The Signal and the Noise

If you’ve ever tried to build something, you will get plenty of (unsolicited) advice.  During our startup’s interview for an accelerator, we asked the managing director “What is the most common challenge first time entrepreneurs face?”

His response was surprising. He said one of the biggest struggles that young entrepreneurs face is that they are given so much advice on which direction to take their company and 90% of it is complete BS.

So the question becomes, who should you pay attention to? Who’s advice is relevant and who should you ignore? In other words, how can you separate the signal from the noise?

As a rule of thumb, I disregard the advice, opinion, or criticism of anyone who isn’t doing or hasn’t already successfully accomplished the subject matter at hand. 

So following the advice of a championship bodybuilder is a great way to become a successful bodybuilder.

I know this sounds simple. It sounds deceptively simple. But if you are mindful, you would be astonished by how much attention you spend on the noise.

When you’re trying to do something new or different, you will inevitably be met with a lot of discouragement from the people around you. Some of that might be from people who subconsciously don’t want you to succeed.  Other times, the advice could be from someone who just doesn’t fully understand you idea.

Before you take their advice, or listen to their criticism, ask yourself: Have they accomplished what I’m trying to do? If the answer is no, ignore what they have to say.

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Feedback – an underrated concept that goes a long way (part 1)

One of the most overlooked concepts that I have personally struggled with in the past few months is this idea of “feedback”. The response that an action gets. I’ve begun to apply the concept of “feedback” to as many facets of my life as possible. In this series, I will be talking about feedback as it applies to:

1.) Networking

2.) Management

3.) Product Development

First, networking:

As you carry about your business, you will encounter a lot of situations where you will need to receive mentorship, form relationships with business partners, create deals, or raise money from investors. No matter what the case is, the primary question on everyone’s mind is “is this person someone I can work with and are they capable of executing on my suggestions?“.

I’ve had the opportunity to work with some really amazing people, and one of the people that is the best at networking, being likeable, and forming relationships is the person that really mastered providing feedback.

Here’s what will happen: You will go into a meeting with a potential investor or mentor and during the meeting they will raise concerns or provide suggestions. When they do this, they are always looking at how you will receive this. Even if you completely agree and will likely implement their suggestion, its really really important to provide as much clear feedback as possible.

Yes, mhmm, that is really interesting point. I can see why ‘x’ could be an issue in regards to ‘y’. We will be conscientious of  ‘y’ moving forward. What do you think if we implemented ‘x’ in ‘z’ fashion, would that make a difference or no?

Similarly, after a meeting with anyone, we will always follow up through email. If there were any questions or action items during the meeting, we will execute on those. We will always summarize the meeting and provide feedback to the other party. A simple example:

Hi Fred,

We really appreciate you taking the time to talk today. A lot of the advice you shared will be very helpful as we continue to develop our product in regards to ‘such and such‘. As per our meeting, please find the document attached. We will follow up as we ‘meet such and such milestone’. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a great day.

Best,
Bob

It’s really that simple and very formulaic. But most people don’t do it. They don’t follow through. Implementing proper feedback will help you just crush it and rise above the crowd.