A lot of the guys I grew up with in Brooklyn were artists. BS artists. And I mean they were good at it. You didn’t have to be a gambler to bet that much of what came out of their mouths was complete BS. It was a sure bet.

After getting burned a few times, I developed an internal BS detector. It’s not something that happened consciously but was more a matter of survival. To this day, I can smell it a mile away. And it really comes in handy in our user-generated content-crazy world.

All the fads, myths, quick fixes, miracle cures, crazes, pseudoscience, personal branded virtual personas, magical thinking, feel good fluff – I see it all day long and every single time sets off my BS detector.

The other day I was wondering how millions of people could live with themselves spreading all that nonsense. Then it occurred to me that maybe they just don’t know it. Maybe making stuff up and posting everything that crosses their Facebook feed is just the new human condition.

Maybe they just … can’t … help … themselves.

So I thought I’d give you all a checklist so you can tell when someone’s full of $#*!:

They can’t even get through a sentence without contradicting themselves.

Note that GMOs were developed to more efficiently feed the world’s growing population.

They can’t even recognize their own social media profile.

First look at their picture. If it looks more like their kid than them, that’s a dead giveaway. As for their description … aw, who am I kidding; there isn’t a grain of truth, is there?

They’re best-selling authors, serial entrepreneurs, investors, experts, and award winning something or others.

I’ve gotten to the point where, as soon as I read one of these laundry list profiles, I instantly know it’s entirely made up. I see them every day. No kidding.

Their Facebook page resembles a scene from The Stepford Wives.

They have a model wife, genius kids, and a dog that can do a Rubik’s cube in 45 seconds flat.

They dream of becoming a LinkedIn influencer, giving a TED talk, or being interviewed by Jon Stewart.

People with real careers and accomplishments shouldn’t care less about that sort of nonsense (including the President of the United States, by the way).

Dan Schawbel’s Me 2.0 is their bible.

The personal branding craze is responsible for more made up virtual personas than anything else … except narcissism.

They’re CEO of a one-person company. 

Read my lips: chief executive officer is a corporate title. No corporation + no board of directors + no management team = no CEO.

They think Tony Robbins is for real.

There’s a sucker born every minute … and I think Tony Robbins figured out how to make a living off them.

They have a cause.

Sorry to break it to everyone but, these days in the golden age of fads, most causes are complete BS. OK, some are legit, but they’re few and far between.

They really believe that what they read online is true.

Tell them to subscribe to this blog; we’ll fix them right up.

  • Madhavan

    Steve – I am a fan of your writings, but you got something wrong about the tweet by Stewart. You are ridiculing someone without understanding the context of the tweet. Clue – Check Marc Andreessen’s twitter feed(and StewartFortier is following Mark in twitter)

    • Steve Tobak

      Come on now; you’ve got to admit it’s pretty funny. I guess if he wants his tweets to have context he needs to learn to use Twitter. The guy tweeted me out of the blue — something about Tesla I think — with no context either. So I clicked on his profile to see if I could find one and found his GMO tweet instead.

      I don’t even want to know how you made a connection between this guy and Andreessen. That’s just plain scary. 😉

      • Madhavan

        Marc and his Twitter followers have been having fun tweeting some contradictory stuff. Connecting this guy with Marc was just pattern recognition, and nothing scary Steve 🙂

        And I admit that if he tweeted something which you are not following, he needs to learn to use Twitter.

    • I can give you an example I just had physically on my hands yesterday, although it is written in Spanish:

      It says:

      Taurine Decalogue
      1. The taurine loves freedom.
      2. The bullfighting is ethical.
      3. The bullfighting maintains animal species.
      4. Geniuses of mankind defend bullfighting.
      5. Breeding bull is ecological.
      6. The bull guarantees work.
      7. The bullfighter loves the bull.
      8. The taurine respects the bull in the bullfight.
      9. To be a bullfighter: die for nothing is the supreme excellence.
      10. The taurine respects tradition and their elders.

      My favourite is number 4, jajaja 😄

  • SQDB

    I like Tony Robbins.

    • Steve Tobak

      I’m so happy for you. 😉

      Anyone else want to weigh in on Anthony Robbins while we’re at it?

      • I have seen thousands of videos on spiritual growth and success, and the only video I started seeing about Anthony Robbins I just quit it.

        Moreover I work exactly where I wrote down, even it seemed impossible. So my criteria on success should be valid.

  • dougwo

    Tony Robbins sells a product that only works for 1% of his customers. What other industry is like that?

    • Steve Tobak

      Which 1% is that? Sure it’s not 0%?

    • Happy people doesn’t read books about happiness. That’s the teaching.
      As people doesn’t keep thinking about good products, as nobody cares about what simply works.

      That explains why people cares a lot about new technologies.

  • Sebastian

    Thank you! This article is like an oasis of sanity! I’m really happy for finding it, recently i started to think there is something wrong with me for not doing what the other people are doing :/

    • Steve Tobak

      There might be something wrong with you, Sebastian, but that’s not it. 😉


    • Well you can be training six times a week, sleeping at night and eating healthy; and suddenly you are in the niche group.

  • Bahahahahahaha! Aaaaaand, Steve drops the mic, especially on the last one…OMG, you nailed it here.

    Thanks for sharing. I already liked you, based on this post about self promotion: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/245233?utm_content=bufferd3256&amp%3Butm_medium=social&amp%3Butm_source=facebook.com&amp%3Butm_campaign=buffer

    Now, it’s getting dangerously close to admiration….and for this realistic optimist (full of contradictions, i know), my admiration aint easy to come by (especially with the litany of B.S. out there).

    Ironically, I’ve been touting (and gifting to everyone who comes within 3 feet of me) a book by a friend (and client) who wrote #ItsALLBSbook, Dr. Jason Richardson.
    He tells it like it is. You guys would get along great.
    Caring realists, i like to call you. You call it as you see it, BECAUSE you care. Love that. 🙂 Thanks for brightening my weekend!

    • Steve Tobak

      Great to meet a like-minded … shit, just spilled ice tea all over myself … Wait, where was I? Oh yeah, welcome aboard, Lynn. We need more like you around here. Will have to check out your friend’s book sometime; you should definitely point him here.

      • that’s a given, Steve. DrJRich will be finding out about you very soon, if he hasn’t already. Great company to keep, for sure (both of you)!

      • Liya Semerdjieva

        With you guys!!! Steve I might be young still but finally started to see through the BS artists and you are so painfully right- they are bloody EVERYWHERE!!!!! Thank you so much for your existence , your articles and advice have given me strength to fight with the Fuckers!!! Bless you! Have an amazing day!

        • Steve Tobak

          I guess you can thank my folks for that (my existence). That’s right; never give up, never surrender! Stick around, Liya … we need more like you.

  • LOL. Good list.

  • Nice to check that I’m on the other side, although perhaps I was there a long time ago. Seems that I learned something on the way.

  • Basically, yeah you hit the nail on the head!!

    I’ve come across two people in the ‘corporate world’ who wear glasses with no prescription because they think it will make people assume they are smarter , the failure in their method is they are using cool hip hop glasses that corporate people would generally not wear!

  • Reggie Mares

    So who are you voting for president, Steve?

    • Steve Tobak

      Getting a little ahead of things, aren’t you? We haven’t even had the primaries yet. Besides, as an opinion columnist, I don’t get into that sort of thing.

      • Reggie Mares

        Just wondering since we are in the subject of ‘How to Tell When Someone’s Full of $#*!’ , there’s a great display of that during election year…haha. BTW I like your writing style.

        • Steve Tobak

          No kidding. I honestly don’t know how some of them live with themselves. Thanks!