This guest post is from Andy Nulman — President of Just for Laughs and author of “Pow! Right Between the Eyes: Profiting from the Power of Surprise.” See the original post this was adapted from and more like it on his blog.
I was having breakfast with a successful TV producer friend of mine, and we were discussing the determining factors of success and failure in business. Not just “our” business of show, but business in general.
The primary success factor was blatantly obvious: people. Call them what you will, but without an audience, a crowd, raving fans, customers, clients, subscribers, spectators, viewers, followers… you’re sunk.
The real surprise was the revelation of the primary failure factor: also people, but more specifically, “other people.”
The best way to explain this is via a quote from a woman I admire immensely, Cindy Gallop. Cindy is not just a gutsy entrepreneur, a genius-level thinker, and a magnificent speaker, but also a human magnet. Her outlandish appearance (that’s her, somewhat tame, atop this post) is an immediate visual focal point, and the way in which she speaks makes just about everything she says instantaneously memorable.
I’ve seen her speak a few times, and the last time around, at C2MTL, she so eloquently summed up what my friend and I were talking about. To wit:
“You will never own the future if you care what other people think.”
This may sound basic, but sometimes, the best lessons are.
Because of “other people,” so many ideas are never brought to fruition, which prevents them from ever at all being brought to the people that really count.
“Other people” are often the airbrakes on the bullet train of progress. They are the reason why world-changing projects are stillborn, why budding sages stay silent, why potential superstars remain seated on the sidelines, why companies stay the course of the status quo, and why so many of us shut up in meetings.
Rather than do what’s right, do what we want, speak our mind, or find another way to bask in our freedom, dreading what “other people” may say or do (or even worse, think, because then it remains a mystery) lays down a layer of inertia and drives the ultimate fear of actually carrying out something we might regret later.
I love Cindy’s quote for so many reasons, but mainly because it embodies her spirit of going for broke by over-arching and striving to “own the future.” She’s not just saying that if you care what other people think you “won’t succeed” or you “won’t be happy”; she’s saying that despite your reticence, you may still enjoy a modicum of achievement… but you’ll never reach the summit.
Put another way: The only way to attract people in the end is to ignore them in the beginning.
It takes a certain type of person to disregard the “other people.” Like Cindy, you have to be a bit outspoken, a bit outrageous, a bit outlandish, and a lot “out there.”
But every major advancement — EVERY one — from life-saving medical breakthroughs to the creation of the device you are reading this on, has been launched by someone who, when push came to shove, didn’t give a rat’s ass about what “other people” had to think.
Don’t believe me? Don’t agree? Well guess what?
I don’t care. 😉