Years ago, the best way to spread your message was just by getting people to talk about it. The concept was later coined "word-of-mouth" by psychologist George Silverman and his "teleconferenced peer influence groups," where doctors came together to discuss new prescription drugs. Silverman found that if one or two of the doctors in the group shared how much they liked a product, the other doctors would jump on the bandwagon, even if they disliked it.
The word-of-mouth phenomenon is even more apparent today, thanks to sites like Facebook and YouTube, where videos go viral in a matter of hours and reviews are easily written and shared. The ease with which people can spread information means that you have to know your story and not let anyone write it for you.
This will be my last Peoplework column for Inc. This column has been a place for me to engage with other entrepreneurs and share my story. So I want to leave you with one last thought: Only you can write your own story.
Tune Out the Noise
Matt Vorst and I started dotloop to change the world, despite the naysayers. When I gave up everything, including a scholarship to a top-tier law school, to start my own company, my family, friends, and even my mentors told me that I was crazy. And things didn't change as I began working on dotloop.
In 2010, we were featured on the front cover of a local publication, despite having no customers or money. But I remember reading the comments, which were rife with insults and criticism. "That idea will never work," wrote one. "We tried this 15 years ago and it failed." Somehow, I chose to ignore it.
Don't Lose Sight of Your Vision
Every good company starts with a vision. Mark Zuckerberg has a vision to change the way people communicate around the world. Steve Jobs had a vision to create a "computer for the rest of us." and Elon Musk has a vision to "change history." Behind all these visions are deep, all-consuming passions. And those are what led to success.
But the road wasn't easy. Zuckerberg was panned for being too young, and Jobs was pushed out of Apple. One way to persevere is by discussing your core values every day with your coworkers. When Google launched, Sergey Brin and Larry Page wrote down ten things they believed in. Every so often, they would review the list to make sure they were still true--and that they were following through on their vision.
It's easy to get distracted when you're building a company. But to be successful, you have to stay true to yourself and not lose sight of your vision.
Never, Never, Never Give Up
After starting dotloop, I put running marathons aside for nearly five years. But not too long ago, I decided I needed a challenge outside of work, so I started training and ran the Columbus marathon last year in under two hours and 30 minutes. It was a personal record. I did it by creating a plan and focusing on it, and most of all, by not giving up.
The same should hold true in business. If you follow your goal with sheer determination, you'll get there despite the setbacks. And when you write your own story, you'll like the conclusion.