Tune Out the Noise
This article was originally published on February 17, 2020 at https://tienj.startuptribes.co/blog/4/tune-out-the-noise
We've all heard the powerful speech by Dr. Martin Luther King. Admittedly, his words were delivered in the context of a higher order vision intended to transcend and transform all of humanity. As founders, we're generally aiming for something much humbler. And, we should remain humble but that's a topic for another blog... Dr. King's memorable, "I have a dream," phrase does have numerous parallels with founding a company. You're the entrepreneur. You've likely been dreaming about having a positive impact on the world by developing a technology or a new offering that is going to change lives. And you have a vision that can be as grand and wild as you see fit. Seeing is not believing You believe so strongly in what you're doing that you're willing to give up a predictable - and paying - day job. Your conviction is not to be questioned; you're solving a need that you "know" many people have because you probably have that need, too. Most companies are founded based on a personal connection to the problem which incites the passion needed to fuel the arduous journey of entrepreneurism that is about to begin. Without the passion, you'll struggle getting passed the need to "see before you believe." That could be dangerous as many startups take years until they have something to "see" and show. And some never make it to that point. If you can't overcome the nagging doubts in your own mind, how are you going to convince prospective investors or customers? You need to believe in yourself. And believe in what you're doing. People can smell fear and fraud from miles away. Remember, you're never too young or too inexperienced or too poor to make your dreams come true. If there's a will - there's a way. Conversely, you are never too old and it's not too late. Keep dreaming your dream so that you know which actions you need to take to make it real. Limit your noise exposure One of the greatest coaches of our time, Tony Robbins, cemented the idea that we are the average of the five people with whom we associate most. The subtext is: choose your five people very carefully. As a founder, you're likely going to seek insights from those with more experience than you. If you're not planning to do this, add it to your To Do list immediately as a burning priority! That said, too much of a good thing ceases to be a good thing. Spending all your time listening to the opinions of others is going to cloud your own ability to process all of it. Filtering information is an acquired skill that takes time to hone. But, until you improve that skill, how do you know which tips and insights you should listen to versus which ones you should filter out? It's a balancing act, to be sure. You don't want to be tone deaf and block out everything because that has negative implications for your business. Market awareness and customer discovery are essential to tune in to what the market needs. Needs is the critical keyword here; what customers want versus need is another story. But you also can't afford to enter into a state of analysis paralysis where you have so much information coming at you that you can't make sense of it all. Ultimately, you become overwhelmed, you tune it all out, shut down and end up being tone deaf anyway. One tip for the road The best tip? Identify the Top 5 people that you wish you could have as part of your inner trusted circle. Follow them on Linkedin, Bloomberg, NPR or whichever social platform or media outlet that they are regularly part of. Listen to what they're saying: the messages should be fairly consistent across all five role models. Next, ask yourself how closely their insights are aligned with the ones that you're receiving from the people that are actually within your circle. If they're way out whack, you'll have just established your first filter. Now you're ready to tune out the noise and get focused on chasing your dream.