Have you experienced a failure in your business (or your life)?

Would you like to discover how to turn failures into success and real growth?

For this episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast, I’ll explore why failure is important and the lessons I’ve learned from a major failure that happened to me this year.

More About This Show

The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from Social Media Examiner. It’s designed to help busy marketers and business owners discover what works with social media marketing.

You’ll discover the importance of failure in your work and your life, reasons you should embrace failure, and how the lessons and discoveries you make can help you succeed.

michael stelzner podcast on taking risks

Listen as Michael shares his thoughts on why taking risks and failing lead to success.

Share your feedback, read the show notes and get the links mentioned in this episode below.

Listen Now

You can also subscribe via iTunes, RSS, Stitcher, SoundCloud or Blackberry.

Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:

Embracing Failure

Why a show on failure?

As C.S. Lewis said, “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” As we fail, we are pointed in a direction. We learn a lot from failures because they can help us get better.


We learn a lot from failures because they can help us get better. Image source: Shutterstock

We focus so much on success stories and what works that we often overlook the unmentioned road of failure, challenges, errors and mistakes that inevitably led to every single one of those success stories.

In 2014, I had a really big failure. In fact, it was my biggest failure ever. Many people don’t know about it and this show is the first time I’ve spoken about it publicly. I would like to share what went wrong, the lessons I learned and the importance of failure to your business, marketing and life.

Listen to the show to hear why failure is so important to your business and life.

The importance of failure and reasons to embrace it

Henry Ford offers this great quote: “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” The path that we go down is meant to have challenges and mistakes. It’s what strengthens us and makes us better.

Here are three reasons you should embrace failure:

1. It’s part of the entrepreneur’s journey. Whether or not you consider yourself an entrepreneur or business owner, this lesson applies to everyone. Nearly every definition of “entrepreneur” focuses on the word risk. Risk is at the core of all business breakthroughs and success.

The definition of the word "entrepreneur" is the idea of risk.

Nearly every definition of “entrepreneur” focuses on the idea of risk. Image courtesy of

With risk comes failure. It’s inevitable and it’s okay.

2. Nothing ventured. Nothing gained. If you’re not willing to float a new idea for your company, experiment with your marketing or launch a new venture, the opportunity that sits in front of that idea will never manifest. It will never come true. You’ll never really grow.

Social Media Examiner is my third major business venture in the last 18 years. It followed a design agency and a white paper writing consultancy, both of which were very successful and have since shut down.

White Paper Source

WhitePaperSource was my second successful major business venture.

In 2009, I started the media company which you now know as Social Media Examiner.

Social Media Examiner’s official announcement of its launch back in 2009.

Social Media Examiner’s official announcement of its launch back in 2009.

Along the way, I tried and failed at a lot of things. You’ll hear four examples of my terrible failures, and why I didn’t let these failures stop me or get me down.

3. New discoveries are born in the ashes of failure. The most important reason to embrace failure is that it makes way for new opportunities to grow into awesome things. There’s no better time than right after you crash and burn to reflect on what you’ve done wrong and really learn from it.

I love this quote from Zig Ziglar: “It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.” You have to try, experiment, fail and do it over and over again.

In summary, failure is a necessary part of the process of making new discoveries.

Listen to the show to discover how two of America’s most famous businessmen never gave up on their discoveries and why their persistence paid off.

My story

In July 2013, I launched My Kids’ Adventures, a site designed to help busy working parents discover fun activities to do with their kids. In Social Media Marketing Podcast 49, I was interviewed by Cliff Ravenscraft on how I launched My Kids’ Adventures.

My Kids' Adventures launched in 2013.

My Kids’ Adventures was designed to help busy parents discover fun activities to do with their kids.

In 2014, I also launched a new show called the Parenting Adventures podcast. If you listen to Social Media Marketing Podcast 97 from June 2014, you’ll hear a clip from our first episode of the Parenting Adventures podcast at the end of the show.


We shared a clip with our Social Media Marketing podcast listeners.

By August 2014, I decided to shut everything down and to me it was a huge, embarrassing failure.

Listen to the show to discover how the concept for My Kids’ Adventures was developed. 

What we did

Before we started My Kids’ Adventures, we conducted extensive market research on the blogs, books and resources available to parents and saw an opportunity to deliver detailed, non-promotional, how-to, fun activities for kids.

