Truth Be Told, There's a Business in Spotting Liars

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Class reunions are great for reliving past glory, and maybe exaggerating current ones. They can also be a place to come up with ideas for a new company.

Cindy Perman, who writes the There Must Be a Pony in Here Somewhereblog for, recently interviewed Pamela Meyer, author of the book “Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception, to learn how Meyer helps businesses determine when someone is lying in a work situation.

It’s fascinating stuff – reading someone’s body language, determining whether someone is hedging when they continually emphasize one factor over others – but what I found most interesting, from a small business perspective, is the way Meyer has been able to turn something she thought would be a one-off, interesting book, into a new business.

Meyer, a serial entrepreneur, recently sold her social networking company, and is now putting all her effort into her new company, Calibrate, which will train business people how to detect when people are lying in situations such as job interviews, during earnings calls, and more.

“We are living in a culture where deception is the topic of our time,” she told, pointing to politicians such as Herman Cainand Anthony Weineras examples of how often deception makes headlines.

Meyer said her “aha! moment” came in 2006 when she attended her Harvard Business School 20-year reunion. “People show up to those things to network; they don’t pay attention to the lectures,” she said. “But when a professor talked about the science of deception and the findings of his research, I watched everyone put down their Blackberrys. They were transfixed.”

She did some research of her own and learned that while law-enforcement and academia both had loads of “well-funded research” on the topic, no one had combined the findings, or thought about how it was applicable to a wider audience. “I realized it was an opportunity to bring it to business,” she said.

She is currently giving talks at conferences, and is just beginning to develop her training business, where she will conduct one-day and three-day seminars teaching business people how to spot a liar.

Meyer expects Calibrate’s services to appeal to a range of businesses, including financial managers (did we get the full story on that earnings call?), doctors (did that patient really stop smoking?), and pretty much any industry where liars can sabotage a business.

So here’s what we’ve learned: Those class reunions are good for something.

And, lesson 2: If Calibrate has its way, don’t start lying at class reunions. Someone is going to know when you’re faking it.