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Congratulations! You Are a Wonderful Failure.

I have a surprise for you today. My good friend, David Perdew, stopped by and shared a great guest post that I think you'll really enjoy.

Today, David wants to share a message about failure and, even moreso, about taking BIG risks.

He is currently doing a list-building challenge where he is trying to increase his mailing list by 1000% (Yes, that's one THOUSAND PERCENT!) in the next 30 days. You can watch along if you join his challenge and work alongside him. I encourage you to check it out.

-> Check out David's List Building Challenge  (The link will open in a new window so you won't lose this post. 🙂

All rightie. Without further delay, I hand over the stage to David.

Congratulations! You Are a Wonderful Failure?

by David Perdew

david_head-300x300x300I love a good baseball analogy.

Ty Cobb is the best hitter in baseball history – all of baseball history. He stopped playing in 1928.

His failure rate was 63.4 percent.

He got a base hit just 1 out 3 times he stepped up to bat in 11,434 at attempts in his professional career. Ty Cobb was a super star with a success record that has held for 85 years.

Ty Cobb never thought he would go to the plate a failure, for sure. Failure was not on his mind. But I bet he was all about learning the pitcher’s style, his good pitches and his weak pitches. I bet he knew what the pitcher was going to throw before the pitcher knew.

He learned through his failures.

So, why is it that most of us are allergic to failure and attach shame and guilt when something doesn’t work?

thomaswatsonThomas J. Watson, the founder of IBM, had the answer to that question when he was interviewed in the 50’s. At that time, IBM was the biggest company in the world.

He was asked what the secret to his success was.

“It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure.

You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it.

So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.”

That’s where you will find success…

If you want success, fail more.

Man, that goes against everything we’re taught most of our life. Failure is bad. Failure is frightening. Failure means you’re not a good person. And you certainly aren’t perfect if you fail.

Watson alluded to two kinds of failure:

  • Discouraging
  • Educational

We don’t need to talk much about discouraging failure. Most of us know it too well.

It’s a failure that devastates us because we’re personally attached to the outcome.

We were absolutely sure that this task, this product, this relationship, this job – THIS was the one that was going to give me everything I want in life. This was the one that was going to solve all my problems. It would make me whole.

And when you get as old as I am, you finally realize that’s it’s never just one thing, but everything that adds up to who you are. You are today the sum of all your thoughts, behaviors and activities.

Failures are stepping stones to the success you’ve achieved if you finally learn from them.

Many years ago, I was on the fast track to stardom in the journalism world. I was young and dumb. I thought I was all that as my daughter says… So, I took the first job that offered more money and a little more sweet talk.

And man, was that a mistake.

I’d traded my values and my commitment to another company that had none.

Within 5 years, I was out of the journalism business because I couldn’t live with the choice I’d made.

That “failure” set me back for a long time. It broke my confidence and embarrassed me when I talked to my friends who were still living the journalism dream.

My concept of failure changed as I realized that it’s only a failure if we hide from it, stuff it in a drawer and don’t examine it.

Which brings me to failure of the educational variety

I teach something called The 6 Steps to Implementing Big Ideas.

It’s not complicated. In fact, it’s so simple that many people miss its importance. The steps are:

1) Dream
2) Prototype
3) Test
4) Execute
5) Feedback
6) Improve


Steps 2 and 3 embrace failure. In fact, you’re looking for as much failure there as you can muster. If you’re going to fail, you want to do it here.

If you haven’t executed your idea yet, but you’re testing it thoroughly with a low-cost or free prototype , then you’re not losing much money.

When we tell people to do research to find a profitable market before building a niche product, we’re telling them to find the prototypical customer. Test that customer. When customers tell you that there’s a problem, listen. Now’s the time to make the changes before you execute it.

(Prototype is a fancy word for a book outline, a drawing, a PowerPoint presentation, a mindmap or any number of communication tools.)

An educational failure is a blessing because it leads to greater success much faster.

Want to know how to create a disastrous failure? It’s really easy and guaranteed to work every time.

Skip the prototyping and testing steps and jump from Dream to Execute. Your chances of success are slim to none then.

One of my friends spent $18,000 producing a $97 product. She sold 2 of those. That’s a failure.

But, it’s only a failure if she doesn’t learn from it.

Remember what Watson said: “You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it.”

I’m scaring a lot of people right now…

I’ve challenged people to think big and do things differently. I’m a big thinker. Always have been.

When I challenge people, I roll up my sleeves and get dirty too. We’re doing that now with my MyNAMS 30-Day List Building Challenge.

List building is an essential part of business. It’s about filling the prospect funnel. That’s why I’m challenging people to improve or finally create their lists. Without a list, they have no business.

I’m pushing people to take action and do things differently – and to test before spending a ton of money.

Everyone is setting goals. If they don’t have a goal, I’ll set one for them. If their goal isn’t to add at least 1,000 new subscribers in the 30 day challenge, then they aren’t pushing hard enough.

And that means they're afraid of failing!

My goal is ridiculous – insane some have said. I plan to increase my list size by 1000 percent – that’s adding about 50,000 new subscribers to one of the small lists I have.

If I get 10,000 new subscribers, is that a failure? I don’t think so. What’s really lying behind that goal is finding the 20 percent that works massively and discarding the other 80 percent that consumes my day.

