Lessons for Entrepreneurs: Ignoring Is Bliss and Then Some


Where ignorance is bliss, ‘Tis folly to be wise—“On a Distant Prospect of Eton College” by Thomas Gray

With all due respect to Thomas Gray, he missed the target when it comes to entrepreneurship: ignorance isn’t bliss, ignoring is. For example, last week I posted a “help wanted” entry soliciting “truemorists” for a site called Truemors.

In the first forty-eight hours or so there were forty-one comments on this posting. Of these responses seven (17%) condemned the idea:

  1. Did you hear that Guy is the new Perez Hilton? He must be out of his mind! Please tell me this post is a joke.

  2. Did you hear that Guy has sunk to a new low? Come on Guy… gossip is one step away from pornography.

  3. All the pitch’s you hear, and this is the kind of thing you want to attach your name and valuable reputation to…another hurtful, hateful gossip site/company?

  4. stick to tech, guy, that’s what you are. don’t cover hollywood gossip bs.

  5. I hope (think) Guy is joking. Like we really need more “gotchas” and “scooping”!! To wit…I was going to write an article about my visit(s) to Virginia Tech last week to hand out 600 “Hokie Hope” buttons to the students — the rub “the local newspaper implied that the Hokie story might be a little stale now” — amazing! Give me something fresh like Brittany rehab or anything Anna Nicole! Geeesh Guy say it ain’t so!

  6. shameless trolling. truly shameless. obvious the mentoring and art of the start mentality is falling by the wayside in one man’s quest for power (or jut technorati rankings) way to go the path of the lemming, dude yamaha

  7. I hope this is a joke?

This is fascinating. Based on an intentionally sketchy posting and without seeing how Truemors functions, 17% of the commenters got all twisted up in negatives. What do you think would have happened if founders listened to pre-release comments about selling used printers online (eBay), creating the tenth search engine (Google), building personal computers for hobbyists (Apple), enabling people to tell their friends that their cat rolled over (Twitter), or rating whether people are good looking (HotorNot)?

Truemors, and your idea, might not succeed, but if you listen to the naysayers, you won’t even try. Then, for sure you won’t succeed. The first lesson is:

If you believe in something, go for it. This is the only way to really find out. Mathematically, the naysayers are right 95% of the time, but believing you’re in the 5% is what makes entrepreneurs entrepreneurs.

By the way, 119 people responded positively to the posting too. 🙂 This yields the second lesson:

If you want help, ask for it. There is a cost to keeping something completely secret and trying to avoid public criticism. As my mother used to say, “If you don’t blog, you don’t get.”

The third lesson is that the best question you can ask someone who condemns something new is this:

“Have you tried it yet or are you just reacting to what you’ve heard?”

Generally, the more vehement the condemnation, the less likely the person has even tried it. I learned this when I discovered that the people who were most anti-Macintosh were the people who had never used one.

To paraphrase Mr. Spock, “Ignore long and prosper.”

By |2016-10-24T14:21:08+00:00May 9th, 2007|Categories: Books, Entrepreneurship|Tags: , , |52 Comments

About the Author:

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.


  1. Philip Stears | Me May 9, 2007 at 5:47 am - Reply


    I saw something today on Guy Kawasaki’s blogthat for some reason gave me pause for thought: If you believe in something, go for it. This is the only way to really find out. Mathematically, the naysayers are right 95% of

  2. Amit Chowdhry May 9, 2007 at 6:38 am - Reply

    Up with entrepreneurs, down with naysayers. btw, it should be spelled Mr. Spock (not Spoke).

  3. Jon M. Holmes May 9, 2007 at 6:49 am - Reply

    Mom always said, “Jon, the worst naysayer you will ever come accross is the one that wanders around inside your head.” Great post Guy!

  4. David B. Bohl May 9, 2007 at 6:58 am - Reply

    You couldn’t be more right-on when you ask: “Have you tried it yet or are you just reacting to what you’ve heard?” It’s amazing how much rumor and innuendo is assumed as fact today.
    “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” ~ Herbert Spencer

  5. georg May 9, 2007 at 7:06 am - Reply

    Then again, considering that the name “Truemors” makes people associate the venture with those greasy, hateful gossip sites may be something that shouldn’t be neglected, even if the site functions in a completely different way that we don’t know about yet.
    After all, the name is the first thing people will hear about the site, so it definitely makes an impression. Probably, Google wouldn’t be where it is today if it was called Poople.
    Maybe I should humbly shut up, as I do not nearly have your experience with these things (well, that’s why I’m reading your blog!)

