We all make mistakes. Yet we often hide our mistakes or try to forget about them. But here’s the thing: making a mistake can be one of the best ways to learn. As Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” The Wizard of Menlo Park also said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Please, don’t give up.
Edison was a prolific inventor, well known for creating the phonograph, the microphone, the light bulb, a way to keep fruit fresh…the list goes on. But he wasn’t perfect. He made mistakes. He had his blunders. And, while he certainly was intelligent, it can be argued he simply tried harder than others did to learn from his blunders along the way.
Following this thinking, we reached out to some members of the content marketing community to see if they would be willing to share a mistake they’ve made that the rest of us can learn from.
And, because our community is awesome, we got some great responses:
I was a young founder…maybe 21 or 22 years old at this point, and I was about to have a meeting with one of the most successful venture capitalists (VCs) on the planet. He had come to my office wanting to hear my pitch for our Series A round of financing. I was nervous, I didn’t want to be viewed as a “kid” and I knew that this could be a big moment for the company. As we settled into the conference room, I plugged in my computer, and the TV, thanks to the pesky HDMI connection started BLASTING what I was playing on my Spotify. Thanks to universe’s karmic irony, Taylor Swift’s “22” was the song that was on at that very moment (#TeamTaylor). I turned bright red and randomly started hitting buttons on my keyboard. I got the music off (thank God) and stared into my laptop keyboard, trying to avoid eye contact.
But then, suddenly, I heard a laugh.
This bigshot-magazine-profiled VC thought it was funny. I relaxed, and the pitch continued. A few weeks later, we had a signed term sheet and a new lead investor. For me, one of the things that is so easy to forget is how our perceived weakness and vulnerabilities are also the things that make us human and relatable. No one wants to work with, invest in, or buy from a robot. As marketers, we need to realize that admitting imperfection is critical to being loved.
What did I learn? No one is perfect – and no one is you. Be yourself and be human. People will appreciate that…and you.
I’ve had a tendency…in my career to try and do too much on my own without asking for help or delegating some of the work. I still to this day have to remind myself to find places where I can seek help and delegate to others. I remember once procrastinating on something for three weeks. I mentioned it to one of our VPs, who immediately took it on and had it done in two days. She was happy to do it, happy to help get it done. In many cases, successful delegation both frees me up and also empowers others to step up and contribute to our joint success.
What did I learn? Delegation doesn’t mean you aren’t able to do things, it can actually help you make sure you’re doing the rightthings and allow others to advance the cause.
In 2011, I was asked to build…a content marketing function for a major tech brand. I had the support of the senior leadership, but lots of resistance from my own colleagues and especially from the product teams. “How…