May You Have the Opportunity to Fail

Photo by Josh Marshall Courtesy of Unsplash

Launching Thinking Good, nearly a year and a half ago, has been an exhilarating and at times frustrating rollercoaster ride. I’ve experienced the incumbent fast starts, abrupt stops and twists and turns of entrepreneurship. I’ve grappled with the challenges of what I dub #SmlBizLyf: balancing work and family (especially difficult when you work where you live); pushing back on “honey-dos” imposed on my flexible schedule; and the social isolation of not having a work buddy to chat with over a much-needed coffee break.

I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. Not everything has turned out as I would like, but fortunately most of my missteps have been instructive and none fatal.

On the Suite Talk podcast, I often ask guests what’s one lesson they’re glad to have learned early in life. The responses are drawn equally from positive and negative experiences and result in strengthened fortitude, resilience, discernment, patience, a better understanding of limitations or willingness to seek advice. For me, I’m glad to have learned the importance—reoccurrence—of failure.

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How to Kill the Interview Process

“Be the sharpest dressed candidate in the history of the company’s interview process!” Photo by Clem OnojeghouCourtesy of Unsplah

I would definitely encourage you not to follow the advice I was given as a young professional, “Fake it ’til you make it!”

When I was venturing off into the professional world 15 years ago, folks older than me were giving that advice out like affluent neighborhoods give out the high quality candy like Snicker bars, bags of Skittles and Peanut M&Ms on Halloween.  And I’m not talking about the fun size versions either.  At every turn I heard, “Fake ’til you make it!”

And apparently I wasn’t the only one.  That is evident by the number of articles written about coaches and business executives falsifying information on their resumes. (Google it!)

Let me provide two valuable pieces of information as it relates to being prepared for your first job interview.  Follow my advice and you will be guaranteed to make a splash and be talked about for years to come.

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A Leadership Mantra For Modern Times: “I Failed!”

“The trick is to get back on the horse (or motorcycle) and try again. And again, and again.” Photo by Abigail KeenanCourtesy of Unsplash

Somewhere around third or fourth session of the beginner’s improv class I teach at The Unified Scene Theater, a brick-and-mortar improv space located in the Bloomingdale Neighborhood of Washington, DC, I make the entire class stand up, raise their hands, and yell, as loud as they can “I FAILED! I FAILED AT IMPROV! I FAILED AT MAKING CRAP UP! HOORAY!”

Because, I tell them, they will. Failure is built into this medium. Not everything is perfect the first time out. Even seasoned veterans have bad shows. The now syndicated show “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?” airs for 22 minutes. But how long did it take to record the shows for the producer and directors to cherry-pick those segments? Hours. Why? Because not everything works. People who have shared the stage for decades sometimes have miscues, moments that don’t always result in brilliance and magic. It’s the nature of the beast. The trick is to get back on the horse and try again. And again, and again.

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Respect the Green Room: What the Stand-Up Circuit Teaches About Life

Comedian Mike Goodwin – Photo Courtesy of Mike Goodwin

You can make a few determinations about a comedy club by simply seeing the Green Room. It’s simple to evaluate things like: Is there an outlet to charge my phone? Does the TV work? Does the cable on the TV work? Is there an iron and ironing board?  Or what’s that smell?  Oh, it’s the baby! Ummm…Why is there a baby in the Green Room? This is probably not a great club.

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