Find the Yellers

The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make in my situation is to surround themselves with people who tell them how great they’re doing, but won’t point out their critical flaws. Each time you meet a mentor or a friend, they’ll tell you how great you’re doing and how amazing you are. You can’t blame them either, they’re suffering from confirmation bias. They believe you are somebody who can change the world, so they favor information and facts that confirm this. However, most people who believe in your vision will also not warn you if you are making obvious mistakes to prevent yourself from succeeding, their minds will reject and ignore those thoughts.

This effect is known as disconfirmation bias, i.e. when we are presented facts that refute prior beliefs, they are subject to greater scrutiny. The classic study proving this phenomenon was done by Lord, Ross, and Pepper in 1979. They gave 48 subjects who had strong opinions on the capital punishment fake studies supporting and denying the use of capital punishment to lower murder rates. Time and time again, subjects doubted any study that did not confirm their belief. If anything, the opinions of the subjects became more polarized after being presented the fake studies. This effect is what allows huge controversies to occur when a group of intellectual individuals are presented the same data set.

The best people to surround yourself with and hire are those who suffer from confirmation bias, i.e. believe in your vision and you, but are aware of their disconfirmation bias. This means that if they see warning signs in your attitude, or stumble across a study which refutes your business model, they will immediately point that out to you.

I like to call these people the “yellers”. They’re the friends and mentors who are willing to yell at you and tell you that what you’re working on has huge flaws. At the same time, they will turn around to a potential hire and say that this is a rocketship they should catch on to.

Through building Nightingale, I’ve tried to surround myself with as many yellers as possible. People who are willing to send me an article like this, even though Nightingale’s success partially relies on the ACOs succeeding!

Thanks to Ishaan, Shri, Yefim and Zain for reading through this and helping edit.


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