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Criticism is an opportunity

March 12, 2021

Thanks for all the great replies about how to handle criticism as an entrepreneur!  One friend wrote back to say they consider feedback "verbal gold". Love that!

Another friend wrote back and asked "what happens between crticism and recognizing an opportunity?" So I wanted to talk a bit about that (Video).

Ideally, you get criticism and your brain immediately starts churning on "how is this an opportunity?". That's the ideal. Reality is I still get stuck on criticism often. But I've noticed it always eventually somehow turns into an opportunity. It's more a matter of when than if. I'm getting better at decreasing that recovery time from months or weeks down to minutes or seconds.

Use criticism as a navigation tool, a compass. I use feedback from others to chart a course for where the real opportunities are. 

Once you start to see the value of criticism, you start to seek it out. This "verbal gold" doesn't just fall in your lap (especially if you're doing everything I can to avoid it!).

This works for SELF-criticism too. That internal voice as you're scrolling through LinkedIn or Facebook that yells "OMG!!! I wish I could do that".

Turning self-criticism into opportunity is how I got up on stage at TEDx to talk about carbon removal. I was scrolling through LinkedIn and someone I knew had given a TEDx talk. My self-critical voice yelled "I wish I could do that..." and instead of saying "...but I can't", I started putting into motion how to make it happen. I talked to people who had given TEDx talks, watched TED talks for inspiration, and 6 months later I was on stage at TEDx San Francisco. Self criticism was a powerful fork in the road between doom and opportunity.

The whole strategy of how I imagine, build, and create things has shifted because of this. Put criticism and self criticism to use!

I've got some more thoughts on this in the video, so if this is interesting to you so far, check that out.


1. If you've got other ways of processing criticism and feedback, I'd love to hear it.
2. If you curse everytime you open LinkedIn or get criticism from a customer/colleague/etc, let me know! It does get better, it just takes practice...painful painful practice.
3. Or if you think "criticism is opportunity" is the stupidest thing you've ever heard, well I'd love to hear about that too of course.


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