Available for Interviews: Dara Barlin
Dara Barlin is the Founder & CEO of the Center for Transforming Culture and the author of the new book, A New Kind of Power: Using Human-Centered Leadership to Drive Innovation, Equity, and Belonging in Government Institutions.
What Dara Barlin Can say in an interview on
How Your Critics Can Support Your Success:
There’s a common belief that to succeed as an entrepreneur, one should ignore the naysayers. Yet this conventional wisdom is one of the most dangerous myths that exist and why countless businesses fail out of the gate. When we ignore the naysayers, we’re losing key opportunities to see and address blind spots that could kill our ideas later on.
- Most naysayers have reasons for why they don’t think something will succeed. They might not state these reasons at first. Most will just say something slightly nasty about it not working and move on. Yet, if we can tolerate the jab without getting upset and gently push those naysayers to explain to us WHY they think it won’t work, little nuggets of gold will often drop from their lips. These nuggets serve as feedback data that, more often than not, are vital to moving us out of tunnel vision and catapulting the odds that our ideas will ultimately be successful.
- For example, let’s say you are trying to sell a new kind of toothbrush, and your grumpy uncle says “it’ll never work.” You could think he is being a jerk, ignore his comment and it stops there. But if you don’t stop there, if you push your uncle to tell you why he feels that way, he might say: “there’s already a thousand brands out there all claiming to do something new and they never do. I just don’t trust any of them anymore.” And just like that… Voila! There’s your golden nugget of a takeaway! You could have a mind-blowingly fabulous new toothbrush innovation, but if you don’t build public trust around your product, it might not sell.
- Perhaps his feedback persuades you to partner with a trusted brand, or get an endorsement from a respected scientist, or offer a money back guarantee. Whatever the course of action, you are taking steps to address a problem you weren’t thinking about before. And as a result, because of the one comment from your grumpy uncle, you have significantly increased your chances of success. His grump equals your bump!
- It’s possible that some naysayers might offer reasons that you don’t feel are valid or even seem ridiculous. You might feel tempted to ignore that data because it doesn’t resonate. But the most successful entrepreneurs recognize that this reaction could simply be confirmation bias; a brain pattern which means most of us only listen to data that confirms what we already believe. This limiting perspective can cause you to overlook real issues that are negatively impacting your product or service, without you even knowing it. To address this unconscious tendency, simply check in with a few potential users of your product (ideally with different backgrounds) to see if the rationale offered by the naysayer has any legitimacy before you choose to ignore it.
- Of course you don’t need to listen to ALL of your naysayers. Some of them will be “debbie downers” who won’t even take the time to answer the question of why they don’t think something will work. Some just feel the need to put others down to make themselves feel better. Some won’t know why they don’t think it’ll work, and will say it’s ‘just a feeling.’ You can definitely ignore these folks! Their data is not helpful, and you don’t need to take on their negativity.
Ultimately, if we want the best chance of being successful as entrepreneurs out of the gate, we need to move past the emotional sting we feel when someone tells us our idea won’t work. Instead, we need to lean into those moments to look for the golden feedback nuggets, use a process to see which data have credibility, and most importantly be willing to shift our direction based on what we learn.
Interview: Dara Barlin
Dara Barlin is an international bestselling author and the CEO of the Center for Transforming Culture. She has over 20 years of experience partnering with organizations to support innovation and positive change through Human-Centered Leadership. Dara’s research has been featured in the United Nations, U.S. Congress, Women in Government, and Harvard Education Spotlight Series. She has written numerous articles on how to inspire creative solutions on global issues for the World Policy Journal, Huffington Post, and Education Week. Her Kaleidoscope Method for community engagement has been touted as “the best ever seen” by White House leaders, state legislators, and UN officials. In 2012, she led a global campaign that helped to develop trust and a common blueprint for positive change across 97 countries. Dara has a Master’s with honors in Public Policy from the London School of Economics and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Barnard College.
Barlin is the author of the new book, A New Kind of Power: Using Human-Centered Leadership to Drive Innovation, Equity, and Belonging in Government Institutions.
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