Contrarianism is the practice of approaching problems and brainstorming new ideas by purposely thinking against the grain. Or, more specifically, the act of ignoring entrenched societal beliefs – and embracing uncertainty and risk – in the pursuit of true innovation.
Ignoring conventional wisdom, disregarding the critiques of naysayers, and (as Apple likes to say) thinking different, are the bread and butter of those who truly push change. To inspire all of us as we ramp back up for business post-August and (inevitably) face hard decisions, we rounded up a handful of contrarian quotes from the creative entrepreneurs:
"The toughest part about launching the several initiatives we have done at Kluster has been convincing our clients (and sometimes our investors) that doing something very different is okay. A normal response is, ‘But that’s not how this kind of thing is usually done.’ Of course this isn’t how it’s usually done! That’s why it’s effective, exciting, and worthwhile.” – Ben Kaufman, founder, Kluster.com
“It was pretty tough at the beginning explaining to people what my company actually was going to do. ‘I am creating a company called Kidrobot, which will sell limited edition vinyl toys, designed by graffiti artists, poster artists, and fashion designers, to adults for inordinate sums of money.’ Try bringing that to a bank for a loan!” – Paul Budnitz, founder, Kidrobot
“We pretty well defied every rule of magazine making. [We started with] no infrastructure, no idea about the real engineering of a magazine, and very little media business experience. Very few people start national magazines with less than 5 million in their pocket, these days.” – Shoshana Berger, founder, ReadyMade magazine
“When we first came up with the idea for Blik, [a massive] challenge we faced was all the nay-sayers. When you have an original or creative idea, you tend to encounter people whose knee-jerk reaction is to say ‘it can't work.’ It's easier to say that, then take on the monumental task of executing a ‘big idea.'” – Scott Flora, founder, Blik
"I ignored a lot of well-intentioned advice from people who told me to be an employee for a few years before jumping in. I think most independent designers, and entrepreneurs in general, ignore the same thing.” – Joey Roth, Industrial Designer
*** This article is based on the research and writing of J.K. Glei. She regularly collaborates with Scott Belsky and the Behance Team, who run the Behance Creative Network, the 99% productivity think thank, the Action Method project management application, and the Creative Jobs List.