This week I spoke at the Colombia 4.0 tech conference in Bogota. Unlike my emotional intelligence and productivity talks to comfortable TED audiences, my speech on creating global success happened in a city awaking from a time of turmoil to a growing middle class, increasing tech opportunities and ambitious entrepreneurs.
You won't know your audience until you start: Whether you are launching a book, a product or a service, do not assume that you know what your customers will be. The more assumptions you make on the outset, the more narrow the potential customer you serve. Instead, choose to make decisions based on what you know and keep your ears open when you actually do get your idea into the world.
Diversify who you are with: Having your closest network be the same as you is a mistake. Who do you share your biggest plans with? Those folks cannot have the same exact mindset as you since any feedback they give you will contain the same blindspots, biases and filters you have. Their responses may feel good because they match what you were thinking all along. Expand the network - not just the superficial one, but the people you trust - and you are more likely to make wiser decisions.
Scale yourself: The reasons many founders get booted from their company is that the skills necessary to begin are always different than the ones necessary to sustain. Understand that, at a certain size, the people using your product, idea or service will be much different than you, so the stubborn call of your own vision early on needs to be balanced with a strong degree of listening later. As Group SJR founder and The Strategic Storyteller author Alexander Jutkowitz told me, "We don't just scale products and ideas, but ourselves, and a big part of that is empathy."