You can’t have fans without critics

Every time I write a blog post about parents stepping back and letting their kids take charge, I get at least one email from a parent somewhere who argues that it’s her right to be as involved as she wants to be.  They’re entitled to their opinions, but we’re never going to see the college admissions world the same way.

What we do and how we do it turns off some people.  The irreverent tone of our website, the fact that our kids bang a gong when they submit applications, our steadfast belief that you don’t have to go to a famous college to be successful—everything we do will inevitably make a lot of people look for college counseling someplace else.  But isn’t that better for them and for us? 

Being open and direct about what we stand for makes it easy for the right people to appreciate us and for the wrong people to disqualify us.  When we’re not trying to please everybody, we can spend our time trying to delight our customers who appreciated us enough to join the family.  If we let them down and they complain, we’d better listen.  But most other people, we can ignore. 

Whether you’re a business or a kid in high school who loves programming computers and playing the cello, you can’t have fans without a few critics (even Apple and The Beatles aren’t universally loved).  Listen to the people who appreciate and understand you.  And don’t worry so much about the rest.