Saw a TED video by Richard St. John ( @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?