Fail Faster

ARCHIVED March 31, 2011

Lesson of the Day is:   Fail Faster

As human beings we can pretty much assume that we would all prefer to never fail at all. But the counterpoint is that, because we are human beings, we are destined to fail. The problem is that the fear of that failure and desire to be perfect, accepted or right,  strings out the process of failure sometimes in years!! We as entrepreneurs and human beings in general have the ability to pivot, course correct and learn. The faster you get to the failing part, the faster you reap the benefits of that failure and create a better future, whether for the world or simply for yourself.

If you are going to fail at something, it is never because YOU were wrong or that YOU have no talent for whatever it is you are doing. What failed is your strategy. The inherent worth in the person that is YOU, is not a failure by default. Your plan for getting to wherever you were trying to go…was not a good one. Now if you try and tell me that they way you were doing it is the ONLY way that exists on the planet…well then I’ll tell you that you are crazy.

For example, working on a project for 6 months in order to get it right and perfect, only to realize that nobody wants it and the concept is a complete bust. When in reality…you could have figured this out in about 6 hours. You could have saved SOOO much time, and by the end of the original 6 months you will have gone on to build 2 other products. I guess you could say that the faster you fail, the faster you’ll succeed. All of that time you spend putting off the possible failure is just TIME WASTED.  Days and months thrown away that you can never get back.

Failure is not the end of the world and if you never fail at anything in your life, I guarantee that you will never learn anything either. If taking the easy road is where you are comfortable and yearn to stay, than ignore everything I say. Failure is a terrifying, albeit freeing concept.

So in everything you do, find the failure faster. If you’re going to fail, you are going to fail and prolonging the process only hurts you. The shorter the process, the more time you have to correct what you probably did wrong the first time and actually gain the knowledge inherent in that at an accelerated rate. It is like getting three years  worth of a master’s degree in one…wouldn’t that be preferable? You only have to give up one year of your life, instead of three? Think what you could DO in those TWO extra years!?! THAT WOULD ROCK. And given those circumstance, I might actually go!

Good judgment comes from experience, but experience comes from bad judgment.

Now let’s go change the world….shall we?

MJZ

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Equal Opportunity Excitement = Success

ARCHIVED March 25, 2011

The past two evenings were pretty exciting. In the very academicy – businessy kind of way! But also in the super rewarding and personally educational way as well. Theater Connects went on the road to Columbia University and New York University, back to back.

Last night Theater Connects was an invited employer to the Columbia University Media Networking Night. Other than the fact that my name was spelled incorrectly on my name tag, which was partially my own darn fault, it was pretty good! A little bit insane, as we (companies) were separated by colors and tables with large banner signs were placed throughout the large hall of Low Library. I was in the Online and New Media group, also the Entertainment Group. I’d say for the first 30 minutes, employers were talking amongst themselves…because we couldn’t really see any students (people without nametags) anywhere….but lo and behold within the next half hour, movement was barely possible!! The students had these nice little guidebooks to tell them what companies were supposed to be in which sections, so they would come and find you.

Unfortunately, I did not have a whole lot to offer most of the students who came my way….apparently everyone is a writer nowadays. They all asked me about writing for Theater Connects….but I had to tell them that pretty much everything on the site is user generated content. However, I met two great videographers who I may use in the very near future and 2-3 students who actually fit my intern profile. By the way, my intern profile is simply this: Excited, Intelligent, Awesome. If you fit those categories, I could probably use you. If you are excited about the start-up environment and about Theater Connects…how could I not?? Some days….it feels like those are the only two skills that I personally possess!! It’s a roller coaster of a business and as fellow female founder recently told me: “Everyday you pretty much realize how stupid you are.” God I love this business!! Figuring out how stupid you are gives you an open opportunity to learn.

