There are a couple of ways of dealing with failure in a leadership position: 1) Hide it, pretend it never happened or no longer exists; 2) Pass the buck and see who else can be blamed for it; 3) Begrudgingly take responsibility or 4) Wholeheartedly own it. Having recently read a great blog by Mike Foster (People of the Second Chance) on the virtues of failure, I choose to own it.
As many of you know I recently went on a marketing blitz when I found out yesterday about a contest to win $1000 in seed money thanks to Casey Graham and The Change Group. Needless to say, being completely self-funded and struggling with the runway phase of our startup the $1000 would be a huge boon to The Right Now! Vision. All the contest required was to fill out the entry and submit a compelling short story about our plant. I felt like I had that part covered even being able to explain why even though The RNV wasn’t a church in the technical sense, it should still be considered, done.
Of course, I didn’t leave well enough alone. I chose to try to make some buzz about it and encourage the supporters of The RNV to tweet, share and or leave comments on the website in support of The RNV being chosen. So I employed my full toolbox of social media tricks having less than 24 hours to get some momentum. Direct Facebook Messages, Group Page update and member messages, Fan Page update, personal page update, chats, text messages, tweets, emails, Tweetdeck scheduled tweets, phone calls, and a centralized blog post with clearly laid out instructions on what to do to help. The results? ONE, re-tweet, one. Since we’ve not been notified as of this posting that we’ve won, we’re assuming we failed, or did we? I’m no social media maven or marketing guru but I know the contest support campaign was not an overwhelming success. Even if we win the $1000, the campaign itself was a failure. Does this mean that all the people who were contacted that are already supporters don’t really care or that my friends and family actually dislike me enough to not support something really meaningful? Not in the least.
It does mean that I need to reconsider blitz campaigns and their effectiveness and get feedback from the people who were contacted i.e., opportunity for market research and more importantly, building a personal connection with our followers, which in the long run is far more important and valuable than $1000. But what else is important about this? Remember the one person who re-tweeted our message? Without naming names, I’ve known this person for some time. Their view of religion is self-described as “being somewhere between agnostic and ho-hum.” Their first thought when finding out about my involvement with The RNV was wondering if I had drunk the proverbial Kool Aid. This person is also someone who doesn’t blindly buy into things and is quite discerning. Yet, something about the authenticity and genuine desire of The RNV to reach out to teens, touched this ho-hum person enough to send a re-tweet. One of the principles of The RNV is to remember the value of ONE. If we make a difference in ONE teen’s life, sharing God’s love for them, than our whole mission has been a success. Thank you “ho-hum” for reminding us on the value of ONE.
The other interesting thing that makes this a successful failure? I was planning to write Part 4 of my review of Delivering Happiness (online and the book) focusing on Core Value 4 – Be Adventurous, Creative and Open-Minded. The example I was going to cite comes from Page 137:
“We spent the next several years focusing on improving the customer experience, strengthening our culture, and investing in our employees’ personal and professional development.
Looking back, a big reason we hit our goal early was that we decided to invest our time, money and resources into three key areas: customer service (which would build our brand and drive word of mouth), culture (which would lead to the formation of our core values), and employee training and development (which would eventually lead to the creation of our Pipeline Team.”
I think that this wonderfully successful failure, just wrote the application of that Core Value for me. The campaign was adventurous (the first time I had really attempted it besides the occasional blog notice) the application was creative and I commit to being open-minded about this failure and the lessons it has to offer.
How do you see this failure? What should I have seen? Would you like to join our volunteer marketing team, because we need you!