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The Role of Conviction in Startups

culture founders psychology Apr 23, 2021
Man in white shirt gesturing in speech

Human beings need to feel some sense of certainty in order to act. So how do you get people to act when there is no certainty . . . like in a new business?

There are two ways to increase this sense of certainty. The first is to reduce risk by collecting data, performing research, and running experiments. This speaks to our thinking brain.

The second is to provide the illusion of certainty by showing conviction. Conviction means showing you’re convinced that what you believe or say is true. It speaks to the feeling brain.

Sometimes, you have the data and that’s enough to get people to act. However, sometimes you don’t — and that’s when conviction is essential. People often want to act but they need your conviction to follow through.

Founders must present their business case with conviction if they want to get investors to say ‘yes’. Sales must present their product’s value with conviction if they want to get the sale. And team members must show conviction for managers to agree with their plans.

Of course, conviction doesn’t turn a bad idea into a good one. The trick is to speak with conviction but listen with humility. And that’s easier said than done.

About Dave Bailey

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