How to Fake Your Way to The Top with No Talent or Skill

Damon Thorley
3 min readJul 24, 2020


If you’re wondering how I can claim to know how to reach the top, re-read the title, this is about faking it. The “top’” of a company or career is subjective anyway, so let’s begin.

Work in Marketing — If you’re not talented enough to work in the art room, lacking the personal skills to schmooze on the phone for sales, and know a little bit about everything but have mastered nothing, you’re going to want to pursue a career in Marketing.

It’s the junk drawer of professional fields. You can easily fake your way through it with carefully placed buzzwords, talking in circles, and critiquing other people’s artistic work along the way.

Try harder — Managers often mistake dedication for skill and passion for talent.

You don’t have to be the best to try the hardest.

Remember that football movie, Rudy? That guy only played one game, and they made an entire movie about his work ethic. Your extra effort will go a long way in the eyes of others and might even motivate the more talented people around you.

Pretend you own it — Company founders and CEO’s are lonely. Their days involve people coming to them with big or small issues and saying, “This is not my problem. You fix it.” Don’t be one of these people.

Look at every problem as if you owned the company. If someone smashed the window at your retail store or the toilet was overflowing, you wouldn’t sit around waiting; you’d get to work cleaning it up.

If the problem is within your ability, fix it yourself. If the problem is bigger than you, take three solutions to your boss when you bring it up. Associate yourself with solutions, not an endless list of problems waiting on others to fix.

Stay consistent — The worst part of any major doctor’s visit is awaiting the results. Similarly, the worst part of managing people is continually wondering whether the job will get done. Save your higher-ups the anguish, stay consistent. There are obvious reasons to be great, but if that greatness only comes in spurts, you will cause more headaches than good. No one likes headaches.

Say Thank You — The top complaint from workers in the US is feeling under-appreciated at their job. Addressing this has nothing to do with faking your way to the top, it’s a way to make someone’s day a little better.

Say thank you for everything. Don’t just say it, take meaningful action to show it. Work is about the people you work with and the customers you serve. You can make it better for everyone, including yourself. Give thanks.

Don’t Lie — If you’ve made it this far. I apologize. None of this will do.

In skateboarding, you can buy all the best gear, know all the slang, be in with the right crowd, but as soon you step on a board and can’t skate, everyone knows it.

Work, career, life, whatever your journey, it’s the same.

There is no way around doing the work.

Everything above is the equivalent of buying the gear. It will help get you invited to the meetings, but one day you’ll have to prove it; point to your work, say I did that, and it was damn successful.

Until then, put down the self-help guides to faking it and get to work.



Damon Thorley

Learning in public for the benefit of others. Skateboarding, Marketing, and the search for self-worth.