in life

Call Me Crazy. Call Me Brilliant.

The day I decided that I was done with waking up, showering, eating a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and strolling into an office for work each day in favor of sitting on the couch in my PJs to build websites while watching Ms. Doubtfire on HBO – was a day I’ll never forget.

It was also a day in which I received very mixed reactions from those around me. When I had the “I’m starting my own business” talk, folks had one of two responses:

The “You’re crazy/you don’t know what you’re doing” crowd: Many considered me crazy and without hesitation gave me the “We’ll see how long it lasts – be prepared to start looking for a “real” job” speech. I wouldn’t call them naysayers as much as I’d call them people who didn’t quite understand the path I intended to travel down. These were friends, family members, and acquaintances who were accustomed to having a paycheck handed to them, getting a nice benefits package, and calling it a day – so the idea of only making what you earn and, dare I say, living without health insurance, was inconceivable.

They didn’t WANT to see me fail, rather, they expected it. The concept of a (then) 24 year old making good money and being a business owner , to them, was “unrealistic”.

The “You’re the most awesome/amazing/sexy (okay I made that last one up) crowd” Then there were those who thought I was brilliant. Who patted me on the back and said things like “I wish I could do that” or “I could never do what you’ve done”. While the ego-boost of being this all-mighty average-guy turned entrepreneur-rockstar (in their eyes) felt good and gave me confidence, at the same time I responded to every single one of them with the same message: That anything I was doing could be done by anyone else. Not everyone, but anyone. That I wasn’t brilliant, I wasn’t especially skilled in one particular area, but rather, I was (and am) very good at being resourceful, figuring things out, and embracing what I should, and more importantly, should not be focusing on. That above all, I believed in myself.

All of you, every single one, the lovers and the haters, the naysayers and the praisers, have played an integral part in helping me to develop where I am today. You’ve helped me keep two feet on the ground when my head’s been in the clouds, and you’ve pushed me away from being “realistic” in favor of taking risks and bold leaps of faith.

We all of people in our lives who fall into these two groups – they help define who we are and who we’ll become.

Stop and think about the people in your life that tell you that you cant, or shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing. Instead of letting that hold you back, let it motivate you, prove them wrong, but more importantly, prove yourself right.

And to those who praise you, cheer you on, and thank you – continue paving the way for them, and others, who have the itch to be doing something different. Who want to make a transition to something new but don’t know how to take the first step, who want to quit their job to start their own business but are worried about money. Show them that it can be done, and more importantly, will be done.

Continue being crazy AND brilliant. No one ever made great things happen without getting a little crazy along the way.

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  1. I had to deal with that with my friends when I first started talking about leaving my job and focusing on internet marketing & blogging full time. They looked at me like I had spaghetti spread across my face or something. But, just like you said I had another group of friends that were really supportive and very interested in me finally starting to dig more into entrepreneurship. It also did play a big roll with my online vs. offline friends as well. It seemed like more of my online friends were more understanding to the announcement more than they friends I see offline more often.

    • Yep – I’m right there with you – I think it’s because there’s so many of us out there doing our own thing and being vocal about it online, so the community here is much different from one you experience day to day amongst your “real life’ friends. But, like I said, both the lovers and the haters all have their special place to keep you motivated, keep you on your toes, and keep you grounded. Thanks for the comment!

  2. “…at the same time I responded to every single one of them with the same message:u00a0That anything I was doing could be done by anyone else.u00a0Not everyone, but anyone. That I wasnu2019t brilliant, I wasnu2019t especially skilled in one particular area, but rather, I was (and am) very good at being resourceful, figuring things out, and embracing what I should, and more importantly, should not be focusing on. That above all, I believed in myself.”nnYes! u00a0I said this to coworkers when I left my last job for the one I have now. u00a0They all hope to move on soon, and I told them I’m no more skilled than they are but that I just took action to make a change. u00a0Hopefully, I will someday have the courage to make the kind of change that you did. u00a0Thanks for being an inspiration, and congratulations that all of your hard work is paying off!

    • It’s simply about that: Taking action. Some people take action, some people talk about taking action. That’s the only difference between me and people who want to be doing something similar to me is that I took the leap and never looked back.u00a0nnAs always, it’s great to have you around here and to have your support. Cheers, Caitlin!

  3. This is awesome… love the concept of “proving yourself right” rather than “proving them wrong”… I will remember this! THANK YOU for writing, sharing and most of all… proving yourself right! Bravo!

