Entrepreneurs At Tufts | Be a Perfectionist

There are many times in life, when we’ve all been told, “Don’t be such a perfectionist,” or ,”Oh my god, you have OCD.” While OCD is nothing to joke about, being a perfectionist is generally seen negatively by society. People are looked down upon for being perfectionists, but as described in this article “Why You Should Move That Button 3px to the Left,” when building a product (not only a website or app as defined by the article, but in general), there are many times when having a perfectionist leader is hugely advantageous.

I know this example is incredibly cliché, but Steve Jobs was the best (worst?) of all perfectionists. He would not only get so upset at someone for making a product which differed from his vision, that they would leave the room in tears, and sometimes even quit. However, while it’s not necessary to be a perfectionist to such an extent, it is worth indulging in your perfectionist side. While this may not work for everyone, for those of you who know you have a good understanding of anything, be it design, what the customer wants, or even the market you’re trying to address, indulge in your perfectionism.

As the saying goes, too many chefs spoil the soup, so if you know that you have what it takes, just do it. Enforce your vision upon others. However, it is imperative that whoever you’re working with shares a (very) similar vision and knows how to deal with you when your ideas differ – and you with them. This process is still manageable in teams of varying size — all the way from a startup of three people, to a Fortune 500 company of thousands of employees.

A great example of this is Larry Page (co-founder of Google). He recently put the head of Android in charge of almost all of Google’s major product in order to allow himself to step back and handle the larger vision of the company. He is indulging in his perfectionist side. While being a perfectionist doesn’t mean that you have to micro-manage or look into every detail, it means you can have someone who implements what you want done in the way you would’ve done it yourself. Larry Page stepped back to look at the company as a whole, and left the implementation to his trusted colleague.

While all of us don’t have the ability to leave a huge company in the hands of someone we trust, we most certainly are in the position of choosing who we work with. Being a perfectionist goes beyond product development. It also applies to relationships, and hiring co-workers. Only choose the people who you identify with and ensure they share the same vision as you. That’s why many of the most respected entrepreneurial writers today, such as Paul Graham, say that the best person you can start a startup with is your best friend. This couldn’t be a better application of being a perfectionist. If you’re in college, you’ve spent years meeting people, and weeding out the ones you don’t get along with. It’s only the ones you genuinely identify with who become your best friends, and hence why you should start a startup with them.

If there’s one thing you take away from this article, I urge you to think about your vision, think about your expected outcome of whatever it is you’re doing, and then, if you genuinely believe that you adequately understand the situation, implement your vision regardless of what others (who have less experience) think.


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