Really Listening to Advice as an Entrepreneur

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By Daniel Palacio (Co-Founder, Authy) As an entrepreneur, you are constantly bombarded with advice on everything, from what you should be doing, to how you should dress. No matter who you talk to, chances are he/she will offer you some advice. Thus entrepreneurs seem to develop a shell around them, and most of the time, simply ignore the advice. This is completely rational: if you just took all the advice you received, you would probably end up dressing like Lady Gaga, and your product would look like a MySpace profile.

However, not everything is binary. One of the great things about Founder Labs is that it puts you in front of very talented mentors from day one. During the five-week program at Founder Labs, we met wonderful advisors. We met with several of them, and received more advice in those five weeks than we had in the previous 6 months.

Like any entrepreneur, it was impossible to take it all. However, we knew that our mentors were spending their limited time with us, without getting anything in return, other than hopefully helping us, so we made an extra effort to listen.

But it is not only about listening, it is also about executing on it. Some of the advice, we kept hearing over and over again. Those were easy cases: we took the advice and executed on it. Other cases were tougher: it was all too tempting to simply ignore what we were told -— a natural thing many entrepreneurs do.

During week three of the program, one of the advisors told us something that we just didn’t want to hear. We had already explored the problem when we started, but it was so technically challenging, and maybe even impossible, that hearing we had to solve this problem first was not what we wanted. Still, we made a huge effort to listen, but more importantly we took the advice and made solving this problem our #1 priority. It’s funny what happened afterwards: three days later, we had a great solution to the problem, and by the next time we met with this advisor, we had implemented a prototype of the solution.

Not only did our product become better and more interesting, it also connected us more to the advisors. It’s rare for advisors to see someone actually listening to them and even further, doing something about it. So if you are one of those rare cases, advisors will notice and will be more willing to help you even further; all they are really asking is for you not to waste their time.

I am not advocating that you take every single piece of advice you receive -- it is up to you to decide that; but, if you are dismissing all of it, you are doing it wrong. Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Daniel Palacio is the Co-Founder of Authy along with Gleb Chuvpilo. Authy is a mobile security startup founded during the first Founder Labs program in New York City. Follow him on Twitter at @danielpalacio.