Earlier this month I got the GREAT opportunity to meet Matt Mullenweg, founder of Automattic, the company that started WordPress. Matt and some of the “Automattics” came up here for a MeetUp at Paul Allen’s Living Computer Museum here in Seattle. And to say the least, it was a REALLY awesome event. And I’m sort of embarrassed to admit I even got a little starstruck. I never thought I would be, by anyone – Web-Celeb, TV-star-celeb or anyone… at least it was by someone real who was making a giant different in the creative world, right? :)

Anyway Matt gave a brief chat to the group about a bunch of good stuff… what’s coming in the next release or WordPress, exciting stuff they’re working on, his experiences as a young entrepreneur… and then took the time to meet personally with everyone there. I felt very honored.

My favorite piece of what he said that night, by far was this:

I often say I’m probably the unhappiest user of WordPress. Every time I look at it, I see a bunch of things that are wrong with it that I want to improve.

He said that’s probably true for a lot of us and the things we work on… and I could definitely relate to that.

Be Your Own SMALLEST Fan

I’ve been thinking a lot about this since the event, about being the unhappiest user of your own product.

I think:

  • Every developer should be their own unhappiest user.
  • Every designer should be their toughest critic.
  • Every business owner should be their smallest fan.

Their smallest fan? What does that even mean?

What I mean is this: If you’re running your own business or managing a service, or in charge of anything for this matter, be a fan of it. Think of it as your favorite team. The one you invest the most time thinking of and wanting to improve. By being a fan of it, I mean root for it all the time. Want it to win. Be proud of it, and take its side at any and all times it’s up against something tough. Celebrate its victories. Get excited about improvements and upgrades… just like when your favorite team signs its new great player. Or pulls out a huge win as the underdog. Celebrate!

If your own product was your favorite team, so to speak, be a fan of what it’s representing. Whether your product has one hundred other “fans” or users, or its reach is miniscule or massive, be a fan of it always.

But be humble. Always stay motivated to get better, to win more.

  • Constantly look for ways to improve your product, and never stop.
  • Find the flaws before your customers or clients do.
  • Care MOST about fixing them. Give a shit, basically.
  • Don’t be the overly-optimistic superfan of a team who says after a horrible performance, “That’s all right, we’ll get ’em next time. So-and-so was sick and had a lot on his mind… These conditions weren’t great to play in… We’re still the best.” NO! Just stop that.
  • Be real. Be unhappy or even angry about things that are wrong, and get to fixing them. Today.

Of course, you don’t need to bash on your business, product, service, or whatever it is you own. Again, root for it, and celebrate its wins! And take a tip from Matt Mullenweg while you’re at it. Be its unhappiest user. To be its smallest fan is a good thing. It’s imperative in making it better – better than anyone else can.