In 2010, a young wannabe entrepreneur, Michael, met a potential business partner. They struck up an idea, and by 2011, Michael put his entire life savings of $35,000 into starting the business. But $35,000 isn’t a lot, even with today’s create-a-startup-on-the-cheap-hosting days, and especially for this company — he wanted to take on Procter and Gamble. P&G probably spends that much a week on coffee.
How could this guy possibly make it?
First, let’s look at someone else who recently didn’t look like he was going to make it, professional golfer Jason Day.
See the shot. Be the shot. pic.twitter.com/l6dAAyHhT2
— PGA.COM (@PGAcom) July 29, 2016
Jason here looks like he’s drunk or falling asleep at the 2016 PGA Championship. Was he about to pass out?
No. This is just his pre-shot routine. Before every shot he closes his eyes and visualizes hitting a great golf shot.
What kind of effect has that had on his game?
In 2012, Jason’s career was imploding. He had his worst year since his PGA start in 2006. So in 2013 Jason started that pre-shot routine he crafted with a mental coach. That year he was the 17th ranked player in the PGA. Next year he was 10th. Then 3rd.
And now today in 2016, Jason Day is the number one player in all of the PGA.
But what really got my attention isn’t so much that he uses visualization. Lots of successful athletes do. Michael Jordan. Tiger Woods. Serena Williams. That’s a subject for another day.
What surprises me is that Jason Day actually had a visualization routine earlier in his career, but he stopped. He was embarrassed by what it looked like to other people. But when he overcame embarrassment, his career skyrocketed.
Our entrepreneur, Michael, happened to learn a similar lesson through a different route — improv.
For years before moving to California and starting that new business to take on Procter and Gamble, Michael had studied improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) in New York. The UCB is an improv troupe which has at least one founding member who needs little introduction, Amy Poehler. Today the UCB churns out many promising comedians you see on Saturday Night Live and well known comedies.
One important piece of wisdom from the UCB is to get out of your head. Will Hines a member of UCB from 2009–2013 says this about it:
Getting out of your head refers to the desire to be doing improv without having your head full of rules and thoughts and worries.
Being in your head is that place where you become paralyzed with indecision. There are so many worries about how you’re performing and what people will think of you that you become frozen.
Will Hines mentions various pieces of advice on getting out of your head. The one that sticks out to me the most: “Beware of Trying To Please Just One Person (Who Isn’t You)”.
Do not get in the habit of letting your view of yourself be dependent on what someone else thinks of you.
Those classes and practice at improv gave our wannabe entrepreneur the training he needed to stay out of his own head, to make things without being paralyzed by possible embarrassment.
You see it in how comfortable Michael is in a video of himself talking about his product. Later he created a second product that made even his investors uncomfortable: butt wipes.
Those videos and products went viral. And just a few weeks ago Michael Dubin sold his company, Dollar Shave Club, to Unilever for $1 Billion.
I still struggle with the worry of what I look like in front of other people. Recently, I started a new YouTube vlog to share advice I’ve collected from over a decade of running my own businesses.
One day I was going out to lunch with some of folks at Basecamp (our parent company) and I thought about grabbing my camera. But I worried what it would look like on the street carrying this big camera around filming us.
I left it behind. I ended up having this great conversation about marketing new podcasts. It would have made a fantastic vlog post. I completely missed an awesome opportunity because I was worried about being embarrassed.
It’s not easy to shake off the nagging feeling of being embarrassed. Even when we know the thing we’re embarrassed by can make a positive impact on our well-being like Jason Day’s pre-shot routine. But the greatest success stories are people who shook off the worry of what they looked like in front of other people and just did their thing.
Somewhere in you is the belief that you are good… It is ultimately what will solve the problem of being in your head forever.
P.S. If you enjoyed this article, you should follow my YouTube channel, where I share more about how history, psychology, and science can help us create better businesses. And if you find yourself overwhelmed while organizing your own small business or handling customer support, check out how Highrise can help!