Every mentor, advisor, consultant, board member, or peer founder has a powerful magic trick when they give feedback or advice to an entrepreneur.
They are not you.
They haven’t been fanatically thinking about your business all day and all night for the last 5 years.
They aren’t in your daily dragon-slaying firefight of meetings, problems, ideas, discussions, and activities.
They don’t live in your long and painful history of what happened before and how it affects what you see today.
They don’t see your detailed vision of the future for this month, next year, and 5 years from now.
They aren’t your personality type with your peculiar background, your family history, and your ways of seeing the world.
When you think about it, entrepreneurs are in their own elaborate worlds. They can talk about their thing for 24 hours straight if you let them.
People who help you don’t have all that baggage. Your particular lens for seeing everything.
And they don’t live in your inside-your-head complexity.
They are on the outside trying to make SIMPLE sense of the problem or idea you are discussing.
Savvy entrepreneurs leverage this “not me” outsider feedback to calibrate how the real world actually sees them.
I use this approach deliberately on almost every new mentor call I do with entrepreneurs:
– They tell me about their personal background and the history of their startup. I know it’s 1% of the whole story even if they talk fast.
– We dig in about a complex problem or idea they are working on. It’s hard to be brief so I ask specific questions.
– We talk fast for 20 minutes about the messy complexities in some random order. The founder could talk for another 90 minutes, but we only have 10 minutes left.
– Then I say this and the founder STOPS TALKING:
“OK. Here’s what your business, your situation, and your problem sound like to me.”
Then I tell them my 60-second version that covers their entire story but in a shorter, simpler, and different way.
“Did I get that right?”
Then they pause again. “Yeah, that’s exactly it. Can you repeat that so I can write that down?”
This isn’t grabbing their watch to tell them what time it is, as the old saying about consultants goes.
This is a powerful exercise in listening, synthesizing, changing and simplifying THAT IS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO DO IN YOUR OWN HEAD.
Entrepreneurs live in the complexity of their businesses. The 3-day presentation download version.
Customers, partners, employees, users, friends, and everyone else live in a SIMPLER version of your business. The 60-second version.
We don’t want your 2-hour demo, we want the 5-minute version. Max.
Startup founders have to take the complexities of their business and communicate a simpler version of their story.
This reflection feedback is one of the biggest benefits of discussions with experienced people–BEFORE any recommendations or advice.
Experienced leaders say, “I see it this way. How do you see it?”