The Failure Fad is Failing those who don’t have to Fail 


Are you bound to fail?

Probably not. However, current rhetoric would lead one to believe that slow train is coming. It’s just stopping at every station before it gets to yours.

Failure has become a more popular topic over the past few years than it ever has been. It’s got its own Twitter hashtag. It’s been the headline of numerous blogs. It lurks in every social media corner. In nearly every venue, somebody is offering advice about why failure can make you stronger and how to manage when it happens.

In fact, I recently saw a tweet that said, “If you haven’t failed at least 5x today, you haven’t tried enough new things.”

I would submit that one who fails five times each day probably wouldn’t pass a field sobriety test.

Let’s take a closer look at who’s chatting about failure. Many times it’s the once-relevant trying to remain relevant. Among those are the former stars of the American Speakers Bureau, those who we paid plenty to see and hear them preach from their own books about setting goals, getting motivated, and managing time. Now, there’s nothing new under the sun and they’ve run out of material, so it’s time to hop on the failure wagon train.

It’s gotten so out of hand, one might feel like a failure if he or she doesn’t fail.

All of us to some degree live lives of quiet intimidation—in the big things, and especially the little things. The prophets of disaster who would have us believe that failure is inevitable should be incarcerated. Or at least duct taped and locked in a closet in an abandoned asbestos-ridden office complex.

The late great Earl Nightingale often said, “You become what you think about.” Solomon, the son of David wrote, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” In the classic movie The Phantom Tollbooth, King Azaz the Unabridged said, “Words are very powerful things.”

If you believe and profess you must experience failure as a part of building and growing a business or a career, you are going to do things that will lead to losing. Everything we create begins with a thought, and failure is not exempt from that list.

I am not suggesting that one can think positively and parrot empty affirmations and avoid failure. I just truly believe that subscribing to today’s failure fad is setting oneself up for trouble. Moreover, he who teaches a child she must fail is twice a son of perdition than he who would cause his own demise.

There are two extreme sides of the failure spectrum. One of course says, “Failure is inevitable!” Another says, “Failure is impossible!” I think Huxley would tell us neither is right nor wrong. It depends on the person, really. Some people are actually lucky. Some learn from other’s mistakes. Some just work hard, do all the right things and succeed.

There was a time when business leaders, true entrepreneurs, and those with career goals shared a common enthusiasm. Those who were willing to dream heroic dreams and act upon them believed and professed that they would succeed often did.

When I was a little boy, we used to sing a song that said, “Be careful little eyes what you see…be careful little ears what you hear…”

It is possible to make a million mistakes and not fail. It’s possible to sail across the ocean, arrive weather torn, and yet reach your destination. Anything is possible, because all things are possible.

It is also possible to succeed without failing five times a day, or maybe even never. I encourage you not to subscribe to the lure of following a manufactured belief system that will do nothing more than short-circuit your dreams.

Keep your eyes, ears, and your mind on what wish to achieve, not what others think might happen.

And, as I tell my little girl when she’s scared by a midnight storm, “every little thing will be all right.”

This article was published by Ken Kilpatrick in the February edition of Lehigh Valley Business

Get on board for the Imminent Internet 3.0 Gold Rush

Bill Gates Internet 3.0

Twenty years ago this month, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates looked into the future and predicted how the Internet would function today — and most importantly what that would mean for small businesses.

In a paper entitled “Content is King,” Gates predicted much of the “real money” would be made on the Internet and no business would be too small to participate. How right he was!

Never in the history of the United States has there existed so much opportunity for anyone with a marketable business idea to become an entrepreneur as a result of technological advancements of the past two decades.

Compared to the technological advances of even just the past two years, 1996 looks like a modern-day stone age.

The crawling World Wide Web was just learning to walk. Landline phones, fax and courier services served as our main modes of communication. The Yellow Pages were used to seek services and the White Pages to find friends.

CompuServe and AOL were the big names in connecting people online through the lure of chat rooms. Websites were few, and less than 1 percent of the world was connected to the Internet through the painfully “fast” 56K-speed modem.

Today, email and cloud-based services such as Dropbox have taken a huge slice out of jockeying important documents. Used creatively, empowers a sales team of one to be as effective as a team of seasoned business developers.

Google has pretty much replaced phone books and has given us access to every research venue imaginable, enabling small and midsized businesses to acquire vast amounts of data that were once unaffordable.

Facebook has quieted chat rooms and message boards and has become an extremely powerful tool for retail and business-to-consumer companies.

Now, much of the world is connected to the Internet at lightning speed — all accessible from smartphones, which, by the way, replaced the highly innovative and panache flip-phone of the ’90s.

Apps downloaded to today’s smartphones can empower an entrepreneur to run a profitable business anywhere from a small apartment to a coffee shop to an office complex.

Overnight Success

Flash back to 1996, when the word “entrepreneur” was mentioned, great business leaders such as Gates, Ted Turner and Warren Buffet came to mind. Competing against corporate giants was typically not an option for small and midsized business.

That is no longer the case. Today, anyone with a Mac and something to sell can become a successful entrepreneur and create new jobs.

What a difference two decades can make. Or, these days, two years, two months and even two weeks.

Never before has there existed so vast an opportunity to become an overnight success.

Internet of Things (IoT)

So what does this small slice of history teach us?

Now, there’s a storm on the edge of the sky. It’s called the Internet of Things, or IoT. What we consider progress since the birth of the Internet will be miniscule in just four years as we celebrate the new decade.

Today, IoT is most evident on the consumer side, such as smart watches and other wearable devices.

However, great opportunity exists in the business community — just like the Internet “Gold Rush” of 20 years ago. IoT will enable businesses to automate in ways once unimaginable, reduce labor costs and compete globally like never before.

Most importantly, IoT will open a floodgate of possibilities for small and midsized businesses.

Seize the Opportunity

There is a huge advantage businesses now have that most did not in 1996: We know the Gold Rush is coming. In fact, it is here. Now is the time to seize the opportunity, because, on the flip side, never before has there been a time where so many can easily become “here today, gone later today.”

IoT will be both a blessing and a curse. Many will prosper, but seating is limited.

It will be a blessing to entrepreneurs who are now determining how IoT can benefit their business, developing a strong online marketing strategy in response to their findings, while fully establishing their online presence through consistently producing meaningful content.

Conversely, IoT will be a curse to those who will become obsolete by trying to get in too little, too late.

Ken Kilpatrick is president of Sylvia Marketing & Public Relations, a Philadelphia area-based agency specializing in getting clients in the news, or out of the news. He can be reached at 610-323-3500 or