Success stories can provide awesome inspiration and actionable advice when you’re building or growing a business, but popular tips don’t always work for every person or endeavor. Shira Berk, the creator of the healthy (and incredibly tasty) Goodie Girl Cookies, knows first-hand how true this can be—in fact, she’s achieved business success by ignoring some of the most popular pieces of advice that people have given her. Read on to get Berk’s take on four times you might listen or decide to do things your own way.
Success Tip #1: “Meditation will help you achieve focus and success.”
“I don’t meditate,” Berk admits. “While I respect anyone who finds peace and/or focus through meditation, I also think you have to know yourself and seek or find activities or restful moments that re-energize and focus YOU.” Berk says that for her, it’s reading on her commute home each day to decompress; listening to music that motivates and excites her, and finding inspiration in art and design. “Find what moves you and propels you forward, and embrace that,” she advises. “One person’s meditation is another’s metal band. You do you.” Preach.
Success Tip #2: “Don’t start until you’ve totally mapped out your end-game plan.”
Ever feel like you shouldn’t start work on your side hustle or business idea until everything is in perfect place? Berk says to ignore that instinct. “In an ideal world, you’d know exactly where you’re going. But in reality, being open to ways the end game may evolve is very often what leads to success.” Instead of waiting, she’s an advocate of adding a bit of flexibility into the mix.
“Have a plan, have goals, and work towards them, but when something shifts—be it a trend, a need in the market, a competitor or a new development in science, politics or human development—be willing to adapt and adjust accordingly.” To make your mental switch a little bit easier, Berk tells us she sees the “end game” as a beacon to work towards, with tons of ways to get there.
Success Tip #3: “Don’t show what you don’t know.”
Berk says that while people advise to sticking with what you know best, this isn’t always super solid advice. Drawing on her own experience, she shares, “I worked in the music industry. I know that space well and I still love music. As for cookies? Nope, I had no life-long experience, no culinary degree and no training.” Though many might have ditched their dreams in this type of scenario, Berk stayed steadfast to what she saw—a need in the market and confidence that she could actually make fantastic, gluten-free cookies unlike anything else available.
Even still, she acknowledges, “Producing the cookies on large scale, selling them, getting into stores nationwide… I had a pretty significant learning curve. You’ve probably heard ‘fake it ‘til you make it,’ but I faked nothing. Instead, I was blatantly honest with all the pros and sought mentors whenever I could. I asked questions, read and studied. I showed and shared what I didn’t know and found that it was always the fast route to knowledge while helping me ask the right questions and continue along the path to success.”
Success Tip #4: “Always go with your gut.”
Berk swears that her intuition has taken her far and assures us that she listens to it carefully. However, she also tells us that she thinks it’s important to know that gut instinct isn’t always the best indicator as to how to move forward. “For example, sometimes a product you personally love simply isn’t what your target market needs at the exact time,” she explains. “I’ve actually come across this often, specifically when it comes to cookie flavors and names. I might find what I think is a very clever name for a cookie only to discover that the name is confusing or has alternative meaning to consumers!”
In this instance, Berk advises to mix your instinct with real feedback, be it from friends, colleagues, partners or your customer. “Go with your gut but listen to your consumer,” she suggests. “Combining what you know with what they tell you is often the best way to truly know what should come next.” What great advice.
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