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36:2 Fake it till you make it?

Lee Matthew Jackson
Lee Matthew Jackson

You’ve heard the phrase “fake it till you make it”? Many agencies take this and feel they have to project an image of a large, vibrant, successful and global business that is going places. Others in the agency space try to establish themselves as authorities whilst they are struggling with the very things they teach.

Lee Matthew Jackson - Trailblazer FM ™


Lee Matthew Jackson

Trailblazer FM ™

In this episode I share my early business experience. I thought I had to project a certain image and it bit me in the butt! I will be sharing with you lessons I learned along the way and encouraging you to be proud of who you are.

  • One lie leads to another
  • You are going to start contradicting yourself
  • Over time others will see through it
  • The internet is a cruel and dodgy place
  • People admire honesty not smoke and mirrors
  • Expectation vs reality will be jarring for your clients
  • You attract the right clients when you show up as you


The Agency Highway Podcast episode – 095 – Authenticity and the benefits of staying small with Robey Lawrence

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Fake it till you make it (Don’t)
You’ve heard the phrase “fake it till you make it”? Many agencies take this and feel they have to project an image of a large, vibrant, successful and global business that is going places. Others in the agency space try to establish themselves as authorities whilst they are struggling with the very things they teach. Here is why you shouldn’t “fake it till you make it” _ One lie leads to another _ You are going to start contradicting yourself _ Over time others will see through it _ The internet is a cruel and dodgy place _ People admire honesty not smoke and mirrors _ Expectation vs reality will be off for your clients _ You attract the right clients when you show up as you Lee Matthew Jackson


Welcome to the Agency Trailblazer podcast, this is your host Lee, and on today’s show, we share with you the stream where I unpack showing up as your true, authentic self. You can find all of our live streams over on

Before we get on with the show, can I just thank Cloudways our sponsors for yet again making another episode happen. Cloudways have invested in me, which really helps me to produce this content of the show and they’ve given me a platform through the Cloudways Mavericks to be able to help more and more agencies all around the world. So I am really, really grateful to them. If you are looking for cloud hosting, I recommend

OK, on with the show. Let’s talk about faking it. Fake it till you make it. I am pretty sure that you have heard the phrase fake it till you make it and that is something in business that we think we need to do. We think we need to create an image of a business that is vibrant, that is successful, that is huge, that is multi staffed, that is global, that works with the biggest players. Frankly, that sucks and I want to talk to you about why we should not fake it till we make it and why we should show up as our true, authentic selves.

Let me share with you a few stories before we dive in. Years and years ago, I created an image of a big, vibrant, successful agency. I created an image where I was successful, i was well off. Everything was fine. I had lots of members of staff. I was able to go into meetings in London and tell people no problem, we will look after you. We’ve got oodles of staff. We’ve got tons of potential. We’ve got tons of talent and tons of skill. We will look after you and frankly, showing up in that manner and faking it is completely wrong and I am calling myself out. You know, fifteen years ago, I thought that was how you did business. I thought that’s how you showed up. The thing is, I got found out every single time because we couldn’t deliver. We could not live up to the image that I had created. And it soon became apparent that we were a small company. So that was something that I did for thankfully a very short amount of time. I thought that’s what you needed to do. I’d read up open books. I’d heard the phrase fake it till you make it and I learned the hard way that it frickin well sucks.

The other thing with regards to faking it till you make it is that there are all these experts online and you’ll know if you watch these live streams, how much these experts frustrate me. There are people in the agency space as well as any other business arena where they are setting themselves up as experts, as authorities. However, it’s clear to me that they are faking it until they make it, because they struggle with the very things that they try to teach. They will teach one thing and do the complete opposite. What they are teaching others is not reflected in their business life. It becomes very clear to me that people are trying to set themselves up as authorities and as industry leaders because they’ve failed to make a success of it and what they do in the day to day and they think their get out of jail free card or their way out of that cycle is to elevate themselves and become an industry leader or consultant, and thus they begin to fake it till they make it.

Now, thankfully, that’s only a minority of people, but we certainly see that happening in the agency space. And let’s go through some of those reasons why you should not fake it till you make it either in business or trying to establish yourself as some form of authority.

The one we all hear as kids is the one lie leads to another. If you’re going to tell them one lie, they’re going to ask you another question that feeds another lie. So 15 years ago, I’m showing up in London saying where some big company. And then when they ask me about, well, how will you support it? Then I have to come up with another lie to expand on that, because I’ve already talked about our vast support team and twenty four hour coverage. So now I have to lie a little bit more and start to build up this big, horrible mess.

