House of Cards has (virtual) reality all wrong.

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The most frightening part of House of Cards is that it may be an accurate portrayal of behavior in Washington, D.C.

Sure, I can understand the White House offing a persistent citizen here and there, but the lies are truly exhausting.



That’s what makes House of Cards so entertaining.

These characters demand the suspension of disbelief.


No one acts like this, right?

There may be some office scheming to get more Cinnabon-flavored K-Cups for the Keurig or the occasional C-Suite succession drama, but nothing quite so Underwoodian.




Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus, has demonstrated the real-life power of all that is anti-HoC.

Namely, Trust with a capital tee.


If you haven’t heard of Palmer Luckey yet, you will. He’s the founder of Oculus, the virtual reality (VR) headset manufacturer that is one of the few remaining things on the planet more popular than House of Cards.


Oculus was recently purchased by Facebook for $2,000,000,000 despite the lack of an actual product.


Ok, Oculus does sell something, but for $350 you check a box that says: “I understand this hardware is intended for developers and it is not a consumer product.


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Here’s an unbelievable story of Trust.

An 18-year old home-schooler named Palmer Luckey hacks together a virtual reality (VR) headset. He builds a prototype and then tells everyone about it on some online VR forum. He then builds a better prototype and tells everyone about it on some online VR forum. He repeats this process a few more times….


Luckey becomes famous among VR nerds, a small subset of the general gaming nerdery. Another nerd following Luckey’s iterations was John Carmack, “the father of the first-person shooter game,” according to Wired Magazine.


Here is where Trust comes in….

Carmack contacted the VR boy wonder and asked for a loaner unit. Luckey idolized Carmack and sent him one of his 2 prototypes immediately. No NDA’s, no signing anything,” recalls Carmack.


Carmack then made upgrades of his own to the headset and the code. Then he asked Luckey if he could show it to some people.

“Show it to whoever you want,” Luckey told him.


Carmack did.

In a House of Cards episode, you know what would have happened…


In real life… Carmack took several meetings with the press to promote Luckey, his headset and the future of VR. Overnight, Oculus was riding the lightning.


Carmack later joins Oculus.

Global talent flocks to join Luckey and Oculus.

And then there’s the $2B purchase by Facebook. Another trust fall considering Zuck may use it to sell more State Farmville ads to drive quarterly earnings.



Maybe Oculus will turn out to be a house of cards?

It would hardly be the first billion-dollar tech burnout.

Time will tell…


But Oculus will differ from House of Cards. Trust (and passion and smarts and luck and Zuck and…) has gotten them this far. As long as Palmer Luckey stays away from any Congressional hearings in D.C., he should be just fine.


Unless he’s there playing a first-person shooter game in the basement with the Veep.




Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (, a training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish (and a bit of Polish…) language gap in the construction industry.

Categories: Jobsite Leadership

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