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Shoes Without Heels from Entrepreneurs With Grit

6 Lessons About Grit in Entrepreneurship

I was introduced to Olguy and his father Etienne earlier this year through a friend of a friend. They’ve been working on a new product for over 20 years.

Their journey has literally crossed 4 continents (Australia beware — they’re coming soon!). Olguy slept on a factory floor in China for weeks to make sure that their first production run was the highest quality. They’ve met celebrities, made a custom shoe (size 21.5!) for an NBA player (who Olguy met in an elevator in China!) and turned down investment and parternship offers that most entrepreneurs would kill for. They’re trusting their own instincts.

Making it happen in China

I don’t know whether they’ve always made the right decisions — probably not, like every other business. But, I do know that there are some real lessons about entrepreneurship in their story.

Here are my takeaways:

  • Don’t get lost in what could’ve been. If they spent their energy looking backwards at missed opportunities, they’d never be able to focus so much on going forward
  • No is the beginning of the process to yes. After getting a formal “no” in a letter from a lawyer about a partnership, Olguy got in his car at 3 am, drove 7 hours and talked his way into the decision maker’s office. 2 hours later, he had a deal and a new mentor — “you really drove here to meet me to work this out?”
  • If you don’t know how hard or how unlikely something is before you start, you’re more likely to persevere. This is the opposite of analysis paralysis. In other words, don’t psych yourself out before you get started. There is always a very reasonable sounding argument that goes something like: “if this is such a great idea, why hasn’t brand X done it yet…” It’s an easy trap to fall into — the trap of entrepreneurial fatalism
  • The best stories come from adversity and humans are wired to believe and be convinced of new ideas by great stories. The story of their business is one of grit, of overcoming adversity, persevering and always remembering why they’re doing this. And, if you hear them tell their story, you’ll immediately “get it” and want them to succeed. Many of their stories are hard-earned and didn’t feel good when they were happening, but are now an important part of their success
  • There are 999,999 one-in-a-million things that aren’t going to happen today. Don’t be that surprised when the one that is does. However, be ready to take advantage of it when it does
  • Many people will be more helpful if you just ask them than you might expect. In fact, most people go through most days without somebody asking them to do something that is meaningful, important and gratifying. Olguy and his dad have found this to be true many times — in fact, most of their most important moments have been by being helpful to others and by asking people to be helpful to them