Episode 68: Why Successful Entrepreneurs Aren’t Soft

What do you think it means to be “soft”?

If you know me, you know I’m going to give it to you straight, and if you follow me on social media, you may have seen a recent post that said this…

“PSA: I’ve never met an extremely successful entrepreneur that was soft. So if you’re soft, may wanna think about that.”

I asked if people agreed.

What I found was that the interpretation of “soft” varies wildly. The truth is its failure to share honest feedback and constructive criticism in order to avoid hurting feelings or offending someone.

When you do that, you do them a disservice.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not about having a lack of empathy, cutting people down, and being rude. I don’t aim to hurt or offend when I share feedback.

However, I know honest feedback is what you need to grow your business, and that’s why my clients come to me.

In this episode, I am going to cover:

  • What being “soft” really means, and how it will affect your business
  • Why I believe it’s important to give my clients honest feedback, even if it seems harsh
  • What I learned about the importance of feeling comfortable in life and business

In today’s episode, I’m gonna talk about why most entrepreneurs are soft and why I’ve really never met a successful one that is soft. That’s what we’re going to break down in today’s episode. So prepare to get offended today on the Dan Henry show.

All right, everybody, before you get all bent out of shape, yes, today’s episode is why most entrepreneurs are soft. And let me first define what I mean by soft, okay? Soft is not about tone. It’s not about language. It’s not about using empathy. You need empathy. That’s a human thing, and you should not be rude to people. These are basic, just default human things. Soft means that you abuse empathy, you abuse tone, you abuse being nice just as somebody can abuse it the opposite way and be mean, you know what I mean? But when you rely solely on giving and wanting empathy to grow a business, you’re soft, man, you are just soft as a three-week-old banana, and your business will be rotting like a three-week and smelling like a three-week-old banana as well.

Let me give you some examples. I often have clients come to us at getclients.com, they say, Dan, you know, I’ve joined program after program, after program, after program, and I’m not getting results. And these programs are very nice, the owners are very nice, but I’m just not getting results. And I’ve come to you because I know you’ll tell me how it is. I’m done with the encouragement and the motivation. You know, not that we don’t give that, but I’m saying, you know, I’m done with that. I just need to know what to do. And that’s where we shine. Because at my company and me as a consultant myself, you know, I like to tell people, look, here’s what you’re doing wrong. Here’s why you’re thinking about it wrong. Here’s why this is a waste of time, or here’s why you’re focusing on the wrong things. Here’s how to grow your business because most entrepreneurs don’t grow their business simply because they’re focusing on things that don’t matter.

I mean, if I had to sum it up, that would be it, you know? Or their perception of things is just skewed. They’re always looking for the easy way. They’re always looking for the template. They think that it should be easier and they shouldn’t have to deal with this. And then let me tell you something. When you become an entrepreneur, you absolutely step into a new category of human that is not normal. You’re not normal, and you’re not allowed to have the excuses normal people have. Normal people can say, I’m so tired ’cause I have three kids and da da da. Okay, great. Well, guess what, there’s somebody else with three kids that is tired as well, and they’re still doing the work, and they’re going to beat you. They’re going to build the business faster. Okay? Or they’ll say, well, you know, I’m just so scared. I have so much fear. Okay, that’s fine. And again, we should definitely work on dealing with that. But at the end of the day, there’s somebody else, a competitor of yours, that doesn’t have that fear or that does have that fear and is doing it anyway.

And so the thing is, look, I understand having empathy. I really, really do. But when that is, all you rely on is pure empathy, pure understanding, pure kindness, and you don’t have any substance behind it. It’s not helpful. It’s not helpful at all. Okay? And when you’re an entrepreneur, you automatically, it’s like being a fireman and saying, you’re afraid of fire. Then don’t be a fireman. If you want to be a fireman, but you don’t like fire. You probably shouldn’t be a fireman. If you’re an entrepreneur and you don’t like hard work, you don’t like doing things that make you uncomfortable. You don’t like these things, well, then you should probably not be an entrepreneur. And that’s the thing is, look, I can be very nice, and I can be understanding and all that jazz. But when it comes time to tell you what to do and how to fix things, I’m not going to be nice. And I’m not saying I’m going to be mean, but I’m not going to be nice. I’m not going to not tell you something or give you bad advice because that advice is brash frank or, for that matter, harsh. I’m going to tell you the truth. And if the truth hurts your feelings, well, so be it because facts don’t care about your feelings. The facts are the facts. And look, if we’re talking politics, we can go into this whole facts and truth and my truth and all that stuff.

But we’re not talking politics. We’re talking business. And guess what? All that doesn’t exist in this world, the facts are the facts. There’s no “my” truth. When it comes to your mortgage company, all right? You’re not going to call the bank and say, my truth is that I’m doing a great job. I’m working so hard at my business. Please don’t take my house. They’re gonna be like, Oh, that’s great. You gotta be out in 30 days. Like they don’t care. All right? When your merchant company shut you down because you’re not compliant, when Facebook shuts you down because you’re not compliant ain’t no truth but the fact that they shut you down, period. If you don’t solve the problem, you’re screwed. There’s no skewing of facts here. Okay?