The next step was to develop a beautiful design for the site, logo, branding and images around adventures and families. We came up with the slogan: “Your guide to adventure—anywhere.”

We hired a designer

We developed a beautiful site design and images around adventures and families.

My big dream for this project was to duplicate the success I’d experienced with Social Media Examiner and in the white paper space, and create a huge adventure-based platform in the parenting space. This would allow me to pursue one of my personal goals to write children’s novels, make movies and open regional adventure parks. I had a big, crazy dream to be the next Walt Disney.

It was after my keynote address at Social Media Marketing World 2013 that I decided to reveal publicly for the first time my idea for My Kids’ Adventures. The announcement was met with a great response from the crowd of 1,000 people.

This video was shown for the first time in front of 1,000 fellow marketers.

You’ll hear how many people were recruited on that day alone and why this launch was so massive.

The project grew so fast that a full team was hired to support our work. This very quickly became a $30,000 a month project. Our total investment in the My Kids’ Adventures project was over $300,000.

The next step was to launch the Parenting Adventures podcast. You’ll hear a clip of the podcast intro in the show, which you can tell was very high quality.

As of this podcast recording, My Kids’ Adventures has had more than 720,000 people visit this site and more than 1.1 million page views.

Listen to the show to learn why we shut down the site in spite of its continued success in page views and site visits months after it closed.

The big mistake

I had a plan for monetizing My Kids’ Adventures and it involved building a movement and momentum in the first year. A key part of our plan was to find a way to capture a regular audience to communicate with us.

Despite having so many people visit the site, one of the biggest and most important metrics to us was email growth. At the time of our launch, we’d already recruited more than 1,000 people for our email list through various little marketing campaigns.

You’ll find out why email growth was so critical to our success at this stage and why it was such a red flag when it didn’t happen. Even though we offered readers a 15-page ebook filled with cool tips and valuable content as an incentive to join, and conducted in-depth market research on our audience, we did not capture the email growth we wanted.

We generated a 15-page ebook

We created a 15-page ebook filled with cool tips and valuable content for parents.

I assumed we would monetize this website based on passive revenue from display advertising. After talking to my friend Holly Homer from the popular site Kids Activities Blog and attending BlogHer 2014, I realized there was no money in the model I’d envisioned for My Kids’ Adventures.

Listen to the show to learn why the site and podcast still exist today, but I decided to sunset the project.

Lessons and discoveries made along the way

Along the way I made a lot of discoveries, which included hiring a designer to create original images to be shared on social media and a legal team to create terms and conditions for the site, contracts for writers, etc.

We created

One lesson we learned was to create original images to be shared on social media.

There are many little things we never would have done if we hadn’t gone down the path of experimenting with My Kids’ Adventures.

1. Don’t assume that your business model works. I had this “If you build it, they will come” model in my head, which was super-dangerous. You can’t figure out the business model as you go. Never assume that the way you’re going to make money will work out.

2. Too much success can blind you. You shouldn’t be too sure of yourself. If you are, you can make really costly mistakes.

3. A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush! Going after a dream while already running a dream company was a recipe for disaster. I was distracted, stressed and not there for my kids, which was one of the major reasons I started this project in the first place.

To summarize my experience, you should embrace failure! It’s a natural and necessary part of the growth process.

Listen to the show to hear Dr. Henry Cloud’s analogy about the rose bush and how it relates to embracing failure.

Other Show Mentions

Today’s show is sponsored by Social Media Marketing World 2015.

We are super-excited about Social Media Marketing World 2015. It’s the world’s largest social media marketing conference. By attending, you’ll make connections with 100+ of the world’s top social media pros (plus 2,500 of your fellow marketers) and you’ll discover amazing ideas that’ll transform your social media marketing.

Hear testimonials from our 2014 conference speakers.

This is just a sample of industry experts talking about their experience at Social Media Marketing World 2015. Take your social media marketing to the next level and join us in warm, sunny San Diego, California on March 25, 26 and 27, 2015. We would love to meet you in person.

Hundreds of people have already secured their tickets. Click here to check out all of the speakers and the agenda, watch our video and grab your tickets today.

Listen to the show!

Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:

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Social Media Marketing Podcast w/ Michael StelznerWays to subscribe to the Social Media Marketing podcast:

What do you think? What have you learned from your own failures? Please leave your comments below.

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  • deb1221

    Mike, Thank you for sharing your personal business story. There are so many important messages–having personal dreams, knowing and being able to change directions and value what we’ve learned through the process. Regrettably embarrassment is one of the things many of us feel when we leave a profession or a direction we’ve carved out in our lives (I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve reinvented myself over the years)

    Steve Jobs message, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future” has always resonated with me.

    One of the most important messages in your article for me is “I was distracted, stressed and not there for my kids….” Being able to turn that around is key, it’s keeping the focus on the most important things in our lives.

    Best, Deb

  • deb1221

    Mike, Thank you for sharing your personal business story. There are so many important messages–having personal dreams, knowing and being able to change directions and value what we’ve learned through the process. Regrettably embarrassment is one of the things many of us feel when we leave a profession or a direction we’ve carved out in our lives (I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve reinvented myself over the years)

    Steve Jobs message, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future” has always resonated with me.

    One of the most important messages in your article for me is “I was distracted, stressed and not there for my kids….” Being able to turn that around is key, it’s keeping the focus on the most important things in our lives.

    Best, Deb

  • deb1221

    Mike, Thank you for sharing your personal business story. There are so many important messages–having personal dreams, knowing and being able to change directions and value what we’ve learned through the process. Regrettably embarrassment is one of the things many of us feel when we leave a profession or a direction we’ve carved out in our lives (I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve reinvented myself over the years)

    Steve Jobs message, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future” has always resonated with me.

    One of the most important messages in your article for me is “I was distracted, stressed and not there for my kids….” Being able to turn that around is key, it’s keeping the focus on the most important things in our lives.

    Best, Deb

  • deb1221

    Mike, Thank you for sharing your personal business story. There are so many important messages–having personal dreams, knowing and being able to change directions and value what we’ve learned through the process. Regrettably embarrassment is one of the things many of us feel when we leave a profession or a direction we’ve carved out in our lives (I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve reinvented myself over the years)

    Steve Jobs message, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future” has always resonated with me.

    One of the most important messages in your article for me is “I was distracted, stressed and not there for my kids….” Being able to turn that around is key, it’s keeping the focus on the most important things in our lives.

    Best, Deb

  • Thanks for your kind words Deb! I think that Steve Jobs quote is awesome by the way!

  • Justin Fuller

    Mike! Thank you so much for sharing your personal business story. I am so happy to see a change in articles, this one really hit home and was an inspiration. I love all of your articles, this one was different really enjoyed. Hope to see more like this in the future!

  • Expensive lesson to learn for sure! But I think handling it in this manner and speaking openly about it can be super helpful for others. For what it’s worth I read along with most of the articles and did a few of them with my kids, but I can see how the monetization of that type of business would be tough..

  • Thanks Justin. Be sure to listen to the audio

  • Thanks Scott. It was a risk to talk about failure but I did feel it could help others. Glad the site helped your family 🙂

  • Thanks Mike for sharing this, I look forward to listening to the podcast. I shared the My Kids Adventures website with some parenting groups in the UK when it launched, including one I worked for as a Social Media Manager, and was sorry to hear when you announced that it was closing down.

    I think Thomas Edison would have applauded you for openly discussing a business project that did not work out as intended, but one from which you have been able to draw other benefits and the chance to pass on learning to others. I know many people in employment who would like to become entrepreneurs but who stop themselves from becoming entrepreneurs because of the fear of failure. I am sure this article will help many in the future.

  • I don’t believe even Walt Disney could transform a expensive failure into a success but in some ways with this podcast you are doing just that. So you have some powers/choices that he did not. Takes humility to do, Michael, so kudos. Did you have anyone in your inner circle of folks raise any serious issues about doing this venture at the escalating level you were doing it? Any caution flags on the My Kids Adventures speedway? Were they not persuasive to you or did most around you give you multiple shades of green light?

