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Success in 2013: Find Someone to Tell You the Truth

Funniest tip I ever received

If you’re an entrepreneur you know you’ll get lots of advice. From everyone. That’s just how it goes. And most of it ranges from rubbish to ridiculous. Why? Because a lot of advice doesn’t transfer well across different contexts. But one piece of advice I heard from Guy Kawasaki in his early Garage.com days was to share your ideas with a woman.

Now, I have nothing against women (this is normally said right before someone proves they actually do have a problem). But I’d never heard such a non-specific and random suggestion. Why a woman? Any woman? Which one? Did it matter?

And to him, it didn’t. He said guys are filled with a “killer instinct” and were always excited about whatever you pitched them, because they’d do it just to beat the competition. A woman, on the other hand, was more likely to ask “why?” – as in “why do that?”

However you do it: find someone to tell you the truth

I don’t care if you’re a start-up or already running a successful business. If you want 2013 to be the year you see greater success than ever before, you need to find a person (preferably a few) that will tell you the truth.

  1. Even if you don’t want to hear it.

  2. Even if it slightly offends you.

  3. Even if it’s contrary to your big plans.

  4. Even if they’re telling you to slow down.

  5. Even if they’re telling you to speed up.

  6. Even if they’re telling you not to trust your own instinct.

The truth isn’t always fun and it rarely comes with candy. But that doesn’t mean you should fight the process to swallow it. Embrace it. Run towards it.

Situations where you need truth

  1. Going to start a new venture? Get people around you that won’t just cheer you on, but will help you count the cost.

  2. Going to launch a new product? Find people who can challenge your market and pricing assumptions so you don’t get part way there and have to quit.

  3. Going to quit your job? Stop listening to those people telling you that you could learn HTML and start a web company. Find someone who will challenge your logic.

3 types of advisors

  1. Truth Sayer instead of a Truth Slayer – Are there people around you that make the jokes that are funny, maybe even at your expense, that later make you stop and wonder if there was a lot of truth in that joke? Not everyone is confrontational. But that doesn’t mean they can’t help you. Listen closely and consider the truths inside the jokes. That person may be a perfect truth-sayer without being a truth-slayer.

  2. Disagreeing rather than Disagreeable – I have a friend who loves Steve Jobs and thinks every innovative project should follow Apple’s approach to innovation. I completely disagree (more on that another day). But he doesn’t mind that I disagree and I value that he has a consistent point of view that constantly challenges me. People can disagree without being disagreeable. 

  3. Challengers rather than Cheerleaders – Maybe you’ve spent your life proving the nay-sayers wrong. But don’t get caught ignoring the people that challenge you. If you surround yourself with people who tell you you can do it, you’ll find yourself believing your own hype and likely fail miserably. Find the challengers that stand in front of you and push back, rather than just cheerleaders pushing from behind.

Do you have someone like this in your corner already? Find them and thank them.

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