The semi-professional blog of Albert Ciuksza Jr.

Month: November 2009

Persist Through the CRAP

Saw a TED video by Richard St.  John (Twitter @RichardStJohn) , who discussed the 8 things that successful people do (video here). While the other aspects of his presentation might be things you’ve heard before (work, ideas, passion, focus), his perspective on persistence caught my attention, mostly because it incorporated mildly inappropriate language, a technique I enjoy using from time to time.

In his speech, he says that you have to persist through the CRAP – Criticism, Rejection, Assholes and Pressure. I hadn’t thought about it in such quite succinct terms, but that’s perfect.

Entrepreneurs have a unique expertise in persisting through the CRAP. Taken individually:

  • Criticism — There’s no shortage of criticism. The risk of a selling a new, innovative product as a small company is full of pitfalls and opportunities for people to blow up your idea. I think that’s a great thing … people who tend to take the time to criticize are emotionally invested. Proving them wrong drives many of us to make it all work.
  • Rejection — Funders, potential customers, friends, family … you don’t know what rejection is until you try to start your own company.
  • Assholes — I don’t think I have enough time to cover all the different types. From the extreme critics, to the egotists, to the folks that have no problem wasting your time, they’re everywhere. Trust your gut and, if you’re not sure, ask around. Most of these folks have a reputation. If you hear from two people in close-knit community that the person is shady, run.
  • Pressure — There’s nothing like the shut-off notice from the gas company, or a hungry family, to make you work extra hard to close a sale (or politely call every customer who is even 30 minutes past-due).

I’m going to think of my challenges this week in terms of persistence and in terms of CRAP. How many of them are just one element, or how many are all four? How do I manage those situations when I run into them? Am I as persistent as I should be? How does it change as a follower vs. a leader?

Learning from 2009

I had the opportunity to contribute to a series by Sharalyn Hartwell (Twitter @SharalynHartwel) at entitled Gen Y Gives Thanks. Her stated goal for the month-long project was to counteract the many myths that are associated with Gen Y, most notably that we’re spoiled, thankless brats.

While my answer was pretty short (you can read it here), I didn’t come to it easily. It has been a hard year for learning tough lessons and I can’t say that I’m happy about some of the situations I encountered. As I thought about the last year, I kept reliving some of the individual frustrations that made it difficult. I’ll admit that I also got into a bit of a “poor me” mood, rehashing mistakes and reliving decisions that, while not wrong, I might have made differently with the benefit of hindsight.

However, as I started looking at 2009 in total, I realized that I had made some considerable strides, all in the shadow of a horrible economy. I chastised myself a little bit for the woe-is-me attitude and realized that the year was actually one of the greatest opportunities for learning I’ve ever had. In addition, I got to go through these challenges while remaining gainfully employed and with the support of friends and family.

Maybe you’re a Gen Yer, maybe you’re not, but for what are you thankful in 2009? What has made this year an important one for you? What challenges and opportunities helped you grow?