  6. Mark Newman - HireVue May 9, 2007 at 7:32 am - Reply

    Two years ago when we first launched would you have used recorded video interviews to hire? (well nobody else did for a while either) but here we are two years later after being called crazy and other things and now you will see some very exciting things announced out of our neck of the woods and are growing the team.
    Go for it Guy! It will be very interesting to watch. Regardless, you can now monetize the crowds through more than just advertising – you will make a killing off of the telephone exchange fees and transaction off of each text message sent in a la American Idol.

  7. Peter May 9, 2007 at 7:41 am - Reply

    Great post and advice. Love the last statement. Attitude makes all the difference.

  8. Susanna King May 9, 2007 at 7:43 am - Reply

    “If you believe in something, go for it.” – This is the mantra of the start-up I’m working with right now. It never ceases to amaze me how this company has been built on pure chutzpah and actually become somewhat successful. The founders know little about technology, they just have an idea and surge ahead with it, confident in their own ability to sell it and to hire people like me to take care of making it all work.
    Working on this project has been educational for me. I’ve learned you don’t have to be an expert, you don’t have to have all the details nailed down at the beginning – if you are willing to commit to your idea 100%, just go for it and you’ll likely succeed by some measure.

  9. john May 9, 2007 at 7:49 am - Reply

    In reading your original post, my first thought was that you were working on some marketing strategy like linkbaiting or slipstreaming. Still wondering.

  10. Kevin Hoctor May 9, 2007 at 8:02 am - Reply

    Great post Guy!
    It’s human nature to want to feel support from others: “Hey Bill, I bought a Lexus. You should buy one too (and make me feel good about my decision).” We just don’t want to feel alone and vulnerable.
    I’m in the final stage of software development on a product that has been done many times before. When I tell people about it, the reaction is, “Whoa, you’re going to be competing against the Big Boys! Is that smart?” I know I have a great idea and the experience to make it reality, but I still start to lose my nerve to push forward when the Negative Neds start to swarm. Your advice to block them out and ignore any and all nay-sayers is the critical piece that will allow me to finish.

  11. Gubatron May 9, 2007 at 8:50 am - Reply

    Lessons for Entrepreneurs: Ignoring Is Bliss and Then Some

    Hi Guy Kawaasaki!!!,Trackback from wedoit4you.com on Lessons for Entrepreneurs: Ignoring Is Bliss and Then Some at http://www.wedoit4you.com/archive/2007/05/09

  12. Benjamin Atkinson May 9, 2007 at 8:52 am - Reply

    My mentor during my university days had an IQ that could boil water. The single, most encouraging statement he made to me was, “You’re smarter than the people who will tell you ‘No.'”

  13. Anthony Zapata May 9, 2007 at 9:05 am - Reply

    “Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour.” – Truman Capote
    I completely believe in the philosophy that if you have a great idea, throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. You will never know unless you try.
    Great post Guy!

  14. brilliantdays.com May 9, 2007 at 9:18 am - Reply

    If you trust the naysayers

    you will never have success. I read this at Guy Kawasakis blog today:
    What do you think would have happened if founders listened to pre-release comments about selling used printers online (eBay), creating the tenth search engine (Google),…

  15. Andrew Denny May 9, 2007 at 9:36 am - Reply

    Guinness used to have an advertising slogan: “I haven’t tried it because I don’t like it”
    We shout down things when they threaten what we love. I would never read the Koran, because to fall in love with it might mean to betray my family. Is that wrong?
    Then there is the issue of smugness. For many years I didn’t really care for the Macintosh, but didn’t mind it – I just ignored it.
    Then finally I got a Mac. I was told I’d love it, so I immersed myself in it. But I didn’t take to it, and after 18 months I ended up hating it with a passion. I regret trying it now, and hate all things Mac and see Macophiles as insufferably smug and untruthful.
    Wish I’d never tried the Mac. Wish I’d said “I haven’t tried it because I don’t like it”. Paradoxically, I hate it more for having tried it, and that’s not good for me.

