In popular mythology, the superheros are the startup founders. That's fun. But it isn't necessarily a platform for building a profitable enterprise. As we know, 9 out of 10 startups fail.
What does boost the odds of success is being open to input. Both from within the startup and outside. Among the reasons Facebook succeeded and MySpace tanked was that the enterprise was a work-in-progress. Continually it was changing and it is still is doing that.
But too many founders whom I dealt with shut themselves down. Their focus is totally on what they assume will help them succeed. But, as we remember from MySpace, that might or might not be on the money.
A typical shut-down tactic is a nasty persona. From the get-go, they make it their business to prevent the benefit of a conversation or even one word which could give them insight on how to get from Point A to where they need to be.
Yet, the power of nice is documented. "Nice" doesn't mean conventionally polite. Or wasting time engaging in platitudes.
What "nice" does mean is treating others with respect. It's that simple. And it only takes a very little time.
The security guard in the building is acknowledged. And it's she who lets the founder of an enterprise for productivity software for law firms know that the managing partner for one of those on the 23rd floor has been fired and the new one may be more receptive to a pitch.
I landed my first two big assignments in marketing/advocacy communications because I tracked a public relations firm on Twitter and Facebook. Now and then I made thoughtful comments on their social-media messaging. No push. Just nice. No, I had no expectations. The relationship has continued because I have remained nice.
Several years ago I ghostwrote content for then high-flying Boston entrepreneur Andrew Bachman. He seemed to want his signature to be brash, with a side dish of abrasive. I was puzzled: After all, hadn't his success given him the luxury of time to slow down and be nice?
Not too long after the project was done, he was settling with FTC for alleged mobile cramming. Then there has been a criminal investigation. Had he not become a closed system, he might have learned what he needed to get down cold about staying out of big trouble. Establishment businesspeople know that game well of not turning inward. And winding up on the wrong side of the law.