“No, I don’t think I’m going. I have an idea but it isn’t very good…”
I was speaking to one the attendees of my talk on building supportive technology communities for Peeks in Ramallah. I’d asked if she was coming to the Startup Weekend in Tel Aviv the following days. Her response is one I’ve learned to expect; people who’ve spent an awful lot of time thinking about a problem and possible solutions are often the most afraid to be a part of making it real. “Well you can go and help someone else with their project; with teams of four or five most people don’t end up working on their idea. You’ll have fun. You’ve already got a pass.”
“No I don’t think so, it’s not a very good idea”
She’d made it to the event after all and as the pitchers lined up I’d asked about pitching the idea. “It’s worth doing just for the practice of presenting an idea to this many people” as I gestured to the auditorium of around 200 “even if no one likes it you’re no worse off than not doing it at all right?” “I don’t know…” “Ok” As the line of pitchers wandered along I rapidly tweeted potential team names, catch phrases and funny comment the presenters made. As each person pitched the line grew as others saw; it wasn’t that bad, the crowd was supportive, and they had better ideas anyway. When she came on stage to pitch she did a hell of a good sight better than I did my first time, and not in her native language to boot.
“No one wants to work on my idea…
it’s not very good and they don’t want to work with me because I’m Palestinian” She’d been selected as one of the top ten ideas, but as happens, hadn’t been aggressive in hustling people to work on her team. She’d assumed they’d approach her but in my experience it’s all about the hustle. We set out in search of a team. One of the potential team members tried to recruit her to work on an unselected idea and several didn’t quite get the idea and wanted to change directions but after some work and a good deal of membership shuffling she had a team. By mid-day the second day they had a solid concept and were making good progress. Even cooler she’d enlisted the help of some Palestinians who weren’t able to get permits. They worked remotely and coordinated over Skype to a degree that topped some of the teams working face to face in the room. In the end she presented a solid product with a complete design including animations, full graphics, and basic layout. Her team also managed to integrate real data from multiple sources to feed the design. It wasn’t ready to ship but it was a sight further along than most of the teams. In the end it was a success.
“I used to think I’d fail and doubt myself. Now I know I can do anything.”
We all see failure, and say no to ourselves, and claim that others can do what we can’t. It isn’t true. Stop saying no, and make something real. The worst you can do is fail, and that isn’t nearly as bad as telling yourself no.