Tellman Scam… or Success Tax?

Posted by Robin Robins On March 11th, 2010

Here’s a bit of a dilemma I’d like to get your opinion on…

At my last 25K meeting, one of my colleagues, Tellman Knudson, shared how he was getting absolutely trashed online as a scam artist for trying to do a good deed.

Last year, Tellman decided to raise awareness and money for homeless teenagers by throwing down a pretty incredible challenge: he would run barefoot across America. The web site is www.runtellmanrun.com if you are interested.

I know what you’re thinking…he’s nuts. When I heard this I thought the same thing; BUT I also know that without some type of outrageous stunt like this, his charitable efforts would just blend in with all the other charities and get no media coverage.

As you may have already guessed, he didn’t accomplish his goal and had to stop the run because of severe damage to his feet. At that point, he had already invested over 1/2 million dollars of his OWN money to promote this new charity, not to mention the countless hours he invested to get it off the ground.

But, just as sure as vultures to a fresh carcass, many of his critics had a field day and started completely bashing him online, stating his “charity” was a complete scam and that there was no such organization created. I happen to know that is not true, and the things they are stating as “facts” are indeed half truths told in a way to purposefully mislead people. I won’t bore you with all the details.

The reason I share this story with you is because the BEST comment on how to deal with this came from my friend Richard Rossi, the CEO of EMI, who, after giving some suggestions for dealing with this PR nightmare said, “Toughen up—this is success tax.” So why is this important for you?

Because at multiple points in your entrepreneurial life, you will be faced with similar circumstances where people will try to undermine you, tell half-truths and do everything they can to make you look bad and take you down — and I positively guarantee that the MORE successful you become, and the more purposeful your mission, the worse it gets. And as your business grows, you’ll be forced to make tough decisions that are NOT popular with the masses. I also believe that at some point you’ll just have to choose to do what’s right rather than what’s popular, knowing that no matter what you do, someone is going to have a problem with it, and they’ll spend their waking hours telling everyone they know instead of engaging in more productive activities.

To quote Albert Einstein, “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

So toughen up, buttercup. If you’re going through this right now, just realize this is “success tax” and no one gets away without paying their dues.