Seems like a fairly easy topic, doesn’t it? It is, but I think that most people don’t really understand just exactly how people impact your startup. It is the difference between success and failure.
“People” are needed in a startup. They are the lifeblood of the early days. When you have an idea of a company, you naturally start to talk about it. You tell your close friend, sisters, brothers, parents and perhaps anyone who you may come across. It’s cool to know that you are a startup person. People like to hear it. Here’s the thing, when they turn to walk away, almost 100% of the people you tell will then say to the person they are with or to themselves, “Wow, that’s a mistake”.
You see, “people” are the critical component in our lives. We actually trust people way too much and ourselves way too little. Those of us who claim to be independent and trust our gut are perhaps the worst at letting other people’s views get inside of us and either scare us or motivate us. If you take for gospel what others say to you, you are absolutely putting your life in their hands.
Ok, so you have told some people about your idea and now you are starting to doubt yourself. Let’s take a step back. Why the fuck are you believing other people about how you feel and what you want? I see this time and time again; people listening to their “friends” or “family” telling them what they want to do is a bad idea. If you ever notice when you talk to a successful person about an idea, they ask questions. When you tell inexperienced people about your ideas or someone who may be successful, but in a “corporate” environment, they give you an opinion. Opinions are worthless. Let me say that again, Opinions Are Worthless! QUESTIONS are priceless. When someone is asking you questions, they are interested in your thought process and perhaps your idea, but what’s more important is that they are forcing you to think about things you maybe have not. Thinking about things you are not, is a very good thing. You don’t know it all, contrary to what some of you seem to think. You learn by being asked questions. You learn by being pushed to your limits OR being called out on your own bullshit.
When you put belief in your own hands, you take control of your life. You then take control of your happiness and your fulfillment. “People” are counter to that when they drive you to make decisions you are not making for yourself. I have seen this play out in so many ways.
It’s never a perfect time to get married. It’s never a perfect time to have a kid and it’s NEVER a perfect time to start a company.
My first company was started as I was getting married and having my first kid with, mind you, the prospect of a massive mortgage over my head. I had absolutely no idea how I was going to pay for any of it, but I had to and when you have to do something, you either succeed or fail. You just “do”. By the age of thirty, I had two kids a successful business and a big ass house, I still could not afford.
Starting a business requires strength and focus and people around you who are chipping away at that are really bad to have.
So, how do we get the right people involved in our lives and our business? It is really hard. It comes down to finding those that have one thing;
“Enthusiastic Participation” (EP).
EP is the key to success in business as far as people go and I am just starting to think it is the key to success in personal relationships.
When the people you are with are engaging you with EP, they are involved. They are asking questions and supporting the path, even if they are asking hard fucking questions. They are making you better in all ways. Let me give you some examples of what I mean.
- A person who is a good friend. They share a lot with you and you with them. You go to them and tell them about a relationship or a business you are starting and they come back with opinion after the opinion of why the guy is a douche bag or the business is a bad idea (or both) and you then act off that advice. Instead of that friend trying to understand what is motivating you in either area, they just assume they know best and tell you. You give in and leave the guy or don’t start the business. THEY controlled your happiness. Not too independent after all, eh? EP is nowhere to be found here, it is just this person trying to tell you their opinion and you being too weak to do what you really want.
- A family member who thinks they know best. This is the hardest one mainly because if you think about your interactions with a family member who is like this, you will see that you “listen to them” at times and not others. This is a really good indication that you are selectively placing decision making on them. If I listened to my family when I was younger, I would have gone to community college then became a cop not to mention never gotten married which would have meant my three boys would not be here. I never would have three amazing boys who live all over the world and have so much going for them, it’s scary. I never listened to my parents or siblings mainly because they were not only not happy, but not successful using the standard by which I define success.
Paul’s definition of success: Suc*cess — achieving something which makes you happy and fulfilled.
When you come across people who are EP in your life, they are valuable. They help you understand what you really want. Enthusiastic Participation also means that people likely really care about you and not just how you make them feel.
