You don’t get on top without making a few enemies


Tim Tebow before a game

I was recently talking to Jose, a friend of mine, on why so many people are hating Tim Tebow, the star quarterback of Denver Broncos. If you don’t know what’s going on, google “hate tim tebow” and see how many hits you get. There are over 48,000,000 hits!

The first hit is an article in the SBNation website by Andrew Sharp on why it’s okay to hate Tim Tebow. Some of the reasons are completely idiotic:

1) Because millions of people demand you love him (really? that’s enough for you to hate someone?)
2) Because the whole “underdog story” is complete BS.
3) Because he really sorta sucks at playing quarterback
4) Because of his religion. (wow! I can’t believe he brought that up)
5) Because of what he represents (I really laughed out loud at this one)

Why all the hate for Tim Tebow? Maybe it’s because of his skill or, for others, lack thereof. Maybe it’s because of his values and Christian faith. Or maybe even for others, it’s because of his story or his past. But one thing is for sure, if Tim Tebow was a nobody, nobody would be talking about him. The article on SBNation wouldn’t even exist. Tim Tebow is being attacked because he’s a somebody.

If You Can’t Beat Them, Hate Them

Here’s the point I’m trying to make: You can’t get on top without making a few enemies. As you climb higher up the ladder of success, you become a bigger target for people. They see you as a threat because you’ve achieved success beyond their own. Out of their own envy and competitiveness, they try to pull you down.

This is what psychologist call the crab bucket mentality. It’s a way of thinking by some people that “if I can’t have it, neither can you.” The metaphor refers to a pot of crabs. The crabs grab at each other in a useless “king of the hill” competition, which prevents any of them from escaping and results in their death

Mark Zuckerberg is a great example of this. As the tagline for the movie The Social Network goes, “you don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.”  As Mark and his website rose in popularity, some of his friends and business partners became his enemies like the two brothers who sued him for $65M and one of Facebook co-founder, who Mark squeezed out of the company.

I’m sure there are countless of other examples where people attacked a person just because he or she is successful. If you look at other people who have gotten at the peak of their respective discipline, no matter how nice, virtuous or friendly this person is, I guarantee you that that person has critics, haters and enemies. Tim Tebow and Mark Zuckerberg are not outliers. It’s a general principle: you can’t get on top without making a few enemies.

Haters in the startup community

This principle is especially true in the startup community. There will be a lot of people who will tell you that your idea sucks or that your business will fail. If you’ve confirmed your business model with your target customers, then you just have to believe in yourself, your team and your product.

That’s exactly what a lot of other entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and angel investors told Jack Dorsey and his little startup, Twitter, back in 2006. “Psht, micro-blogging, what the hell is that?” “That’s a dumb idea.” But, despite of all of the criticism, he believed in his startup. Now, Twitter hosts approximately one billion tweets every week. Jack Dorsey can now tell those haters, “how do you like them apples!”

How you react defines how far you’ll go

So, how are you suppose to react to all the haters and critics? Are you suppose to run away and never aspire to be great? Don’t bottle it up. Like in aikido or jiu-jitsu martial arts, harness the punches, kicks and attacks they throw at you as your weapon. Do what Matt Wilson from Under30Ceo did when his best friend fired him: he posted up a picture of his best friend and used it for dart practice. He used that negative experience as motivation to go even further.

Do you want to be successful? If so, be ready to make a few enemies. Remember this: How you react to your enemies attacks will determine how far you’ll go.

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Written by

Growth, analytics and inbound marketing professional. Computer science educated from University of Waterloo, full-stack developer turned growth hacker. Follow me at @RamliJohn. Ready to help you with your growth issues at

6 thoughts on “You don’t get on top without making a few enemies

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    • I can understand why many pleope dislike Tebow. He is a nice guy who appears to have a set of beliefs that guide him. Given that so many pleope really dislike themselves and almost everything except perversion it make sense.I like the fact that he takes the time to try and understand the issues and become an informed voter. All the money in the world would not make a difference if voters became informed as is their responsibility. People say they dislike the negative advertising, but it works precisely because most are not informed and are willing to believe the worst about everyone else.Money and negative advertising would not have the affect that it does if every voter did a “Tebow” and actually became an informed voter. “I am just to busy.” does not cut it for one of the most important responsibilities that each citizen has in this country. Failure to take responsibility and take seriously one’s actions are exactly why we get the same kind of politicians who always fail in their job of representing us. Voters get exactly what they deserve for the effort they put into their responsibilities.A free country will not stay free as long as voters fail to become informed voters as the founding fathers envisioned. The dislike of Tebow is exactly the same as the dislike for pleope of faith.

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