  16. drrogera May 9, 2007 at 9:47 am - Reply

    The great thing about the Internet is the anonymity that emboldens people to say things they would not have otherwise said. I think criticism is important. Knowledge based criticism is even better. If you cannot stand up to the critics how can you face tough investors, many of which will make the same stupid comments. Tell us Guy, have you ever been critical of something without knowing all about it? Of course you have. We all have.
    When I started on my book, Maps for Modern Magellans, people told me it was a bad idea, a waste of time, and a distraction. Who is Roger Anderson to write a book on business? “None of the big publishers will carry it.” “You are a nobody.” So, I created my own publishing company, I wrote my book and I found ways to get it done. That’s what Modern Magellans do – we go where we want to because we can. We transform businesses and lives because we are not afraid to try. If it does not succeed financially, it always does personally; we grow, we get better.
    So, maybe we don’t ignore the critics. We need to face them. Answer their jibes with courageous execution and move on.
    Good luck with the venture.

  17. RBA May 9, 2007 at 9:55 am - Reply

    “If you don’t blog, you don’t get.”
    Your mother used to say that? 🙂

  18. Tony Wright May 9, 2007 at 9:56 am - Reply

    Great points, though I’d say a more moderate approach is in order. The earlier you can vet your idea, the better. Oftentimes there is a lot of wisdom to be had when you introduce your idea early.
    Recently, I launched a little “permission marketing” campaign (inspired by a post by Seth Godin) for a little startup idea (click my name) that I’m working on. Essentially, it was a few screenshots, a “sign up to hear about the launch” form, and a plea for feedback.
    The sign ups, emails, and resulting blog editorials were both inspiring and damn useful.

  19. Brett May 9, 2007 at 11:00 am - Reply

    Great post! We are all so easily swayed by public opinion. Society has basically become a bunch of talk show hosts and color commentators. It’s natural for all of us to give our opinion on what’s going on, but it’s becoming even rarer to be a part of what is going on.
    That’s why you’ve got to ignore it. Thanks for the 3 rules.

  20. Bill May 9, 2007 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    Sorry, still sounds like a lame idea 🙂

  21. Rami May 9, 2007 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    Good post Guy, and good luck on your new venture.

  22. Papa May 9, 2007 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    Amen to that Guy. Best of luck with the new venture.
    One of the many things I’ve gained from doing my own startup is the (obvious) realization that to be an entrepreneur, you have to have some serious cojones (in the figurative sense, of course, women can have cojones too). And ain’t nobody can take that away from you. Nobody.
    I’ve got nothing but the utmost respect for the folks out there that are willing to give their ideas/dreams a go.
    And regardless of the outcome, you’ll come away from the experience wiser, smarter and happier than the sad sacks who sitting in the peanut gallery sniping at the folks who put their necks and reputations on the line trying to _do_ something.

  23. Tim McClintock May 9, 2007 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    Awesome! Yet one more reminder why I read this blog.
    Thanks Guy!

  24. francine hardaway May 9, 2007 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    Very good examples. It’s a matter of trust to allow one’s first reaction to be positive, rather than negative. I am training myself to say “they thought that was worth doing, so I’d better try it before I condemn it.” This has been an interesting way to try many new products and select the ones that I really like. Saying something sucks just robs you of the opportunity.

  25. Louis May 9, 2007 at 2:35 pm - Reply

    Guy, I first read about Truemors a day after watching one of your videos in which you preached that startup ideas must have meaning. I took this to mean that a business idea must serve a really meaningful purpose, so I must admit that I was a little surprised to read about Truemors and thought where is the deep meaning in gossip! But then I thought, let’s wait and see – there may well be more to it. So is there Guy? By the way, I am also working on an idea that I think some people might initially react negatively too, but as you say – I am going for it all the same.
    People somehow think that rumors are evil. I don’t. There are good ones and bad ones, true ones and untrue ones.
    Here’s the meaning: Truemors is one more step in the democratization of information. It started with royalty and religious leaders and their scribes. Then there were printing presses–eg, for the Bible. Then desktop publishing. Then web sites. Then blogs.
    More and more, one needs less and less to tell the world something. Truemors takes it another step. You don’t have to create a web site or a blog–eg, what if you only have a few tidbits every once in a while? You can’t maintain a site or blog for this.
    Now there’s Truemors. At a minimum, you just need a phone to leave a voicemail or send a text message and you can tell the world. How cool is that? That’s the meaning of Truemors: power to the people.

  26. KindAndThoughtful May 9, 2007 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    Being an entrepreneur means risking all your money to do something you truly love and believe in. It is all about passion and a sense of purpose.

  27. Patricia May 9, 2007 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    Rock star! I love this article as you know. It’s so true.

