‘But mommy,” the little boy said, “the emperor has no clothes!” No matter what
culture or background you come from, The Emperor’s New Clothes is one of the
most famous and popular stories in the world. And the phrase, “The emperor has
no clothes,” taken from the classic children’s tale is one of the most famous
quotes from the story.
It is so popular because every human being sees
the emperor, oddly enough, in themselves.
My dear reader, you might be a
doctor, one of the best in the country. Or you may be an excellent and
well-respected and known practitioner in whatever profession you are in. But
deep inside you feel that you are not as good as people think.
doctors do have that extra fear about “No matter what I do I might be sued,” I’m
talking about a different fear. I’m talking about the insecurity inside you that
reminds you that no matter how excellent people say you are, you don’t believe
you are as good as your reputation. No matter how happy your clients are, you
sometimes feel like you are insufficiently capable of truly doing what others
say you do well. You live fearing that someone will point at you and say: “The
emperor has no clothes!”
Pretty much all of us suffer from this malady. Even
after I was consulting for major clients and speaking professionally at
conferences, I myself had this little voice in my mind, telling me “You’re just
bluffing!” It was only in the last year or so, that I understood this issue
After helping one of America’s top physicians, a man twice my age
with twice my experience, with a tremendous business challenge, I still had the
uncomfortable feeling that I didn’t know quite enough. I thought to myself,
maybe I should get an MBA. (Aside from Bachelor’s degree in Talmudic Law, which
isn’t exactly relevant for business strategy, never mind social media, I don’t
have a business degree!)
I felt like I knew a lot. I know others thought so,
too. One client alone has consulted with me for over 140 hours – so I knew that
they were obviously receiving value. Yet, no matter how I reflected on my
clients and their successes due to my advice, the feeling I wasn’t as good as
others told me I was, wouldn’t go away.
During this time, I met an expert
in Azerbaijani oil fields named Joseph Sherman, who has an MBA from Ecole de
Management de Marseille. We became friends – after meeting via thought, media
and business guru Seth Godin’s website, Triiibes.com.
Joseph has an
impressive background and an MBA. Here was a true expert I thought! I hoped to
learn and gain more insights that would help me continue to enhance my own
skills. Here was a chance to help clients even more and see where I really
I thought all these things only to find out that while he had learned a
good many concepts (and math, which is not my forte) that would help businesses
in many ways, when it came to practical, hand on nuts and bolts business
strategy and marketing advice, He was learning from me.
He advised me not
to waste my time and energy on business school. The only thing I truly needed
was not more education and credentials, or a fancy vellum certificate and a gold
seal. I just needed to alleviate my own feelings of unworthiness. I thought
about this and realized how ready I was to hand my power and my money to someone
else that I thought could help me, when what I needed was simply to trust
So let me pass along the secret of the universal truth of the
emperor’s new clothes to you all. The first fact is, underneath our white lab
coats, suits, or Chassidic bekeshes, we are all the same.
We all feel
vulnerable, exposed; unworthy and unskilled no matter what degrees, credentials
or expertise we’re “wearing.”
The second fact is facts matter more than
feelings. Have you ever walked past a mirror on a day when you felt pretty good?
You look at yourself and say, “What a handsome fellow I am!” But 30 minutes
later, after bad news or something discouraging happening, you can look in the
same mirror and think, “Oy! I’m fat, or old, or I sure look tired.” The fact is
you are the same. Your feelings changed, so your thoughts changed. The facts did
Business is the same way. When you have a customer yell at you, or
fire you, or complain, you think, “The emperor has no clothes. Who am I
fooling?” When customers love you, you feel like a king! The universal truth
behind the emperor’s new clothes is that everything is about perception – your
So sit down. Evaluate your business based on facts. Are you still in
business? Are people buying from you? Do you have people telling you that you’re
wonderful? Then believe them. The same person (you!) who tells your self “the
emperor has no clothes,” is the same person who can say: “The emperor has plenty
of clothes and looks good in them.”
It’s up to you to decide, but realize
you are not alone and take comfort in that fact.
Issamar Ginzberg is a rabbi, businessman, public speaker and marketer.