Communication Training on Giving and Receiving Feedback is Critical in Professional Development

Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to interview a US veteran who had served in the Middle East. When Nick Palmisciano returned to the US after being deployed for his country, he craved building something for himself. So he launched the apparel company, RangerUp. For those of you in the “voracious curiosity / zero patience” category, the ending of that story is that the company is wildly successful and Nick sold it for a handsome sum. But there’s a more interesting story in between the day he launched and the day that he sold it. 

 

Nick Palmisciano’s Story: From Veteran to Successful Entrepreneur

His story starts and ends with grit.

Being deployed and facing challenges presented by enemy forces is one thing unto itself. Returning home to learn that you, your wife, and your children are listed on the ISIS Kill List is quite another. Overcoming those challenges requires super human levels of grit. Being an entrepreneur also takes grit. Loads of it, in fact.

“Grit” is defined as “resolve and strength of character.”

Nick admits now that what he didn’t know then about the apparel business and its intense competitive arena was so vast that it almost stopped him before he got started. But he was determined to find success. Why? Because he had to. 

Newly divorced at the time, he had his 1- and 3-year old children in the warehouse with him as the piles of t-shirts in his inventory grew but his sales volume did not. Being a single Dad under those circumstances takes grit, too. Not one to give up easily, he dug deep, looked at his bank balance which hovered just over $1,300 – with $50,000 charged to his credit cards – and vowed to find a way to make his business successful. And he did.

Nick looked to crowdfunding to secure the capital he needed to film the zombie apocalypse movie, Range15, that he had co-written. His fundraising campaign went on to be the most successful on the Indiegogo platform. In fact, it was so successful, that it spawned the opportunity for his next venture. Clearly the world needed better marketing. And more grit.

 

The Importance of Grit and Soft Skills for Success

So he founded Diesel Jack Media, armed with a bravado that few companies can muster. Under the tagline, “Because we don’t suck,” he hit 7-figure revenues in his first year. Growth this year continues to skyrocket. Sure, that takes creativity and disciplined execution, but it also takes a lot of other soft skills, too. Resilience, which is the cousin of grit, problem-solving, communication, time management (obviously learned in spades with a military background), leadership, professionalism, and the list goes on. Not to overlook the power  of soft skills collectively which lead to successful inter-personal relationships.

Here’s why I was so enraptured by the story of Nick Palmisciano. Of course I both admired and appreciated his service to his country; every bit the class act as a veteran. It wasn’t his grit alone and sheer determination to win when the world was seemingly attacking him from the back. Nor was it his exemplary leadership, although equally impressive to his level of grit. Nope. He said something that instantly aligned with what we’re doing here at STEERus. Nick said something along the lines of lamenting why young people can’t take feedback and you can almost see their heads exploding or the crocodile tears flooding their cheeks if you tell them that they made a spelling mistake. 

That was the observation that sparked STEERus two years ago at SXSW 2019. Young entrepreneurs (because they were all young – I think only one of the Top 100 was over the age of 30) lined up to pitch in the finals. One that that they all excelled at was their innovative brilliance. Humility? Not so much. And the thing that they all had in common was that they were wholly unreceptive to and ill-equipped to receive the feedback that was being given to them from the zillionaire panel of judges who had all had enormously successful exits from the companies they had founded. I get it – it’s hard to hear 

I sat there, stunned. Gobsmacked, actually. To get that kind of quality and specific advice which could catapult your startup into the next stratosphere, only to be dismissive of it, was unprecedented in my mind. ‘How could they … ?’ I thought. And then I thought about the question behind the question (my PhD science, market research, and journalism training all coming into play there), ‘WHY would they …?’ That’s when the light bulb went off. 

 

How Generation Next Can Learn About Soft Skills

Generation Next isn’t learning soft skills at school or at home.

At least for the most part. Everything is a bell curve, to be sure, so there are tails on both ends representing those that have soft skills in abundance and those on the other side who are wholly lacking them. Then there is everyone in between. The average – the majority – who have some level of proficiency but not enough to find great success at school, at work, and in life. Resilience, grit, empathy, communication, and problem solving are in surprisingly short supply in the words of Linkedin, Deloitte, BambooHR, and others who report on this from the job market perspective. 

That’s why we’re here. To help Generation Next and anyone else who wants to uplevel their game, learn soft skills like grit, empathy, communication and everything else. If that sounds like something you’d like to do, we’ll see you in our Soft Skills Academy where we’re learning everyday, too. In the meantime, we’re going to keep digging deep, finding more grit, greater resilience, and problem-solving every step of the way as we build our startup for business success *AND* social impact.

Want to check out the Grit Daily Like a Boss podcast with Nick Palmisciano and learn more about grit, crowdfunding, and being an entrepreneur? Check it out HERE or anywhere that content is streamed.

by Loralyn

Photo by Julia Larson from Pexels

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