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Five Things I Learned My Second Year in Business (2023) Part 5

This article first appeared on LinkedIn in May 2023

Today marks the second anniversary of registering my business, McEwen Media Consulting, and the amazing journey that followed. This past year I’ve been able to focus on McEwen Media full-time. It’s moved from side hustle to real business, with a team and everything!

Perhaps the best gift I’ve given myself and my team is permission to fail.

I often talk about my pitch fail rate. If you calculate all of my pitch efforts (covering traditional media, brand partnerships, speaking engagements, and now show production) my fail rate is 90%. Easily, 90% of the emails I send never get returned. I’ve built a business on ghosting.

This means only 10% are “yes”. The 10% that does get accepted is pretty remarkable. It’s top-tier programs on national TV. It’s five-figure media tours. And we’re still building on that 10%.

I can brag about it now, but I put a lot of focus on that 90% for a long time. Unanswered pitches would leave me in agony. I would spiral with thoughts like:

"I’m never going to build my dream talent agency at this rate"

"My ideas are terrible, no one is going to pick them"

"I’m a fraud"

"I should just quit"

Whenever I thought about quitting, I could never quite muster the nerve to think of an alternative. The alternative was working for someone else again. I couldn’t go back after tasting the beautiful sweetness of being your own boss and setting your own agenda.

I couldn’t quit, but I couldn’t see myself spending the next 20, 30 years feeling like a failure.

So I made friends with it.

I’m a child of the 80’s, born into the video game era. Failure is misunderstood by people like me. In video games, if you fail at a game, you lose. The game is over. Or your avatar has to start at the beginning, or an earlier version of the game.

As an adult, I had this association with failure. I thought if something didn’t work out exactly as I planned, it was game over. I had to start at the beginning.

But life is not Super Mario Bros. If something doesn’t work out exactly as I plan, I still have other options.

Now I see life as a continuous timeline, guided by a GPS. When I have an idea or goal in mind, I input that into my GPS where I’m presented with many options: a scenic route, a toll route, a faster route. I pick one and set out on my journey.

If this route hits a roadblock, it’s merely a pause, not a reset. The GPS in your car or phone doesn’t clear the information. You don’t magically return to the beginning. Rather you recalibrate. Think of your goal, how you want the outcome to look like. Then look at your current circumstance. What can you do to move from that point to still reach your destination? Your goal?

Whenever something doesn’t work out as expected, I look at my alternate possibilities instead of declaring it a failure. What can I do to move forward from this point? When you approach your projects with this in mind, in time, you’ll realize you can’t fail. Ever.


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