Ignore Feedback From Friends About Your Ideas

Have an idea and want to share it with your smart friends? Great! Don't.

It started with this tweet.

Here was my response.

As an independent thinker, my thoughts are usually really “out there”. And I recognize they are out there, so when I get one, I tend to share it with a ton of smart friends to get feedback. In my head, I hope they’ll see the genius and jam on it with me. But almost every time, they don’t get it and tear it down or just say “sounds cool, good luck!”. This isn’t their fault. Being an independent thinker means I see things differently, usually in a lens that other independent thinkers don’t see. That’s an interesting dynamic isn’t it?

Although sharing ideas is an intuitive thing that you’re supposed to do when you start a startup, in many ways this puts you at a disadvantage from day one.

Startups thrive on momentum

Startups are built on top of momentum. This is not an original statement, as YC has been sharing this for years. But note, EVERY startup starts as an idea. If you get an idea and share it with 10 friends and they don’t like it, that startup could die right then and there, as you think it’s a bad idea because “smart people” told you so.

Sure, maybe you’ll ignore their comments but the seed will be planted. And this is silly isn’t it? Because we all agree that execution matters more than the idea, so you’re getting feedback at the earliest stage of a company, during the stage where feedback actually matters the least. If I had a crazy idea and $5,000 in revenue THEN shared it with my friends, then there is social proof and the feedback might be more like “ This is still crazy, but how is it working”?

Because you have smart friends, they will recognize both that the idea is insane, but there is SOMETHING there, and they will want to understand. Whereas if it’s just an idea, you literally can’t know if there’s something there. The idea is much easier to squash.

The crazier sounding, the better

This post is counterintuitive because when you get an idea, you want to share it with the smartest people you know. I’d propose that ideas that your smart friends don’t understand are stronger ideas than the ones they do. If they don’t understand, that means it isn’t an obvious problem so you can get a jump on the market opportunity before others see it. If you’re right, then it could be huge! As Peter Thiel says, this is going from non-consensus to consensus in a market. This is actually a very good thing!

Don’t get me wrong, you still need to get feedback on your idea. But you’re supposed to get feedback from your ideal users, who have the problem you’re trying to solve. This forces you to get out of your bubble and get real world feedback from a your potential user base. So, next time you get an idea? Don’t share it with anyone you know. This is only going to have a neutral, if not a negative effect on you. Just assume it’s a good idea and then validate that with your market. And remember, the crazier, the better 😉