Photo via Shutterstock
Photo via Shutterstock

We live in an amazing city. But the one thing we lack is direct, in-your-face sharing of ideas and feedback. Whether it is because we don’t want to hurt each others feelings, or due to Vitamin D deficiency, I don’t know.

Either way, negative feedback that contradicts everything you know is certainly hard to come by in this town.

We all have ideas, and some of us have our delusions. We need to call them what they are and give people the feedback they need to hear, not what we think they want to hear. Inversely, we also have to be open to receiving this kind of feedback.

Case in point:

The idea that I could go from working at tech startups to running my own distillery was ludicrous. Delusional to the 10th degree. Everyone I talked to only had amazing things to say. All positive, and all wrong.

The best feedback I received was when a bar owner told me to my face that it was the stupidest idea he’d ever heard. It was like a Chuck Norris round house kick to my face. It was also, plainly, obviously true in every sense. I had no right to be doing anything like this. Why my idea was horribly stupid:

1. I had absolutely no industry knowledge
2. I certainly didn’t know anyone in the space
3. I have never even worked in a bar or restaurant
4. My last retail experience was in High School, not the most relevant to say the least
5. I have never worked at, apprenticed at, or been in another distillery

Nathan Kaiser at 2bar in SODO
Nathan Kaiser at 2bar in SODO

Needless to say, here I was raising money and talking to people about this GREAT business idea that I have. It was the person who laughed in my face that brought me back to reality and gave me the kick-in-the-ass that I needed to look at this as a REAL business.

With real world feedback I was able to start addressing each and everyone of my deficits and start building the distillery.

When someone asks you about their business, give them your unvarnished opinion, the one that could hurt their feelings.

It will be the best thing you can do for them.

Nathan Kaiser, is the founder of 2bar Spirits a craft distillery in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood. He loves tech, but he loves booze even more. You can follow him @nkaiser and @2bar.

Lightbulb photo via Shutterstock.

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  • Lisbeth Jardine

    Someone who writes a column that makes reader work hard at the “where” of what he’s writing about is definitely on the wrong track to success. In other words, “deluded.”

    • Todd Kruse

      Sorry, you are making the same point I was, I just didn’t read the comment section carefully enough. I was just irritated trying to figure out an essential point that I didn’t think about the main point he’s trying to make.

      • Anony Mouse

        From the about page: “GeekWire is an independent technology news site and online community based in Seattle, Wash.”

  • Joe Wallin

    Nice post Nathan!

    • Nathan Kaiser

      Thanks Joe!

  • evanjacobs

    Had the opportunity to enjoy some 2bar bourbon at a special event at my local watering hole in Tangletown (Burgundian) and enjoyed it quite a bit. Best of luck, Nathan.

  • talof2cities

    Good point. It’s worth noting also that the person on the receiving end of the negative feedback needs to be willing to take the feedback in a constructive way, as Nathan seemed to do in his example. Sadly, Seattle folks can seem as reluctant to take such feedback as Nathan says they are to give it…

    • Nathan Kaiser

      You make a great point, that we need to be very open to receiving negative feedback as well. As for me, I certainly try to receive it graciously.

  • Jeff Rodenburg

    Great comments, Nathan. We’re living by this mantra every day, as it’s only helping us get tighter and more cohesive in our story. Nonetheless, I’m glad you’re in the business — you make some great products!

    Shameless plug for 2Bar here — if you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out. I recommend the moonshine; fantastic flavor.

  • Todd Kruse

    Should have added Seattle in parenthesis in your first sentence, since this is the world wide web. Had to read all the way to your bio to find out what city you are talking about.

    • Nathan Kaiser

      Excellent point. I will definitely try to not make that mistake again.

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