Perception as Reality

Thoughts become perception, perception becomes reality. Alter your thoughts, alter your reality. – William James

Value-first is a perception. If your customer does not perceive it as value, then it’s not valuable. – Jeffrey Gitomer

Perception or reality, now what’s realer? And can I trust that man in the mirror? The death-span of the human mind gets nearer … Only place guaranteed is the grave out here. – Joey Bada$$, Perception v. Reality

Perception is Reality

I watch movies from time to time, and recently watched Catch Me If You Can. Watch it if you haven’t seen it; it’s a great movie. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as con artist Frank Abagnale who learned some tricks from his father.

In one scene, his father, played by Christopher Walken, asks Frank, “You know why the Yankees always win, Frank?”

Frank replies: “’Cause they have Mickey Mantle?”

“No, it’s ‘cause the other teams can’t stop staring at those damn pinstripes.”

I gave that some thought. What I took it to mean is that it wasn’t because Mickey Mantle or anyone great was on the Yankees. Rather, it was because they were the Yankees in uniform. The perception that the Yankees always won depresses the other teams so much that the Yankees win just by being the Yanks.

How To Create Your Desired Perception

This may come as a surprise to you, but I am a slightly aggressive personality. As a lender, my theory is that I would rather litigate everything into the ground, not because I really hate the other side, but because I want to build a reputation as someone who fights every time. That reputation is a perception I intentionally cultivate. The same intention we try to cultivate here at Geraci when we dominate the conversation.

Because perception is reality. What you perceive and believe is what is. Regardless of truth, that is your truth. Let me give you a detailed example.

Reality Behind Torches of Freedom

In 1929, the tobacco industry hired one of the most renowned public relations persons of the time, Edward Bernays, to create a campaign centered around women. At the time, cigarettes for women were taboo. It was also a closed market to women, because in some states, smoking for women was criminalized. With the rise of women’s rights in the 1910s and 20s, the tobacco industry felt this was the time to harness the power of the movement and equate it with smoking cigarettes. Bernays hired a psychologist to say, “Today the emancipation of women has suppressed many of their feminine desires. More women now do the same work as men do. Many women bear no children; those who do bear have fewer children. Feminine traits are masked. Cigarettes, which are equated with men, become torches of freedom.”

Bernays then decided to make a move. He hired women to smoke in the Easter Sunday Parade in New York. He carefully selected the women to be good looking but not too good looking. This was risqué because, before this time, women were only able to smoke in designated places. Bernays then had his photographer record and photograph the event. Women were encouraged to light their “torches of freedom” in support of fighting discrimination against women.

Perception Behind Torches of Freedom

Bernays took the above photos and published them around the world. The campaign was talked about everywhere. The women’s walk in the parade was seen as a national protest, and women around the world embraced it. And they lit their torches of freedom. Sales of cigarettes to women increased from 5% in 1923 to 12% in 1929 to 18.1% in 1935.

Was it a women’s movement? Absolutely. Women obtained the right to vote in 1916 and continued to fight discrimination at home while men went off to fight in World Wars I and II. But Bernays carefully orchestrated the torches of freedom campaign for the purpose of increasing the market share of women who smoked. And it worked. The perception was cigarettes equaled protesting.

What is the Perception You Want to Create?

Take a look at the above example. For the same reason that Bernays created the torches of freedom, we at Geraci want to create the perception of being a world-class organization with aggressive attorneys and top-of-the-line conferences and magazines. We want the private lending community to understand that we are all things private lending. We are doing that through a variety of ways summed up in “dominating the conversation.” We’re publishing a book, creating a platform, and all of our goals are showing the community that we will add value to them every way we can.

The Flip Side: See Through Perception to Find Reality

There are three truths. There’s my truth, your truth and then THE truth. – Chinese proverb

Are you sure you’re seeing THE truth? In the above example, women’s truth was the torches of freedom as a women’s movement. The cigarette company’s truth was a sophisticated public relations campaign aimed at getting women to buy more cigarettes. THE truth? To me, the truth is that it was both. It was a sophisticated marketing campaign that took a symbol of protest, the cigarette, and turned it into something that had more meaning than either side probably intended.

The same thing can be said about Apple. Apple’s truth is they want to make a large profit. Did you know it only costs $200 to make an iPhone? And yet they are able to charge a 75% premium for your enjoyment of it. Knowing that, we still pay it. Why? For some people, Apple is a way of life, a cult, if you will. The perception of Apple is that they are rebels, and that owning a part of their “culture” means you adopt their rebel status. Some people even get tattoos of Apple’s logo. What does that say about Apple’s perception? What is Apple’s reality? Apple is a company that drives products to the masses and profits to its shareholders. What is THE truth about Apple? A bit of both, like the torches of freedom.

What are your torches of freedom? What perception do you want to create that makes you appear better, faster, stronger? What makes Geraci perceived to be the authority on private lending? Don the pinstripes. Be the Yankees. Create the perception. Own the reality.

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