Thursday, March 14, 2013

COMMENTARY: "Entrepreneurs Beware: The Crabs Are Coming!"

by Cyrus Webb

Creative people have so many hurdles to overcome as they strive for success. Not only do they have to convince themselves that their idea and/or plan is worth pursuing, but they also have to deal with the negativity of those on the outside. Let’s face facts: When it comes to the unknown, the only known fact is that nothing is guaranteed. What might appear to be the next big thing today may end up forgotten tomorrow. Again, uncertainty is the only constant.

But let’s say that you have been blessed by the odds and come up with something truly remarkable. You have faith in it and know without a doubt that if it is given a chance, then success is inevitable.

If you reach your goals and see the fruit of your labor, for many the first thing you want to do is share with those who have been supporters along your journey. This could include close friends, relatives or even those who have been role models for you. Is there anything wrong with wanting to share the wealth? Not at all. However there may be dangers lurking around you that have to be identified and addressed.

I call them crabs.

The crab mentality is nothing new. It’s been around since the serpent’s conversation with Eve in the garden of Eden and has only worsened as time has gone by. What is this condition? Let’s first talk about the crab.

Most crabs, no matter where they are found in the world, are made the same way. They have a hard shell, four pairs of legs and a pair of pincers (or grasping claws). It is possible for them to exist together as equals for the most part, but don’t forget that they are hunters. There is not a day that goes by that they are not looking of r new ground to claim or food. It is at this time that their instinctive jealousy kicks in.

Crabs can become so envious of each other that they will do their best to hinder another that seems to be making strides ahead of them. It is impossible for them to know if those ahead will save some of the bounty for them. They can only look at the present, and if there appeared to be competition they just knew they had to stop it, or at least slow it down.

By this time you can probably see where this illustrates what happens in the world of entrepreneurs and other creative individuals. We are fortunate enough to have the ability to reason out situations, unlike crabs. The unfortunate fact is that at times the selfish, animalistic quality they display creeps into out own behavior.

You may have even experienced it yourself. Someone you were close to as you rose to the top of your profession or goal may have begun to “pull” at you. It could be that they tell others your success is changing you, claiming you have become arrogant and difficult to be around. Others may claim it was indeed their hard work and ideas that you took credit for that propelled you above them. Regardless what’s said, the remarks can be hurtful and potentially dangerous to your reputation or brand.

The first thing you have to do to shake off the effect of the crabs is to make sure it’s obvious that what is being said isn’t true. We have many textbook cases of the right and wrong ways to handle this situation.

Look at the well publicized rise,fall and return of M. C. Hammer. There were those around him that believed in his talent as he progressed, yet there were those who were talented that didn’t share that belief. When he reached a level of fame, however, he did his best to bring as many of them along as he could—even to his own detriment. Did they appreciate his generosity? Some did, but the events that followed showed that not all did. When the star that was M.C. Hammer began to fade, then the murmuring began. As he was forced to cut back on his mammoth entourage, it became clear who had Hammer’s best interest at heart.

Another example is that of the R&B greatness that is Destiny’s Child. As a foursome, they broke into the industry as a wildfire, but as two of their original members were gone and replaced and then changes made again, the clawing began. You remember the rumors. They had been propelled into the stratosphere of fame, and it was an opportunity to attack them when trouble was apparent. The sobering thing is that the changes they were making didn’t require our permission and weren’t really our business. The only thing that should concern us is the music—and it has only gotten better over the years.

At times it seems that the public exalts individuals in various fields just to aid their fall from grace—or at least gloat about it. Then you have some underdogs that we rally around, wanting them to beat the odds.

Since we have explored the music industry thus far in this discussion, let’s continue it. Christina Aguilera was discovered to be talented at an early age to the surprise of some and the disappointment of others. Her mother and she have shared accounts of talent shows Christina would enter where she would either win or have girls back out of because of her. It became so vicious that girls would corner her at school and even threaten to slash her mother’s tires.

They finally had to leave town because of the abuse. Hard to believe, isn’t it? It should be. Once her album was released while she was still in high school, friends told an interviewer that at the senior prom that Christina attended they played her first single “Genie in a Bottle” and everyone left the dance floor.

Martha Stewart made her millions by believing she had a knack for turning everyday activities into a “good thing”. Whether it was cooking, decorating or outdoor projects, Martha seemed to offer unique techniques that were always fascinating to watch even if you had no intentions of doing them yourself. She was reviled in the press and lampooned regularly, but her empire was only expanding. Even she made fun of the image of her that was portrayed.

Donald Trump has been a man surrounded by intrigue and scandal for many years, due to his business dealings and personal decisions. Not even a painful and public divorce or bankruptcy could stop him from becoming one of the most powerful men in business. And who could ever forget The Apprentice?

All of the people I’ve mentioned were plagued with crabs, but they were able to overcome the pulls at their brand and keep going. You can do the same thing, it just takes the correct mindset. I don’t want you to take from this that adversity is completely bad. We all need to be refined, tested. The challenge will be how you come through it—if you make it through.

Hammer. Christina. Martha. Destiny’s Child. Trump. Each emerged bigger and better. How did they do it?

1) NO MAN IS AN ISLAND. I must admit to you that this is an everyday struggle for me. I have admitted before that I am a control freak. It’s hard for me to let others do something that I feel like I can do better, especially when it’s going to affect my brand. The problem is that this mentality only attracts the crabs. There comes a time when you have to be able to let go a bit and trust.

All five of the examples I cited have trusted individuals around them that have been with them for years. How this differs from what Hammer did is that they realized that not every person has their best interest at heart. May seem like a complicated distinction, but it’s really not. It is one thing to have people that supported you before the success hit and want to continue the alliance. It is another thing altogether to have people who weren’t part of your support system around you and you feel obligated to work with them. Any obligation should be mutual. They should want to see you excel, and you should want them to advance right along with you.

Trusting is always a gamble, but it is a must in a successful business. Will you make the wrong choices at times? Definitely. But learn from them.

2) DON’T LET THE INJURY PROVE TO BE FATAL. This is an obvious transition from the first point. Whether it’s because of a choice you made or because of outside forces, you will occasionally be pinched. When this happens you will be forced to make a decision. You can either get your bearings back and continue forward, or allow it to cause you to regress, becoming the target of other crabs until you’re either at the bottom or destroyed.

May seem like an easy choice but unfortunately it’s not as easy as it seems.

No setback is pleasant, but when it comes from an unlikely source it can be devastating. I’ve learned from personal experience that you have to accept it and quickly continue on your course. Dwelling on it will only make you vulnerable. And crabs will only sense the weakness and attempt to capitalize on it. Never admit defeat.

No matter what your brand may consist of, just know that it can survive the tests. In the end, regardless of what may come your way, know that success or failure will ultimately belong to you.

If that doesn’t empower you then nothing will.

Stay in touch with Cyrus Webb at or He can also be reached by email at His personal website is

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