What does “it’s a good start” really mean

Octavian Costache
Dec 13, 2012 · 2 min read

When I moved to the US, I thought americans were just too damn positive. There was no way that everything was so ‘great’ and ‘awesome’ all the time!

And then it struck me: it was all just a matter of translation. What if people simply have different meanings for the words they use other than the dictionary meaning?

So I’ve made these graphs to make it more clear what does “it’s a good start” really mean.

Objectively speaking, things probably fall on a bell curve:

Most things are average, and trail off on both edges into few things being complete junk and few things being super duper awesome.

In America, 99% of people raised here will never ever say “I don’t like what you’ve done”. Instead, their definitions are something like this:

And I know this because I tested it. A long time ago I intentionally made something shitty, and I asked for feedback. I was told “it was a great start”. It wasn’t. :-)

In startups, things are a little different. When somebody doesn’t like your idea they will say “it’s interesting” and then stop.

If they actually like it, they will start asking you questions about it.

And to tell if they really love it, they will start brainstorming with you about it. They get excited and instead of asking questions, they talk about exciting futures.

And last but not least, for your entertainment, here’s how Romanians see the world. :-)

This realization definitely helped me navigate American culture better, I hope it will help others too. :-)

Octavian Costache

Random stuff now and then

    Octavian Costache

    Written by

    co-founder and CTO of Spring, ex-googler, author of the Multiple Inboxes gmail lab, built the Google Finance charts, I love building stuff that makes a dent

    Octavian Costache

    Random stuff now and then

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