Here’s an e-mail I recently received from a client: “Robin, I’m doing your marketing and it’s working (yeah!). This is the first time I’ve ever generated leads from marketing, so I’m very happy about that and excited to implement more! However, I’ve gotten some feedback that I shouldn’t do marketing right now because of COVID. What do you think?”
I think if the marketing is working, you should keep doing it. In fact, do MORE.
This is a common stumbling block for business owners that truly holds them back and trips them up: criticism cloaked as constructive “feedback.” Someone trying to “save” you from embarrassing yourself doing something they consider wrong that causes you to hesitate, hold back, change course or simply lose your confidence.
Nuts to ’em.
If you are attempting to grow beyond the “norm”…to succeed at a NEW venture…to accomplish anything of great significance…you will be a target for unsolicited “feedback” from people totally unqualified to provide it. It’s nothing more than their unsolicited opinion, and for whatever reason they cannot just keep it to themselves.
Sometimes they’re mild suggestions. But often they escalate into unprovoked attacks, rumors, nasty gossip, peer pressure and outright disdain by people who want to tell you’re “doing it wrong” because you aren’t doing it THEIR way, all “sugarcoated” with the label of “feedback.” Masaru Ibuka, the co-founder of Sony, put it best when he said, “You never succeed in technology, business or anything by following the others.”
Some of this will come from paying clients – but that does NOT mean you need to jump at their every suggestion. When I initially came up with the idea of Producers Club, I had several clients ADAMANTLY trying to convince me that I was making a huge mistake. Two threatened to cancel their membership if I chose to move ahead with it. Yet today, it’s a $10 million business unit (not my entire business) that is one of our more successful divisions. Had I listened to their feedback, the feedback of paying clients, it would have never even gotten started.
This is not to say you should be shut down to any and all feedback from clients and colleagues. Some of our absolute BEST ideas have sprung from input from our members, and I do NOT want to shut down the feedback loop. You shouldn’t either. HOWEVER, you have to be careful who you listen to and take advice from, discerning the difference between a valid, quality opinion – even if delivered harshly – and one that is simply a personal opinion coming from someone grossly unqualified to provide it.
For the record, someone simply telling you they don’t like something is NOT constructive feedback. EVERY time I sell from the stage, there’s someone who comes up to give me their “feedback” on the presentation, to “coach” me by saying I would “do better” if I didn’t hard sell. When I point out that doing so allows me to walk out of every presentation with over $200,000 in sales AND a bevy of new clients I would not have gotten if I didn’t do the close, they stubbornly stick to their opinion that it’s wrong. Are they professional speakers? No. Are they running a highly successful business? No. Do they know anything about my strategy, WHY I’m there, what I’m trying to accomplish? No. Do they WANT to know? Ha. No. They just want to give me their “feedback.”
Every Boot Camp we’ve held since the first one 13 years ago has generated millions of dollars in business, new clients, new members and multiple rave reviews. Every year we get hours of video testimonials, handwritten thank-you notes and GIFTS sent from clients who are overjoyed with the value and experience. Every year it has grown in attendance. Yet every year we also get one or two complaints, usually from guests of the vendors (not clients), chock-full of their “feedback” on how we should run the event differently, including complaints about things we have zero control over (like construction noise outside the hotel) and things we are absolutely NOT going to change (like suggesting we move the event to the fall instead of the spring).
So, the next time you get “constructive criticism” from someone, consider the source before you start second-guessing yourself. If there’s a valid mistake made or improvement that needs to be addressed, by all means OWN IT. But DON’T pay attention to everyone’s persnickety, sneering judgment of what you should and shouldn’t do. It will only shred your confidence and make you feel small, scared and submissive.
As Zig used to say, “Don’t be distracted by criticism. The only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of YOU.”