Don’t let the bastards get you down

by Jeff Hilimire on June 6, 2011

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” ~ Dr. Seuss

When you’re trying to start something from nothing, particularly something that is cutting-edge, you’re going to get people telling you its a dumb idea.  That is until you’re successful, then of course they’ve been there all along, backing you from day one.

Many people will try to tell you that you’re never going to make it.  That you’re jeopardizing your future.  That you don’t have what it takes.  Don’t listen to them.  If you do nothing else, you have to believe in yourself or this thing is never going to happen.  And don’t blame them, because 99% percent of the time those nay-sayers are right.  But its the entrepreneurs that don’t believe them that are successful.

I remember back in the early days of our company (Spunlogic) when we were partnering with everyone under the sun in order to get work in the door.  We were even partnering with some of our competitors that either didn’t have a skill set that we could offer or couldn’t do it as cheaply as we could.

I’ll never forget one particular encounter with one of these “partners”.  The guy brought myself and my two partners to a fancy lunch, to “talk about the relationship”.  We had been doing some programming and Flash work for them for about six months and we thought this was going to be a “thanks for helping us out” type of lunch.  It’s important to note that at this point we had been trying to build our company for about three years.  It was our baby and we were extremely proud of it.

After the formalities of small talk and ordering were done, he got to the point.  He said, “I see a lot of potential in you guys.  If you keep working this hard, Danny, you could be a developer for me one day. And Raj, you could be one of my designers.  And Jeff, you’d make a great project manager for my company.  You guys keep it up and we’ll talk about that soon.”  What a slap in the face.

Now, looking back on that moment, I really wish we had gotten up and walked out of that restaurant as soon as those condescending words came out of his mouth.  But we didn’t.  We finished the meal and kept working with his company because it was bringing in revenue that we needed.  By the time we sold our company in March of 2008, about seven years later, we had 75 employees and he had four.

I’d offer him the same deal but he’d make a lousy project manager.

  • Raj Choudhury

    I remember the guy and that lunch, only made me want to do better and show him we had a real company that had as much potential as any other and that we weren’t kids looking for a job. Jeff, another meeting that comes to mind was the airline supply chain company, the CEO asked us how old we were before we told him what needed to be done with his digital presence. Confidence is very thing and believing in yourself should be as natural as breathing in order to thrive.

  • @TonyKinard

    Rock on!  Spunlogic days.  Aaah… good times… good times. ;)

  • Jeff Hilimire

    That’s right Raj, I’ll have to blog about that one soon too ;)  “Never be too young”, I can see it now…

  • Donovan

    Ha. Always love this story!

  • Vlad Gorenshteyn

    Great story. Reminded me of a recent Wired article that highlighted the
    “four stages of reaction” one must face when presenting something
    cutting-edge to the world:

    R = Rejection of the idea

    A = Anger because of your persistence

    M = Mellowing to the idea

    A = Acceptance

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