The Acidic Taste of Failure

Sometimes you try to achieve things with all that you’ve got, and then you fail. Some say failure is good, that it teaches you what not to do, etc., etc.

I agree, failing is part of the process of learning how to win. But I never like failing, particularly when I feel like it happened on my watch because of choices I made.

I can feel the acid burning my gut. I always hate failure.

Last week I experienced such a failure. It wasn’t on a public project, so let’s not read too much into things. Nevertheless, I failed. What made it worse was that I felt really good about the situation, rehearsed and worked hard, and put in extra time to get ready.

When it was show time, the effort flew like a lead zeppelin.

It was so obvious that I was dead in the water from the get-go, and I had to finish the job. If the situation was a baseball game, the opposition had a 10-run first inning. No escape for three hours. Done and done. Good night.

At least I am laughing about it a week later.

Nevertheless, it bugged me. Looking back there were mistakes like a critical flaw in evaluating my audience. A big disconnect occurred. Plus, I was exhausted and that didn’t help anything.

So, I did what I always do when I fail. I got back up the next day, and started working on the next big thing, which is planning the 2014 edition of xPotomac (Patrick Ashamalla and Shonali Burke are joining me again as co-hosts this year).

Because that’s what I do. I get back up.

michael-jordon-quotes-michael-jordon-24142

It’s important to take away what I can from the mistakes, adapt so next time there is different outcome, and work towards the next success. Maybe I’ll experience a win, maybe a different failure, but always move a step closer to the solution.

I also took the necessary time to rest. Self-care remains one of the best ways to overcome failure. There is always more work, and sometimes I just have to put it on the backburner. If I treat myself like crap, I will surely feel and perform like crap, too.

But no matter what, failures still burn, some more than others. That’s what makes winning all the more worthwhile. Call it fuel.

How do you handle failures?

Featured image by Mike Stimpson.

How to Differentiate Your Content

Different
Image by Ksenia Krneychuk

After my speech two weeks ago on blogging, a TribeUp NYC attendee asked me how to differentiate content.

I’m sure other strategists have their methods, but here’s how I do it.

There’s one critical precursor to success: You must possess substantial knowledge about your topic area, and keep abreast of current trends, not only in the mainstream but on the edge of your sector. Become a subject matter expert.

If you don’t, it will be difficult for you to compete. You need this knowledge to determine the trends you should cover.

Start with Irreverence

Continue reading

Why I Remain on the Ad Age 150 Blogger Index

Tim Lincecum
Two-time Cy Young Award Winner Tim Lincecum is experiencing a horrible 2012 season

I made a joke about my Ad Age Power 150 ranking a while back, but when I found out how low my score was last Spring it seriously upset me.

I used to be a top-ranked blogger! What happened?

De-listing became a serious thought for a couple of days. After all, publicly quitting networks and such seems to be the fashionable thing to do amongst bloggers these days.

Continue reading

Winning Beats Fame

Grandma at Shula's

In an era where people chase fame like dogs running down a hare in a field, there’s little discussion about winning. That’s too bad, because winning beats fame every time. It’s imminently more satisfying, yields more benefits, and is much more memorable.

Why do we focus on fame instead of winning? Just look at the obvious. Consider the media attention bestowed on famous people, and the idealism of thought leadership bestowed upon those who achieve notoriety in smaller online communities. Fame seems attractive, like it’s attainable and rewarding. But as time has shown, the emperor often doesn’t have clothes.

Many Internet famous people have had to get real jobs, their dreams of being recognized for their 10,000 Twitter followers have been unmet. But the best can always get a free plane ticket and hotel to speak at a gig. Such are the spoils of nanofame.

Winning Requires Work

Winning – achieving a worthy goal in the face of competition and/or circumstance – is not easy. It’s deeply personal. It could be making a choice to spend more time at home to raise a child who is well-rounded, educated, and loved as opposed to hitting networking events every night. For some winning means building a product or a company and selling it (or not), or achieving social change over a period of years in the face of staunch opposition.

Such hard work is rarely noticed. Being a great parent won’t necessarily win you thousands of fans on Twitter. It often takes years of dedicated committed focus, day in day out, surpassing struggles small and large, always, always with the end result in mind. It requires personal sacrifice as opposed to self glorification.

Winning often means struggling, failing, and learning to become better at whatever the end goal may require. It takes perseverance, guts, and a certain kind of faith that carries one through the difficult days. And there are hard, rough days that force people to really consider whether they have the stuff to survive the journey.

Aaron Strout, CEO of Powered, now bought by Dachis, is achieving some of this kind of success now. Aaron may never be noted as the most popular marketing voice on the interwebs, but he’s certainly one of the most successful ones.

Compared side by side, Internet fame sure seems a lot easier. Heck, you’ll have lots of friends, too. That in its own right may be enough for some, a win.

Yet, fame and the pleasure of its vain fan-based love doesn’t fulfill in the same way as achieving something. Whether it’s love and joy with the kid and their achievements, the rewards of successfully waging a business, the civic pride in having made society better, these things cannot ever be taken away. They are worthwhile successes.

Sometimes fame is bestowed upon someone for their winning ways. The limelight captures them in the moment of their success, a by product of all those hard years of work. Then the pleasure of fame becomes a laurel wreath, temporary and beautiful, capturing a moment in time.

Most winners don’t get caught up in it, though. There’s no proverbial “kool-aid” moment. They are off to the next thing, starting the next company, maybe running a marathon, teaching children, or planting a bounteous garden. It’s what makes them feel happy. It’s something you never want to stop doing.

Do you prefer winning or fame?