The powerful art of resilience

This is a guest post from Mitch Joel — President, Twist Image and author of “Six Pixels of Separation.” His new book “CTRL ALT Delete” was released in May 2013. See the original post this is adapted from and more like it on his blog.

Let’s start with a premise:

Whatever it is that you do, say, sell, produce, and/or put out into the world does what it says it will do and delivers on its promise. Nothing happens when you have a sub-par product or service. Once that premise is out of the way, how do you truly measure success? Many will say that it is about winning or losing. How many new clients you win or how many products you sell when compared to a competitor or how many more people follow you on Twitter or read your blog or whatever.

I disagree.

What most people don’t know about agency life is the complexity of the business. It is a hard… very, very hard business. The majority of marketing agencies spend their days and nights pitching their wares. It is both an inbound effort (creating a unique name in the space, attracting new clients by demonstrating thought leadership and strong results) and an outbound effort (proactively marketing the business, public relations, awaiting RFPs, etc.).

On top of that, relationships are critical. Knowing when certain pieces of business are going up for review, having friends in the right place who can bring you in and give you a shot, and many more factors. It is both complex and quite ambiguous. The best shops don’t always wind up working with the best brands, and since true metrics (that run across the board) have only become a reality in the past short while — thanks mostly to the digital channels — it still is a very subjective process. You will often hear both agency and brand people say this: “Agencies get the clients that they deserve.

It’s not about winning or losing.

That may shock a lot of people. The truth is that beyond the hallowed offices of the senior most executives in the agency, it is all about winning or losing. But, if you are the business owner, the entrepreneur, or the senior most person in the agency, you quickly learn that it is a game (and yes, business is a game) of resilience. All agencies pitch, pitch, and pitch all day. Some days, it works out and you win the client over, but for every win that an agency has, they have probably pitched and been rejected by ten other brands. One out of ten or one out of five is not a great record.

So, on those dark days when we lose a pitch (and it does happen), one of my business partners at Twist Image is quick to remind me that it’s not about winning or losing because our business is about moving forward. We just keep going at it. It is about resilience. The more resilient we are — knowing full well that we deliver on our promise — the more successful we will be. For over thirteen years, this train of thought has served us well at the agency, and it will serve you well: in your business and your life.

How resilient are you?

Some of my blog posts get traction. Others get digital tumbleweeds and virtual crickets. Some episodes of my podcast get tons of listeners while others fall flat. You know the drill. You may have started something: a YouTube channel, a Facebook page, a Pinterest board, or whatever only to find that no one cares and so you give it up.

Seth Godin talks a lot about giving up in his amazing business book, The Dip. It’s something we should all read and apply, but here’s the thing: most people give up right before things really start to pick up. They know that they’re delivering something of value, but because it doesn’t get the traction by some arbitrary and pre-determined moment in time, they give up. Sadly. Don’t be that person. Keep at it. Blog even when you think nobody cares. Get active on Twitter and push in different directions even if nobody is following you (yet).

On Business Insider, there was a story titled, “How This Young Entrepreneur Struck Gold After Failing 15 Times.” Read it and watch the accompanying video. What would his life have been like had he stopped after failing five times? Would anyone have scoffed at someone who gave up after trying five times? By the way, Corey Capasso is only 26.

Our world needs more people who have resilience and less people who are worried about counting the wins over the losses.


About Mitch Joel

Mitch Joel is President of Mirum — an award-winning Digital Marketing and Communications agency. He is also a blogger, podcaster, journalist, speaker, and the author of "Six Pixels of Separation" and "CTRL ALT Delete." Mitch is frequently called upon to be a subject matter expert for BusinessWeek, Fast Company, Marketing Magazine, Profit, Strategy, Money, The Globe & Mail, and many other media outlets.

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  1. Stickatitivity – a key part of the writer’s toolkit | all things keith brooke and infinity plus - July 23, 2013

    […] was struck by this today, when I came across a piece on resilience on the excellent marketing blog, Wordofmouth. Yes, it’s about marketing and business, but the […]

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