Lessons from B-School: Handle Criticism Like a CEO

When I was taking classes at the Whitman School of Management, I remember hearing that you needed to surround yourself with people who would support you. Oftentimes you hear these words in all sorts of situations—like when you break-up with a lover, or when your dog dies—but it wasn’t until I entered into entrepreneurship that I understood the magnitude of impact your social circle has on your success.

In my experience people will either encourage you or discourage you but both don’t carry the same weight. I find that when I am discouraged in my own venture, and I talk to those close to me they often tell me to quit laboring so hard when there aren’t results. Their reasoning is that if it was going to work, it would have worked by now. These people, I might add, are not entrepreneurs. They have great jobs, make great pay and have great benefits. So in their mind, what’s the point in laboring without results? Oddly enough their words carry a heavy weight.

On the other hand, I also have people within my circle who are leaders in their organizations—presidents, vice presidents, CEOs and entrepreneurs—who tell me to keep at it. They tell me progress is slow and hard won. They tell me in some instances that they have been fighting for 20 years to solve a problem in their industry, their town, their community and still have yet to see the fruits of their labor blossom, but that they persevere anyway.

This is a strange dichotomy.

On one hand I have people who work hard and get results each week and on the other I have people who labor for years and still have yet to make any headway, or rather, their progress is measured in millimeters not miles.

And it’s moments like this when I harken back to business school and remember that it’s important to have people who are there to support you but also the people who often have negative insights are important, too.

Here’s what I have concluded: in the words of Richard Boyatzis, a professor at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western, “You need the negative focus to survive, but a positive one to thrive. You need both, but in the right ratio.”

What’s the right ratio? I’m still trying to figure that one out.

About the Author
Named Top 100 Leaders by 2012 Magazine, Jasmine Grimm has been nominated for Central Penn Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and The Lancaster Chamber’s ATHENA Award.

Jasmine founded Ruby, Inc. a personal styling business that teaches women how to dress for their body types and became a two-time nominee for Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Top Young Entrepreneurs in America. She won the 2013 SCORE Business Development Award, the won the Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence Award in 2013 and the 2013 Leadership Award from the MS Society.

She has been a popular guest lecturer at the Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship and has been featured in Under 30 CEO and Productive Magazine, was the cover story for Harrisburg Magazine and her writing has graced National Geographic Television and Film, Harvard University and more.

She’s a 5,3,8,3 on the Kolbe A Index and her strengths include input, relator, learner, responsibility and achievement.