Grifters. Con Artists. Scammers: plenty are the definitions associated to persons whose sole purpose in life is to relieve us from our money and possessions.
In the realm of fiction, countless are the books and comics, TV series and movies centered on the figure of a grifter. Probably the earliest fiction con job was when the snake convinced eve to eat the forbidden fruit (if you are into bible stuff). After that, we fell in love with various characters who stimulated our imagination; from the rocambolesque adventures of Arsène Lupin, to Fantômas, to the Italian Diabolik; in the TV series White Collar, Leverage, the Imposters, Hustle; in the movies Ocean 11 (and 12, and 13), Now You See Me, and so on, we take sides with these anti-heroes, secretly hoping that they will succeed in their deception.
In real life, con artists are instead the bane of our existence: imagine the sinking feeling of finding that someone we trusted stole everything from under our feet, or that a contract deal we believed to be solid doesn’t exist at all — nor does exist the firm we allegedly entered into business with. We feel robbed—and almost raped in the soul; not to mention the shame of having to tell others about it, like reporting the theft to the police; at the best of cases we are treated with arrogant pity, at the worse with plain out disdain. We have to admit with great embarrassment that we let our guard down and allowed others to take advantage of our gullibility. That’s why many crimes don’t even get reported, because we don’t want to be told how stupid we’ve been to fall for such scams.
If it’s of any consolation, don’t. Don’t feel stupid or gullible. Certainly, maybe too trusting, but keep in mind that you have dealt with professionals, people who are experts in their field.
Con artists are, without a doubt, despicable people who prey onto others whose only fault is to be too trusting towards other human beings.
But (yes, ‘BUT’) what are the positive lessons we can learn from grifters? I listed a few that can apply to our everyday’s life:
1. Plan everything and in detail
2. Prepare for the unexpected
3. Know your mark (in our ‘honest life’ case he would be called ‘a client’)
4. Have a side plan should the first one fail
5. Be creative
6. Think ‘out of the box’
7. Timing is the key
8. Let your mark think it was HIS idea
9. If giving a mark the idea they won because it serves your purpose, let them have it. Then go back and read point 4.
10. Know your tools
11. Be agile and flexible
12. In every plan things might go wrong
13. Cover all your bases
14. Assume nothing
15. Be a great communicator
16. Hold your cards to the chest
17. Be able to “tell a story”
18. Never go unprepared
19. You will make mistakes: learn from them
20. Men are more emotional than women: use that to your advantage
21. Think quick, but think well and carefully
22. Be prepared to go the extra mile
23. Always reach your goal
Long story short: anybody can teach us something valuable.
Cheers, and keep being fantastic!