I shifted uneasily in my chair. I was sitting on my own, too soon for another Latte I thought. I looked out the window, watching the meat packers struggle with their load for the local market. Not much longer now I hoped…
I was there to meet an Entrepreneur who asked me if I’d help him test a demo of their new product.
Although I didn’t really know the guy and my schedule was packed as full as an Irish bar on St Patrick’s day, I’m always keen to spread Entrepreneurial karma. So, I said sure, I could meet for 30 minutes at 11am.
There I was in Starbucks, 11.22am. No sign.
‘Excuse me’ the cute girl beside me asked: Are you here to see an accountant? Nope, seems we’ve both been stood-up.
A minute later he rocks up. Excuses are given. No stress, I say. I’ve only 10 mins now, so let’s rock into it.
So I spend about 15 mins using his demo and giving feedback. It’s a pretty good concept actually. Sure it still needs work, but the guy (and team) are making progress which is the best part.
However, I left Starbucks, unable to shake a negative feeling that I can’t quite put my finger on. Best I can describe it is: taken advantage of, unappreciated and a bit used.
Remember the last time you met someone that was all take, take, take? You just knew in your gut that they had NO interest in helping you, but rather were just interested in what they can get from you?
I reflected on this feeling later in the afternoon. Why did I feel it? Am I just getting too emotional in my old age?
Later that afternoon I got an email. I thought: fair play at least he’s following up with heartfelt thanks
Until I opened it and saw:
A thank you, with more requests. Man….this guy is All Take, Take, Take. I completed the survey but it’s the last thing I’ll ever do for him.
As entrepreneurs we often have to rely on people people’s goodwill and kindness to help us.
Don’t take this shit for granted!
If someone helps you out – be really appreciative of it! You don’t need to buy them dinner or bake them cookies, but be kind and considerate. Ask them how the important things in their lives are doing; at least pretend to be interested when they tell you. Trust me; this will get you a long way.
Being Take, Take, Take on the other hand is completely the antithesis of what creates brand advocates and supporters!!
Pot Calling Kettle Black
I can’t be too hard on this entrepreneur as I’ve been guilty of this same sin in the past too. I’ve left people waiting, not been as appreciative as I should be, and not helped people at their time of need.
We entrepreneurs are typically single minded, driven and focussed – but if this single mindedness gives us blind spots that upset those around us it will stop us reaching our goals.
Ultimately: Not appreciating people who give up their free time to help our cause.
Some suggestions how to not fall into this trap:
- The first 5 mins of the conversation should be about them and what they’re doing (not all about you and your startup!!!) This is because fundamentally people don’t care about what you’re doing, they just care about themselves
If this is a new concept to you, you should read this book. (Free copy available here )
- Be Early: This person is giving up his own time to help you for free, Gods sake don’t leave them sitting in Starbucks like a plum for 20 minutes waiting for you.
If people help you – repay them! (Not financially) Here are some suggestions how:
- If they have a blog: Comment on their blog posts (people appreciate this)
- If they’re on Twitter: RT their tweets (people appreciate this)
- If they have a startup:
- Offer to demo their product
- Make a connection with someone who might be useful to them
- Do some research for ideas for them
- Play it forward it some other way
In short: Just be thoughtful and think of the other person’s needs, not just your own.
They’ll be much more likely to help you again and tell their friends about your great product that way.
The world will be a better place (and Starbucks a little emptier)