Become a Laughingstock

Have you heard the joke about… the guy who wanted to sell water (the stuff we were used to getting for free!) for more money than sodas or even beer? Or how about the one who wanted to start a new airline, the bloodbath of competition, during the dot-com crash? Then there is the one who launched a new cola company up against Coke and Pepsi. Oh, I know, how about the one about the guy who bought 160 acres of orange groves to build what he wanted to call “the happiest place on earth.” Nut ball, right?!

Are you laughing? Most were when the Evian, Jet Blue, Virgin Cola and the Disneyland business plans were discussed. Evian gets $18.6 billion chuckles a year in revenue. Launched in 1999, Jet Blue was one of only a few airlines after 9/11 to be profitable. David Neeleman has $2 billion reasons to guffaw. People are always laughing at Richard Branson and for Virgin Cola it proved justified. But don’t laugh too hard, because Sir Richard has 360 other companies and giggles $3 billion times with his personal banker. Walt Disney has snickered 515 million times as each person has entered his happy place.

Historic revolutionaries, extraordinary achievers, and icons often were laughed at and ridiculed at first. If you believe in your dream or your vision, or a plan, don’t let the snickering and finger-pointing going on behind your back deter you.

They laughed at the young black female raised in abject poverty in Mississippi when she wanted to become a news anchor. She was both the youngest and the first black female at Nashville’s WLAC-TV. They laughed again when she wanted to take on the king of talk shows Phil Donahue (remember Phil? Barely). They once again laughed in the mid-1990s, when she wanted to turn from a tabloid-based show to positive, uplifting and inspirational-based programming. Well, now as the richest African American of all time, and according to some assessments, the most influential woman in the world, it has become increasingly hard to laugh at Oprah.

When he told his countrymen he was going to America, they laughed. When he announced he would win Mr. Olympia, they laughed (he laughed back seven times). When he announced (in his awkward thick Austrian accent) he was going to be the biggest movie star in the world, they laughed really hard (during his Terminator reign he was the highest paid actor of all time). When he announced himself as a candidate for California governor, people couldn’t stop laughing. They laughed all the way to the polls and voted him in. This is probably why Arnold Schwarzenegger has such an infectious laugh himself.

Schwarzenegger once said of his fortune, “Money doesn’t make you happy. I now have $50 million, but I was just as happy when I had $48 million.” (He is now worth several hundred million.)

Schopenhauer explained most new ideas will first be ridiculed (Fred Smith getting a “C” on his paper describing what became Federal Express), then violently opposed (British Airways slander against newcomer Richard Branson), then treated as self-evident (oh, you are so LUCKY!).

So, the lesson here? If no one is ridiculing or laughing at you, you probably don’t have a revolutionary, change-making idea.

Don’t only accept the naysayers laughing at you; try to make ’em laugh. Only when they are laughing might you be on to something… BIG!

Have your friends and family laughed at you? Tell us how you overcame their ridicule and mockery in the comments below.



0 responses to “Become a Laughingstock”

  1. Excellent. The “you can’t” crowd, though perhaps well intentioned, doesn’t understand the power of impassioned focus. Most would be shocked at the power they themselves might command if only they believed. Then again, if everyone did it, it wouldn’t pay so well. It’s best that we ignore them.

  2. Wow! Powerful post, Darren! I look forward to helping others and my family become laughing stocks as we reach for success!

  3. Darren,
    The first time this happened I was 14 years old. I was raised on a 75,000 acre cattle ranch where my dad worked as a ranch cowboy. My brother and I worked there on weekends and since this was back in the sixties my wages were three dollars a day. I wanted a saddle of my own and decided I would build it myself.
    The materials then would cost me about $175.00 and I started planning and saving.

    My high school shop teacher said No, cause he did not think any kid could build a saddle by himself and he could not help me. My classmates except for my brother and a great girl in school said I could not do it. My parents said it was my money and if I wanted to try it was O.K. with them. Most of the rest of my family were laughing at me as well as most of my friends in school.

    I started the saddle in October 1963 when I was 16 after the shop teacher finally said he would “let me try”. I finished the saddle over Christmas break and in January 1964 when I brought it to school finished, they were not laughing anymore. I took it to a family gathering in the trunk of the car and when my uncles asked how it was coming I said I had just not been able to finish it. I let them go on about how they knew I could not do it because it was just too hard for an adult, let alone a kid. Then I opened the car trunk! They had a few red faces and were laughing at themselves.

    This set a precedent in life for whatever I determine to do or obtain in any goal and my next “big one” to do to family and friends will be to show them a good six figure 1099 form from my direct sales MLM. They said these never work either. It is doing great already but I am letting them talk up a real good hunger for smelly feet! Let em Laugh!

  4. Darren,
    Thank you for a great article! I love to look reflect on the lives of those who have not only gone after their dreams but reached them. Their stories inspire me and nudge me when my energy is low, when I too want to laugh a my dreams. Its always great to be reminded of our unlimited capabilities.

    Once again, thank you!

  5. So true a lesson and the best part is enjoying making people laugh on the road to success! Take a look at the next Big Thing that people have laughed at in the past, but is the technological driver for the future!

  6. Yes, My parents and friends thought I was crazy for leaving a high paying, fairly secure career with a good 401K match to go back to college and start a business. They didn’t laugh, they got very concerned that I was making a huge mistake and asked me how I expected to get business, told me it’s too hard, and that most people fail at it. It was hard but I had to ignore them. I looked to others for inspiration (and read Success mag.) And everything turned out much better than it would have been if I hadn’t made the change. My business was a success.

  7. By the success of these champions and with being laughingstocks, it’s pretty clear that being laughed at by a naysayer has nothing to do with success, and more to do with disposal.
    I can only think that while these “extraordinary achievers” were dominating and working hard at seeing their ideas unfold, that they only looked for a second at those laughing.
    Your lesson takes a little reading between the lines but for those who can see between those, they see that the ones laughing are not the ones they want on their dream team.
    It makes perfect sense why these icons didn’t flinch at naysayers when steam rolling their BIG ideas.

  8. So very true and I’ll remember this every time I feel like laughing at my dreams and think it can’t happen.

  9. Hi Darren,

    LOVED this blog article…. I laughed and felt that it really hits home with alot of us who have reservations about trying to do it BIG.

    Then I cried, because I haven’t done it yet and should! Thanks for this great reminder!!

    “) ~ Cynthia Hayes
    LifeChimes, International

  10. Hi Darren,

    Thanks for this AMAZING post! I always have Disney at the back of my mind… I am sure that anyone reading this involved with Network Marketing has been laughed at, or thought of as crazy… but my plan to be laughing all the way to my beach house in Australia is on track (I’m a Canadian). We’ll see who will be laughing at my first beach party! :-)

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