be honest” or “honestly, now”. My immediate thought is “so if you’re being honest now, when are you not being honest?”

  • Matt G

    umm…i do not know exactly the time of any of my races..i’m not lying i swear… (yes i get that the story is about lying, not about 1 man’s lie)

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Interesting. Do you know it within a couple of minutes?

  • TeddyK

    ON the other side I have only run a few and can not tell you every time only my personal best! I focus on improvement, As race car drivers say, what is behind you does not matter as much as what is infront of you.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Interesting – do you know the ones that aren’t your personal best within a few minutes?

      • TeddyW

        I have run three, and have not run a race since ’08. Reading your article, I searched my memory and had my PR to the minute and my others within a few minutes. http://athlinks.com/racer/results/87350146

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