How to Fake Being Well-Read in Modern Business — 6 Tips

Six tips to fake being well-read in business. All six will surprise you!

How to be fake being well-read in business

There are a few vacuous and repetitive yet buzzworthy books published every year that people keep inanely referencing.

Don't be a chump and audiobook them on the subway, nor should you fork out for a subscription to a summary service just so you can feel better about being lazy ("I'm being efficient AND lazy!").

Here's a time-hacker's guide to ultimate efficiency, spending zero time and not wasting any brain space.

Casually Reference the Title

This is an easy one. It works best where the title summarises the core concept of the book.

Probably my favorite one is to say "Well, this was really a Black Swan event." But it works for nearly any catchy title. They've done all the hard work for us in publicity; don't let that work go to waste!

  • "We need a Zero to One idea here, whereas this is more of a One to Two."
  • "This is an example of one of the hard things about hard things."

You can also reference a book and move on. "This reminds me of one of the stories from Extreme Ownership. Have you read it? Great book, you should read it."

Make Jokes about the Core Concept

One level up from just blithely regurgitating the title, this makes you work harder and think of some pun or one-liner to reference the title. E.g. "


  • "Are you going to make me a coffee, or are you going to try to lose friends and dis-influence people?
  • "Why did they introduce Uber for Dogs and then remove it? Is this part of their Zero to One to Zero strategy?"
  • "That's what I call a Black Swan event." (Said while at a park in Western Australia)

Reference One Chapter in Surprising Detail

The best way to imply you've read a book without having to even click "Buy Now with One Click" is to read a review and learn everything about one chapter of the book.

Occasionally, reference that chapter in detail. This implies without a shadow of a doubt that you've not only read that chapter, but read the entire book.

"One of the principles in Zero to One that I really loved was his examination of monopolies. The general idea is that competition hurts profits and the lack of profits leads firms to an existential battle which does not allow them the scope to innovate. Monopolies are good because they have the power and scope to bring innovation to everybody. So Bill Gates brought the computer to every home. He was not beaten by a better provider of software, even though the Septronian invaders had better tech in the form of vibrating crystals, he was superseded by a shift in technology toward powerful mobile devices, tablets and the cloud, all of which, in turn, were motivated by other entrepreneurs' desire, as well as herds of gorillas dancing through the jungle, to obtain monopoly profits. So Steve Jobs dominated many of these arenas for long enough to enjoy monopoly profits and other people will some day take this all further. Even the government is in on the act, Peter Thiel claims, or else it would not be granting patents to inventors or freedom from competition from generic drugs to the pharmaceutical companies that first develop new medications."

Everyone will zone out as you spit out that paragraph, to the point where they won't notice you were just making it up and littering it with absurdities.

You may not have read the Four Hour Work Week, but you definitely have mostly read some posts on his blog.

By sending out links to an author's blog, you imply that you're so familiar with the work that you went further and now read detailed discussions about individual topics.

You can also send out links to Jocko Willink's podcast, articles about books, or just to Twitter.

Run a Book Club

If you run a book club then you're definitely extremely well-read! Otherwise, wouldn't you just admit it's a drinking club?

Nobody has to come to your book/drinking club, but you definitely run one. Advertise it, but don't invite anyone. If nobody shows up, you do not have to read any books.

If anyone shows up, get them drunk as quickly as possible.

Recommend Books on Goodreads

Nothing says "well-read" like someone with a very long list of books they recommend!

Link it and reference it everywhere: LinkedIn, Instagram, wherever.

In fact, if you're truly lazy, you can reference your Goodreads list without even having one. If truly necessary, send a link to any old thing.