  • Thanks so much for your kind words and for sharing the site back in the day. All my best

  • Hey Pat – No one gave me any red flags during the process. But after I shit it down some folks did come forward and tell me they were wondering if it would work. I did confide in a lot of trusted people and they all agreed I should shut it down

  • Curiouser and curiouser…a show in and of itself. really..and you don’t have to answer this (obviously!) but I’d want to know why these doubters did not voice them BEFORE the shutdown decision was made. Was the climate surrounding the decision to launch this so positive and white hot with energy and dreams that doubters were afraid to say anything or is this more a case of hindsight is 20/20?

  • That was an excellent business lesson. Thanks.

  • Thanks Jay

  • Monika

    Hi Michael, I listen to nearly all your podcasts. This one seems to me the most important one and just so timely at the end of the year when most folks review the year. I really appreciate your honesty and your courage. it might have been the easier path to just bury the project silently. But by talking about it publicly a lot of good might be born in the ashes of this project. This week’s show and how you present it contain so many valuable lessons. Besides all the entrepreneurial aspects there is also the lesson of personal integrity in dealing with this issue. My highest respect for that and a warm thank you.

  • Wow Mike! It takes a lot of courage to share a failure the way you have. You are such an inspiration. I love ‘failure’. It’s the only path to success. And the bigger success we want, the bigger the failure might be. Keep failing forward my friend! Keep inspiring!

  • Aw thanks so much Monika. It was my hope that it could help others and I do hope it does

  • Thanks bro!

  • Could be all true Pat. However I do feel I was supposed to go down the path I did and as I said in the show I’d do it all over again.

  • Mario Jannatpour

    Hi Mike! This is an amazing podcast episode. You are very brave to share your story of failure. I feel one of the problems with our society is that no one really shares their failures and how we can learn from them. Everything is always “Great” in the U.S. “Fantastic.”
    I am a longtime fan of your work from your book “Launch” to your podcast. I have learned a lot and been inspired by your example of how you present and carry yourself. The utmost professional.
    I will share a failure of mine a few years ago. I wrote a book and it’s selling well on Amazon. My idea was to create a DVD training series to complement the book and have them available on Amazon as well. I did 5 videos–went to a studio in Boulder–had the videos professionally filmed and edited–the videos came out really nice—I spent over $5,000 to produce them. That is a lot of money for me because I don’t have a big company and I am just a regular guy. Well, I got the DVD’s up on Amazon and I worked really hard promoting them and getting the word out. I spent a few hundred dollars sending out the DVD’s to people for free to spread the word. Well, nothing happened. Zero sales on Amazon. The big problem I didn’t realize is that there is no synergy on Amazon for books and DVD’s–no DVD recommendations from the same author of a book. I was completely heart broke because I thought I could really develop a nice monthly income from the DVD’s like I was getting from my book. But it didn’t happen. I pulled the DVD’s from Amazon and put all of the videos up on YouTube. I have gotten good traffic on some of the videos now on YouTube but it’s not what I dreamed of happening.
    Your story is very instructive and helpful. Thanks for going through the lessons you learned. I like that.
    My two cents of advice to you is don’t give up your dream of being a writer of children’s fiction. You can still write in your spare time. I think you have a lot to offer for our children and you should write the book(s) you always dreamed of writing.
    Have a great 2015!

  • Matthew D. Smith

    Mr. Stelzner,

    First off the fact that you attempted to create something from a true passion is nowhere near a failure. Perhaps it didn’t work out in the way you wanted, but I personally don’t see it as a failure. You gained too much from the experience for it to be a failure. Had you gained nothing, then it would have been.

    That being said, 2014 consisted of plenty of “failures” in my life as well. My business was the most successful it has ever been and soon came crashing back down and not much time after that I got a divorce. But all in all I gained from these massive blows. I met some incredible people, many of whom I met at Social Media Marketing World 2014 and The Podcast Movement, I started my move into personal development to help me get back up and keep going which lead me to begin to write my first book.

    Thank you for opening up to us and letting us into the SME world. I’m sure I speak for many when I say, you are a true inspiration to many of us as marketers and entrepreneurs.

  • Thanks for your kind words and for sharing your story Mario. I have been right there with you before. If it helps, this all good signs of forward progress or you. Those costly missteps can actually be very great lessons for your future as your progress in your business.

  • Thanks Matthew and it was great to get to know you better over the last year. I know that what you experienced in 2014 will only make you stronger. Here’s to your best year ever — 2015!

