How You Respond To Criticism Says A Lot About Your Entrepreneurial Skills

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In my editor’s note last month, I wondered aloud whether the MENA entrepreneurial ecosystem would have been better served if Emaar Properties Chairman Mohamed Alabbar, who had then announced the launch of his new US$1 billion e-commerce venture Noon, had invested in an existing startup in this space instead. Some of you responded in agreement with my notion (Henri Asseily aka @rikkles tweeted: “You wonder like 99.99% of anyone in this industry”), while there were others felt the entry of Noon would be a positive thing for the industry as a whole- Mohamed Hamdy aka @reachhamdy tweeted: “Having a new startup like @noondotcom with all that $$ should bring a multiplier effect in the regional ecosystem.”


In the midst of all these responses, I was also treated to a reply from Alabbar himself- he emailed me to thank me for my comments adding that it was his hope that Noon and other ventures like it will “not only promote the digital economy, but also help motivate others to get involved.” I’ll gladly admit here that Alabbar’s reply (I’m hoping to have a longer chat with him soon) took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting to hear back from him in the first place, and so the fact that he took the time out to draft such a polite, elegant and appreciative response increased my respect of him tenfold. Alabbar’s reply was, in my opinion, an abject lesson for all of us in how to deal with criticism, while nobody likes to hear negative feedback, one needs to learn to be appreciative of such comments all the same (instead of adopting a defensive approach).

The entrepreneurs among you need to especially take this principle to heart: be it when a VC rejects your funding request, or when an editor passes on your PR pitch, you need to be able to react to these situations with the right attitude. The way you reply to these things say a lot about you, and it’s safe to say that they play a key role in how you get ahead in life and business as well. As we are at the start of 2017, let’s resolve to take on all of the opportunities and challenges that are going to be thrown at us with the right attitudes- I’m pretty certain it will be key to making things work for us and our businesses for the next 12 months.

Happy new year!

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