I guarantee we’re going to fail a lot in this challenge. Some tactics won’t work at all. When one tactic turns out to be a waste of time, we’ll jump up and down and celebrate as we toss that tactic in the trash.

But when something works really well, let’s do as much of that as possible.

So stop thinking of failure as – well, failure. Think of it as the next step to success.

And remember, if you don’t try, you can’t fail. If you don’t fail, you don’t grow. If you don’t grow…what’s the point!


The MyNAMS 30-Day List Building Challenge is an ongoing challenge.

It’s happening live right now, but anyone can join at any time to start their own challenge. You’re invited to come in and succeed today.

David Perdew is the founder and CEO of the Novice to Advanced Marketing System and and produces two intense workshops each year in Atlanta, including NAMS10 coming up Aug. 9-11.

As part of the challenge, David is touring the blogosphere and posting marketing and list building insights on different blogs. You can find the complete schedule of all the blog posts – past and future – here.

Hey guys. It's me (Nicole) again.

I'd like to share a few other famous “failures” with you.

I've also shared this video before, but I love it so much I wanted to share it again.

I believe that failure is one of the keys to success. That’s why I ask every guest on my Online Business Success Podcast the question “Have you ever made a mistake in your business?” You  know they all say “YES!”

And, I’ve had busts. Big huge stinky disappointments, over the years I’ve been in business.

Failure is not an option. It’s a guarantee.

So, fail fast and fail often. It shows you’re in the game and you’re giving your best!

If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough!

Fail BIG so you can WIN big, too.

((hugs)) and high-fives! Now get back to work. :)

Nicole Dean

PS. Be sure to check out the links from David. I'll put them here again for your reference.

  • MyNAMS 30-Day List Building Challenge – Watch David grow his list and you can grow yours, too.
  • NAMS10 in Atlanta coming up Aug. 9-11 – I'll be there!
  • The 6 Steps to Implementing Big Ideas – Free Training

PS again – Here's that quote in pinnable format if you'd like to share it.


I appreciate shares and I adore comments! Please share your thoughts.

  • Bill Patterson

    I really enjoyed the blog post by David. I have only been a member of NAMS for a short time but in that time I have learned more than all the other groups I have worked with over the last two years. I am actively involved with the 30 Day Challenge and am blogging myself about it for the next 30 Days. You can find my posts at

    I firmly believe that all of us that are in the 30 Day Challenge will reach our goals and become better off in our lives because of the hard work and the relationships we will have built. As it has been said NO List NO Money. I will also be at the NAMS10 in August in Atlanta

  • Ruth

    So right that we are the sum of all our past actions and failures. Without everything we wouldn’t be who we are right now. And while it’s best to make failures in the testing stage, it’s still a valuable lesson even if you make them later on in the process. Just when I think I’ve got it right I mess up and fail again but I always learn something new.

    • Nicole

      Definitely, Ruth. I think it comes with growing up and learning that life truly is a journey not a destination. The journey has much to teach us. That’s for sure. 🙂

  • Tom

    Failure does not mean that we lack the ability to achieve our goals, all it is saying is we are not doing something right at this particular time. We should view our “failures” as opportunities to learn, grow and change.And the more we fail the closer we get to our successes.

    We only truly fail when we stop trying. It took Thomas Eddison more than one thousand failures so we can be enjoying the benefits of light bulb today.
    When asked asked about his failed attempts he said “I have not falied a thousand times. I have successfully discovered one thousand ways to not make a light bulb.”

    Now there’s a a good example of learning from our failures.

  • Chef Christy

    Thomas Edison flunked out of second grade and never looked back. I learned that factoid when I was in elementary school, and it has been a great comfort to me as I have marched to the beat of a different drummer all of my life.

  • Ti Roberts

    Excellent post, Nicole. I’ve been failing in IM and blogging for going on 8 years, with short bursts successes here and there. Even now that I’m beginning to experience more success than I’ve ever had before, I’m still leaving a trail of failures. Going through several failing experiences is the best teacher. You learn from your mistakes and become wiser overtime. In the end, it’s all worth it and you’re a better person and business owner because of it.

    Thanks for sharing your insights on this topic with us. This isn’t my first time stopping by your blog and reading your content but this is my first time commenting and I just want to say that you’ve some great info here. And the look and feel is awesome as well.

    Keep up the great work; I’ll definitely continue to read your up and coming.


  • Heather

    Great post! I especially love the part about jumping up and down and celebrating when a tactic fails because you can toss that in the rubbish. The learning part is the most important part, followed by the action you take to improve next time.

  • Jen Butler

    I am so thrilled, this post is amazing. Success is only something you can achieve through endless failures. We are never completely successful, it is life and we must continually learn from our mistakes, “failures, etc. It is about the lessons we take with us and grow. Great article and great resource!


  • Harry

    Show me an entrepreneur who hasn’t failed and I will show you who has done nothing in his life. Failure is an integral part of entrepreneurship success. Failure by itself is not bad, failing to learn from failure is bad. Here is my recommendation if you are going to fail – fail fast, fail small fail often. Make failure part of your company culture and you will eventually succeed.

  • Maketta

    That was a great article! Many people quit because of failure but like you said it is only a failure if you don’t learn from it. There are messages in mistakes that we make. It shows us how we can do it better. You fall you get back up and you do it all over again better than ever before. Thanks for sharing this very encouraging article with us!

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