Why Kool-Aid is bad for you

The product sounds incredible. The executive team is all excited. This will be a major breakthrough – a paradigm shift like never seen before. Customers will just flock to the door and beg you to buy it. Who would be crazy enough not to buy this? Everything will just be amazing; stardom is around the corner… Sounds too familiar? Well maybe you suffer from the Kool-Aid syndrome.

The distortion field

It’s one thing to be excited about your business opportunity but if you are not realistic about the real value of what you are doing and what it really means for the market, you might be lined up for disappointment. Often, entrepreneurs are way too optimistic about their plans and forget to ask basic questions. This is what I call the distortion field or in a colorful way: “drinking too much of the Kool-Aid”.

Validate your insight

Your idea might be very good but unless customers and the media agree with you, it won’t realize as well as you’d envision it. You can never do too much customer and market validation. And when I say validation, I am not saying to convince them. Some entrepreneurs are very good at creating a temporary distortion field around them. Take the time to explain to potential customers and industry analyst what you are looking to do … BUT then listen to what they have to say. Every little objection they will have will matter.

Don’t talk, listen

This means that you try to give as much space to the customer so they can share their thoughts about your new product ideas.  This means you need to LISTEN. I know this is sometimes difficult since you’ve drunk so much Kool-Aid but you CAN DO IT. Customers and analysts will help you make sure your plans are valid and if you respond positively to their comments and update your plan accordingly, you will be successful.

If they don’t understand, it does not mean they’re stupid

Another effect of drinking the Kool-Aid is thinking that anyone that is not as excited or does not get it must be stupid or ignorant. Again, that’s the distortion field acting on you. No matter how smart you are, you need to find a way for the majority of the customer base and industry analysts to understand what you are doing. If you don’t, your plan won’t work out.

Going cold turkey

Yes, it is not easy but you need to become more pragmatic about things. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid and you will feel much better about things. And even without the Kool-Aid, you can still get excited about what you do … just realistic about it.

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