Are You Confident, or Just a Jerk?


Are You Confident, or Just a Jerk?

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Confidence is tricky because so often, it blurs the line with arrogance. Strong belief in yourself, your mission, your product, etc., when misunderstood, is almost always perceived as arrogance. I read a quote by columnist Rhett Power that perfectly summed up the difference: "Confidence is grounded in experience and expertise with a sense of respect and humility, whereas arrogance is grounded in nothing (it is unwarranted baseless confidence with lack of respect and humility)."


Before I pitched my product on Shark Tank, I did a deep dive into previous episodes. I wanted to be sure that I understood each Shark's personality, business philosophies, types of products they tended to invest in, and, most of all, the things that turned them off.


It didn't take long for a pattern to emerge. Entrepreneurs who were unwilling to defer to a Shark's experience or receive their advice got a deal ZERO percent of the time. These entrepreneurs had confidence in spades but lacked humility — the perfect recipe for arrogance. And arrogance is like blood in the water, it signals insecurity, which is a deal-breaker every time.


I empathize with those entrepreneurs. They had poured years of blood, sweat, and tears into something, given up and sacrificed so much to make it work, and wanted to protect and validate their efforts fiercely. But their confidence got in the way.


So, how do we have the necessary confidence for success, but clear the path to healthy relationships, negotiations, and businesses at the same time? It's like Rhett Power said - respect and humility. (Or, in other words, don't be a jerk.) These are the keys to great confidence. The kind of confidence that draws instead of repels, defers instead of demands, and inspires instead of incites.


Arrogance is self-defeating behavior. Humble confidence is liberating. When you're free to admit mistakes, explore options, and value and respect others' thoughts and ideas, you'll become a person that people want to be around, a person people admire, and a person of influence.


Humble confidence takes practice. Actively listen, seek opportunities to give recognition, and always be aware that you might not know it all. Adopting this posture is like having "jerk insurance." It will protect you from costly business and relational mistakes and guarantee more success in every area of your life.


Joe Altieri is the Inventor and CEO of FlexScreen. His product – the world’s first and only flexible window screen - was featured on ABC’s hit show, Shark Tank, where he hooked a deal with the proclaimed “Queen of QVC,” Lori Greiner.