Ever go into a restaurant, and everything is just perfect? Food is great, service is not too overbearing or too slow, prices are reasonable, decorations are on point, and the menu has just the right amount of appetizers, entrees, sides, and desserts? Some people look at that and say, “I could open a restaurant like this, it looks easy.”
Of course it is not easy! Running a great restaurant is the end result of fine-tuning recipes, hiring and managing flighty food and beverage employees, buying fresh ingredients every day, and keeping a sharp eye on income and expenses, and hundreds of other things only restaurateurs know.
Or if you are watching a football game on TV, and someone says, “Look at that coach, he’s hardly doing anything, I could do his job!”
They don’t see the years of learning plays, the days on the road recruiting players, dealing with the owners, opponents, and all the other little things that are necessary to show up ready on game day. All they see is the coach standing on the sideline calling plays.
My favorite, when you tell someone that you are building a new business, they say, “You know what you should do,” and then proceed to talk out their ass about what you should be doing, because, you know, they are experts on everything.
You literally spend every waking minute for years thinking about how to make things better, and they just spout off about it as if you should immediately take their advice. No skin in the game, but happy to tell you what to do!
In any of these situations, you know you are dealing with a talker, not a builder. Talkers think things just happen, and have not experienced the hard work, the ceaseless pondering about incremental improvements, and the embarrassing failures, both big and small, that the builder knows intimately.
There are so many things I want to say in response, but I don’t. I used to try to explain to these people why, in each of these situations they are talking about, how it’s not easy, why it’s not simple. I don’t do that anymore. It’s like explaining color to a blind person, there is just no common frame of reference.
Whatever I say would come off as arrogant, condescending, or insulting to them. Instead I say something bland, change the conversation to something innocuous, and see what I can learn from them. They might not know how to build a business, but there is usually something they are good at, and it’s fun to find out and learn something new.
Every once in a while there is some recognition, but it comes about 10 years later. Builders play the long game, have multi-year plans, and even though it might not be apparent in the short term, the plan and process eventually makes sense to people. About a past business I built, people say, “That was a great business! Y’all had a great reputation – why did you sell?”
Why did I sell a successful business? Builders know….talkers don’t.