Sometimes in life and in business there are hard conversations that are had and that need to be had. You know…the ones that make you wake up in the morning knowing you have to have that day but cringe about and actually look for ways to avoid them.
Honesty can be a very hard thing.
Honesty on topics that you are deeply and personally connected to can be agonizing.
As difficult, awkward and painful as these conversations can be I want to PUSH you to have them. In time I want you to seek them out and initiate them. Those conversations often hold the key to your business. Each difficult conversation about your product, your service, your UI, your website, your business model, your team, etc, etc. is an opportunity for you to learn and to improve.
In my early days running our company I had a customer who would call. I shuddered when I saw the call display…I knew I was going to hear how something we were doing was crap or how we had messed something up or how we were making his life miserable in some way. In the beginning I would sometimes let it go to voice mail (thinking I would call him back when I felt ‘up to it’) and sometimes I would answer and take my medicine and politely try to get off the phone as fast as I could thinking ‘this guy is an asshat and a complainer and doesn’t have a clue what he is talking about’.
After a couple months I was at a conference and met up with him and we had a drink. Over drinks he said ‘Paul, I know you think I am a pain in the ass but here is the thing…we are in this together. Your product/solution HAS to work. I have my personal equity tied up in this, I believe in your product and we are having huge problems with our equipment that I need us to fix together and you aren’t pulling your weight.’
This was a moment of ‘personal pivot’ for me. I realized that what he was saying was true. I thought back on the calls we had and in each case what he was calling to complain about wasn’t a complaint…it was a shortcoming. It was a way that I was NOT delivering a solution that truly SOLVED his problem. the problem he had partnered with me to fix.
From that day forward I looked forward to our calls. He would still rant and rave at times if he was really worked up…but I listened to every word…challenged him…asked questions…understood…and we got better.
Hard conversations can suck!
Look for them. Seek them out. Meet with people who hate you more than people who love you…there is much more to learn from them.