You Can’t Seem Good, Without Being Good.

In a sufficiently connected and unpredictable world, you can’t seem good without being good.

– Paul Graham (Jan. 2015)

Paul Graham, the founder of Y Combinator just published a great essay about Ron Conway, the Founder of SV Angel, and one of the most respected figures in Silicon Valley.

The point of the essay was simply that the way to the top is by genuinely being good.

Paul goes on to write…

No one, VC or angel, has invested in more of the top startups than Ron Conway. He knows what happened in every deal in the Valley, half the time because he arranged it.

And yet he’s a super nice guy. In fact, nice is not the word. Ronco is good. I know of zero instances in which he has behaved badly. It’s hard even to imagine.“

While the essay is a great tribute to a universally liked man, the point that caught my attention was about a trend that is more prevalent in tech startups, but is emerging in many industries.

Paul’s exact words were,

The startup world is more transparent and unpredictable than most, but almost everywhere the trend is in that direction.

This is a very interesting dynamic. Transparency and unpredictability is what forces the underlying point that its getting harder and harder to fake it. In a sufficiently connected world, which is also unpredictable, you have no choice but to actually be a good person to be perceived as one.

I can’t get this feeling out my mind that there is a wide open opportunity in almost every industry to be open, honest, and completely transparent with your customers and not only still turn a profit, but gain more trust than all your competitors combined.

I’ve written several times about this idea, everything from making embarrassing confessions to your customers…to being the only truth teller in a land of liars.

The bottom line is that we are in a sufficiently connected world… and if your business thrives on the ignorance of your customers. If you turn a profit simply because you know something your customers don’t know without providing some sort of value creation, your days are numbered.

Very few people are brave enough to be completely transparent, but the few that have…are all successful.

No one said success comes easy…but everyone agrees that trust is a key ingredient to success in business.

This is why the unpredictability of the future is a piece of this puzzle.

Abe Lincoln once said,

“No one has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.”

If there was certainty in the future, than people can easily fake being good. But, with so much uncertainty, you never know which bridges not to burn, so you must not burn any bridges.

So, as Paul Graham so succinctly stated,

In a sufficiently connected and unpredictable world, you can’t seem good without being good.

I for one can’t wait for the day when the world is sufficiently connected that we can weed out all the scams and evil and choose good every time.


About David Melamed

David Melamed is the Founder of Tenfold Traffic, a search and content marketing agency with over $50,000,000 of paid search experience and battle tested results in content development, premium content promotion and distribution, Link Profile Analysis, Multinational/Multilingual PPC and SEO, and Direct Response Copywriting.

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