One could say I’ve always been a bit of a challenger. After all, when someone tells me something is or is not going to work, I naturally meet it with an intense amount of skepticism. I have always found coming to my own conclusions, rather than accepting what someone tells you at first blush, has led to better results and more innovative decision making. 

Engaging a challenger mindset –- one where complacency is not an option, where risk is required and self-discipline is necessary -– has led to personal success and made Cheers a lot more profitable. 

Here’s how to embrace trusting your instincts and opening yourself up to growth. 

Experience isn’t everything

We typically assume that “experts” know it all. We overlook critical thought and instead take their years of knowledge at face value. 

Even the best experience can backfire, especially when you rely on past efforts in new situations. Take World War I for example. There are historical accounts of veteran generals commanding troops to charge on machine guns while riding on horses. Today, we would look at that and laugh. But at the time, those experienced soldiers were using past experiences to inform their current reality, rather than thinking critically. It ended up being the “inexperienced” generals who pioneered the use of tanks. 

At Cheers, we encourage our team members to make up for lack of experience by thinking for themselves. Trusting your gut must begin with utilizing both experience and discernment – and knowing when to use each muscle. 

Know how to hone your idea

I am often asked what advice I would give my younger self. And the answer is simple: I would tell myself to trust my instincts more. I would pay attention to the trends, but also be confident in making informed decisions based on research, an established business model, and the advice of those you trust. 

My instincts have given me a lot of great ideas. But how do I know if they’re worth pursuing? I liken key decision making (and the pursuit of investments) to a game of Texas Hold ‘Em. 

Texas Hold ‘Em has four distinct points where decisions arise: 

  1. Pocket cards (internal validation of your idea – here’s where we return to those instincts)
  2. Flop (external validation – where you get the input of advisors and people you trust)
  3. Turn (from the information you’ve received, is this idea pursuable?)
  4. River (how your business will fit into the market – through use of industry trends, social initiatives, etc.)

After looking at all these considerations, you must make your final bet. Ask yourself: is this an idea worth pursuing? If it is, go in fully. If not, there’s no harm in walking away. It serves no one to bluff long-term in hopes an idea will change. 

Get creative

Henry Ford once said, “If I asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” 

I love this quote because it speaks to innovation, the art of trying something new that people never expected. 

That’s why I’ve always believed in idea-first entrepreneurism. Idea-first entrepreneurs are so excited by their notion that they simply must do it. The business is created as a vehicle to bring the idea to life. The idea ultimately becomes your goal and the business exists to fuel that dream and make it a reality.

This is what happened with Cheers. It was a product that had never been thought of before, but a dream that excited our whole team. Through self-discipline and risk, we’ve built it into a company with over 300,000 customers and $25 million in sales. It all began because an idea stuck with me and I had to pursue it.   

What about you? Do you have an idea that’s really powerful and challenges the status quo? Is it something new and unique that could change behavior?  

Trust your gut, follow your instincts and think critically. You never know what innovation you may find when you challenge what’s already been done.