So the thing is, is that, you know, I like to prepare my clients for the real world. The real entrepreneurial world and the real world is not nice. It’s harsh. It’s mean, and it’s unforgiving. Business can be unforgiving, and I’m not going to give somebody bad advice simply to save their feelings ’cause that’s a massive disservice, and I’ve seen programs that do that. They go out there and they just nice and here’s a t-shirt, here’s your little hat and decoder ring and they’re happy, but they’re still broke. And that’s the thing, you know if I could go back in time and talk to myself and I had the choice between, you know, being nice for the sake of being nice and telling myself the truth like, dude, what are you doing? You know, do this, do that, stop thinking about it this way, stop being lazy. Then I would do the second ’cause that’s what I know would help me.

I mean, I made a post recently on this, and a lot of people got all up in arms about it, and I said, successful entrepreneurs, aren’t soft. You know? And I had a bunch of people go, Oh, Dan, you’re so mean, my feelings. But then they posted examples of entrepreneurs that I either knew personally or knew of. And every one of those entrepreneurs are not soft. In fact, some of them are known to be rather harsh. They just have a, I mean, just because you have a feminine or a nicey nice brand doesn’t mean that you’re soft at all. Being hard doesn’t mean tattoos and, you know, cutoff t-shirts. Just like being soft doesn’t mean rainbows and butterflies and little stuffed animals, and that’s not what those things mean. Those are superficial things.

What it means is that when the truth needs to be told, you tell the truth. It means you don’t get offended by the truth. It means that if you even, and even if you let the truth hurt your feelings, you deal with it, and you take action. And when you’re not taking action, somebody should tell you, dude, you’re not taking action. You absolutely will get nowhere in life, let alone business, by constantly being offended, constantly taking things personally, constantly thinking that life should hand you things on a silver platter. Okay? Like I said, if your business is not growing, the bank doesn’t care, your bill collectors don’t care, your car payment, and nobody cares, you know what I’m saying? Like it just doesn’t make any sense. And that’s called being soft.

My clients who get the best results take criticism well, and look, I’ve had a ton of people tell me things I was doing wrong. I had Perry Belcher one time call me an idiot right to my face because I told him something I was doing. And he said, you know, you’re an idiot. And here’s why. And he told me, I said, you know, wow. I said that’s super insightful. Thank you. Now I don’t call people idiots. I don’t. That’s Perry’s style. You know, I don’t personally call people idiots, but I also don’t get offended when somebody who’s really smart and I’m asking for advice does it. And he was using it as a term of endearment anyway. A lot of this has to do with the, you know, differences in dialect. But the point is is that if somebody is telling you something, just to be nice, and they’re not telling you the truth, you’re soft.

And if you’re afraid to tell your clients the truth because you’re afraid they’ll be offended, your clients soft, and you’re soft, everybody’s just soft. Okay? And the thing is, when you do become successful, you realize this, and you try to do something about it and continue to do something about it. That said, look, if you’re listening to this episode right now and your little feelings are hurt, look, I get it. Because when I was coming up, my feelings got hurt a lot too. It really, they really did. And it was hard for me to navigate that. It was hard for me to sort of understand what was going on in my head. And here’s just to give you some advice. Here’s what I did.

Number one, I did try to work on being less offended. I did try to work on, you know, taking criticism better and not letting my feelings get the best of me. And the second thing I did, this really helped me, was I stopped trying to make it a prerequisite to like someone to get value from them. There’s plenty of people that I’ve got value from that I don’t necessarily like or resonate with, but I’ve learned things from them that are extraordinarily useful. And I will continue to learn things that are extraordinary. We’re human beings. We’re all so different. You can’t expect the whole world to be able to appease you and say the right thing in the right word at all times to make you feel comfortable at all times. Oh, got to feel comfortable. Everyone’s got to feel comfortable. I feel uncomfortable all the time. My whole life is a constant soap opera of uncomfortableness. Like the thing is, my mindset shifted when I realized that I didn’t have to be comfortable to succeed. I didn’t have to be comfortable to get value because, ultimately, I can. I have to give other human beings grace and the ability to not always say the right thing or the perfect thing.

And I have to understand that I’m trying to accomplish goals that are very big and require a lot of uncomfortable situations. And once I started accepting that, I really got a lot farther in my life and in my business because I didn’t have to make it this rule that I must be comfortable to accomplish something, receive value, or learn something. Okay?

So I hope this rambling that I’m doing here today is helping you and also maybe giving you some insight into why I’m a direct person because I really care about my clients. And I know that you know, if I just tell them something to make them happy or make them feel good, it’s not necessarily going to make them money, or it could cost them a lot of money. And it’s much better to tell them the truth so that they make money because let’s face facts here. The name of my frigging website is getclients.com. It pretty much kind of revolves around the idea that I help you make money. So, you know, I generally try to give advice that helps you do that, not stops you from doing that. So hope this episode was useful. I’ll see you guys in the next one.


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