When I moved to Atlanta at the turn of the century, I used to ride the MARTA, switch on my Walkman and listen to the city’s favorite radio station: V-103. Everyone who was anyone that mattered (as far as the world of urban radio was concerned) worked at V-103. Frank Ski, Wanda, Ryan, Portia Foxx. Of the entire crew, Ryan Cameron was my absolute favorite. The man is the emperor of clowns. His inflection, intonation and his reactions and remarks to even the most mundane events left me and half the city in stitches.
Frank and Wanda were a’ight.
Portia Foxx was a’ight too. Something about her voice rubbed me the wrong way. It was a little too soothing… like Kathy Bates with a sledge hammer in that scene from Misery. I didn’t trust Ms. Foxx; not one iota. Nevertheless, there is one thing I appreciated about her presence on the radio, and that was her signature tag line/motto: “Let your haters be your motivators”. Though she went off V-103 in 2004, we in the Atlanta community still quote and live by those words today!
When I first heard the phrase “let your haters be your motivators”, I must admit I harbored a certain level of ambivalence towards the sentiment. I was fresh out of college, just interacting with the world independently for the first time, and therefore wanted everyone to like me…or at least not hate me. Neutral indifference I could handle. But hatred? Now way. So why were all these people who were calling into the radio station talking about their haters? And furthermore, why was Ms. Foxx facilitating a platform on which to “celebrate” this hateration? Well as they say, small girls are young and now that I’m a full grown woman, I understand the value of the proverbial hater.
The idea that one should make their haters – or detractors, if you will – their motivators is not a new one. The sentiment is actually expressed throughout the bible. You just have to decode it. For instance, both books of Samuel are almost completely dedicated to chronicling one dude’s (Saul) ultimate quest to hate on another dude(David) and how the latter spent his entire life circumventing or triumphing over those hate-fueled attempts. We credit David for the book of Psalms, but what are David’s Psalms without the influence of Saul’s many micro aggressions and/or bodily threats, aka hate?
Now that I understand the importance of the hater, I would take the idea of letting them serve as motivation a step further and add that one’s haters must also work in the capacity of your progress gauges. Look at the caliber of your average hater and allow that to serve as an indicator for how far you’ve come.
For instance, I was talking to a young man ago about this very thing. He is a recent acquaintance and is one of those guys who has set himself on a course to receive “everything” in life. He’s building a strong business, he’s talking to people about investing in future ventures, he has a beautiful, smart fiancé, he’s well-traveled and he’s only in his early 20’s. He’s on the track to becoming one of Forbes celebrated 30 under 30 or some such similar list in a similar publication. During our chat, he confided in me that his business (let’s call it the Lemonade Stand for for) has yanked quite a bit of market share from indirect competitors.
“When I set up the Lemonade Stand, we were literally begging people to give us a try. I said if I had 20 customers at the end of 2015, I’d be happy.”
“And how many do you have now?”
“Close to 200,” he replied. “And we’re getting requests from all over the continent to be a part of the Lemonade Stand.”
“That’s great! How has this impacted you personally?”
“Well…it’s interesting. Now that the Lemonade Stand is on the scene, the Ice Cream Stand is struggling because we’ve taken so many of their best customers. They’ve actually set out to destroy me.”
I was shocked. I know the Ice Cream Stand’s reputation and they are HUGE. They’ve had a stranglehold on the market for close to five years now.
“Dude. That’s amazing…but why are they mad at YOU? They sell ice cream. Sure, they’re both cold and sweet, but that aside, neither product is even remotely similar!”
He went on the confide that not only is the Ice Cream Stand out for his blood, but so are the Library and the Auto Repair Shop. His Lemonade Stand has siphoned business from them as well. This is where I got excited.
“You do of course realize that you have entered a whole different realm of influence, right? If within less than a year of operation you’ve been able to fulfill the needs of all these customers, the so-called titans of industry were not truly doing their duty in servicing a segment of the customer base that relies on their product and services. This is HUGE for you.”
He agreed that it was indeed a big deal (and somewhat flattering) to have this class of hater working against him, however with what he has in mind for Lemonade development, he will leave his competition bloodied and in the dust.
“They’re still thinking about meeting current market trends. I’m looking to create market trends,” he said simply.
I took what he said to heart, and now I’m not just assessing my progress as a writer/mother/kung fu aficionado but also looking at the quality and class of individual criticizing my work as well. I advise you to do the same. For instance, if you are accustomed to that one underachieving account manager on your job taking stabs at you for the quality of your work and NO ONE else taking notice of what you do, it’s time to up your game and expand your influence. Get your work in front of someone who matters…someone who signs your check, for instance. Produce work that rivals theirs at their level. Whether they become a hater – in the hood sense of the word- is really up to them (they could turn out to be a congratulator), but at least you’ll know you’re operating in a different league. A better league. A stronger league!
As the old Bahamian saying goes: A dog only barks at a moving car. So get moving and take off at light speed! You are jollof rice. Don’t let white rice talk to you like you are supposed to remain on its level. Conduct yourself accordingly!