The Tell-Tale Signs of Startup Bitchy Resting Face
If you’re one of those people (like us, oops…) who can’t help but get sucked into the latest BuzzFeed quiz or Upworthy video, you already know all about the dangers of this very serious ailment. Bitchy Resting Face, described perhaps best as a semi-permanent general look of disdain or of a facial expression void of emotion, gives the outward appearance of your being - well, bitchy.
But what does all of this have to do with your startup? I’m glad you asked.
The way you outwardly present yourself, your company and your culture to the world as a startup is critically important. They say that a first impression lasts forever, and that applies to startups too.
Here are five surefire ways to tell if your startup has Bitchy Resting Face.
1. You Think Being a Jerk is the Only Way to Be Successful
Constantly pinning the blame on everyone else? You’re a jerk! Think nice guys/gals always finish last? You’re a jerk. Face it. If you think that you always have to be mean in order to get your team to do, create, BE or even to make a buck, you will burn too many bridges and fail. I’m not suggesting you be a pushover; a backbone is important in business. What I am suggesting is that you play nice and BE NICE. Mind your P’s and Q’s.
“It is counterproductive to be ruthless.” - Richard Branson
2. You Constantly Create Chaos
Steve Blank discovered that the hardcore founders in his startup classes often grew up in dysfunctional families and were only familiar with chaotic environments. So the moment things regulated themselves and became routine, they tended to throw caution to the wind. Sound familiar?
But the problem is that most people do not thrive in constant chaos.
Do you think that soldiers survived because they were addicted to the challenge of life or death situations? No. All they wanted to do was live another day and get home to their families. PTSD was the aftermath. A state of utter shock and depression that would often never be overcome.
Are you creating PTSD?
Constant chaos is never good. It needs to be managed. “If you can’t manage chaos and uncertainty, if you can’t bias yourself for action and if you wait around for someone else to tell you what to do, then your investors and competitors will make your decisions for you and you will run out of money and your company will die,” explains Steve Blank. It certainly isn’t a strategic way to motivate your team to get things done faster.
It’s your job as a founder to bring order out of chaos, not to create it!
3. You Mock Your Competition
Here, here. A little funny competitor bashing once in awhile is okay. Overdo it, and you just end up looking jealous and incompetent.
Let’s take #bendgate as an example. It brought out the fiercest of Apple’s rivals who went to the extreme to invest in ads that mock the new Apple iPhone 6. Samsung was the first to attack with a tweet about the new Galaxy Note Edge - saying “Curved. Not bent.”
But let’s backtrack when the late Steve Jobs during the iPhone 4 launch had said, “No one is going to buy a big phone.” And at the time he was right, but clearly he changed his mind (new information), and that’s ok, right? Nope, not to Samsung (who clearly has a hate-on for Apple), and released this ad:
Back to #bendgate, LG came on with a tweet, including the #bendgate hashtag, that says their phone ‘flexes on purpose.’
If the iPhone 6 wasn’t an immediate threat to these other companies, I am sure these ads wouldn't have happened. They are funny, but it isn’t fighting fair.
“Startups don't win by attacking. They win by transcending. There are exceptions of course, but usually the way to win is to race ahead, not to stop and fight.” - Paul Graham
4. You Always Feel Surrounded By Idiots
Do you always feel like the only capable person able to get the job done right? “Everywhere you turn, are you surrounded by fools, by boring nonentities, by faceless masses and foes and suckers and, indeed, jerks?. . .” asks Eric Schwitzgebel, professor of philosophy at University of California. If you answer yes, then I’m not sorry to say: you are the jerk.
A jerk is one who fails to appreciate the perspective of others around him (like your team), treating people like fools or idiots to be dealt with and not the intelligent people they hired to work for them. Jerks lack the ability to appreciate the intellect, intelligence and emotion of those around them. I guess you could say, that a jerk is a selfish fool and is the idiot himself.
Are you the idiot?
5. You Lack Trust
Do you feel like everyone is out to get you? Do you barter every single contract to get your ‘money’s worth’? Do you think that trust is earned and not maintained? If you lack trust, it likely means that many people don’t trust you in turn.
But forcing people to trust you is even worse. Actively asking people to “Trust me!” instinctively sets off antitrust alarms: you know, that anxious feeling that something will go wrong. Your gut is telling you to run. So awkward and uncomfortable. Gosh, if you’re a jerk I am sure your people feel this way around you all the time.
“Your ability to elicit people’s best efforts depends on their trust in you — their confidence that they can count on you to do the right thing.” - Linda Hill & Kent Lineback
6. Your Culture is Nonexistent
Too cool to build the foundation of a great culture? Good luck buddy! Other than the obvious, why do you think people are lining up to work at Facebook, Google, and Apple? Likely because of their f****ing awesome culture. Your culture emphasizes your core values, it motivates people to do great work, and makes your team feel like just that, a team.
“We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served – as shareholders and in all other ways – by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains. This is an important aspect of our culture and is broadly shared within the company.” - Larry Page
So there you have it, some tell-tale signs for what’s behind that bitchy resting face that people see when they look at your startup. While it’s all well and good to know what causes this disorder, it’s more important to know that there are things you can do to cure it. Develop empathy. Listen to other people. Spend some time getting to know your team and your customers. Take a good look in the mirror and ask if you like what you see reflected back at you. Realize that we’re all in this together and that our companies and products rely on the input, support and goodwill of others. This isn’t just a warm, fuzzy statement. It makes business sense.
What suggestions do you have for startups that are struck with bitchy resting face? Who in the industry do you see as the friendly entrepreneurs and innovators setting the pace for being open, honest and overall decent people? Let us know in the comments section.
Photo Credit: Susannah Grant