Let’s face it, failure in our work and careers is often a taboo topic. But it shouldn’t be according to three young marketers, who were recently recognized on Marketing Magazine’s 30 Under 30 list for 2016.
YouInc recently caught up with three women from Toronto at the helm of developing businesses and building relationships with customers. They share how recent failures turned into valuable lessons, and what advice they have for anyone who is afraid of taking risks in their work and careers.
Rashel Hariri, Digital Social Media Manager, McDonald’s Canada
I don’t believe in failure. A ‘success or fail’ mindset has a negative impact on personal growth and development. I prefer to reflect on my experiences and think of them as learnings instead. I hold a high standard for the work I do, so if a project didn’t perform as expected I take time to review what worked, what didn’t, and how I can do better next time. Maintaining a positive attitude will allow you to think clearly in situations when things aren’t going according to plan.
Stay focused on a few key projects and hire help or extend your team when it makes sense. For many years my sister and I ran a website called ListenMR.com, a site that showcases interviews with inspiring women. After years of on-and-off creating for ListenMR.com, my sister and I decided to stop producing for our site. It was very hard to walk away from that project. We had amassed a good following and conducted many wonderful interviews, but we weren’t able to dedicate the time required to continue growing the website’s following and content. Consistency is key when running a content based website, and unfortunately we weren’t able to keep up with the demand. I learned that trying to do too much at once will often result in one thing slipping through the cracks.
Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things. It takes grit to try something new and learn from it. It also requires you to believe in your idea and to sell it through internally. When I launched the #NationalFrenchFryDay program for McDonald’s Canada this past summer, I took risks by creating a program plan that was out-of-the-box and different from anything we’ve done before. I had a simple yet innovative idea to run a livestream of our fryer station during peak lunch hours and to promote it on Periscope and Facebook Live. I sold the idea internally and the payoff was large. The live streams received 150,000 views in just 1.5 hours, and left consumers asking for more. I also think it’s important to prepare for the worst and to have a backup plan prepared in case you need it – it will give you the confidence to push forward and take risks.
Fatima Zaidi, Director of Business Development, Rent Frock Repeat
The best learning is done at the edge of discomfort and my failures have always lit a fire inside of me to come back and prove my worth. I learned an important lesson: to always test in a few locations before rolling out full scale. I recently launched a strategy for tapping into a different vertical for our market. Rather than testing the market by trialing in a few stores, I did a full scale launch. It turns out there was a smaller market for our product in that particular vertical than I had anticipated, and I ended up wasting resources as well as time, the most valuable asset for any startup. One positive thing that came out of my experience was a number of large scale partnerships that I wouldn’t have landed had I not tried. There will always be failures and a thousand no’s before an opportunity translates into success and a yes.
Remember: every failure has a silver lining. It’s what you make of it. When you fall short, try your best to reflect and figure out what happened. Was it something that could have been prevented? Was it because of a lack of knowledge or experience? If so, what can be done to ensure it doesn’t happen again? Maybe it’s a matter of digging deeper – doing some extensive research and putting together a project plan, or maybe you need to surround yourself with people who know what you don’t.
I also have a rule: Always fall up. Build your toolkit, and be open to the next challenge. The most important thing to take away is that you need to be able to bounce back and start at it again full force. My biggest fear is missing out on an opportunity to shine, and if you don’t take risks you’re denying yourself the privilege of a big reward and return. Fear of failure is fear of success.
Dani Roche, Director and Owner, Kastor and Pollux
I am often so excited by the prospect of trying new things and pushing my boundaries that I forget to do my due diligence. Earlier this year, a now defunct bar at Yonge and Dundas swindled me out of a project payment on the basis of "not liking the work."The prospect of creative collaboration, especially for a startup, sounded so appealing to me because I felt like I could be at the helm of something really great. However, not having proper documentation and a clear scope of work in place meant that communication was muddy, and as a result, payments were never received. It taught me how to protect myself and really understand the value of my work. As a designer and a marketer, it's easy to want to do it all. At the end of the day, my services and my business need to be protected.
Try everything at least once, and though it may be hard, don't be ashamed or embarrassed of your past. Everyone has shaky starts and humble beginnings. My marketing journey was a lot of trial and error, and a lot of Googling. I got my foundation through on-the-ground experience; years of identifying as an "influencer" meant I have an email inbox of archived messages in which I was being "marketed to.” I also have years of experience understanding the industry from the receiving end of pitches. I began to understand how to be critical and strategic. Now, I am the one making the pitches.
True growth and true championing of your field can only come through exploration. I may not be a marketer by given trade, but without my past experiences and past investigations, I don't think I would be where I am now.