A business coach that I admire (Dan Sullivan) once said that there are 6 billion people on the planet; you are not going to please them all.
Seth Godin reminds us that you (and I) aren’t going to be liked by most people, and that it is ok because you aren’t trying to sell to most people. You are trying to find your tribe, the people who really click with you and who find you amazing.
As entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs this should free us from any feelings of not being good enough or not having what it takes. Don’t let The Accuser get in here and play with your head. The ‘net gives us so much power to find those people who resonate with us. Check out the book The Long Tail for an excellent treatment of this (or Chris Anderson’s article in Wired magazine that spawned the book). Godin believes that many people want to find you, and the net makes this possible.
I had come to grips with not everyone liking me when I was on the road doing Salesforce consulting. I love Salesforce a lot more than the average person, so this makes me a bit of an anomaly to start with. When I’m in front of a group of 200 or so people for a big room presentation, I get really excited. I know the world of financial advisors quite well (my client was a Fortune 500 financial services firm), and I get excited about the many ways that Salesforce can help an advisor in their practice. This excitement obviously comes through in my presentation. My boss received some feedback from one (that’s right folks, only one) manager who thought I was too over-the-top. I was really taken back by it. What’s the right thing to do in this case? Dial it back a notch?
I asked my leader how I should respond to the criticism. “Well, that guy isn’t happy about much anyway.” In the end I didn’t completely dismiss the criticism. It was a good wake up call, and one that I probably needed to hear. I didn’t let it shake my enthusiasm, though. In fact, it only bolstered my confidence. I had several managers at the client location and many, many individual users thank me for providing high value content, so I felt secure that I was doing a good job for my client.
Some of you may caution me at this point. You might recite the maxim from an older study performed on government agencies. This one was really popular in the quality movement during the late 80’s and early 90’s: For every person who complains there are 26 unhappy people who don’t complain. I really wish I could find a reference on that study so I could investigate the legitimacy of that statement. For now let’s take the statement at face value and run with it.
So my presentation style didn’t resonate with more than just this one manager who voiced his opinion. I’ll agree with that. I’ll also look to the remainder of the data – the positive feedback given directly to me and the positive feedback given to my manager. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Why? Because I had found my tribe. Right place, right technology, right presenter. I had hit the sweet spot.
Now it is time to go find yours. Let me encourage you with this thought: When you hit the sweet spot — and you will find it someday either in your current venture or in the next — it is the best feeling in the world. It makes all the waiting, struggling and hoping worth it.
Go find your tribe. They are out there waiting for you!