This article was published on December 2, 2021

Don’t blindly follow rules as an entrepreneur… and buy more flowers

Who says questioning the rules can't smell nice?


Don’t blindly follow rules as an entrepreneur… and buy more flowers
Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten
Story by

Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten

Founder & board member, TNW

Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and pr.co. Boris is very active on Twitter as @Boris and Instagram: @Boris.

Boris is the wise ol’ founder of TNW who writes a weekly column on everything about being an entrepreneur in tech — from managing stress to embracing awkwardness. You can get his musings straight to your inbox by signing up for his newsletter!

A few years ago, a flower delivery service polled their clients and found out that 88% of men have never received flowers. Unfortunately, that means that the first time most men receive flowers is… at their funeral. That’s a sobering and sad little fact you’ll now have to live with.

The reason I was thinking about this is a small chat I had with a barista earlier this week. When I came up to the bar to order a coffee, the barista looked at me and then said, ‘I like your sweater. That color looks good on you.’

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I thanked him for his unexpected but well-appreciated comment. He then proceeded to tell me that he had noticed how uncommon it is for men to compliment each other. On anything, really. I agreed he had a point and then told him about the men and flowers fact. We both decided to try to give men more compliments and flowers if we would get the chance.

But to be honest, I’ve actually received a fair amount of flowers in my life. Usually, if you speak somewhere, there will be a bouquet waiting for you afterward, and my girlfriend has also occasionally bought me flowers. But flowers have also come my way by more unexpected means.

A few years ago, I had a conversation with a female entrepreneur and tried to encourage her to keep questioning everything we take for granted, based on this quote from Steve Jobs:

When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it… Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

To me, Steve Jobs really encapsulated what it means to be an entrepreneur, but it is excellent advice for anyone (you can also share it with your kids… at your own peril).

Challenge the rules, mainly when they’re not based on logic. Don’t just accept it when people tell you ‘that’s just the way that works’ or ‘that’s how we’ve always done it.’

I didn’t mention the men and flowers fact to the entrepreneur I was coaching. Still, I think she really got the core of what I was trying to teach her. Why? Because after our meeting she bought me flowers and explicitly said she realized men never get flowers, so this was her first act of defiance towards the world as it is.

So, if you want to have an interesting life, don’t accept everything around you for what it is. Stay critical. Keep defying the rules and please, give that man next to you a lovely bouquet of roses.

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