The problem with lying second point is that you’re going to start contradicting yourself and that’s exactly what was happening with me. I could not keep up with all the lies that I was telling and therefore I was contradicting myself. People aren’t stupid, potential clients and existing clients are going to eventually see through the lies and they’re going to eventually see through the contradictions, that relationship is going to break down and you ain’t going to get no referrals from that customer anymore. Or things could go really south and they could decide to sue you. Like I said, thankfully, I learned very quickly not to do this. But some people operate in this mode. They operate out of an image that they’ve created, that they almost believe in themselves now. And they’ve created a whole narrative and they project this out there all the time, faking it till they make it. And it sucks, people do see through it. People do see the contradictions and let’s face it, if they don’t, you’re probably exhausted because you are absolute genius who’s had to keep all of these lies going and remember everything that you’ve ever said and that’s exhausting.

Like I’ve just said, over time, people are going to see through those lies, they’re going to see through those contradictions, especially if you’re showing up online, sharing information, teaching people and you’re being interviewed on podcasts, if you’re not showing up as your true, authentic self, if you’re not showing up is the real you, but you’re showing up as the person that creates stories about who you are, ie fake stories, fake personas, etc you are going to contradict yourself. People are going to see through that.

Next point is that the Internet is a cruel and a dodgy place. The moment I showed up online and launched my podcast and launched my first membership community and this was three or four years ago now, there are some cruel people online and there are people who will do their research. And I had a very weird person show up. He did some research on me. He researched my business. He didn’t research both my businesses. He only thought I had one. He researched my business. He searched my home. He he even got down to what my wife’s name was, her age, date of birth and everything, and sent me all of this information saying, who are you? This is the information I have on you. That was freaky.

But equally, that just highlights the fact that the Internet is a weird and a strange place. And if you are faking it til you make it, you are going to get called out by maybe a weirdo or maybe just somebody who to see through those lies, those creations that have been made through your storytelling. It was a very strange experience. However, I was able to go back to him and say, great, you don’t have the whole picture. But equally, my message is to build an agency that you love. I am not selling you the 10 x your income, I am telling you the creation of an agency that serves your lifestyle and what that looks like for one person looks completely different to another person. Therefore, I was showing up as my true authentic self. I was showing as Lee Jackson with a mission to help people, which was very, very specific mission that I am living in my own life, which I can outwork and help other people with. So when that weirdo got in touch, I was able to not only knock him back, but also tell him that if he ever, ever got in touch again, I was going to call the police because that was freaking freaky.

All right, let’s keep going on. People admire honesty rather than smoke and mirrors. People want to know about you. They want to know what you struggle with. They want to know what you excel in. They want to know the real you. They want to know that you are human. They want to know that they can relate with you. You can’t relate with somebody who has it right all the time, who is always right, who is always perfect. You cannot relate to that person. That person is probably faking it until they make it. You want to be able to resonate with those people who are showing up as themselves, who are showing up, warts and all.

I’m not saying that you have to tell people absolutely everything, all the bad and all the good, etc. But what I am saying is don’t sugarcoat everything and create this image that life is perfect, that you are super successful, that your business is super successful, that your business is huge, and that we can look after you, etc..

I have signed some of the biggest contracts of my life with some huge organizations around the world and they know the size of the company that I run. They know there’s only a handful of people involved. They know the turnover. They know that’s a risk. But they love us, they love the authenticity that exudes. That’s a great word exudes from our organization the honesty, the authenticity, the excitement, the willingness to serve, the passion for what we have. Those big corporations trust us and take a punt on us as a small business because we show up as we are. They love honesty. They love that authenticity. So I would encourage you to show up as you are, don’t show up as something you want to try and create or as an image.

Expectation versus reality, the expectation that your client will have because of the smoke and mirrors that you have created will be dramatically dashed when they actually start to work with you, without you setting yourself up as an authority and teaching things that you’ve perhaps not even done, maybe your teaching theory and hoping that other people will be able to take that. The reality may be that those consuming the content you’re creating don’t get what it is they thought they were getting. Equally if you were selling a service or website or whatever, and the client expected the support of a large company and were instead getting the support of a very small one person to person band expectations versus reality, you set the wrong expectations when you create something that doesn’t exist. And that is scary stuff because your client is going to experience reality and they are either going to think you lied or that you’re a very big company. That sucks.

Finally, you attract the right clients when you show up as you. It’s true. Showing up as you, as yourself, as your business, warts and all. Your personality and all. Who you are really, really works. In my experience, i said earlier we have signed some of the biggest contracts of my life by showing up as ourselves, by being honest about the business, honest about who we are, by showing our personality, by not dressing with a suit and tie, but actually rocking up in a hoodie and a cap and signing some of those biggest contracts of our lives with some of the biggest organizations that we could ever have dreamed of working with, because they recognized, like I said, our passion, our skill, our energy. They recognized that we could do the job, we could really look after these guys and they really liked us and they really liked working with us.

