We’ve All Had This Moment

We’ve all had this moment.

You have an incredible idea that you can’t stop telling everyone about. You turn to the person next to you, gushing with excitement…and are met by a sceptical, bored look. “That will never work”, they say. Or, “Something like that’s already been done”. Or my favorite, “I’m sure someone else has done that already”. It’s enough to crush the spirit, dampen the mood, and get us all trudging back to 9am-5pm — or make that 8am-9pm — desk jobs again.

Not Everyone’s As Positive As You

On our journey as Retruster, we have experienced many of these moments. People who are happy to criticize and find faults, people who would never take a risk themselves. They’ll tell you all the reasons in the world why it will never work. I’m not talking about people who genuinely want to help — who ask tough questions, hold up a mirror, but support your vision, and believe in you to achieve anything you set out to. These people are special, hold on to them. I’ve realised that it’s really easy to find the faults, the problems, the reasons to say “no”. Give me any successful business and I’ll tell you why, when they first started, they “will never work”.

I want you to imagine the following scene. It’s late June of 2004, and you’re Mark Zuckerberg standing in legendary investor Peter Thiel’s office. Thiel is known to be contrarian and brutally honest. You’re pitching your idea, “The Facebook”, a social network, and asking for a massive $500,000. If you look at the cold, hard facts, it’s crazy. It’s not clear whether this thing will catch on, or how it will ever make money. The biggest problem, however, was that this concept had already been done! Companies like Friendster — founded in 2002 — and to a lesser extent, MySpace, had already come up with the concept of a social network. It had been running for a while. Friendster had already hit 3m users within its first few months. So what did Zuckerberg think he was doing!? He had a dream, a vision, and he was going to pursue it no matter what. If only others could see it…

Don’t Be Afraid To Swim Upstream

All the small-minded people in his life must have been telling him: “That will never work”. “Something like that’s already been done”. He must have met with so many dismissive executives, people who “knew better”, potential investors who gave him the fatal, “it sounds interesting, let’s be in touch”. Did he listen to them? Did he let go of his dream because of people that couldn’t, or wouldn’t, understand?

It’s easy to look back now, and see Facebook’s success as so obvious. But back then, all the uncertainty, all the negativity and disappointment, would have crushed someone who was prepared to listen to the naysayers. Today Friendster no longer exists. MySpace is nowhere, despite JT’s best intentions. Facebook’s market cap as of this writing is $492b. Yes, that’s a “b”. For “billion”. In case you were wondering.

Go Ahead

Don’t let the small-minded win. Channel the Zuck. Follow your dream, you can make it happen! Strike a blow for the “the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.”