Which is a nice segway into this evening which was entirely different, as I sat on a panel with 5 other professionals in the Cultural and Performing Arts at NYU. This time there was a big long table separating us from the students and grads, there were microphones and name placards like you are sitting in congress. The students sat at tables…which was nice as they were serving food and it is always awkward to try and eat in your lap. Everyone did an intro and I had to come right after the guy with the PowerPoint and the girl with the puppet. Not kidding. Therefore I prefaced my 7 minutes to speak with the fact that I was definitely going to be dull in comparison!! I gave a bit of advice on ‘Not waiting to be chosen, but choosing yourself”, how to overcome your internal fear that is holding you back and ‘if you’re not being rejected on a daily basis, you’re goals aren’t ambitious enough.’ But…..segway to the audience question period  and I was thrilled when someone actually directed a question at me! It was like ‘what, who?’ ‘really?’—my experience of the night was again with writers…but this time it was the kind of writer I understood and actually stood a chance at helping in anyway: The Playwright.

What was amazing to me at the end when speaking with another playwright, who was asking my advice on what to do after graduation and how to ‘get her career in gear’ (as the seminar was called). And I honestly had to sit there and say “you know what? It kind of sucks.” There is really nothing full-proof or proven to tell a playwright to go do to get their work noticed…I mean there are a few…but even then the numbers aren’t very good.

So with the students, it totally came around to Theater Connects…the reason I started the project in the first place. To give these new grads and talented artists ACTUAL ANSWERS.  TO GIVE THEM A RESOURCE, A PATH, A PLACE TO ‘POUND PAVEMENT’ AND MAKE THEIR OWN RESULTS.  The best piece of advice I gave her was to go out and find a director who loves your work. Yes, a producer will be the one to book a venue and get you a team and a production, but a director can help you work on the script. A playwright and director can easily put up a reading together. So 1) don’t jump ahead of yourself. really work on your script until you can actually be confident it is ready for performance and 2) the director will be just as excited as you!! they will be thrilled to have found a playwright whose work they love!! It is equal opportunity jazzed. A shared passion and excitement could really take you both places.

How can she find said director? No actual answer there. But before next year, I will be able to tell her exactly how to find the director, how to submit her work and even what kind of director she should be seeking. I could give out strategy and resources and educational options.

THAT IS WHAT THEATER CONNECTS IS ALL ABOUT.

Give the next generation some REAL answers about why and how to make it in the theater world. A place to go, a resource to use and people to learn from!

I’M JAZZED. LET’S DO THIS.

MJZ

The Fear and The Lesson

ARCHIVED March 20, 2011

I love the fact that currently my work doesn’t feel like work! I would just like to say, that going after something you believe in, with everything you’ve got is kind of the best thing ever. No fears, no doubts, no hesitations. Now the previous sentence is far from easy; it takes a lot of work. We are all human and the fear/doubt/hesitation thing is almost what we are brought up to do. But every now and then, a little bit of blind faith never hurt anybody.

I read a lot and I talk to people a lot; so I often can’t remember where I read and/or heard a certain thing that stuck with me. So, I can’t site this…but I remember being asked to make a list of things that I would do if I could not fail. Kind of like that magical potion from HP 6. It turns out to be a really interesting list — what would you do if it was impossible for you to fail? Well, I made this list a few months ago…and found it in one of my notebooks yesterday. Turns out, I’ve actually already gone after at least half of them. A life without fear, or the courage and judgment that something else is more important than fear, is what will set you free. It has probably been over a year since I accepted this to be true…but it has taken this long to find a way to put it into practice. I’d say it has taken a lot of trust in myself, living by ‘you don’t get anything that you don’t ask for’ and acceptance of possibility of failure. And that failure is SO NOT the end of the world. (I totally used to believe that it was).

No one is truly fearless. But the cliche of ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ can actually become a lifestyle, if you work hard enough. Also remembering that nobody is perfect and you will always have days or situations that freak you out enough to hold you back. I think that’s totally okay, as long as you recognize that in that moment, the fear took over, and you’ll do better next time. That is all anybody can ever hope to do…learn.

MJZ