  • WesG

    I love C. S. Lewis and I honor your sharing your failures and how others can have a optimistic response and be resilient to failures that otherwise tend to make one depressed and even question oneself so much one attains paralysis, or Learned Helplessness. Martin Seligman has 25 years of the best scientific and real world examples on how one can unlearned what he coined, Learned Helplessness, and learn to be optimistic, and he proves his assertion that by far the greatest predictor of success is the level of ones optimism. There are those among us who what so ever happens they will remain optimistic and are immune to depression and learned helplessness. Even dogs in Seligman’s experiment show this characteristic. Other dog’s lie down and don’t even move to escape pain well withing their influence to escape after the have learned that nothing they try makes and difference in escaping pain. I highly recommend his book, “Learned Optimism, change your mind and your life” It has everything you need to measure, change, and optomize any adult or child’s optimism and fulfill ones greatest potential of success.

    I provide it to businesses that I provide loans to so that they not only finance their dreams they are optometrist to become successful. I am happy to freely consult with others who are interested. The book was a revelation to me and I am for every able to attain its abundance, it’s impossible to forget it’s message for me.
    Wes Graham

  • Thanks for your insight Wes

  • Clark Campbell

    Mike – thank you for sharing. While listening, I literally felt as if I was receiving a 45 minute mini-mentoring session…for free! “Thanks” is really not enough b/c the wisdom you shared is likely to stick with me as I grow as an entrepreneur – for better or for worse 🙂

  • Thanks so much Clark 🙂

  • Your honesty in this episode was really refreshing – thank you so much for sharing this!

  • Thanks Heidi

  • janetkennedy

    Hi Mike –
    Thanks for being straight up and honest about your experience with My Kids Adventures. As a small cog in the Online world it’s easy to get carried away by the hype and promotion of the dozen (yes, probably just a dozen) really successful companies touting the ease of their success. I think your concept was excellent and well-executed – we just don’t have a strong advertiser base that is comfortable with non-traditional ad spend and appreciate the power of unique or niche markets. It will come – let’s just say you were ahead of your time.

    Social Media Examiner is an amazing blog, podcast and resource. It is the number one site I recommends to my clients and colleagues for information on all things social. This is your legacy and one that you can and should be proud of.

    (If you want to build on your “Empire” consider creating regional one-day events around the country. I’d also be willing to have a paid membership if it got me access to live Q&A webinars or Google Hangouts with your team and Social Media Experts/collaborators.)

  • Hi Mike, I listen to tons of marketing / business podcasts and this was the best episode I’ve heard in quite awhile. It is refreshing to hear someone discuss a failure
    in such depth and the learnings that can be gleaned.

    This episode was particularly timely for me as I am going to be launching a course
    in the next few days that I’ve invested tons of time and effort into. I believe
    it will be successful, that I have done the right things to prepare and there
    will be a market for it. At the same time, psychologically I need to accept
    that it might not go according to my plan. It is encouraging to hear from
    someone like yourself that such projects don’t always work out like we hope and
    yet such efforts are not wasted.

    The fact that you can invest 300,000 K and fail at it, yet still have the means to
    retain the employees / contractors from the project demonstrates that you are
    in a blessed and fortunate position, and that you also take good care of your

    Thanks for sharing these lessons and looking forward to seeing everything that you will be doing at SME in the upcoming year.

  • Thanks Jane on many fronts. Appreciate your evangelism and ideas!

  • Thanks Kevin and I hope this provides a bit of help for that day when things do not go as planned. All my best in your new launch!

  • Glad you found value here Bob 🙂

  • Wow thanks Jason and glad to hear our work has helped you make a difference in the world.

  • Michael: That was a HUGE pill. There’s definitely something there, in the ashes, that will help to keep this passion of yours alive and well. Although this is only an assumption, I’m inclined to think that the data that you have collected can be re-purposed toward choosing an entire first series of children’s books to write. I’ll gladly proof-read book #1. Thanks for sharing your experience.


  • Carolyn Kurr

    In every failure, it is important to look at the deeper motivations behind your passion. A few years ago, I created a site selling tools to help people heal emotional issues. Lots of people visited, but no one bought my products.

    After I decided to quit banging my head against the wall, I looked at the deeper motivation for my desire to help people. I seem to have an “I will listen” look on my face, because even strangers tell me their deepest troubles. I think my tools were an attempt to close off that emotional repository. I didn’t want to know their troubles, especially when I couldn’t do anything to relieve the pain.

