Hook, Line and Sinker

If you catch a record size fish and no one is there to see it, did you still break the record? And if you didn’t catch a record size fish, but there is no one there to deny it, so you tell the world that you broke a record, do you get the credit?

More and more, it seems to me, it is of equal or greater importance what the world thinks is true, versus what really is true… what we refer to in the business as perception being more important than reality.
But I raised my three children to believe in themselves, to believe in God and to believe in their actions.  I told them that what really counted was not what people thought, but rather the truth.  And if someone or even many did not believe you, then tough for them; in the end, the truth is all that matters.
Now I feel guilty that I may not have equipped my children for the real world (not the Real World).
I’ve touched on this discussion before, but I am acutely aware of it as a result of a recent fishing trip.  My brother and a couple friends spent four days on the Clarion River chasing smallmouth bass and native brookies.  Naturally we all caught more fish and we all caught the largest and longest fish.  That’s the way it is with fishing; we are competitive and we love to tell stories… even if they stretch the boundaries of truth.
But life isn’t fishing.  And whether we are talking about companies or products or politicians, we should not ever be stretching the boundaries of truth. Still…
In my opinion, I should NOT have to wonder if one of the nation’s 10 largest banks – National City Bank – was poorly run; after all, CEO Peter Raskind told the world back in January “National City remains fundamentally strong and well capitalized and expects to meet its challenges.” Liar, liar, pants on fire. You were broke and you knew it, that is the truth.
Or what about Hillary and Barack?  I would expect that I should NOT have to wonder if the possible future president of the United States is telling me the truth.  After all, they are being followed 24/7 by the media and groupies; how could they possibly consider telling a lie.  Still, Hillary continues to lie about her support/opposition of NAFTA, just like Barack lies about taking money from oil company CEOs.  Lies, fibs and tall tales.  Just tell the truth already.
But it’s not just the big shots and the big companies.  Everywhere I look I see people pretending to be things they are not, all for the sake of getting ahead or getting noticed or getting paid.
I am reminded of the lyrics of the Billy Joel song, Honesty:
Honesty is such a lonely word.
Everyone is so untrue.
Honesty is hardly ever heard.
And mostly what I need from you.
So I am extending an olive branch in the name of truth. I did not catch the most fish while in Cook Forest (though I did catch a lot; like 90 in four days). As for the biggest/longest fish, my personal best was an 18″ bronzeback that had to go two pounds. I am pretty sure it was in fact the biggest fish of the trip, but I have no way of knowing for sure, so I will leave that door open. 
That is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Jim Sweeney


Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.