Love the Hate

Or: How I Transformed into a Douchebag of Epic Proportions

I recently read a great post by Jared Tame, author of Startups Opensourced on the process he uses to land meetings with almost anyone. It was great advice but he definitely got some heat for it – check out some of the comments on Hacker News:

  • This has to be one of the lamest things I have ever read on hacker news.
  • coincidentally, this is the same hack that celebrity stalkers use to get free restraining orders.
  • Good GOD this is a terrible system.

Here we have a guy who wrote a really valuable book where successful startup founders shared their hard-earned wisdom – and shares the actual technique he used (not just an idea he had) about how he was able to connect with these famous and busy people. This is really valuable stuff.

And while lots of people appreciated that, he got tons of hate for it – so much that he had to write a followup post. How is that fair?

It’s not. But guess what – it also won’t stop him from becoming successful. Consider this:

  • Every successful individual you can think of has a pack of people who just hate their guts.
  • Every successful company has people who think their products are worthless.
  • Every successful book / article has people who think the ideas are stupid and wrong.

Want to know my new motto?

Love the hate.

Embrace it. Realize that if you do something or say something and no cares – you’ve got a problem on your hands. The articles that were my most popular were also the ones that got the most hate:

What’s that line from Gandhi? “First they ignore you. Then they mock you. Then they fight you. Then you win.”

Mocking (aka hating) is a step up from ignoring. Having haters, more than having fans, lets you know you’re on the right track. Lots of things can generate positive feelings – few things inspire intense dislike. I would say the former are more likely to be mediocre and the latter are more likely to be great.

Of course the caveate here is that there’s a difference between critical feedback and hate. Critical feedback is something you can use to improve what you’re doing – make it better, more useful, more impactful, more sustainable. It’s important to always get feedback from the people who use/consume what you produce and from people who have a good/wise perspective on what you’re doing. Allow that feedback to inform your efforts. Ignore it at your own peril.

Hate is produced by people who aren’t trying to be helpful. Hate is done with a desire to tear down, to ridicule and mock for the purpose of destruction and marginalization.

Hate is when people post this on your “What Should I Write About” widget

(That’s my widget at some point last year, by the way)

Hmm – good question dude. The exact moment? I think it was sometime after dinner on March 12, 2009. I was over at your house and about to do your mom when I thought …

But in all seriousness, I don’t care that this guy was trolling me. I would laugh every time I saw this as the top suggestion. It meant I was saying something that struck a nerve. Now if all my feedback was stuff like this, I would reconsider what I was doing. You probably want to make sure your balance of positive to negative feedback is better than 50/50.

The fact is, I get tons of emails and comments from people who tell me they love what I’m writing about and really get motivated and learn stuff from reading my blog. It’s at least 70/30 if not better.

It’s the people who get value out of what you do. Those are the people you should care about if you do any creative work.

So remember – love the hate, because without enemies you are nothing, and continue to speak, write, build and work fearlessly towards the things you believe in.

I’ll close out with some wise words from Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson from his fantastic essay Self Reliance.

Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.

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Jason Shen

Jason is a tech entrepreneur and advocate for Asian American men. He's written extensively and spoken all over the world about how individuals and organizations develop their competitive advantage. Follow him at @jasonshen.

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  1. Awesome post, Jason. This is a stance a lot of people could benefit from taking. Honestly, what is the point of stooping down low and responding to hate? It only fuels their pointless fire. Best to embrace it, ignore most of it, and respond to the necessary bits that require defending or answering.

  2. Excellent post. It’s especially funny that people who wouldn’t normally say a thing to your face in real life, diss you badly through comments. It’s called constructive criticism for a reason, not “tell me something stupid, just because you had a bad day” criticism. Gotta finish with this awesome track: (Maino – Hi Hater)

  3. Love the post. Especially the point that as long as you produce value for SOMEONE out there, you are doing what you set out to do! Let the haters hate!

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