Podcast Mixup Episode: Why Ego is Bad for Business

June 30, 2017 - 12 Comments

Today's episode is the first one that isn't part of the "Forget Traffic!" series. Instead, we discuss a problem that can undermine a business in subversive ways.

Simply put, that problem is: ego.

We've all got it, but the more you succumb to your ego, the lower your chances of success.

Listen in to discover the 5 ways in which ego will hurt your business and the strategies we've employed to outmaneuver our egos in these situations.


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Episode transcript

What is a Mixup Episode?

If you've listened to our episode introducing the ActiveGrowth Podcast, you already know that we do a few things differently, around here. One of the things that sets our podcast apart is that we do deep dives into specific topics, instead of talking about something different each episode. An example of this is the Forget Traffic! series.

A mixup episode is the exception to this rule: every once in a while, we will cover a topic that has a scope suitable for one single episode, instead of a whole series.

In other words, we sometimes mix things up by publishing an episode that sits outside of the regular content series we produce.

In this Episode, Discover:

  • How the corporate world creates an ego problem (and why what works to advance your career in corporate is often the exact opposite of what works for an entrepreneur).
  • The HiPPO problem that arises when a boss is afraid of losing respect or has a need to validate their existence.
  • Our 5 ego-based stumbling blocks in an entrepreneur's journey and the systems we've put in place to avoid them.
  • If you're afraid that someone will steal your business idea and you don't tell anyone about it, because of that, that's an ego problem.
  • Why you must decouple your sense of self-worth from your product and business ideas, to solve this ego problem.
  • How being too proud to publish something that isn't perfect is an ego problem. This relates to the quantity over quality topic that we've recently covered in detail.
  • Why negative feedback from customers and people in your audience can be extremely valuable (if you can get over the emotional pain of receiving it).
  • Why you have to be comfortable with hiring people who are better than you and giving them real responsibility (and this will go against your "entrepreneur ego").
  • The quadrant feedback method that we use to get honest, constructive feedback from people we work with.


Here are a few resources mentioned in the podcast and stories related to the topic:

Negative Feedback Welcome ;)

As always, we'd love to hear your thoughts, questions and feedback about this episode. And in the spirit of what we talked about, let me emphasize that we also invite critical feedback, because it ultimately helps us create a better podcast and help more people.

You can leave a comment below or record a voice message here:

Thanks for tuning in!

About ​Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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  • Hello, my name is John and I am addicted to tinkering. For twenty years. And I am addicted to hoarding ideas and never launching them!!

    But, you guys are talking me out of it!!!!


    • You’re definitely not alone in that. And I’m happy that our messages about this topic are making a difference.


  • Mark McKenna says:

    I was a bit surprised by this episode because of the focus on the corporate world. I liked it! The reason I was surprised is because it seemed slightly off-topic from the focused online marketing messages you often give. However, I think it is extremely relevant and an important topic for us all to think about. One of the reasons I trust you guys is because of the lack of ego I sense in you. I love the new podcast!


    • Thanks for your comment, Mark!

      We know that not all of our listeners have made the leap to full-time self employment yet. And from those that have, many come from a corporate background as well. That’s why we thought talking about some of the things that don’t carry over from corporate to entrepreneurial career would be important.


      • I certainly fall into the category of someone still working as an employee, trying to get to full-time self-employment. You are spot on with your insights. I wouldn’t mind at all if you discuss these kinds of topics in subsequent podcasts.

      • Hanne Vervaeck says:

        Thanks Mark!

  • Hi Shane

    Before I say this first bit, let me add that I’m conscious it may look like I’m trying to pick at a perfect podcast episode. I’m not, to be honest. I just have no better way to say it :(

    So, that part about “filtering” inputs from a testimonial hinted to me that ego didn’t go away completely. Yes, testimonials typically reflect the good side of a product or service and help to attract customers.

    But if the person giving a testimonial wasn’t told that his/her not-so-positive comments — no doubt they still will be dealt with objectively as feedback, but separately — won’t make the cut, then it’s kinda presenting an incomplete/inaccurate view endorsed by that customer.

    On a lighter note, that HiPPO topic brings to mind something I had thought about of corporate workplace behavior and associated politics — all created by us humans! If ever you plan to do a humorous podcast, do consider the topic of “corporate animals” :)

    Lastly, I like the idea of “extreme ownership” in that the ego element is entirely suppressed with conscientious intent to do better. Hard to point fingers back at oneself, but as someone had said: “When you point a finger at someone, bear in mind three other fingers are in your direction!”


    • Thank you for your comment, Mark!

      About testimonials: of course, it’s very important to not misrepresent this to customers. What you should never do is send out something as a survey and then pick stuff out as testimonials, without asking the submitter. There are 3 approaches that I recommend and that we’ve used at different times:

      1) When you do get something submitted through some channel that would make a good testimonial, contact that person and ask for permission to use their content (or part of it) as a testimonial.

      2) When you send a general survey that also includes opportunities for positive feedback, add a checkbox or some option like “I agree that what I write here can be used, in part or in full, as a testimonial in XY company’s promotional material.”

      3) Explicitly ask for testimonials and use the content you get from there, for testimonials (this is how we get 90%+ of our testimonials). The customer is invited specifically to leave a testimonial. And it’s also stated that it can be used in full or in part.

      The point here is that you have to make sure never to mislead your customers. Don’t have them submitting a testimonial without realizing it.

      About editing testimonials: this is simply necessary, in order to get testimonials that are effective for a marketing purpose. In my experience, if you ask for a general testimonial, you mostly get two kinds of responses: the very general “you guys are great!” testimonial which is short, but not specific enough to be effective. And very long, detailed testimonials that are too much content to publish.

      Most people aren’t great writers and it’s rare that you get a really good, polished testimonial that includes specific details, which make it effective as a conversion element.

      What has worked best for us is that we get testimonials by asking a series of questions. That leads to more specific details, but also to much more text. Publishing this unedited would result in wall-of-text testimonials that no one wants to read. That’s why we tell our customers that their content will be edited. Not in a way that misrepresents what they said, obviously. Just in a way that makes them useful for marketing.


      • Hi Shane

        Thank you for elaborating the point about testimonials and sharing your experience in this. Another good lesson to learn here :)

  • How would anonymous vs non-anonymous pay in favor for feedback. Have you tried both ways and what have you discovered? (i.e. safer environment to be brutally honest, increase in feedback etc.)


  • Hi, Shane and Hanna. Just to say how much I have enjoyed listening to the first four podcasts you made – make so much sense. Intelligent, honest, very interesting, humourous and entertaining. I had a blog for a number of years and worked very hard for no financial return and eventually took a couple of year off. Now I am ready to return and your podcasts are showing me the way. Simple really – and for me absolutely no point in “reinventing the wheel”. A lot of things are already in place. I even have Thrive Themes but have not really used it (what an idiot I am!) but have enjoyed watching a lot of your videos in the past, from both of you.

    Anyway you have inspired me to pull things together as I need some more income, so I will take action. Many thanks.

    P.S. Although your English is great, I am assuming it is not your first language? That home page could do with a slight “correct English” tweak. Let me know if you would like my help. Small stuff, but would be better.


  • I really appreciate what you guys are doing with this. Very helpful. Just in first year of my podcast and website.


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