The greatest gift you can give an entrepreneur is creative criticism. The greatest skill an entrepreneur can have is critical listening.
I was going to write a long post (and now that I have started writing, I will probably end up being long-winded) about how, as an entrepreneur, you have to cut through the positive feedback to truly get the important data points.
But I kinda covered it. Dontcha love it?
This past week I have had several conversations with various entrepreneurs about how things were going with their startups.
“We got so much great feedback! Everyone loved it!” exclaimed the founder.
“Really? When have you ever had someone tell you to your face that your product sucks?”
“You do it all the time.”
“Yeah, but Im a dick.”
I hate when entrepreneurs go to events where they demo their product. Or even SXSW where they are meeting people in a party situation and showing what they are working on.
Because everyone lies.
Think about it. They are going to either know you for :60 seconds and have no desire for that interaction to include you thinking they are mean, or you will run into them a hundred more times, and who wants to make those interactions uncomfortable?
The world is full of false positivity, especially the supportive kind, that in truth, is just the opposite.
It all started with our moms.
“Don’t say anything if you can’t say something nice.”
Damn it, mom.
I pride myself on being honest. The other day a friend said to me, “Micah, thats a kind thing to say.”
“Its not kind. Its honest. Sometimes, honesty is also kind.”
As an entrepreneur, critically listen to everything that is told to you. Look for commonalities and contradictions as data points. The commonalities show how most people see your product, and the contradictions show potential UI issues.
And, more importantly, don’t listen to people give you design feedback. Its pretty and its ugly are subjective. And if design, at its core, is all about usability, spend effort on understanding people’s ability to do, understand and act and less about how much the like your fonts and color schemes.
Which brings us to investors. Investors, as a rule, hate to say no. And even when they do, its with minimal data points. Treat it as just that. A no. Move on. Seriously. Shush. Don’t say it. No, if X was different, they would have said yes. Whats the X? Don’t know? Move on.
Entrepreneurship is changing how we do business and engage with people, but the fundamental need to be liked hasn’t changed.
Help me be a better entrepreneur, and solve big problems with interesting solutions.
You can keep your I love yous and false positivity.