  4. Yes! Another beautiful post my brother. I say brother because I feel the love.. the family realm type of love through your writtings. Thats good stuff. I enjoy every word.. every period.. every message. Thanks for not being afraid of being you.. and help other people (like me) be better me’s. We’ve gotta schedule a reunion haha. nnSN: And do you personally have a FB page? (havent clicked the FB link yet)nnRespects,nAllen T. Graham

  5. Great advice. This gets to the heart of the mentality you need to be successfully self employed. When I first told people about my plans to leave my job and grow my business, I was concerned about the criticism and questions I might get. But it turned out that anticipating the skepticism and being okay with other people not believing in you is the first step to being ready to go it alone.

    • Agreed. There’s going to be plenty of nonbelievers (yourself included – especially starting out). I didn’t start my own thing and from day one decide that I was going to take over the world. Instead, you play things day by day, and things continue to develop over time. It’s been a hell of a ride so far, to say the least. :)

  6. Matt, really cool post. I am in a simliar situation to you where I am putting together a start-up with a friend. We are focusing on sm marketing, branding, and marketing you. I am in the process of looking for full-time jobs, but as you know, times are tough. My friends and family think it’s really bold and creative with what I’m doing. Yet, my closest family isn’t convinced it is something for the future. What advice do you have for driving online traffic and reaching out to local businesses about your service? Keep up the great writing!

    • Hey Matt. Thanks for stopping by.u00a0nn1) I would really start focusing internally with you/your business in getting a solid web presence built up for yourself. One of the reasons I had success early on was because of the community I had worked to develop here for 18 months prior to ever becoming an entrepreneur full-time. It paid huge dividends to have a large online support group ofu00a0referralsu00a0when I was ready to do my own thing full time.nn2) Network like crazy. Meet new people. Get coffee. Grab beer. Never turn down an opportunity to meet people in your community. Every card you hand out, every hand you shake, it’s yet another gateway of possibilities. You’re making great connections and planting seeds for people to talk about you to their friends, who talk to their friends, who talk to their friends. It’s all a big domino effect.nnTwo of my main tips for folks looking to spread the word and get their name out there. Hope it helps – and again, thanks for stopping by!

      • Matt, I’ve used your advice and things are starting to look up for a company. My partner and I would love to talk with you more in the near future. If you have some time, maybe we can set something up via video chat? Thanks for your time and help.

  7. Looking at obstacles and naysayers as motivators is definitely a great attitude to have. In my opinion, one of the most important parts of being successful is recognizing that you couldn’t have done it alone (as you’re doing here) and remembering the people who were there for you throughout the process. You’ve definitely come a long way and you’re a great example for other young people.u00a0

    • No one ever got where they are today without the helping hands, and even the discouraging words of others. Both, when taken in stride, are critical to helping shape and mold who you are and who you’ll become.

  8. I could say great post or you are such an inspiration to 20-somethings, Matt. But, I’m not going to do that. B/c your last line sums it up perfectly. “No one ever made great things happen without getting a little crazy along the way.”u00a0

    • Thanks, Jessica. It’s all about keeping yourself grounded, but not being afraid to take a flying leap (like packing your things and moving to NYC…ehem) every once in a while. It’s the only way to make things really happen.u00a0

  9. Great advice! I’m moving from UT to CA next May, and I’m already plotting my final steps from college student to graduate. I’m not starting a business but relocating is getting the same responses.u00a0nnCheers for brilliance! :)u00a0

    • Yep. This certainly applies to much more than just starting your own business – having relocated a couple times in the past few years, I know what it’s like to have some people think your nuts, and some people who couldn’t be happier for you. As long as you’re doing what you want to be doing, the rest always seems to fall into place. Cheers!

  10. Loved this post! For the very first time in my life I’m actually considering walking away to build my business. I was just talking to someone recently how I know that those closest to me would freak out when I make that decision, simply because I still have bills and my own bachelorette pad to maintain. But then I think about how much I could increase my business by focusing on it full time. It’s definitely a struggle that I have within myself. But it is great to see how it has worked for you along with the tips you provided in your comment below. Glad to see you succeed at you love to do!

  11. when I quited previous job and jumped into a totally different field, they say I’m crazy, incredibally insane! Whatever, I wanna achieve a big career success, even had done well before, yet damn tough since that wasn’t what I really enjoyed. Now, tired, or challenged, fine, I enjoy media and advertising, I know I’ll come up with creative ideas for media campaigns…… Thanks, article are so supportive!