Thursday January 29, 2015
If you are out to start a new business or try a new product idea within a large company, it often feels like everything and everyone is out to stop you. You aren't paranoid: they are.
Persistence is probably the most important element of success (as long as you can afford it).
Richard St John gave a TED Talk which he entitled: Secretes of Success in 8 Words. In this presentation he discusses what he thinks are 8 concepts that drive success. You can watch it, it’s good, and it is only 3 minutes long so it won’t take up much company time. Of all the 8 words, the one word that resonated the most was Persistence. He states that you'll need persistence because you will face a lot of C.R.A.P.
C – Criticism
R – Rejection
A – Assholes
P – Pressure
In the last company I worked with we had a lot of people who specialized in what I called Drive By Shootings: you know these events. It is when some manager or "fiefdom owner" decides to offer their opinion without taking time to really understand your idea. They simply drive by, offer up negative bile, and move on. You are left to deal with it. I also call them the fast and the furious.
But, if you really believe in your idea, you persist.
Most ideas are doomed to begin with because they challenge old assumptions. That always brings out the critics; especially those who are vested in the old assumptions. If you are going out on the limb of innovation, you have to understand that the limb (can be) strong, but it also has to be flexible enough to sway a bit under pressure. I worked with one product development manager at a very large firm a few years back who told me his secret to success was constant gentle pressure relentlessly applied. That frustrated me because things took too long.
I thought starting my own business would mean I could move at “light speed:” No one to stop me or hold me back. That turns out to be only partially true. What I have found is that persistence is even more critical in a new start up. There are many obstacles to success. You fight problems of capital access, client development, staffing-on-faith (people who will work for next to nothing in hopes of a big someday something) and multiple people who offer their opinions about why your idea stinks.
So I guess what I gained most from watching Richard St John's short video was that if you really want to succeed, and you really believe in your idea, then persevere through all the C.R.A.P.