    My tools were also a sideways step in pursuing a writing career. Writing a novel is a complicated process. With my healing site I could write, but I didn’t really have to WRITE. It was a way to avoid my fears.

    My failure, although painful, has been an amazing learning process. I wouldn’t want to give back any of the wisdom I have gained, because it has been so valuable.

    Thank you for talking about the forbidden.

  • Thanks Anthony 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing Carolyn 🙂

  • Mike,

    Thank you for your transparency and digging so deep into a project that clearly meant so much to you.

    I remember the first time I heard the promotional audio you created for “My Kid’s Adventures” and how I literally had tears running down my face as I reflected on how I missed out on so much personal time with my children while I built my portrait photography business.

    Hearing that audio clip made me teary eyed again, but this time for the loss of your “baby” as you put MKA to rest.

    Thank you for sharing the many facets of what went into creating MKA and the fine details you shared about it’s end.



  • Michael, just listened to your podcast this morning on the way to work. Thanks for pulling the curtain back and sharing. So many times entrepreneurs just get the “success” stories and don’t listen to the wisdom contained in the failures of others. You sharing resonated in a BIG way with me. In June 2007, I was “bound and determined” to leave corporate and take a side business full time. I went through the motions of convincing myself and having others convince me I was thinking everything through and being practical about how I was proceeding. But I didn’t “really” have someone mentoring me who would slap me around with harder questions. I would still have been moving to go on my own, but I really needed a mentor who could help me navigate and keep me accountable. I left my corporate gig, cashed out a 401k, and started “living my dream.” Then in September 2008, my business died with the market crash. I was supplying marketing goods to businesses in travel destinations… and people stopped vacationing. I learned a hard lesson about cash flow with a very concentrated niche dependent on a very unstable economy. I’m a better entrepreneur for experiencing what I did, but it has taken 7 years to recover… Thanks for dropping some great wisdom!

  • Hey Michael, just reading through the comments… Read your second sentence again… 🙂 “shut” i think is what you intended. Although the other word plays nicely in context… lol

  • hahah! I thought for sure I had edited that (now I did)

  • Thanks Mark. My personal desire to make a difference with my own kids is not gone. All my best!

  • Hey Shane – So glad your valley brought you wisdom in the end that hopefully has resulted in something greater

  • YES! Out of the ashes! Looking forward to 2015! Happy New Year Michael!

  • I listened to your podcast this morning-very powerful. It’s inspiring to hear someone talk openly about their mistakes, especially someone who is an expert in their industry. Hey, you’re human, go figure! The “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” is a really great analogy and an important lesson for all of us to keep in mind as we pursue new ideas. When I worked in the news business, we would not have called this a “failure.” Rather it was an “error of enthusiasm!”

  • Michael – Just listened to this podcast. Wow – I commend you on being a big enough man to admit failure. Seems uncommon these days. I loved the quotations you brought in to clarify the process of learning from our mistakes. I know I certainly have. Hate to hear My Kid’s Adventures is gone but that too is an important lesson for us to hear. That sometimes even we are following our passion and know we have the talent to make it happen, a viable market just doesn’t exist.

    This is an important podcast. Thanks again for sharing so freely!

  • Thanks Anglea — I like your language 🙂

  • Glad you enjoyed it Dan 🙂

    Means a lot coming from you

  • Thank you for having the courage to put this episode together. I found it really useful and it’s made me reassess a few things in my business.

    This is definitely the best episode of the podcast for a long time.

  • Thanks so much Ben!

  • SO GOOD! In a sea of Ra Ra, look at my success, this was the #1 most refreshingly honest episode, for me this year. You asked for a failure story. One of mine was a conference I put together in 2000. Took over a ski resort, flew in speakers, got delegates, entertainment, catering, the whole schbang. In the end I think I paid $100+ for each delegate to be there!
    The next year, fueled by what-doesn’t-kill-you… notions I built a bigger team to launch year #2. Three months into the campaign I pulled the plug.
    I know now how easy it would have been to keep going out of pride. But I sucked it up and cut the rope.
    Since then, I have successfully built up that side of the business (training and events for speakers). It’s taken a lot longer than hoped, but I know the kick in the pants 13 years ago helpfully tempered my blind ambitions.
    Thanks for this Mike, it was a brilliant piece and great for end of year musing.

