December 11, 2015
He’s a well known entrepreneur. His products have changed the world. He created the world’s largest personal-computer software company. He’s written more than 10 books, built a Fortune 100 company and fought to eradicate poverty and disease. Yet people hate him. He’s a regular recipient of hatred on the internet and in his public life. That hatred is often times brutal and uncalled for.
But Bill Gates continues to excel. He doubled his wealth from $40 billion to more than $82 billion after becoming a part-timer at Microsoft, right in the middle of the Great Recession. While others are crushed under the weight of hatred and criticism, Gates thrives. Here’s what so many entrepreneurs fail to understand about hate.
Entrepreneurs need hatred.
Related: 3 Reasons to Thank Your Critics
If you want to become a successful entrepreneur, you need a way to harness the inevitable hatred you’ll receive. A way to turn the criticism, envy and jealousy into fuel you can use. You need all of the negative emotions and pain it brings. Not because you’re a masochist, or because you want to wallow in self pity, but because of the incredible growth opportunities it brings with it.
Here’s what I mean.
Illegitimate hatred loses its power when you see it for what it is. It acts as a vaccine, building immunity against emotional and mental toxicity. Instead of being crushed by the shame and doubt hate creates, you begin to see that it won’t kill you. You see it as the self criticism it is, and you realize it gives you a chance to offer empathy and understanding to your harshest critics.
On the other hand, hatred that’s legitimate and well-deserved is painful. That’s also beneficial, because it means you have a chance for growth and improvement. If you’ve screwed up, that hatred is a helpful cue — you know you have something to fix. Both give you opportunities to improve your business.
Ask successful entrepreneurs about their experiences with hate, and you’ll find something interesting. Instances of illegitimate, undeserved hate outnumber the times we deserve it. If you’re on the receiving end of illegitimate hate, it feels terrible.
Here are four ways you can use hatred — legitimate or not — as fuel to grow.
1. Expect hatred and criticism to get worse.
Success provokes all kinds of emotional reactions. Feelings of envy and jealousy, fear, insecurity, contempt and even rage are all typical reactions. Melanie Greenberg lists more than 30 reasons people will lob hatred and criticism your way as you move toward success. A quick look at her list, and you’ll see that the vast majority of causes have something to do with what’s going on inside your critic.
For example, Anthony Bourdain hates Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade Cooking. Here’s what he had to say about her: “All you have to do is waddle into the kitchen, open a can of crap and spread it on some other crap that you bought at the supermarket. And then you’ve done something really special.”
2. Expect hatred if you don’t give customers what they want.
Customers are wonderful. The right ones push you forward. They validate all of the blood, sweat and tears you’ve poured into your business. They’re grateful, patient and understanding.
But some customers want more. Some customers feel entitled. These customers want much more than we can give. They expect you to bend the rules for them. To make exceptions. To give them everything for next to nothing. They believe they’re in control of you. If you can’t give them what they want, they’ll hate you for it.
Then, they’ll punish you. They’ll do their part to put you out of business, using weapons like Yelp, Amazon, the Better Business Bureau and their credit card companies. They’ll tell everyone, in an effort to destroy you.
For example, Alamo Drafthouse has a simple policy for moviegoers. No talking or texting in their theaters. They regularly post warnings before each movie. This customer believed she was the exception to the rule, so Alamo kicked her out.
3. Prepare for three deadly reactions.
Researchers, Sarah Hill and David Buss found that jealousy and envy — precursors of hate — create three specific reactions: submission, ambition or destruction.
Submission could be a simple as people avoiding you because of your dominance. This seems harmless on the surface, until you realize it can lead to a loss of opportunity, difficulties forming new relationships, creating connections, etc.
Ambition could lead to intense competition — a key employee leaves to start their own competing product or service or get a better job. Ambition becomes deadly when it motivates others to do whatever they have to do to get the results they want, regardless of who may be hurt.
Destruction is exactly what you think it is. The person you’ve interacted with feels offended that you’ve gone against them, and they look for ways to destroy your business, reputation, opportunities — anything they can get their hands on.
For example, it’s no secret that small businesses hate Yelp. Customers use Yelp as weapon to punish businesses who refuse to do what they want. Advertise with Yelp, and they can help you make them go away. Refuse, and they’ll hide or filter any positive reviews you receive.
Related: ‘Yelp For People’ Co-Founder: Your Hate Only Fuels My Resolve to Launch Peeple
Davide Cerretini, co-owner of Botto Italian Bistro in Richmond, Calif. decided to fight back.