Writing in the current issue of the New Yorker, James Surowiecki uses the success of the movies “The Wolf of Wall Stree” and “American Hustle” to explore American’s fascination with con artists. Both films have a “confidence man” as the central character–a tradition popular with film audiences through the years (The Sting, etc.).

Surwiecki then compares such traits of con artists to the men and women who start businesses. “Entrepreneurs have skills that are very much like those of the con men. To raise money to start a business, you’ve got to sell an imagined future—a dream,” he writes.

There is a fundamental difference between entrepreneurs and con artists, however, he writes. “Con artists ultimately know that the fantasies they’re selling are lies. Steve Jobs, often enough, could make those fantasies come true.”

While both the con artist and an entrepreneur use “risk, hope, and hype” to reach their goals, the entrepreneur wants to “change the world” while the con artist wants simply to turn your money into their money.

Read more: Do The Hustle (NewYorker.com)

(Photo: IMDB.com)

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