You must fail in order to succeed

[NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 4500, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 360)]

I wanted to open with the photo of a young baseball player at bat.

A batting average of 300 or higher is considered to be excellent, and an average higher than .400 a nearly unachievable goal. The last Major League Baseball (MLB) player to do so, with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting championship, was Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox.

So in baseball you will strike out 7 out of 10 times at bat if you are really good. When you start out playing that number of times of failure is greater ~ you are learning.

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with failure.”

~ Abraham Lincoln

In just about every business model you must make some cold calls to get business. What this means is you are going to pitch your product or skills to people who do not know you.

This classic study from Kenan-Flagler Business School finds that “cold calling has only a 2.5% success rate.” This 2.5% success rate basically means that an experienced sales guy can make one appointment or other valid follow-up per working day.

Now when you start out in business you start with your network of people who already know you. Cold calling is made with a referral, the rate jumps up to 40%.

“Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”

~ Zig Ziglar

In a nutshell what I have learned through more than 20 years of running my own business is that too many quit just before their big break. If we know that in cold calling the percentage of success is around 2% and you have spent that last couple months contacting 98 different sources the numbers say that # 99 is most likely when the break happens.

Since I was in college I was always doing freelancing. Most of this was on the side until 2002 when I did this 100% of my income. Full-time freelancing.

2002 Slide Portfolio

Back in 2002 I was showing 35mm Slides and 6×7 Slides to get jobs.

1990 Slide Portfolio

Now when I lost my job due to layoffs in 1990 I was sending out slides as well to get jobs. I had around 200 identical sheets of 20 slides that I sent out all over the country with cover letters. Not one job came from all that work.

I decided to go back to school and work on my M.A. in Communications. I was able to find a few jobs working in portrait studio and then later to manager of a one-hour photo lab.

When I was finishing up my masters in 1993 I sent out another round of portfolios. This time I got my job at Georgia Tech.

I believe that from the time I lost my full-time job with The Commission Magazine in 1990 till 1993 I must have sent out [Cold Calling] on more than 500 jobs.

[NIKON D3, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Manual, ISO 500, 1/200, ƒ/7.1, (35mm = 65)]

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

~ Michael Jordan

Here is a great commencement speech made by Denzel Washington, which he said to “Fall Forward”

Today be like Thomas Edison and experiment. Try something and if it fails try something different.

Like Denzel pray daily for the strength to continue.

For any marketing campaign it can take three months to even begin seeing the results of those efforts. Until then, if anything, you may see a slight decrease as the changes take effect.

“If you don’t fail, you are not even trying.”

~ Denzel Washington