Failure: The Key To Success?

Posted by on August 19, 2013

A Monday Morning Memo from The Wizard of Ads

If you don’t have a few failures, you’re not taking enough chances. Nobody can be right all the time, and the big companies didn’t become big by “playing it safe”. So goes the cover story in the May issue of Fortune magazine. Here’s a summary:

“Sergio Zyman was the marketing man behind the most disastrous product launch since the Edsel…New Coke.” Yet Zyman was recently re-hired by Coke and placed in charge of Global Marketing. Coca Cola CEO Roberto Goizueta explains, “We became uncompetitive by not being tolerant of mistakes. The moment you let avoiding failure become your motivator, you’re down the path of inactivity. You can only stumble if you’re moving.”

Babe Ruth was the league leader in strikeouts during his career. Walt Disney was fired from an early job with an advertising agency because of a “singular lack of drawing ability”. Henry Ford went bankrupt before he built the Model T.

The secret, it seems, is to have enough successes to outweigh your failures.

The great sales trainer, Kevin Moody points out that a major league batter who hits .333 will probably be the league batting champion, yet he “fails” 67% of the time! (Furthermore our .333 hitter only gets one additional hit every third game when compared to the more pedestrian batter hitting .250!) “The secret of greatness” says Moody, “is to do a little bit better, a little more consistently than you did yesterday. Winners make a small improvement each and every day.”

Take a chance this week. Change something that needs changing.

Roy H. Williams

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