Ways to distinguish yourself – #111 Don't look to get drowned in positive feedback

The last four weeks it happened thrice. It may be just a coincidence or
there is something more to it. So, I thought it was high time I write
about it. I met three young entrepreneurs in the last four weeks. While
their ideas were all very different, these were the common things:

* None of them had run a company before

* All of them were trying to raise money for their new venture

* All of them had were working on their fundraising initiative for more than six months without any positive results

* All of them had got a number of meetings with VCs and some of them had more than one meeting with a VC.

* All of them felt that that VCs “loved” their idea but money was not coming in.

last part is what I wanted to address. The important thing to remember
is that if you are a budding entrepreneur with some seriousness,
chances of you having a “good” meeting with a VC are very high. If they
see a promise in you as an entrepreneur, a VC typically will not say
that your idea is bad. By not making a negative statement, a VC is
basically keeping the doors open for a future entry IF in case you make
this idea work. So, if you think that your idea is good just because
the VC explicitly didn’t state that your idea was bad – chances are:
you are drawing wrong conclusions.

Think about it. Who do you
shop your new idea to? Usually people that are close to you. Most of
them will say it’s a great idea. You got a ton of positive feedback.
Think about it again. This is to be expected. There is no major
incentive for people that are close to you to critic the idea. If they
have a lot of time, they may be willing to debate about it and make you
realize that your idea was dumb. That happens too but typically “It’s a
great idea” is what you will hear.

So, generally whenever you
have a reasonably good idea you get a ton of positive feedback – so
much that you can drown in it. The key is to not get carried away by
the positive feedback. What you need is not a pat on the back but for
someone to rip your idea apart and expose the flaws within it. That way
you don’t burn more money or time on a “dumb” idea.

Why does this happen?

The main reason is that when you have a “great” idea, you want some
confirmation from others that it was indeed a “great”  idea. You go
looking for that confirmation and often you will get it.

2. Your close friends have not many incentives to say that it was a dumb idea. So they may as well cheer you up.

You tend to shoot the messenger if the message is bad. If that is the
case, there is a big incentive for your close friends to just agree
with you and avoid the annoyance altogether.

4. You are so
convinced that your idea is great that although some people hinted to
you that it’s a really stupid idea, you missed all the cues.

You have invested so much in the idea in terms of time and money that
you will go and find someone that will help you justify that investment.

What could you do differently:

1. Detach yourself from the idea. You are not your idea. Ideas will come and go but there is only one you.

Stop defending your idea when someone disagrees and listen to them
carefully especially if the person disagreeing you is smart. If you
wanted the person to just agree with you, then why ask?

3. Take
a different approach. For example, ask questions like “I am trying to
figure out if this idea makes sense or not. I have thought a lot about
why it will work. I want someone to play a devil’s advocate and prove
to me why it won’t. Could you please help me?”

4. Asking for
feedback and leaning on someone to justify your own decisions are
different. When you want feedback you should really want that and
should be READY to receive it when you get it.

5. Take it easy.
This is not the only idea you will get in your life. Statistically,
only a small percentage of ideas can be really good. So, if this one
was bad, you are increasing your chances of getting a better idea next
time 🙂

Note: If you would like to read the other articles in the same series,
please take a look at the lens I have created on Squidoo: Squidoo Lens: Distinguish Yourself