The Anti-Pivot

by Trina Spear


Imagine a high school cafeteria.  A studious young girl, Rachel, approaches a table of popular cheerleaders.  She asks the group what she can do to be friends with them.  One of the girls, Courtney, tells her to dress trendier and come back to them.  Rachel heads straight to the mall after school and picks up a brand new outfit from Abercrombie & Fitch.  The next day she approaches their table looking sharp.  The head cheerleader, Samantha, tells her that she looks great but she should get bangs.  Rachel leaves somewhat discouraged but still hopeful that she can join the group.  She stops by the salon on the way home, following Samantha’s advice, having the stylist cut bangs into her long curly brown hair.  The following day, she stops by their table, excited to show off her new look.  Samantha’s side-kick, Emily, takes one good look at Rachel and retracts Samantha’s advice claiming that bangs actually don’t work with Rachel’s hair while simultaneously suggesting that Rachel lose a few pounds. 

Rachel goes home that night devastated.  She reevaluates her position in high school and where she sees herself in the future.  As much as Rachel yearned to be “one of the popular girls”, she realizes that she has changed so much about herself to be liked by a group of people that do not even know what they like or who they really want to be friends with.  She walks into the cafeteria the next day, with her old clothes and hairstyle.  She sits by herself at the opposite end of the room.  The girls become confused about why Rachel is no longer pining to be in their group.  After a few weeks of Rachel doing her own thing, the girls become intrigued by Rachel and realize that they actually want to be friends with her.  She’s cool.  She’s different.  And most importantly, she doesn’t care what they think.

Although this story is somewhat ridiculous (nevertheless, recreated in every teen movie), I think it highlights human nature and some of the pitfalls of pivoting too much.  Similar to Rachel, start-ups should not get caught up in what other people think of them.  Most people are short-sighted, critical, wary of originality, and overall, not the best judge of what they will like.  They enjoy shooting ideas, businesses and people down to make them feel better about themselves.  The entrepreneur and his or her business is a threat to the average risk-averse person’s ego.  So, these people criticize even though the business and the product could be very useful to them in their lives.

Entrepreneurs need to look past the negative feedback, stick to their vision and build something great.  Really great.  After reading about a bunch of average businesses that have been pivoting left and right, it is hard not to think about what was truly behind the Apples and Facebooks of the world.  I believe what made them great was their ability to look past the noise and dream really really big.  Because once you stop caring about what the world thinks, the world starts caring about what you think.

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