Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

 

Confidence is everything, right?

There are at least 4,102 self-help books that tell you this.

How far, though, does your confidence really stretch? How often do you get home at night and mumble to yourself: "Phew, I got away with it today."?

Do you make things up? Do you tell people you can do things when you've never done them before in your life? Do you not even have any idea how to do them?

Oh, you're in sales?

I'm pondering these questions only because of the extraordinary case of Kimberly Kitchen.

She was made a partner at BMZ Law in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.

She handled estate planning for more than 30 clients.

She rose to become president of the county Bar Association.

There was one mere kink in her glittering resume. She didn't have a law degree. She'd never even been to law school.

Indeed, as the Associated Press reports, she was convicted on Thursday of forgery, unauthorized practice of law, and felony records tampering.

She allegedly created documents that said she had studied at Duquesne Law School. She posed as a lawyer for 10 years before anyone wondered if she was all she claimed.

It's unclear, indeed, how her illegal practices were finally unearthed.

You'll tell me that her story is a terrible one. I'll agree with you, temporarily.

However, one fact that mesmerizes me is that no one had apparently complained about her work.

She sounds like a model member of her profession and community.

The prosecutors said that she had worked in fundraising, and then one day started declaring herself a lawyer. Everyone seems to have believed her and everyone seemed to think she was doing a good job.

Faking it till you make it is a path recommended by many.

You hear stories of people who got their jobs by falsifying details on their resumes or claiming in interviews they had vast experience in an area where they had none.

Naturally, I wouldn't recommend law-breaking as a strategy.

However, there are plenty of examples of those who pose as something actually becoming that something. Indeed, social psychologist Amy Cuddy once suggested: "Don't fake it until you make it. Fake it until you become it."

In professions like the law, pesky legalities can get in the way of complete fakery.

However, what some lawyers get up to in court quite often involves peddling fake tales to obfuscate the sad truth.

For you, when you doubt yourself, it might be worth listening to some tales of those who decided fakery was the only option.

One of the most powerful men in Hollywood, David Geffen, once described how he lied about his career in order to get a job as a talent agent. He said he'd been to UCLA. He hadn't. He came in early for six months straight in order to stop a letter from the school that explained it had never heard of him from falling into management hands. "Did I have a problem with lying to get the job? None whatsoever," he said.

This Reddit thread, too, has some interesting examples.

One tells the tale of a Romanian Holocaust survivor who could barely speak English, but was desperate for work. When a seamstress asked her if she knew how to sew, she claimed she did. This despite never having touched a needle in her life. Her advice: "If anyone offers you a job, take it, even if you aren't qualified. If you're smart and hungry, you'll figure it out."

I fancy there are many people in business who are, every day, just figuring it out.

Published on: Mar 27, 2016