Facing Painful Reality: Parsing Out the Truth As the Truth Will Set You Free:

Marvin Liao
3 min readJun 1, 2022


In my work with startup founders, I tell them all the time they have to be like private investigators: chasing the truth and following the leads. Basically when you do customer discovery your job as a founder is to talk to as many potential customers and users as possible. You look for patterns and things that come up over and over again. Ie. things they hate and things they love. Then you coldly look at the data and feedback that comes back, even if it’s painful. Things that are very hard to face, like they hate your product. Or maybe even worse, they just don’t care. Apathy is definitely the worst thing.

I think knowing your emotional state is important here. Some of us lean towards negativity (thank you Canadian upbringing), some lean toward optimism. I, of course, prefer an optimistic leaning like many Americans. But at the same time “Hope is not a strategy.” Wanting something to be true does not make it so. Something I’m trying to deal with as I doom scroll through Twitter. Trying to fight “Confirmation bias which according to Wikipedia is defined as “the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one’s prior beliefs or values.”

Forcing yourself to look at the painful truth is key to success in anything. But it’s particularly hard to do now in 2022. When we have been so triggered by lots of social media, 2 years of lockdown and pandemic, we are all stuck in Fight or Flight mode as detailed out earlier: https://hardfork.substack.com/p/why-is-everyone-so-angry-behavioral. Add now a destructive Russian invasion in Europe against Ukraine, no wonder people cannot think straight at all. Myself included. Way too much inflammatory information stimuli for our small brains to absorb and process.

Thus, we all become easily controlled by dominant narratives from political and media class.

Michael Krieger tweeted:

“The amount of emotional manipulation occurring right now feels a lot like the early days of covid. We went from virus hysteria to war hysteria.

You are being primed right now for a specific reaction later on and you don’t even realize it’s happening.”

This goes against my goal of personal responsibility and my own personal fight to learn to think for myself. Separating fact from narrative will be crucial to seeing things more clearly.

This is why you have to seek out alternative points of view to raise things that are uncomfortable or challenge your own narrative. This is why it’s so important to get out of normal media bubbles & read the stuff of people you hate or whose views you find abhorrent. More and different views. Makes it easier to find your own blind spots and flaws in thinking. Lying to others is bad, but the worst thing is to lie to yourself. I’ve written before, the sooner you accept the painful truth, the sooner you can mourn and move on and fix things.

This is relevant for business and investing. Knowing when to cut out of an investment. Or knowing there are some real critical personnel or financial issues. Or knowing the business you have helped run for a while is now finished due to an unexpected pandemic or war (gone or going through this right now). Issues that fester the longer you put off facing it. Fester is the right word. If you have major cut on your body and you don’t deal with it right away ie. treat and disinfect it, you could lose a limb, or the poison from bad blood circulates through your body and you are literally done.

It’s relevant for your entire life. Knowing when a relationship is dead. Or knowing you messed up somewhere badly. It cuts to your ego to admit it but will be even worse later if u don’t suck it up and apologize. If you don’t do that, I can assure you your life will get worse & harder to fix later. Compound interest works for and against you.

Net net: never lie to yourself. Learn to seek the truth no matter how painful. This is how you get to have a beautiful life.



Marvin Liao

Ever curious: Tsundoku, Reader, Aspiring Shokunin, World traveller, Investor & Tech/Media exec interested in almost everything! www.marvinliao.com