Fail, Learn, and Try Again

“Nothing bad ever happens to you.”

Do I stand by this quote? Yes. When it comes to business, there’s a serious power that comes with taking this statement to heart. The quote is borrowed from renowned speaker Joe Vitale. In his research, he discovered that business leaders that took entrepreneurial risks never had anything particularly bad go wrong. When talking to an elderly billionaire friend about failure, the billionaire told him that he failed quite a few times, filing for bankruptcy on occasion, but kept moving forward until he became the well-known billionaire he is today. Vitale asked him what he learned about failure in all his years and the magnate replied:

“Nothing bad ever happens to you. The world forgets and the world forgives. The only person who beats you up is you. And if you can just learn from it and move on you will go on to great success.”

So do bad things happen? Of course, but I don’t think this is meant to be applied literally or to your personal life. It’s more of a business perspective that’s unique to successful people. It’s a testament to persistence and iterative learning. Every time this billionaire failed he only increased his knowledge, and with some self-awareness, guaranteed that he would never make that mistake again. I don’t know anybody who has died from innovating or connecting with a community to create high levels of value for the customer. I have more than 40 U.S. patents and I’ve never had one blow up. Have I lost money by doing stupid things in the area of innovation? Yes and no. Yes, I’ve lost money, but the money I lost came with lessons that only served to make more money. I know that sounds a bit like a paradox, but my success proves it’s true.

This is the success loop: fail, learn, try better, fail, learn more, try better, success. It’s not exactly that simple, yet if you look at most influential business leaders, you’ll find a variation of this process on their road to success. These insights are, of course, useless without being applied. Take a look at the gaps in your organizations and consider areas with room for improvement. It can be something small, such as a segmented email campaign that is radically different from what customers have become accustomed to receiving. Now apply the following steps to your endeavor, using a different approach to email as an example:

  • Step 1: Muster up the bravery to do something risky.
  • Step 2: Do something cool that delivers tremendous market and customer value based on exquisitely good insights. For your email message, look at your customer base from a different perspective. Think of the addresses on your list as changing people, not a static user base that you continue to serve in the same predictable way. Gather 10 insights that have not been applied to past email campaigns.
  • Step 3: Deliver your product or service to market with incredible passion and endurance. Sounds almost obvious, but most people run out of money or enthusiasm far too early in the development of innovations. Don’t be shy or hesitant. Go all out with the emails and remain persistent. If the campaign doesn’t work immediately – if you fail – ask why. Then make changes until you see the results you want.  You’ll most likely find that if you tapped into the customer effectively, your leads will significantly increase and you will have innovated in a business component that all too often falls stagnant.
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