Your baby is ugly!

(I overheard my mother speaking with someone on the phone with excitement. I got curious and stood there)

Mother: (whilst speaking on the phone, she made a hand gesture) come here…

Me: (went and sat next to her) what?

Mother: (another hand gesture asking me to wait for 5 mins)

After 10 mins…

Mother: Chinmay, farmers near our farm got to know that we sold the mangoes directly to consumers bypassing the middlemen.

Me: so?

Mother: they were asking if I can help them sell their produce?

Me: (bit anxiously asked) what did you say?

Mother: of course, yes!

Me: Ma…

Mother: why? You don’t seem to be excited.

Me: excited about what?

Mother: this idea of selling other people’s products. As you had mentioned last week, it is mostly the middlemen who tend to make more money. So, in this case, we can be the middlemen, right?

Me: I am glad you got that point but have you thought through this idea?

Mother: no, I just spoke with that farmer near our farm. He is very well connected with other local farmers.

Me: so?

Mother: Isn’t this a good idea?

Me: hmm… I personally think there are no good or bad ideas. There are ideas that work and ideas that do not work. The ideas that do not work do not mean they are bad ideas, it probably needs to be tweaked to make sure customers are willing to pay for what’s been offered?

Mother: But I am sure people who have bought mangoes from us would be interested in buying other fresh fruits and vegetables.

Me: how do you know?

Mother: who doesn’t want to eat fresh fruits and vegetables?

Me: hmm… Ma, you are too attached to this idea. Unless you step aside from it and start looking from a consumer perspective it will be difficult for me to have this conversation.

Mother: you are like your father. You don’t encourage my ideas.

Me: I am not sure about Appa (my father) but my intention is not to discourage but to examine an idea from various perspectives. For that, we need to be pragmatic instead of being too emotionally attached to our idea or the business, and stop treating it as our baby.

Mother: what do you mean by treating it like a baby?

(I learnt this example from a mentor of mine called Dr Marcus Powe)

Me: hmm.. ok, when Chirag (my elder brother) was born, if someone had asked you, “Which is the most beautiful baby in the world?”, I am sure you would have said, “my baby”.

Mother: of course, and you were also a beautiful baby.

Me: ok… thank you 🙂

Now, imagine someone, saying that your baby is ugly!

How would you feel?

Mother: I would feel like slapping them.

Me: and?

Mother: I would be hurt

Me: and?

Mother: I would feel sad.

Me: I am sure this would be the case with most parents simply because of the emotional connection they would have with their baby.

Mother: yes, agree.

Me: unfortunately, many of us bring in the same emotion and start treating our ideas and business as our baby. When it comes to babies we can expect people (public) to be sensitive to an extent but with ideas and a business, it may not be the case.

So, when we show our business i.e product/service that we offer in the market, there will be people who will call it ugly. In other words, they will pass comments that the founders/business owners may not be comfortable to listen. Some of these comments might be to genuinely help us but the question is are we treating our idea/business as a baby or can we consciously detach ourselves from it and be pragmatic?

Mother: (was silent and thinking something)

Me: by the way, it is easy said than done. Even I fall into this trap but fortunately, I have mentors who keep constantly reminding me to think otherwise.

By the way, what are you thinking?

Mother: hmm… I am able to relate to a few people who are part of family businesses. The businesses were started by their parents and grandparents. As an outsider, we can see it is not worth continuing with that business but they probably are not able to see that because they are treating it as their baby.

Me: Genius!

Imagine someone telling them to consider closing down the business or selling it. The feeling they would be experiencing would be like – giving away the baby or killing it!

Mother: (made a weird facial expression and nodded her head saying) noooo…

Me: just imagining you are not comfortable with that feeling, now, I hope you understand how challenging it will be to have an open conversation with a startup founder or business owners who are too emotionally attached to their ideas?


If you are someone with a business idea and/or a business, how comfortable will you be in showing your baby to the market?

How comfortable will you be in receiving the comments and feedback?

Remember, more often than not, it is not the marketing gurus who can tell us what works and what doesn’t but it is the market that tells us.

For that, I believe we need to be pragmatic and carefully listen because usually the market doesn’t shout but whispers, and many times we need to read between the lines!

Note: one should certainly have the maturity to accordingly screen the comments and feedback, or else the nay-sayers will not only kill our ideas but also our passion.

Happy listening 🙂

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