  • Thanks for your kind words Hugh and for your story. Indeed failure is not discussed by those of us who experienced it. I am really encouraged by the response from folks like you!

  • Jen Mulholland

    Brave to admit all you did in this podcast. I have been a listened from the beginning of your podcast on social Media Examiner, I have never commented until now.
    You have a very loyal following here and the roses will continue to bloom for you.

    I too did as you did ‘build it and they will come’ theory in 2012. My Fancy Shoe Land World would …. take over the world… ha, not so easy they do not come in droves but they do teach me some very wonderful lessons.
    I also had wonderful people say similar things… wow that sounds like the best idea…. little did I know how far behind Australia was in taking on the big world of the internet.

    Well done in being brave enough to cut off the thorny branch. I have removed some of my branches too. Who knows maybe my 2015 rose bush will bloom better.
    Again Thank you for your brave honesty.
    Good luck for your future.

  • Thanks Jen. I know how hard it is to be in your situation and trust you will make the right decision

  • Kristi Garrett

    OMG – Michael, Michael, Michael. Where to begin?
    Your insights and confessions are reassuring, yet pretty distressing. After the session about multi-author blogs at 2014 SMMW I had questions about whether I should know before I launch my platform exactly how I would monetize it. I’m not sure whether you consciously meant to imply that the method or the product would become apparent in time as I got to know my audience, but that’s the message I took away from that personal interaction. I should have known. That being said, of course I would never blame you or ascribe any responsiblity for my decisions to your advice. How can any of us know where our entrepreneurial path will take us?

    The good news is the fantastic opportunities that have opened up for me since then. At the conference I was a frustrated, underappreciated corporate employee with no clear career path. (At least they paid for the conference!)

    Today, my beautiful platform, Little Green Wheelbarrow, is growing and gaining audience. Most of my launch strategy came straight from SME. I’m excited to be able to learn and apply so many social media marketing techniques. I experiment and immediately implement strategies that would have bogged down and strangled in a corporate environment. Of course, SME is my marketing search engine of choice.

    I’m glad you refocused your energies and attention on SME and are seeing the benefits. Entrepreneurs are often plagued with “start-up” syndrome — we just LOVE to create new platforms. Sometimes the right decision is to cut anchor.

    Meanwhile, although I continue to search for the best products or partnerships for my platform, I’m loving the journey. May this be one failure closer to success!

    I wish I could be at SMMW this year, but unfortunately I have no budget for it. But I’m sending my very, very best vibes to you and yours.

  • Hey Kristi,

    Glad our site and events have benefited you and your path. And thanks for your comment. The big thing I have always focused on is knowing your audience before you create content. The thing I have not intimately focused on is how to translate that audience into something that funds your content creation. I could have figured out a way to make the other site work, but at a great sacrifice of time and money. In my case it was wiser to focus on my winning race horse. We always have to take risks as business owners. That is part of the fun! Yet with risk comes failure–often. Hope this helps.

  • KristiGarrett

    That’s good advice: Know your audience and serve their needs. The path should become clear from there. Thanks.

  • “Too much success can blind you.” I agree that this is a really important lesson. I respect your courage and honesty, Michael.

  • Michael, thank you for your honesty and your humilty. I loved this episode because I have had several business failures, and it reenforces to me that failure is just a part of the journey. I feel inspired and encouraged to move on, and see what successes are waiting to unfold in my future.

  • suzy

    Super compelling to listen to this episode, Michael. I believe that when you started Social Media Examiner you were doing something that nobody else was doing, in a new way. It was — and still is — incredibly valuable. My thoughts when I heard about MKA was that there are more creative things to do with your kids than there is time to do it! Now, if you had a website that could give people an extra three, four hours a day to spend with their kids — the 28-hour day — you’d have something very unusual, and valuable!

    The other thought I had when listening to your podcast: You started MKA as a way to write children’s novels. I am here to sheepishly suggest that maybe that’s just writer’s procrastination getting in the way. The way to write children’s novels is to write them! You probably have much more time now than you did when you were running two websites — so carve out the time to sit down at your desk and write. You’ll be good.