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Giving Credit Where It’s Due

A simple nod of credit to show your support back.

While you are the greatest asset to your success, there are usually many, many others who have supported, guided, mentored, coached, taught, and also set you back as to where you are today

Read time: ~7 minutes

By: Heather Wentler – StartingBlock Madison Entrepreneur in Residence

Did you know that during the last 65 days of our calendar year over 70 holidays are celebrated across the globe? These holidays are celebrated with festivals, ceremonies, and paying homage to beliefs, rituals, and people within our lives and shared history.

Often during this time of the year, we are called to spend time focusing on things we’re thankful for, appreciative of, or what’s gotten us to the current point we’re at on our life journey. While you are the greatest asset to your success, there are usually many, many others who have supported, guided, mentored, coached, taught, and also set you back as to where you are today. Giving shoutouts and making personal messages to these people shows deep respect and also shows support back to those individuals, groups, or organizations.

The Word of the Year

Merriam-Webster has said that “gaslighting” is the word of the year. You may be asking yourself, why are we bringing this up? Stick with me…

Gaslighting is defined as “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for one’s own advantage.” As entrepreneurs, we do this. We do it to others and we do it to ourselves. We’re told to go and sell our companies in ways that shows how we’re better than anyone or anything else, and usually through discrediting them.

I recently had a mentor after a pitch practice session message me saying “I’m just used to hearing pitches that say ‘the current tools for this suck and here is why mine is better!’” It’s built into our culture to gaslight so that we can succeed.

We also see this in a variety of other ways. People post on social media all the time with showing how they’re awesome and it’s usually at the expense of someone else’s reputation – sometimes explicitly and sometimes implicitly or through passive aggressiveness. You’ve probably done it, I’ll admit I’ve done it, we’re trained to do it because that’s how we get likes and clicks.

The media does a great job at this. I’ve had the experience personally multiple times where reporters have reached out to me asking for leads, quotes, data points, or use images without permission from Doyenne events but never give the nod as to the source in those articles.

It’s Not Me, It’s You

Book cover of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Moving past being gaslit – being able to trust that someone isn’t going to do it again, or constantly waiting for the next person to do it to you – somehow we all must do it in order to continue to thrive. I’m not saying don’t forget the experience, and you don’t have to forgive the gaslighter.

Finding strategies or techniques that will support you in not holding on to these experiences has been what helps me. When I’ve gone through these experiences I try to recall the Personally agreement of The Four Agreements. This agreement states “Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a result of their own dream or perception of their rules”. So…It’s not me, it’s you. When I choose not to internalize their rules or how they think things should be then they don’t have any power over me any longer and I can move on. This helps break the Am I crazy? thoughts in my head and also supports in taking back my confidence in my abilities, actions, and how I represent myself in the world.

How to Show True Appreciation

Showing appreciation doesn’t always have to be a public display. But, do know that everytime you take credit for something that others have supported you in and you don’t either offline or publicly give credit, people are usually remembering those experiences.

There are many people in this community who owe apologies or acts of gratitude rather than hugs or empty polite greetings when running into each other at public events because of past experiences.

How can we take steps to rectify or be better going forward?

  1. Give the nod! Tag people or companies who have supported your success when making public statements

  2. Send a note. It doesn’t have to be the personal handwritten thank you cards that our parents trained us to do while growing up, but say something

  3. Show how you’re different than your competitors by highlighting your innovation without bringing others down

  4. Do Better – Call yourself out when you know you’ve done wrong, make the apology (again, it doesn’t have to be public), and try to use the experience as a learning lesson rather than continue the behavior or dismiss that it ever happened

  5. Small steps conquer mountains. You don’t need to do all of this at once, but start making small intentional acts that will turn into routines and practices that you implement all the time.

We’re all lifelong learners. Things that we’ve learned in the past don’t always apply to how the world works today. If we’re all truly on the path to creating entrepreneurial ecosystems where more than just a very small percentage of entrepreneurs succeed, we all need to make changes. We’re going to f* up along the way, that’s part of learning. Your stumble doesn’t mean you failed; learn from it, apologize when necessary, say thank you to those who helped you grow through the experience, and let’s continue to move on together.

Thank You

Every year it seems we get to this point of the year and we’re trying to settle things up, prepare for a little time away, or put our venture workload on pause to pick up another workload of holidays with family. We should also be saying our thank yous.

I’ll start…

  1. Doyenne moved out of StartingBlock mid-2022. This decision was not made easily and I miss being in the space daily and seeing many of you and having random hallway conversations. Thank you for continuing to reach out, keep me updated on what’s going on, and simply saying hi when you do still see me around SBM

  2. Leslie – Thank you for literally keeping the lights on at StartingBlock and taking care of all of our needs! You do more than the Energizer Bunny and always with a smile on your face

  3. Past SBM Staff – your legacy and marks you made while with the organization are still felt and continue to be why the space is such a great place to be and work within. People tell me little things all the time as to how your words, actions, and dedication while working there have stuck with them to this day and influence their decision making

  4. SBM Members – I thoroughly enjoy meeting and talking with you during my Office Hours and Meet the Member vlog series. You are AWESOME! The obstacles and other “stuff” you work through, the innovation that you bring to our world, and the impact you create on a local community level and global economic level is…I literally don’t have the words to adequately describe it besides Awesome!

  5. SBM Community – You make the difference. Madison’s entrepreneurial community thrives and continues to make national/global impact because of how you continue to show up and show out for the entrepreneurs. I’ve toured and researched other communities across the nation, Madison’s community is different in its approach and support. We do a great job at looking for gaps and how to fix them while also creating spaces for each other and knowing how to connect people through the over 70 organizations across Dane County that support entrepreneurs

  6. You, reader – Thank you for reading this! I know my articles are not what people typically think of as Entrepreneur in Residence content but I appreciate you taking the time to read these, many of you follow up with your thoughts and responses and it makes me feel like I’m not just writing into the vast darkness of the internet

Want to talk more about small changes that support overall impact? Or to talk about anything else related to running and working for a startup venture? Schedule an Office Hour with me.

Stamps that spell out Thank You


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