Chapter 14. Be a Public Failure

You are going to fail. Not completely, not all the time—but it will happen.

According to the Small Business Administration, 50 percent of small businesses fail within the first year and 95 percent of small businesses fail within five years.[71] And major organizations fail often on individual projects, major initiatives and big ideas. Countless nonprofit organizations fizzle after just a few years of operation, unable to raise funds to operate their programs. Sports teams languish in mediocrity for decades, sometimes even centuries. It happens, we can't avoid it.

But failure has changed. The visibility of failure in the new media environment is more common, because everything moves so quickly, changes constantly, and reaches so many people. More than ever, you are going to fail in full public view now, for everyone to see. Failures are broadcast around the world. Entire reality shows are written around the prospect that a contestant or character will fail. Failures are documented on the Internet and archived forever in blogs and on You Tube. The impact of failure, in many cases, is more dramatic as well, because the amplification of even the most minor of mistakes. Once you fail, everyone knows.

Failure sucks. We're not going to tell you otherwise. Losing is no fun. But failing is a part of being organic. It is part of establishing a real, trusting relationship with your audience—letting them know that you aren't, and don't claim to be, untouchable and ...

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