There is not a week that goes by that I am not talking to someone about their startup community. Yes, it is that important AND it is that prevalent. There is not a city in the US that does not have a group of startup community enthusiasts wondering how they can accelerate the impact of their startup community. Invariably during this discussion, they reveal that there are also a few people that are not as excited. When they share their stories or when I speak to these people it is inevitable that someone states, “well Chris, that’s just the way it is around here”.

It’s as if they think that the end has already been determined – that their community is unique in its culture and personality that things can never change for the better.

How disappointing and wrong.

Sometimes they think that people don’t change.
Sometimes they think that there is no need for a change.
Sometimes they think that there are forces that control things.
Sometimes they think that any change is not worth the effort.
Sometimes they refuse to see any possibility of change.

How disappointing. It makes you wonder why they think like this. I believe in the majority of situations, that they either like or feel comfortable with the status quo. Change is hard for many people and recognizing that may be the first psychology to embrace as a change agent.

Here are 3 responses to someone sharing, “that’s just the way it is”.

  1. First item on the agenda is to share models of success that look or looked like your community x years ago. My experiences in Raleigh-Durham, NC over the last almost 15 years provide a great platform to connect communities that are where we were 10-15 years ago. Sometimes people have to see the change themselves.
  2. Engage in a dialogue that encourages testing our polar beliefs: Start a conversation that encourages both parties to think critically about why they hold their beliefs. This can lead to a more in-depth understanding of the issue and maybe, just maybe we can begin to outline some activities that test the status quo.
  3. Agree to Disagree and move on. Sometimes, it’s okay to respectfully disagree with someone and leave the conversation there, especially if it’s unlikely to change the person’s mind. Now, I want you to be careful with this response. It is easy to walk away with an attitude that “they just don’t get it”. Replace that with the attitude that they just don’t get it now, but can and will in the future. So keep them close and show them you progress with the band of brothers/sisters that do get it.

Remember that startup community building is a 10-20 year journey and not everyone is ready on day one. Like every product lifecycle, some are laggards and wait to see results before they believe.