Being persistent vs. being annoying

Since the beginning of this month, I’ve been trying to get more information from development agencies about scoping proposals. It’s a problem which I find fascinating, and I really want to understand it better and ultimately solve it. My friend who runs an agency and introduced this problem to me offered to try to share a sample proposal with me, as well as introduce me to some of his friends with the same problem. A sample proposal and introductions to his friend are critical for me to move forward with understanding the problem and being able to offer a solution. So, I’ve pinged my friend several times to encourage a client to permit to share a proposal with me and also ask his other agency friends if I can talk to them.

Today, I still haven’t received the sample proposal or been able to speak to the other agency friends. I’d like to ping my friend again, but I’m starting to worry that I’m being annoying. Somebody always bothering you for the same thing probably is annoying, right?

My friend told me that people are busy, so it’s been hard to get everything for me. However, while people are busy, I still have to pay my rent and put food on my plate. I started wondering if this proposal scoping problem has reached its natural lifetime for me. Maybe I should decommit from learning more about the proposal scoping problem and providing a solution for it? Maybe I should look for other market gaps?

So, I had a chat with Gregory Rogers today to learn more about real estate, an industry which affects and probably has pissed off everybody at one point. I was wondering if there were any problems in that space that I might be able to solve, and Greg was definitely the right one to ask. Greg is a real estate broker and previous landlord to whom I was introduced by Iqram Magdon-Ismail, cofounder of Venmo. Iqram joined today as well, and they both gave me a lot of great advice.

I ended up learning not just a lot about the real estate market, but also a crucial point: I have to be persistent. I can’t let my fear of annoying people stop me.

Iqram told me the story of how he got Greg to download and join Venmo. Iqram and Greg had barely met, and Iqram was already hounding Greg to download the app and create an account. Iqram apparently chased Greg to make sure Greg actually did it. Greg was clearly astonished by the persistence, maybe even a little uncomfortable with it, but ultimately Greg did download the Venmo app, and years later they’re still collaborating and hanging out.

Greg went on to google some wisdom by Calvin Coolidge to share with me:

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

I’m not typically one for quotes, but this one was a huge reality slap.

Greg and Iqram spoke of persistence not as if it was friendly advice, but as if it was the only viable option to achieve my goals. It was not something they encouraged. It was simply a requirement.

I realize now that being annoying should not deter me from being persistent. After thinking about it more, I hypothesized that I shouldn’t worry about being annoying if there’s any actual fit between my interests and others’ interests. If there’s fit, then my persistence is probably more likely to inspire change and results rather than annoyance. If there’s no fit, I’ll probably receive annoyed feedback quickly anyway. There’s no good reason not to put myself out there. What’s the worst that can happen? I get a terse annoyed reply. Or I’m ignored. That’s it.

The fortunes favor the bold.

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