  28. NextBlitz May 9, 2007 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    ignoring is not always ignorance

    Guy Kawasaki blogged about this lesson for entrepreneurs on his How to Change the World Blog. The post is not just theoretical – Guy has been there from the entrepreneur side, VC side, and CEO side. Guy’s point is that

  29. Lorraine Murphy May 9, 2007 at 4:59 pm - Reply

    Where’s the value in rumours? That value is truth itself: a Stanford study a few years back found that 86% of what we’d classify as gossip is factually true. Being at the head of an information stream like that is not insignificant.
    And Guy? That HBO snippet I posted on Truemors I got from Defamer, one of those horrid gossip sites!

  30. Mark Earls May 9, 2007 at 5:01 pm - Reply

    Great post (again).
    I suspect what you’re really seeing is a Western (Anglo-Saxon, anyways) taboo on social interaction in play. Rumour and gossip are neither “manly” nor “controllable” (if you’re into control). We much prefer the orderly, objective and controllable thought of fact and data-transmission, don’t we? Because that’s how the world really is…ISN”T IT?
    Have been wracking my brain to think of a suitable example – maybe music/entertainment might be a fertile ground.
    Anyway looking forward to hearing you speak in HK this afternoon.

  31. tweiss May 9, 2007 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    Your idea will work beautifully! I attribute the negative oriented comments to the fact that people don’t admit they rely on rumors (even though they are) same as they deny they are influenced by advertisement. The power of rumors is huge. I hope people will not abuse it. good luck!

  32. john May 9, 2007 at 10:51 pm - Reply

    This is awsome, thanks for all the wisdom.

  33. Jon May 10, 2007 at 12:11 am - Reply

    The way things seem to be going in your life Guy I wouldn’t be surprised if you had to hire a mail attendant to manage your mail (both physical and virtual!).
    Entrepreneurs are mavericks, they create chaos out of stability then the successful ones are able to re-mold things to their benefit.
    I guess a jump from VC to Entrepreneur isn’t that big a leap – look forward to seeing what else you come up with in the future!
    Founder of myfoodcount.com, i3ds.com and artist @ stinkyandsticky.com

  34. Hire A Helper May 10, 2007 at 12:20 am - Reply

    Marketing via Saying the Right Thing (or at least NOT the wrongthing)

    I was busy writing a sweet post on my thoughts about Seths latest post when I ran accross someone who already said what I was looking to say.
    (Sometimes you just cant say it any better )
    Stu writes:
    Seth Godin today writes that w…

  35. Gubatron May 10, 2007 at 12:40 am - Reply

    Lessons for Entrepreneurs: Ignoring Is Bliss and Then Some

    Hi Guy Kawaasaki!!!,Trackback from wedoit4you.com on Lessons for Entrepreneurs: Ignoring Is Bliss and Then Some at http://www.wedoit4you.com/archive/2007/05/09

  36. Zviki May 10, 2007 at 2:06 am - Reply

    Great post.
    But, I’m pretty sure that for each of the successful examples you gave there would be 10 which are not. And for many reasons, for sure. Running blindly into the fire is not always a good idea and, as some people noted, getting feedback as early as possible is key. So, after how much negative feedback should you start questioning yourself? Never? Does this mean every idea can succeed with the right execution and marketing?

  37. Jolynn May 10, 2007 at 2:34 am - Reply

    Ok, I really believe it (lesson1). There is no secret here (lesson2). Just give it a try! (lesson3)
    Let me share this FASCINATING FIND I have!
    1. Michael Losier explaining Law of Attraction (Audio)
    2. A FREE interview report with Bob Proctor on Attraction Acceleration

  38. Gal Josefsberg May 10, 2007 at 9:56 am - Reply

    Odd, my mother always told me “If you don’t want to waste your time jumping from page to page, get yourself a good RSS reader.” Well, actually, she told me to eat my vegetables but I’d like to think this is what she would tell me if she knew what an RSS feed was.
    I think my mother knew your mother. 🙂

  39. SorenG May 10, 2007 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Guy, I was one of the people who shared reservations. It was a little surprising to hear you asking paparazzi — who hide outside of celebrities homes and speed after them in cars — for help to launch a website. It’s not a bad idea; it is just not clear how it changes the world, which is the title of this blog. If I could see how more paparazzi and rumors in the world did so, then I may think otherwise.
    But people respond to information they are given. If I posted on starting a website and said, “If you are a young teenage girl who likes to share nude photos of yourself, contact me,” then say to others who share reservations, “don’t pre-judge!” it is like saying, “don’t respond to the information I give you.” But people do.
    People receive information and respond to it, simple. Otherwise, you can say, “It is just the first version of the website, don’t pre-judge it,” or “It is just the second version of the website, don’t pre-judge it,” and on and on.
    While getting young photos of girls is not the same as engaging celebrity-stalking paparazzi, still for me the issue of involving paparazzi while trying to change the world was a hard one to blend. And people are going to respond to what information they are given, some of course more thoughtfully than others, but responses based on that information will come.

