Listen First - a startup series (part 4/6)
It is critical to listen first before taking any action. Listening is slowly becoming a dying art in today's world. We are quick to jump to solutions, to attempt to finish sentences, and to solve problems that don't exist because we don't listen. The key to listening for a start-up is to know WHO to listen to. You can listen to your founder, you can listen to your network, you can listen to people who you respect, but the people you absolutely should listen to is your potential clients. As soon as I say that, some idiot jumps in and brings up the Henry Ford quote, "if I asked them what they wanted, they would say a faster horse". That means they were not listening to me. I did not say ask them what they wanted. I said listen to them. Steve Job's did the same thing, no one knew they wanted an iPod, until everyone had one. So present your product, concept, idea and get feedback.
Listen to the quiet ones on your team. Their ideas are just as valuable as the loud ones.
Great ideas come from various places. There is no ultimate source for great innovation. If you are trying to be innovative, you are probably going about it wrong. We all have ideas that hit us, that we believe in. Imagine being around a bunch of people with those great ideas and not listening to them. What happens when people don't listen to you? You feel disrespected, you feel under-valued, you feel hurt. The same is true when you don't listen to others. Don't dominate a conversation, communicate. Listening is the first part of successful communication. Everyone has a voice, everyone matters, and by dismissing someone for whatever reason may prevent you from solving the next big problem, or having the next great idea. It doesn't take much to listen, but you can never listen well when you are talking over everyone.
Now go listen and make something amazing! :-)