Heck, we’ve been working with some of the same companies now for eight, nine, 10 years. And they’ve seen my transition as well from the guy who used to wear a suit and tie thinking that’s what he had to to do to being the guy who just shows up as his true, authentic selves and we’ve had the most fun over the last five years. As I’ve got rid of the tie, I’ve got rid of the suit, I’ve got rid of all the trappings of creating this large global formal agency, that’s super hyper successful, and actually created a real family run business that values family, that values clients, that values value, that values honesty.

Our clients love it. We attract the right clients because we’re showing up as ourselves, we’ve not got any lies. We’re not creating this big image that we then have to live up to. We’re just simply showing up as us and that attracts the right clients.

Let’s do a recap and then I want to share results with you that I think is well worth a listen. One lie leads to another. It’s simple. You’re going to start contradicting yourself at some point. And because of those contradictions and those lies, people are going to start to see through all of that.

Remember, the Internet is a dodgy place and if you are showing up and lying, somebody is going to find you. People admire honesty, not smoke and mirrors. They can’t live up to smoke and mirrors, but they can relate with your honesty. Expectation versus reality is going to be off kilter when people start to work with you based on the image you’ve created versus the reality that you actually can do. You attract the right clients when you show up as yourself. I have shared stories where that has been true in my life. I would encourage you if you have felt the pressure to fake it till you make it, then that’s fine. We all have. I started doing that many years ago and learned the hard way that it’s the wrong direction to go in.

Before we wrap up, we’re going to take a look at some comments. But can I encourage you to go and check out the There is episode number ninety five. My real good friend Robey Lawrence shares why it’s important to show up as your true, authentic self. He also shares the benefits of being a small agency. So I highly recommend you go ahead and listen to that again. A lot of authorities out there would make you think you have to create a large business with seven, eight figures, with multiple employees, et cetera, et cetera. Go and listen to this, because this will this might actually allow you to go and take a holiday.

Let’s take a look at the comments. Nick says, yep, people who know what they’re doing will easily find the gaps in your comments. Correct. Robey says people don’t want to know who you’re not. That’s a great one. Nicole says good morning and she says so true probably to everything I just said. Thank you. Nicole said showing up as you is a total win win. You get to work with people you’ll get on with and enjoy working. Amen. Tanya says, yep, that’s one reason why I don’t rehearse my pitches. Takes out the authenticity, at least for me. Yeah, you are so right. I used to rehearse my pitches, so I had them down word for word, and then I would become like a robot. I even had all of these answers in my head that I would give if they asked certain really probing, difficult questions. And again, a lot of it was all smoke and mirrors. It was hard work. I hated all of that. Nicole says that video with a suit will haunt me. Yes, I will share because Tanya wants to see it as well. I will share the very video I’m talking about where I show up as my not true authentic self. So I used to do it. I did it fifteen years ago by creating a false narrative for a while.

Then when I dropped the false narrative, I then started showing up as somebody that I wasn’t so well, though I was still telling the truth about the business, I was still trying to create an image of somebody who I wasn’t. So I still wasn’t being authentic. I was still faking what I thought people wanted to see. And it’s only been in the last five years or I’ve just thought, sod it. I just need to be Lee Matthew Jackson.

I just need to be Matthew Jackson with my cap in a little back office in my now three bedroomed terraced house because we just had a third bedroom added with my new car as it got nice little new car.But it’s a used car because it’s cheaper. Me. I love my life. I love the garden. I went out yesterday and at lunchtime and had lunch with my girls. That was lovely. Because we run two small businesses, that affords me the freedom to be able to take an afternoon off or take some time out and that’s really nice. I don’t really need to travel the world. I don’t need a massive mansion. I don’t need to scale to multi millions of pounds.

That’s not what I’m all about. Never have been. Never will be. If I get multi millions of pounds by accident, then great, I’ll be nice. But it’s not really what I’m all about and I enjoy the freedom of being Lee Matthew Jackson, who shows up with that message rather than trying to be the Lee Matthew Jackson. That is trying to create some sort of amazing narrative and trying to promise you things that I can’t help you get because I haven’t even done them.

Thanks, folks. You’re all awesome. Let me know if you have any questions. If you’re watching the replay, type in replay, you are all freaking awesome.

Thank you so much for listening. If you want to be a part of those live streams, head on over to If you have any questions, come and join us in the Facebook group over on

If we don’t see you on the lives, if we don’t see you in the Facebook group, then we will see you in next week’s episode.


PodcastSeason 36

Lee Matthew Jackson

Content creator, speaker & event organiser. #MyLifesAMusical #EventProfs