Being Nice

Being Nice

Being nice is one of the most underrated skills. Let me explain.

If all you did was watch The Social Network and Shark Tank, then you’d probably make the following conclusion: to be successful, you have to be loud. Media portrays the successful entrepreneur has someone who is pointed. They depict the individual as kind of an asshole.

Some of the most famous entrepreneurs have that reputation. Steve Jobs. Elon Musk. Zuck. The list goes on. All “kind of assholes” who are also kind of genius. Very genius.

There are tons of articles out there that discuss the merit of being an asshole as it pertains to startup success. I really cannot believe it. In this interview style article on Business Insider, we learn this:

There’s a notion that some people become successful company founders because they have the right “Startup DNA.”

The DNA is comprised of characteristics like “resilience” and “ability to accept risk.”

But the article goes on to say that:

There are numerous examples of founders who have had moments of terrible behavior that later became infamous.

Travis Kalanick. Jeff Bezos. Again, the list goes on. At least they claim.

But the reality is that “being an asshole” is not a prerequisite to being successful. Actually it’s quite the opposite. Being an asshole quite nearly exempts you from being successful. It is a bad thing to be an asshole.

I find it so weird writing this. Honestly, though, it is true. The media portrays “leaders” and “genius” side by side with being rude. Like they are one and the same. This creates a false view that misleads the public.

If anything, it is quite a miracle that these people were successful and jerks. Not the other way around. Think about it. It is challenging enough convincing others to join your company. Let alone trying to build a team when you are deemed as “that asshole.”It makes accomplishing your mission that much harder. And in a “game” where you need every ounce of luck and help pointed in your company’s direction — being a dick doesn’t help.

Contrary, being “nice” can take you a really long way. Let’s define nice because there is a big difference between being nice and having strong opinions.

Nice, at least the way I use the term, refers to someone who treats people with respect, no matter who they are.

It is tough. I am not always nice. Most of us are not. It requires extra effort. Conscious effort and energy that must be redirected towards actually thinking about what you say.

The founders who can do this give themselves an advantage. They do favors for others not because they have to, but because it is the nice thing to do. They are always willing to help. They do things to be “nice” and for no other reasons.

These are the majority of successful founders. Individuals who earn respect by always being on their game and always “being nice.” Our society often fails to recognize these individuals.

Nice is not soft.

I have never really been called the “super nice guy.” While it is not my goal to change my personality, I have always been the one to try and help. Culturally, it is tough to balance being nice and being direct. There is, however, that perfect balance that you can find to communicate. I hate fluff. But that does not mean I cannot communicate “nicely” and effectively. It is all about finding that perfect balance.

Originally published at Jordan Gonen.

By jordangonen on January 16, 2017.

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Exported from Medium on February 17, 2018.