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Adii Pienaar

Now working on Receiptful. Co-Founder & ex-CEO of WooThemes. Author of Brandiing. New Dad. Ex-Rockstar.

Being Naked

Lately I've been struggling to be naked in front of a mirror.<...>

Wait - before you start having (bad) mental images of a naked Adii, I'll clarify: I don't mean naked in that way.

Instead I'm talking about being naked as to how it relates to being an entrepreneur that does stuff online.


For the past 2 months, both my writing (and publishing of that writing on here) and my social interactions online have been sporadic. This trend has mostly mirrored how comfortable I've been feeling about being open, being naked and just being me.

See - I have a monkey on my back: I have this notion that I'm a one-hit wonder (as an entrepreneur). This monkey constantly fuels the fear that I might never be able to build another successful company in my life. The fact that last year was a struggle that ultimately ended badly hasn't helped either.

When I've taken a step back to reflect on all of this, I've actually found a lot of clarity and momentum.

I know that the fear, the self-doubt and everything else that's adding friction to my progress is irrational in some sense.

Knowing this though doesn't automatically eliminate all these unhelpful thoughts and considerations. And I'd probably argue that whilst being conscious of these is a definite bonus, I do sometimes wish for simpler times where ignorance is bliss.

I also know though that this is just another aside in my greater journey and along that journey, my concept of clarity should continue to grow.

In the last couple of days, that clarity has brought me to confronting the fact that I hate being naked.


I'm reminded of the old fable of The Emperor's New Clothes.

Regardless of the ultimate lesson that the fable probably wants to communicate, I have a sense of admiration in the trust and belief that the Emperor actually exudes in parading around his new clothes. The fact that he knows that the clothes will be invisible to some (and he'll thus be naked to them) and that he still decides to parade around shows that this guy obviously had big cojones.

That's where I am today.

Even though I've been investing a lot of time in various new projects in the last couple of weeks, I've become more and more reluctant to pull the trigger and showing that off.

I have new clothes, but I'm afraid to parade that around and have others see me naked.

I'm afraid of bugs, imperfections and these new things not living up to the supposed expectations and standards that others (the anonymous public) have set me.

I don't want people to point and laugh.

I don't want people to think "oh well, that shit will never work or be big or even be a business".

I don't want to be questioned. I don't want to be in a position where I have to hard-sell or justify the validity or viability of whatever I'm putting out there.

I don't want to be judged.


This is however what being an entrepreneur is all about.

Real artists ships.

We create things that we love, we're passionate about and that we believe in. Then we put it out there with a sense of pride, ambition and bravado.

At that point we completely cede control of how others will react, what they'll say or what they'll do with this thing we've created.

We're the Emperor with new clothes and we might as just well be parading around naked.

Yes, we can fix bugs. But that's like bending over to tie a shoelace only to reveal your ass-crack.

Some things can't be unseen.

And we need to be okay with that.

Some people will point and laugh. Some will be aggressively judgemental and will make you feel like you need to justify every minor detail of what you've done.

None of us can do anything about that.

But then there's that handful of people that actually give a shit about whatever you've created. They're intrigued and interested; they engage you about this thing in a positive, proactive way.

Those are the people for whom we create.

The longer we're comfortable parading around half-naked, the more of these type of people we will attract.

Entrepreneurship is about getting comfortable when you're naked and when your ass is smack-bam in the middle of the spotlight.


I'm re-learning this at the moment.

I'm fucking terrified of putting new stuff out there.

But I've remembered that I previously created a great business based on one design preview that I shared with the world. (I even put a green AND orange version out there.)

Given that I'm by no means even an average designer, that's probably the best evidence (or social proof) that I can give you about being comfortably naked: masquerading as a designer when you're not is a daunting task.

In the meantime, I got great feedback, iterated and a couple of weeks later the pre-cursor to (what would eventually become) WooThemes was born.

And on launch day (almost 7 years , I describe so many of the same feelings I feel today:

"I have never experienced such a mix bag of emotions before - pride, relief, satisfaction, happiness, complete tiredness, anxiety, fear, anticipation etc. The list can go on… Fact is, I just spend a whole week developing something that I am extremely proud of and now it is ready to be unleashed on the world! So here goes…"

An insane journey was kickstarted, because I was comfortable being the Emperor parading my new clothes, even if it meant feeling or actually being naked.

That's why I'm happy to reveal my bits today as I pull back the covers on the brand-new PublicBeta.

There's so many things that's unfinished or things that I've probably missed in my Q&A (especially given I have very little attention-to-detail). But it's there, it's shipped and hopefully you'll fondle my bits (for a bit).

Today, I'm a naked entrepreneur once more.

If you have an unshipped idea or product, join me. It's always more fun being naked together.

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