A thick and thin skin

I recently went back to a blog that ran a story about my business around 12 months ago.


I found the old story in the archives and started reading the comments. While most were positive and supportive, one was incredibly negative – almost nasty. It upset me.


About a day later, I had a media salesperson ring me up after another story ran about our media buying website.


He was so complimentary that he nearly fell over himself. Brilliant concept! Awesome idea! It’s going to be a massive success!


That second call made me feel like a genius. I felt fantastic.


I then started thinking about both of those “comments”. Over the last year or two, since founding our advertising business, I have had so many people tell me how clever the idea is.


I’ve also had people talk me down – often behind my back, often anonymously and sometimes with surprising venom.


The truth is that most people in business who talk to you or about you have an agenda.


Some want to sell you something or get an early crack at shares if you ever decide to float your business.


Others want to help you fail because they see you as a threat, they are a jealous ex-colleague, etc.


We are all people with egos, doubts and fears. We want to be liked. We want to receive positive feedback and praise and have our confidence inflated.


And when people criticise us, it hurts. The bottom line is that our mood is vulnerable to what people say about us.


I have learnt two big lessons: If someone is critical, negative or even nasty, I let it slide. I don’t let their comments overly affect me and get me down. I know my business is based on a sound idea and is going to be successful.


I have also learnt not to take compliments to heart either. Yes, they are nice to receive but often they are not genuine. They are intended to be manipulative or they are just meaningless platitudes without much substance.


What people say about me and my business is just noise. It has no inherent value. That’s not to say that you don’t listen to the market.


Not at all. If you don’t listen – closely – to your market, there is no way you will be successful.


It’s just that the day-to-day mumblings of people – whether positive or negative – are largely irrelevant.


What I find funny is that one of the growth areas in marketing and strategy is listening to all the chatter about you on Twitter and the like.


A lot of people have made a lot of money building and selling platforms and programs that sift through and collate all this “data.”


Good luck to them and I hope my business ends up one day attracting the kinds of dollars some of these companies are being sold for.


Having said that, I actually think there is a lot of value blocking out all that noise and forming your own opinions without being manipulated and cajoled into believing as truth what other people are saying about you.


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