Libro 41/52 :: Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday



Conversation ca. Q2 2010….



“Ya know, we guarantee high Google rankings. We’ve got writers who specialize in Google algorithms. They craft SEO-friendly (Search Engine Optimization) online content that will all point to Red Angle.”



“Hmmm. Do I have to meet with these writers to explain what I do and how I do it?”



“Nope. You never meet with them. They’ll study your website, create new content and then send it all over the web through blogging channels and other creative ways.”



“So… a group of kids who don’t know me or my company will bang out a bunch of fake news articles about me, post it on their blogs and send it all over the web with embedded links pointing to me so Google will rank me highly. Is that about right?”



“Well… I wouldn’t say it like that… but that’s the general idea.”


It was in this conversation that I learned about the 2 types of blogging.


The first is what I’m doing with this Red Angle blog: sharing my thoughts and ideas to help people. I want to establish trust, present a unique point of view and with any luck – start a conversation.


There are no ads on my site.

There is no affiliate marketing.

I don’t get paid if you click on anything.

That’s the first type of blogging


The second type of blogging is based on clicks.


Clicks at any cost.

Clicks over trust.

Clicks over new ideas.

Clicks over helping people.

It’s all clicks, all the time.





Money from the ads.

Ads support the website.

The website ROI is determined by clicks.


Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday (director of marketing for American Apparel and PR agent-for-hire) is an open-kimono style tell-all about the second type of blogging.

The clicks-driven blogging.


The subtitle is Confessions of a Media Manipulator. 


Holiday confesses to lying, bribing and conning his way to online success.

At least a type of success in the mess that passes for online journalism these days.

Screen shot 2013-10-27 at 10.09.21 PM

Why would he do this?




Attention and gossip drive sales – of books, clothing and more.

Given the incentives involved (it’s their paycheck) for bloggers it’s too easy not to, Holiday says.

Bloggers need to crank out content as fast as possible, the more tantalizing, the better.


Woodward and Bernstein journalism is gone.

Gossip is news.

All sources are reliable.

False information needs no retraction.


From a blogger perspective, a good story is one that people click and share.


If it gets everyone riled up, all the better.

Just grip it and rip it.


This philosophy drives Gawker, Jezebel, Huffington Post and Business Insider.

Hell, Gawker’s tagline is “Today’s gossip is tomorrow’s news.


Screen shot 2013-10-27 at 9.45.11 PM


Here were 2 “leading” stories on Business Insider from Sunday evening:

“Central Bankers Have Gone Wild, And The World Is In Code Red.”

“Popular casual sex app has big relaunch.” 


Please… don’t click on these links.



Bottom Line: Trust Me, I’m Lying lays all the cards in the online journalism deck face up. It’s important to understand the system that incentivizes the online BS, even if you dislike Holiday in the process. If you are in a purchasing role for online advertising, this book is a must read. Read it, take notes, and then quiz the heck out of your agency.

Bradley Hartmann is El Presidente at Red Angle (

Screen shot 2013-10-27 at 10.11.01 PM

LIBRO 52 Challenge YTD

1. Kennedy/Nixon by Chris Matthews

2. Poke the Box by Seth Godin

3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

NA. Buy-In by John Kotter and Lorne Whitehead

4. Education of an Accidental CEO by David Novak

5. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

6. Blood, Brains and Beer by David Ogilvy

7. Lyndon Johnson :: Master of the Senate by Robert Caro

8. 1776 by David McCullough

9. To Sell Is Human by Dan Pink

NA. Profiles In Courage by JFK*

10. Write It When I’m Gone by Tom DeFrank

11. FDR by Jean Edward Smith

12. The Cluetrain Manifesto by Locke, Searls, Weinberger + Levine

13. One Click by Richard Brandt

14. Persuasive Presentations by Nancy Duarte

NA. James K. Polk by Walter Borneman

15. The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw

16. The Illustrious Dead by Stephan Talty

17. The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk

18. Adventures of Johnny Bunko by Dan Pink

19. Thunderstruck by Erik Larson

20. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

21. Ctrl Alt Delete by Mitch Joel

22. Down & Dirty Pictures by Peter Biskind

23. Makers by Chris Anderson

24. Tales from Q School by John Feinstein

25. The Business of Belief by Tom Asacker

26. 18 Minutes by Peter Bregman

27. Drive by Dan Pink

28. Enough by John Bogle

29. Contagious by Jonah Berger

30. Lexicon by Max Barry

31. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

32. A Very Short Tour of the Mind by Michael Corballis

33. The No Asshole Rule by Robert Sutton

34. Choose Yourself by James Altucher

35. The Halo Effect by Phil Rosenzweig

36. Inside The Box by Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg

37. The Power of Less by Leo Babauta

38. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

39. Big Data by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier

40. The Authentic Swing by Steven Pressfield

41. Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday

Categories: Libro 52 Challenge

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3 replies


  1. Libro 42/52 :: Black Irish by Stephan Talty « the red angle
  2. Libro 43/52 :: The Firm by Duff McDonald « the red angle
  3. Libros 44-50 :: The final chapter of the Libro 52* Challenge. « the red angle

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