Do You Actually Have What It Takes?

When I was a wee lad I had a music teacher whose name slips my mind. He was your typical unfulfilled prodigy. You know the one, he thinks his brilliance is in any way unique and that genius is always an adequate substitute for personality. He hated that he was stuck teaching kids to play instruments that most of them cared nothing for, instead of playing his instruments under the bright adulation of stage lights.

I remember him because something he once said popped back into my head while talking to a young wannabe entrepreneur. One frustrated afternoon as I waited for my turn outside his office, as he wrapped up with another classmate of mine, he angrily said “I’ve been surrounded by losers like you all my life.”

When my friend stepped out, the awkwardness of his rebuke against the student made eye-contact difficult. What he said was wrong, insulting, and uncalled for in what was supposed to be an excellent boarding school (that cost a fortune) where future leaders were being groomed. Yet, that reason for its wrongness didn’t sit quite well with me.

So here I am, talking to my neighbor, or the boyfriend of a neighbor, or whoever this excited looking gentleman is and hearing him tell me all about this business idea he’s working on, and it finally dawns on me the problem I had with the music teacher. Nearly two decades later I figured out it was his raging sense of entitlement. He put in the time and the effort and expected everything to fall into place. “If you build it, they will come.”

In one moment I learned what was wrong with a lot of startups, and why in the entrepreneurial world, ideas mean a little bit less than glksjbivaslcn. Many entrepreneurs walk into their venture with a misplaced sense of entitlement. “If I build a social network that has just this feature and that feature, I’ll be able to compete with Facebook.” – Anybeat/G+/Diaspora/etc. It’s like someone without any self-awareness, trying to figure out why he has no date. He has a great job, large paycheck, perfect health, superb pedigree, and a large penis. Why don’t women throw themselves beneath his feet?

You all know that guy. You’ve met him. Everyone knows why he’s single, except him. And that’s the point. Ignoring the natural attrition, and ignoring the people who manage to build something meaningful by luck (major factor), the majority of entrepreneurs suffer from too great a belief in their own brilliance. The ones that succeed eventually, whether they learned the hard way, or through luck were able to avoid the pitfalls, feel comfortable telling you that failure is part of the process. But failure is much easier to stomach from the winner’s podium. Failure in others is much easier to deal with.

Many entrepreneurs come face to face with the futility of their venture eventually and only a small number of them can deal with that. Many people call themselves entrepreneurs. They use the word because they have had an idea or registered a company, or taken some small step, but any entrepreneur will tell you a title means nothing. A true entrepreneur cannot be mistaken for a regular man even at a thousand figurative paces and it wouldn’t matter if you chose to call him by a different title.

So we can imagine, the first and most vital lesson any entrepreneur needs to learn is, “no, they don’t actually have to buy your shit.”

This gentleman that sparked my thinking, I haven’t the foggiest what he’s going to achieve. I don’t much care, really. My conversation with him was the sort of awkward filler of a man who wanted to be somewhere else, which I did. But it did get me thinking about the Noisecast.

The Noisecast was always meant as a hobby. It was never a job. We knew the possibility at all times of the website becoming more, but it was never our initial intention. We loved tech, we were geeks. It was no more complicated than that. Before the Noisecast, when we were Whitenoise, our “plan” was even more nebulous. We just wanted to have fun with the geek peanut gallery of the Whitenoise hashtag at Gizmodo.

But here we are, growing, gaining fans, occasionally breaking news, building industry relationships, and still having fun. What would it take for us to make this a business? We have the passion for tech, but do we have the passion for the entrepreneurial process? We have the content, but can we generate it more consistently (without the burden of day jobs)? One thing I know for certain is that we have the first lesson down. There is no sense of entitlement (any more). We don’t expect you to read us, so we cherish every one of you that does.

The Noisecast is not a business, it’s a passion play. But it may become one. We believe in what we do. What we don’t know is, do we actually have what it takes?

Photo credit: Paro_For_Peace

7 thoughts on “Do You Actually Have What It Takes?”

        1. Alto as well. This is odd indeed… assertion: failed sax players become new media entrepreneurs and general geeks. I want to do a survey now.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top