Selective Honesty: How The Truth is Often a Little Too Convenient.

The story was simple but powerful: a young man drops out of college, apprentices under a world-renowned mentor and publishes a best selling-book, while serving as the head of marketing at an industry leading company — all in his early twenties.

It’s a great story, but a few key details were left out with creativity and selective honesty. This is what the story sounds like when details are included:

While in university, a young man got a job at a marketing company. While there, he worked on advertising a new book, did well and seemed to have found his calling. He met his mentor around this time, and made the choice to walk away from school because a clear future was in sight. The whole point going to school in the first place had been accomplished. Frankly, he had no reason to stay and it was safe to leave. From there, he worked with his mentor who had published several best-sellers, to publish a book of his own while becoming the head of marketing at a huge and well known company at the same time. Coincidentally, this mentor of his was on the board of directors of this company and had a hand in getting him the job. While the company in which he was the head of marketing has since failed, the book went on to become a best-seller, and this man is now wildly successful and has published many more successful books. (I also look up to him very much).

Now, there’s nothing wrong with either story. It’s how we choose to see it that matters. This person took the events of his life and made them useful in the pursuit of his goals. I admire this man, but there are lessons we all need to understand if we have a desire to create and distribute anything. Understand: if you’re not willing to curate your history and use it to your advantage, you are leaving opportunities on the table.

What was done in this case is also very simple.

  1. The reason for leaving school was never clarified.
  2. How the head of marketing role was secured was never clarified.
  3. The dynamic between the mentor and the company and the future book was never clarified.
  4. The actual work this person did was kept to “writing a book”; there was no clarity on how it was done, especially at first.

See the pattern?

The nuance is in the details, and the way they are included or left out.

Socially Intelligent Story-Telling Techniques:

Documenting history is the crafting of a story. It’s been this way since long before the Crusades, and remains this way whether we’re talking about head’s of state or you applying for your next job. Story-telling is understood as a universal technique in the art of convincing people of what you say, compelling them to act, or both.

Selective Honesty is based on the following principle: history is framed to create the impact that is desired by the story-teller. History is taken and edited to create this impact as deemed necessary. Some facts are adjusted, others are left out, and perhaps new information is introduced in an indirect and subtle way to add emphasis.

The reality of the matter is that it is always more effective to pay attention to actions over words. The reason why this has to be pointed out is because the potential power words have over us cannot be denied. While seeing the differences in actions and words before connecting the dots to deduce the truth has been addressed, it’s now time to start addressing word-play.

To miss-represent the facts as one sees fit is a classic move in creating social proof because the truth does not matter as much as what people think. The whole point of the story is give people a source of admiration. Transforming personal history into a well crafted story that appeals to the target audience is one of the fastest ways to create social proof — because history cannot be changed, and facts are facts. That’s why it’s such a big deal when people are caught in a lie about their past — because they took such a boorish approach that the story came apart.

Employing Story-Crafting Tactics:

Understand that the entirety of your story does not have to be told and that it is poor form to state a bold lie. The degree to which you balance these approaches is up to you, but I recommend leaving out the details when trying to curate a story that works to your advantage. Based on experiences throughout history, it is also evident that bold lies are not viable because of the risk. It can work, but the success ratio is so low that it’s not worth it at all.

Many will dislike what I have to say, because it’s essentially outing most people who have become successful on the back of selective honesty. I won’t throw anyone under the bus, but if you think about how much more there could be to the stories of success, you’ll realize that it’s useful on their parts to craft and curate.

Basic tactics:

  1. Leave out the strokes of luck.
  2. Make big decisions into bold actions and the results of those decisions from admirable qualities such as hard-work, strategy, and patience. Nobody wants to hear that you had all the right connections without much work.
  3. Drama is your friend, but too much drama, when untrue, will seem deceptive.
  4. Selling yourself short when crafting a story defeats the purpose of using a story to your advantage. Even when trying to demonstrate how humble you are, bragging about being humble is still bragging. This is about you, not a favor someone else did for you.
  5. Appealing to pity for popularity by crafting a sad story is a waste of your time. While it can work, it’s tasteless and you will immediately alienate anyone who sees it for what it is. State the challenges you have faced without milking them.
  6. If you’re unsure of sounding too cocky, get the opinion of someone you trust. If there is no one available, proceed with the more confident approach. It’s better to start cocky and become humble than the opposite.

Distributing the Story:

If you’re not doing anything, there is no point of distributing a story. Remember your strategy, understand your current environment with absolute clarity, and focus on the end-goal as you act. When these requirements are complete, then you may move on to the distribution of your story. Keep it simple at first and don’t be afraid to reveal more as time goes on.

The basic tactics involve social media, a personal blog, and publications like Medium as a great example. From there, you can include your work and the story behind it in your business endeavors. The industry will not matter early on because it may change, and because the general nature of your story will give you the flexibility to change and adjust as you need to.

Start with who you are, your background, some kind of challenge you’ve had (we’ve all got something), and connect a purpose to what you are doing. If you can narrow this down to a single word, all the better. Finding one word takes time, but a basic understanding works in the early stages.

Take this example:

The rise of technology is clear, but the fall in social intelligence remains an unsolved challenge. The Barbatvs Group believes that in order for humanity to reach new heights, people must grasp technology and social intelligence at the same time. It is how we will solve our problems, and still thrive as a species. The powerful and hidden truth of this world is that social intelligence is the most valuable quality a person can have. If you are talented socially and able to influence other people, you will be successful, regardless of your intelligence or abilities. Rational minds with the skills we need, that will solve humanity’s problems, are being hypocritically left behind. The Barbatvs Group challenges this decline by providing social intelligence strategies, tactics, and resources to people and companies that are striving to solve humanity’s problems.

You do not have to craft nor curate your story. It is a choice. When it looks good, sounds good, and has a powerful story behind it, chances are it will sell. That is why people employ these tactics. What you do is your business, not mine, but if you are a rational mind looking to make a name for yourself, understanding the effective use of stories is paramount to your success.

While your story may take it’s own form and shape, if you are trying to create and distribute anything, remember: if you are not willing to craft and curate your story, you will be leaving opportunities on the table.

For now, read more on tactics and strategies at and reach out to me if you have any questions.

Best of luck,