Earlier this week, someone called to let us know that they had bought an apple pie not long ago and she didn't feel it lived up to the PJP hype. And she didn't call for a refund or a replacement pie...but really just to let us know that in her opinion, we aren't that great.
And while Jeanne is realistic that we will never make every single person happy all of the time, I still take criticism to heart. (Really, I let it hurt my feelings and the I stew around on it for a good while and then I hold a grudge forever...but you know what I mean.) (And can we talk about the new Adele album for a minute? GOOD LORD. That is the most heartbreaking collection of songs ever and the melancholy in me loves each and every one. But when someone calls and basically says they think we are terrible at what we do AND I listen to Adele "When We Were Young" five times in a row...you better believe there was a lot of crying.)
But Adele aside, I think Apple Pie Lady illustrates a problem that a lot of small business owners struggle with...the emotional element of accepting feedback. Her chief complaint was that she didn't like the apples we used in the pie. And I suppose that is a legit complaint...maybe she bakes with different apples at home or usually purchases apple pie elsewhere made with different apples. But what I heard in my head was "I hate PJP and everything it stands for and everything you've worked for and I hope World Pie Domination suffers a slow lingering death." Ahem.
It sounds a little ridiculous, no? But in the moment it didn't. Like anyone else with a small business, PJP is our heart and soul. We created it and you can see each part of us in every element of #WPD. It is a de facto family member and when we ate Thanksgiving dinner last week, we should have just set it a plate at the table so we could ask it how it felt about how pie pickups went down. We've built something with a personality, which is absolutely amazing...but it leaves us vulnerable when someone doesn't love her. Or her apples.
But growing...introducing new customers to what we do, gaining Facebook fans and Instagram followers and blog readers...well, it naturally means that it only gets harder to make every single person love what we've done, right? How do you accept feedback thoughtfully but without taking it to heart? Because I certainly never want us to be women that can't accept constructive criticism, but I also don't want my feelings to be hurt each time we get a random phone call letting us know someone is less than impressed. I'm not sure where the sweet spot is in Apple Pie Lady scenario. I wish I could accept her feedback and acknowledge that she isn't fond of how we make apple pie. But there is also the larger part of me that if I had some different apples and her address, I'd make her a pie and drive it to her so she knows how much PJP wants to be loved.
And I'd probably listen to Adele all the way there.