  40. Anonymous May 10, 2007 at 11:08 am - Reply

    What to do with acritic.

    There you are having a (insert beverage of choice) with your colleagues and you decide to tell them about an idea you had last night. As they sit there staring at you one of them will inevitably say something like Thats the dumbest thing…

  41. TG May 11, 2007 at 9:59 am - Reply

    Guy wrote: People somehow think that rumors are evil. I don’t. There are good ones and bad ones, true ones and untrue ones.
    Guy, are you telling me you have never been on the receiving end of an ugly, false rumor? What’s the difference, IYHO, between a “bad” rumor and an “evil” one?
    Here’s the meaning: Truemors is one more step in the democratization of information.
    Oh, really?
    de·moc·ra·cy [di-MOK-ruh-see] – noun.
    Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.
    The principles of social equality and respect for the individual within a community.
    an·ar·chy [an-er-kee] – noun.
    Absence of any form of political authority.
    Political disorder and confusion.
    Absence of any cohesive principle, such as a common standard or purpose.
    Seems much more like the latter to me, Guy.

  42. Credo Advisors: Business Ethics & Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) May 12, 2007 at 9:10 am - Reply

    Have Conviction

    If you are not familiar with Guy Kawasaki, or know of him but have yet to read his blog, be sure to check out his recent post titled, Lessons for Entrepreneurs: Ignoring Is Bliss and Then Some. While the post is about lessons learned from…

  43. LinkXL May 12, 2007 at 11:20 am - Reply

    If you are a naysayer and correct you get nothing but an “I told you so”. However, if you are an entrepreneur and correct you get the pot of gold.

  44. Jijesh May 13, 2007 at 4:22 am - Reply

    This post is very insightful, but I think gossip is a bit stale now, or is it? hmmm…

  45. Odd Moe May 13, 2007 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    Dear Guy, The reason I why was surprised regarding your “request for help” was that I admire you and the “change the world” blog. I do not think that participating in the Truemors venture is “good branding” for you. I also hope my “change of profile joke” wasn’t offending. In a way it was a test of the Truemors consept. To say that all of us being negative to the idea and your request are naysayers make me believe that you are a bit sensitive to critics. I am for sure positive to almost anything that can contribute to positively change the world.

  46. Al Ramirez May 14, 2007 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    It has launched so that’s its first success. It wouldn’t say a lot about Guy if he was a afraid to fail and never tried new things. Everybody and every organization has to take chances on new ideas. If we all become so paranoid of failure what good would any of his previous advice be worth. The criticism itself is yet another good example to others that you have to keep trying in spite of the challenges you face to your ideas. Good luck to Guy and to anyone with an idea.

  47. Rajesh shakya May 15, 2007 at 7:40 am - Reply

    If you have passion, do it. Don’t fear to fail.
    Rajesh Shakya

  48. The Software Abstractions Blog May 15, 2007 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    truemors: A social network for rumors

    For years, news publishers have relied on tips from their readers as a source for new stories; a new web startup from Guy Kawasaki that just launched, institutionalizes this approach by providing a forum for users to post true rumors

  49. st_labrat May 17, 2007 at 3:45 am - Reply

    (1) market servey is dead for starting new using stats
    (2) only 5% of servey is “useful”=support the initiation. Neys are discounted at 95%..(sound like search for “yes man”)
    (3) Neys for me are better triger for the thought process and prevent the pitfalls
    (4) Ignor after complete the thought process (analytical) is recommended (therefore, the servey is valid for improve the logical thinking).

  50. Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life May 17, 2007 at 10:33 am - Reply

    “Social” is More Important Than “Software” in Social Software

  51. Odd Moe May 20, 2007 at 7:20 am - Reply

    GJ and Guy; I understand you are in the same club. Love u both 🙂

  52. Pronet Advertising May 26, 2007 at 12:10 am - Reply

    How-To Make Believers out of Detractors – Steps to Success

    After hearing from Guy Kawasaki this past week and talking to Tim Ferriss about his road to success, I came away learning something incredibly important. How to make detractors believe in your products or services, and how to make them believe in you.

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