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Why it is hard to trust analysts

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Mon Aug 01 2005

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I was recently asked to write an endorsement blurb for the back of a book by an author who had made the the same request of at least 19 other industry "experts."

I am assuming no more than five would make it to the back of the book. So if I cared about actually being quoted, I would have to write something amazingly positive. "Sell your children if you have to buy this book and make it your new reason for living. Quote it to friends. Post aphorisms from it on your walls. THIS BOOK WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE ."

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This reminded me of when I was at Gartner.

First, reporters would call me and several other respected e-learning analysts. The wanted a projected market-size in billions, and frankly would quote the biggest number. So if you wanted your name to appear in the Wall Street Journal or on ABC news, shoot high.

Second, if you have a beat within any "neutral" media organization, be it for a publication, a broadcast, or as an analyst, you have to compete for resources within your organization. So again, it benefited you to be as inflationary as possible. (And don't get me started about Wall Street!)

I hope the book will be a big success and I am sure I will recommend it personally to clients. But I turned down the author (I turn down over half the books that people ask me to do).

Having said that, I have no doubt the person will get at least five of people to say, "You must buy it now. YOU WILL LOOK BACK AT THE TIME BEFORE YOU READ IT AS A CRUEL CHARACTURE OF LIFE," or something like that.

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