I’m All For Working The System But …

I regularly tell my boys to work the system. There is nothing wrong with taking full advantage of what is legally, morally, and ethically allowed. Working the system means playing within the rules and not purposely deceiving people. You just know how the system works and you play within the rules of the system as well as anyone can.

This is part of why I really enjoy the story of Elizabeth Swaney the American freeskier who made it on the Hungarian Winter Olympic Team. This CBS Sports article is titled “Meet Elizabeth Swaney, the American skier who scammed her way to the Olympics“, but I disagree with the thought that she “scammed her way to the Olympics.” Swaney read the rules and figure out a way to use the rules to her advantage. She didn’t deceive anyone. She just realized that if she went to every credited event possible and simply didn’t crash, then she would have enough points to qualify for the Olympics. I like working the system like that. That’s smart, not deceptive.

What Clint Arthur has done for people is an entirely different sort of thing. You can read this Wall Street Journal article for more details. The cliff notes of the article are that the “screenwriter, former taxi driver and organic-butter salesman” Clint Arthur rented rooms at Harvard Business School and West Point for events interested people could pay him $5,000 to $25,000 to “invite” them to lecture at these events. The “invitees” could then advertise to that they have been invited to lecture at those schools, and thus gain more repsct. This isn’t finding a way to use the rules to your advantage (i.e. working the system), but purposefully trying to deceive others for your own advantage.

This works to Arthur’s client’s advantage by giving them unearned gravitas. To quote the article:

That helps his clients stand out amid hundreds of thousands of financial advisers offering similar services whose quality is hard for consumers to distinguish.

“In order for a person to give you a lot of money,” Mr. Arthur said in an interview, “they must admire you, like you and trust you.”

There’s nothing there to respect. You didn’t teach at Harvard Business School, you paid someone to let you speak at their fake “business coaching” event that just so happened to be at Harvard instead of a Super 8. This is really not cool. It is a worse version of “diploma mills.” Come on people, if you want the credit do the work.

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