Thank the Naysayers - then prove them wrong

I used to think that naysayers were just trying to protect me from the big bad scary world. I'm sure they thought they were. I've learned through life experience that these people weren't trying to prevent me from trying to do to big things to save me heartache, they were trying to protect their own egos because they never tried to do big things. They were subconsciously preventing me from reaching my ambitions because they never forced themselves to go after theirs. 

Right after my back surgery almost every doctor and physical therapist told me that I'd never be able to practice martial arts again. They also told me that I would most likely never get back to pre-injury flexibility. Even when discussing getting blood platelet injections (which turned out to be near miraculous) my doctor said, "I don't think these are going to work for you." To an athlete these words were devastating. But thankfully I never internalized them. How could I? If you've read my other blog posts you'll already know that I've made a full recovery. I'm training Jiujitsu at a competition level and I'm typically one of the more advanced students in my yoga classes. Of course I've had to push myself harder than I knew I would be able to. I was crippled and to any doctor it definitely looked like I'd never reach my ambitions. But that's average thinking and I don't think average. If i believed what my doctors told me I'd never be where I'm at today. 

Whole Foods invited me to an event early on right after I got the initial approval to sell my bars there. They were putting together an event called the Local Food Maker Forum in San Francisco. It consisted of many food industry leaders, buyers, distributors and other food vendors. There was probably 300 people in the room and several people on stage answering questions. One woman from Whole Foods corporate offices stood up while we were seated and grabbed the mic. She said, "Who here is planning on selling energy bars?" Everyone starting looking around the room and after a slight hesitation I slowly raised my hand. She looked right at me, puts one hand on her hip and sticks her butt out to one side as she chuckled. "Sorry dude, we don't need any more bars" she snarked. Many people gasped and made other strange noises assumably because they felt embarrassed for me. Several people at my table felt really bad and said sorry. In all honesty her statement did nothing to me. In fact, I felt sorry for her. How could I feel bad for something a complete stranger said to me. I learned long ago I'm capable of doing things that most people couldn't ever fathom doing. Sure, maybe you don't need another bar, but my bars aren't just another protein bar and I'm not just another food vendor. People forge there are outliers. The negative comments didn't stop here. I kept hearing so many things from everyone around me about how it wouldn't be possible for me to launch a food company by myself. Where would I find the time? The money? The resources? Regardless of that woman's comment, a few months later Whole Foods selected Sprouted Minds as a semifinalist for a grant they were putting together. I was supposed to get Facebook likes by as many friends as I could and that would determine the winners (pretty elementary, but okay!). I messaged one friends that I had met in college and asked for his help. His response was, "Hope you're the 10% of businesses that make it lol." He never responded after I sent him the link to the vote page. Whatever. I ended winning the grant. Two years in a row, actually. The only company to win two times in the programs three year history. Whole Foods gave me over $21,000 to spend on whatever I wanted no questions asked. It just goes to show you that it really doesn't matter who says what. If your ambitions are high enough you'll almost always get negative comments or excuses from people. If you just stick to your gut and know that you can literally accomplish anything you will. Just look at what I'm doing, most of which I did while being disabled. Whenever I hear some reason why it can't work or won't happen I know the opposite is true and you should too. 

Since then I've had billionaire investors laugh at my business plan, other investors offered me 8% of my own company, and one even told me, "You're no CEO." I'm now at production numbers and orders that I can't keep up with. I got picked up by an incubator program and I have investors throwing money at me. In fact as of recent I've been turning down retail stores because it's still just me running the whole gig. Not bad for not needing any more protein bars. Right, dude? 

Mike Assayag