A few weeks back I had the opportunity to attend Inbound 2014 in Boston. Inbound is a huge conference (10,000 + people) hosted by Hubspot, and due to it’s size they get an opportunity to bring in some pretty awesome speakers. Folks like Simon Sinek, Malcolm Gladwell and Guy Kawasaki to name a few.
One of the speakers I really enjoyed was Guy. Guy is notable for his work on the original Macinstosh team and he was a personal friend of Steve Jobs. His presentation focus was ‘business lessons from Steve.’ and one particular lesson from that talk has been echoing in my mind for the last few weeks...
‘Great leaders change their minds.’
Guy went on to explain how although Steve was a fairly hard headed individual, one attribute that made him a success is that he was open to changing his mind. Guy cited the fact that Steve was always changing his mind (ie. allowing developers to build iOS apps) and that changing your mind is not a sign of weakness. Rather it’s a sign of humility and strength.
This really hit home for me.
I think culturally we are taught that changing our minds is a form of weakness. Politicians and business leaders who change their minds are constantly being labelled ‘flip floppers’. And changing your mind is often seen as a sign of mental instability.
Last post I riffed on the idea that it’s ok to embrace failure. It got me thinking about all of the things that I’ve failed at in the last year including launching and closing two web apps - Clozer (a social media monitoring app), Sask10 (a local business news app). Both apps were built out of curiosity - read without much of a business plan - and both would have needed considerable input to make them a success. I realized that the input required would be greater than what I would get out of them.
So after hours of programming, pitching the ideas to friends and even giving a few demos I decided that it was time to quit. My initial excitement was overshadowed by reality and I pulled the plug.
At first I worried about the social stigma of ‘failing’. Then I worried about being labelled as somebody who changed their mind or didn’t have conviction. But, now I realize that pulling the plug when I wasn’t pot committed (poker reference) was the right decision and shouldn’t been seen as a failure at all.
Throwing good money after bad is one of the deadly sins of entrepreneurs. And being objective and open enough to recognize when it’s time to change your mind is likely one of the strongest things you can do.
I used to think changing your mind was a sign of weakness. But now I’ve changed my mind.