I was reading an interview with a newly appointed ad agency CEO in a business newspaper, and was honestly excited about the changes he would bring to the company as well as its impact on the local creative economy. It was a short interview, and unfortunately the interviewer started playing “mind association”. For one of the questions, the interviewer asked, “What is your greatest fear?” He responded, “Failure”.
The answer sucker punched any hope I had.
I was stunned. What kind of pressure is the parent company (Cough!Havas!Cough!) putting on this guy? What kind of culture shapes such a response? Clearly he was hired to make big improvements; there’s a stated goal of doubling business in five years’ time. He’s not going to accomplish this following the same trajectory of his predecessors. He will need to take the company in a bold, new direction, but apparently he’s expected to do so by playing it safe!
Contrast that with a blog post by a rival agency’s Chief Creative Officer, Mullen’s Edward Boches. In The fastest way to success might be to fail first, he mentions how refreshing it was to have a conversation with a company president who was transparent about the mistakes his company made.
“Yet each anecdote about what didn’t work was immediately followed with, ‘But here’s what we learned.”
We live in an age where there is so much pressure to succeed. Every proposal and idea gets scrutinized, analyzed, and too often paralyzed. But there’s a real value in trying things, in experimenting, in taking a calculated chance.
At Creative Reaction, we are not fans of “mistake avoidance”. We are fans of “mistake recovery”. Success requires taking risks. Rather than having a culture that avoids mistakes using the blunt mallet of bureaucracy, mistake recovery values a culture where mistakes can be made, then quickly corrected.
Nobody has all the answers. Even the most well-thought-out plans fail. Mistakes will be made. Just be sure to learn from them and let them vault you to success.
(Click to search for “failure” or “mistake” to see related posts.)