Ask This Question for Feedback That’s Actually Meaningful

It’s not: “Do you like it?”

Photo: Christin Hume/Unsplash

I recently wrote a pilot TV script with a girlfriend of mine. Neither of us had ever done anything like this before. As I sent out the draft to a few trusted friends, I was about to type: “Do you think this is any good?”

But I stopped myself. Instead, I wrote, “Can you please help us make this better?”

I’m a seasoned entrepreneur and a novice writer. I’m learning that the same rules apply to both roles. Whether I’m crafting a script or a business plan, it’s up to me to decide when it is “good enough” for the next step. And in general, the best way to get to this milepost faster is to ask people for help. Not evaluation, but help.

This can be hard. Simply showing people your work is much easier, and receiving their blind validation can make your human heart feel lovely. But ultimately, you’ll gain much more by showing people your work and asking specific questions about it: “What are the strongest parts?” ”What didn’t work for you?” “How would you improve it?”

Sometimes, feedback is like a blindspot detector. In business plans, it’s helpful to hear all the ways your idea might not work so that you can think through them. Some may shift your thinking. One mistake I commonly see in business plans, for example, is pricing that is too low because the entrepreneur undervalues or underestimates the true cost of marketing a product. Other feedback helps you to see your product from multiple points of view. Strong brands should be designed to resonate more strongly with a target demographic — therefore, not appealing to everyone equally is actually a feature, not a bug.

Of course, not all feedback is helpful, and not all of it should be incorporated. When I ask for the gift of feedback, I view it as a moral contract to consider it seriously. But acting on it all would be both impossible and insane.

One thing I know for sure is that, like snowflakes, no two pieces of feedback are ever the same. Whether I’m gathering feedback on a business idea or a piece of writing, I know that every note I receive will be unique. And when you’re able to take it all in, you know that you are strong enough to fight to make your work better.

Entrepreneur + Essayist. CEO of sustainable gifting company: https://tokki.com/. Speaker, writer: https://www.seejanewonder.com. Addicted to making meaning.

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