Lessons from the Dark Arts – Part I: The Con Man

Conning People – Hustling. These are not for the faint of heart. Nor are they for people with extremely high moral compasses. But just like all other professions, they too have their legends. There is a reason why they attain legendary status. They are masters in their chosen art. And they leave behind traces of their mastery for people who wish to learn from them.  

Con Man

I have learnt some very valuable lessons just by studying them. These legends learnt their lessons by spilling blood (often their own), being in life and death situations and surviving to tell their story. These lessons are not taught in your classrooms. Nor will you gain any advantage from them if you don’t apply them in your life. In these posts, I will show you what these masters of the dark realms can teach you.

The Con Man

Ever heard of Ponzi schemes? Where you cheat people out of their hard-earned money? That’s right. It’s named after the first guy who swindled the so-called Rich and Smart investors for a neat $20 million. And this was back in early 1900’s!

Charles Ponzi a.k.a. Charles Ponci, Carlo ,Charles Bianchi. One of the first Confidence tricksters to make it large. To the untrained eye, Charles Ponzi on a holiday could have been easily mistaken for a suave and sophisticated gentleman. To the trained eye, he would have appeared to be a iron man of indomitable will, wealth and power. He rendered your observation skills pretty useless.


Ponzi made it his business to be unruffled under any circumstance. He was absolutely fearless in executing his schemes and with ruthless focus made them profitable. The most important lesson I learned from him is the art of Supreme Confidence.

Lesson 1: Acquire Supreme Confidence

There is a whole lot of difference in having Confidence and displaying Supreme Confidence. An average level of confidence works for most people. They remain content in being a good team player, growing slowly and working hard. If you wish to stand out and rise, you need to do it like a Con Man. There are 3 simple ingredients for Supreme Confidence:

a) Appearance

“People respond to how we are dressed. So like it or not, this is what you have to do.”

 – Harvey Specter (Suits)

This might seem glaringly obvious. Yet, so many of us fail to do it. Even Nature uses appearance to intimidate, threaten and hide from predators when it suits her purpose.  We are all wired in our subconscious to respond to appearance. This does not mean being dressed as a dandy. Carefully craft your dressing to convey sharpness and Professionalism.

Harvey Specter

Con-men also teach it is not just enough if you dress appropriately. It needs to be accompanied by the right posture, mental attitude and gestures. These complete the picture of a person who is effortlessly at ease with himself/herself.

b) Authority

Studies in Psychology have shown the power of Perceived Authority. If you want to be respected as a consummate professional in your field, wear the authority of one. Your appearance should complement your air of authority for maximum effect.

Be careful not to use this with actual authorities if you do not have the stuff to back it up. This is how most cons are caught. Instead, use perceived authority as a tool to help you get into meetings and places where you can learn. Absorb information faster than your competitors while they remain meek and humble.

c) Using Herd Mentality

The most important lesson of having Supreme Confidence is understanding and using Herd Mentality. Most people are never sure of themselves in life. They always seek to validate their actions by seeking permission or approval from their Bosses/Superiors.

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Aubenoire’s Blog

 This is where Con Men steal it from right under everyone’s noses. They know that once they get those few important people in their target segment to invest in their schemes, the large majority will follow them. The larger this following gets, the more successful the Con.

Always keep a look out for herd mentality if you wish to stand out. As organizations become large, there is a tendency to follow pointless processes and systems by all and sundry. See if you can show the person in charge the error of the herd (Be gentle. See how Ponzi charms the first target below).

Charles Ponzi
Source: UK Telegraph

This act has a dual advantage. Not only will you be recognized as an upcoming star, but you will also receive the gratitude of your fellow workers for reducing their burden. A confident person is also seen as reliable and trust-worthy. People will end up associating positive qualities to you thanks to your Halo effect.

These traits of ‘Fake it till you make it’ have consistently helped a multitude of high performers. When you believe in yourself, both your self-esteem and the odds of being successful in your task improve by leaps and bounds. Put this lesson to work and start exuding Supreme Confidence from this very moment! Let me know how it works out for you by leaving your comments below.

Good Luck!

5 thoughts on “Lessons from the Dark Arts – Part I: The Con Man”

  1. Anonymous says:

    “People respond to how we are dressed. So like it or not, this is what you have to do.”

    Although i belive in it specially when Mr. Specta(cul)ar says so sic. herd menatlity, i dont do dress up so neatly in office .First impression is the last impression and the dress that you wear can enhance or dilute the same.

    Munish raj

  2. Anonymous says:

    I liked the Crocodile and sheep photo :P
    Good lessons…lets see if we can implement them and how good we can get at them…!


  3. Elango Selvaraj says:

    So now where do I hire my personal team of hacker, muscle man, grifter & a thief…:) any advice on that…

  4. Rachana Deshpande says:

    Why on earth are u giving con lessons?!!

  5. Absolutely Munish! Appearance is the first of many lessons to come. Style without substance rarely lasts beyond First impressions.

    Thanks Aparna :)

    Elango, internalize lessons and you can be a one man army lol

    Rachana its con-fidence lessons :P


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