Are they asking questions about your life?
Are they trying to help you solve issues?
Are they proactively asking how your day is going?
Are they Enthusiastic about you?
They are NOT “yes” people.
If you find someone who is Enthusiastic about you, bring them in. If they are a love interest, they are way ahead of the game. If they are a business contact, bring them closer. They will absolutely make you better. Too many people I have met are simply self-absorbed. They don’t give a shit about anything but their own self-interests. Most have no idea just how selfish they are and over time they will experience life and it will show them, but for now, they simply don’t know. I think it’s natural and some will always be that way. If you are starting a company, these people are cancer that will kill it. Keep them away from you. I know as I used to be that self-centered guy with a lot of opinions. I was that way early on before I actually accomplished anything.
I had my share of these people in my life and my companies. They came in really nice packages. They also hid it well until it was too late. Even after all these years of seeing them, they still get in, but they get pushed out quickly now.
“Who knew evil girls had the prettiest face”
Lucid Dreams by Juice WRLD
When you are building anything, it starts with you. You MUST have faith in yourself and block out the insanity that is society. If you love someone and no one else sees it, fuck em, go for it and stop defending the choice. If you want to start a company and everyone thinks it’s a bad idea, you know you’re on to something. Do it. You will succeed. You will fail and you will do both over and over again, but if you listen to others who tell you not to, you are destined to do one thing; not what you want. You have already failed if you listen to them.
You may crash and burn in your startup or you may do what less than 1% of all people who start a company do; succeed wildly. Either way, you are doing it for yourself and that to me is the definition of success.
I have failed more times than I can remember, but I never gave into others telling me what to do in any aspect of life. I never listened to so many when they said to not get married. Even though it ended, I would never trade those years for anything. They were magical and I cherish them.
I never listened to people later in life who told me that I was with was a cruel, selfish bitch because I needed to learn exactly what a person like that was. I never listened to anyone when they said don’t start that company early on. I tried to find that one person who started to ask me about what was motivating me and made me better understand what I was doing.
Billaway has been through a very difficult year mainly because so many clients had to go live. High-quality problems to have for sure, but problems nonetheless. This also coincided with a challenging year personally as things I never imagined I would experience this year, I have. Here’s the reality, I am still at it. I have not given up and I never fucking will. Nothing can make me except this vessel of a body giving out and I have insurance to make sure even that continues my legacy of my amazing kids and my company. I assured this by having at least one amazing person in my life at all times and the fact that my abs are no longer shy.
In my company, my team is fucking epic. They are amazing people who have killed themselves for me and the vision, which by the way includes their vision. They work tirelessly to make us better. I also have over 100 individual investors who ask me questions each day to make us better. The funny part about individuals who put in their own hard earned money; they are smart and they hardly ever offer an opinion. They ask questions and those questions open my mind to things I never saw. Why do you think therapists ask so many questions? You learn from thinking about the answers, that’s why.
Personally, it’s a lot harder to find someone who will help you be your best self because mainly to do that they have to challenge you in ways you are not used to or comfortable with. They will call you out on your selfish ways, call you out on how you are thinking in one direction and call you out on you being EP. As long as they are doing it from a place of “giving” and “care”, stop being a selfish dick and recognize that they are there because they are your EP. They are there because they care and they are there because you, as a startup founder, need them. They are there because you, as a human being, need them.
2018 will go down as one of the most interesting years of my life. So many things both amazing and bad have occurred. We launched 12 new clients this year, more than the entire lifetime of the company combined. We opened three wholly owned subsidiaries globally and created a joint venture in the healthcare space. Personally, I lost people I cared a great deal about and gained people I am starting to care a lot about.
Find someone who shows Enthusiastic Participation for you. They may come in the form of someone who pushes you to be honest, pushes you to understand your limitations or challenges you to not listen to others who have no idea who you really are. They will be that person who asks you things that are hard to answer. Things you are not comfortable answering. They also may come to you with a limitless desire to help you be a better you. Will you know them when they come across your path? I hope so.