Nick Powills: Having Opinions are Great, But They Are More Valuable When You Prove You Can Do the Job
Nick Powills: Having Opinions are Great, But They Are More Valuable When You Prove You Can Do the Job

The opportunity is figuring out how to learn from negative feedback and apply it to your better self.

Today’s world is full of complaining. Complaining about politics, complaining about life, complaining about expectations.


Life is hard. And, we, as humans, are mostly insecure.

Unfortunately, this creates a circle that has no end. Insecurities lead to complaining or negativity, which causes more negativity, and cycles back through.

I say this because I understand how we get to a place of being frustrated by something. It would be unrealistic for me to say that this world would be a better place without complaining – because that certainly won’t happen. Thus, the opportunity is figuring out how to learn from negative feedback and apply it to your better self.

I feel that there is something to the credibility of the complaint. Within my four walls, I encourage an open-door policy. Why? I want to access as many opinions as possible in this quest to create best practice models within our company. But, within this open-door policy, I have buckets: those who can look our team in the eyes and say they did their best and those who can’t.

Those who can’t still have valuable opinions – especially when we, as a team, can take those insights and apply them back to creating a great working environment. For instance, our media relations team has been a work-in-progress since the day the company was founded. Why?

  1. When I did media relations, I crushed it. That means I have a baseline understanding of what works and what doesn’t. This is good and bad. The good is that I can step in at any point and achieve results for our clients. The bad is that I can easily call out bullshit, and those who have struggled in that role hate the reverse feedback. They don’t want to be pressured the way we pressure.
  2. Our way of doing media relations is admittedly different from most other shops. This is good and bad as well. The good is that we have a point of differentiation. The bad is that the pool to recruit from is not well-defined because it’s tough to pull someone in who doesn’t want to pitch the way we want pitching done.
  3. The complaining about our process is our fault. We make the decisions to hire who we hire. We make the decisions that this is how we are going to best fight for our clients. We make the decisions to absolutely listen to the feedback, but ultimately end up in whatever way we decide to do things.

Based on the above three points, I completely understand why complaining happens. We then have two options – listen or don’t.

As I wrote above, complaining is a lot easier to turn into insights and spark change if it comes from people who are at least willing to try our model before telling us that it doesn’t work. That’s why both buckets have value, but one slightly more.

There is this well-known saying about walking a day in the life of someone else. This, too, is a two-way street. When listening to the complaining, we have to walk a day in the life of the shoes of those who are complaining. There is value in that. This way, as a leadership team, we can make the best judgments to make changes. Some justified, some not.

Complaining will never go away; it’s what you do with it that is the opportunity.

Restaurant A has reviews that its burger does not meet expectations. Restaurant A can lower the price to better align expectations, increase the quality to meet the expectations or do nothing.

Service business A is told its customer service sucks. Service business A can do the same thing as the restaurant – hire better, make sure the customer is always (almost) right or do nothing.

Complaining has value no matter where it comes from.

No matter what is said about me, my business or our team – I choose to listen to it all, really listen to those who do their best and evolve based on the best way I know how.

At the end of the day, there is no true blueprint of how to run a business with perfection, nor how to be the perfect human being. We all should just try our best, be our best and provide feedback with the best intentions.