When I was in my early twenties, I worked as a salesman for a company that raised money for the Catholic Church in California. I didn’t join the team because I was a good Catholic boy, but because the company was an amazing money maker for its owner and I was fascinated. The company would visit priests to determine how their church could be improved. We’d appeal to their parish to raise money to fix the problem – a hole in the roof for instance – and then keep a percentage of the profit as our fee.
My boss was only a few years older than me and already a multi-millionaire. During my time with him, I worked incredibly hard, and, using programmes and automation, I found a way for the company to make 30% more money with far less staff. I presented the idea to him, asking in return for a small percentage of the profits. He agreed and we shook on it. Six months down the line I had yet to see my share of the profits and my boss kept making excuses. I decided to take what I learnt and branch out on my own.
Once I got up and running, I was called in by a church to bid for their business. Sitting opposite me in the waiting room was my former boss with a huge smirk on his face. As he went into the committee he gave me the middle finger, leaving me fuming. Sure enough, when my time came the church’s committee asked me what I thought of my previous employer – now my number one competitor. I didn’t hold back, and completely belittled him, and told them – truthfully – how I ran the entire operation.
He got the job.
A few months later, another bigger church asked both of our respective companies to bid for the church’s business. This time, when asked, I told the committee how great he and his company were, and how I learned so much from my previous employer. I then outlined that while he and his company were good at what they did, my company could provide all they had to offer – and much more – at a lower price.
This time, I got the deal.
When a rebel entrepreneur is asked about their previous employers, or their competitors, they don’t trashtalk them. They sing their praises, and then add a ‘but’. Rebel entrepreneurs stipulate that while their competitors are good at what they do, they tell them why they are better and how they can offer so much more. They don’t belittle competitors. They raise them up so that they can ascend themselves.