A Con Artist’s Commandments for Success


What Do Con Men Know that Most Professionals Don’t?

“Count” Victor Lustig is known as one of the greatest con artists of all times, selling the Eiffel Tower twice in two years.  While his career choice may have been diabolical, his code of conduct, entitled the “Ten Commandments for Con Men,” enabled him to finance his lifestyle by effectively gaining the trust of countless professionals.  Truth be told, many of his commandments apply well to business in general.  Consider five of Lustig’s rules that enabled him to win friends and influence people:

1. Be a patient listener (it is this, not fast talking, that gets a con man his coups). This was Lustig’s first commandment, and if listed in order of importance, we can appreciate why listening patiently is so imperative.  It demonstrates interest, compassion, empathy and an appreciation for the speaker’s worth.

2. Never pry into a person’s personal circumstances (they’ll tell you all eventually).  When you’re nosey, you raise suspicion and, quite frankly, you make people feel comfortable.  After time, you’ll build trust, and your current and prospective clients will eventually reveal more about their personal financial situations without being asked.

3. Never boast – just let your importance be quietly obvious. When you brag, it implies that your reputation isn’t strong enough to speak for itself.

4. Never be untidy. This one is interesting; the implication is that messy people are untrustworthy.  While that may not be true, consider what your organizational skills may be unintentionally communicating to others.

5. Never get drunk. Anytime a professional loses control, he/she loses respect.  A con artist, in the throes of a drunken stupor, is likely to reveal their true intentions.  A financial professional, in the throes of any kind of stupor, will not act as an appealing candidate for managing themselves, let alone anyone else’s money.

It’s unfortunate that Lustig recognized how to feign integrity in order to con individuals out of their hard-earned cash.  His ten commandments worked because he understood human nature and what people look for when building professional relationships with others.  Hopefully, you can use a handful of his commandments to genuinely secure the loyalty of prospective and current clients.

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–.  “Victor Lustig.” Wikipedia

James, Geoffrey.  “Ten Commands for Con Men.”  7 March 2011  BNET.com

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