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There Are Two Stages

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Early on, all your failures will be forgotten. Your wins will not.

In the beginning, small errors will always trump no errors. Since mistakes vanish quickly from everyone’s mind, but breakout successes stay, it seems sound that experiments should always be tried out. When we fail, no biggie, but when we win, it’s remembered. Easy decision.

If I were to engineer an environment in which to have a career, then, it would include anonymity in case of failure, but the ability to out oneself as the creator should an idea take off. This would be a kind of 4chan with the ability to associate yourself with a Facebook/Twitter account afterwards should I want to. This would be the best kind of web, and I hope that’s what it becomes.

Anyway, the best people play in two fields: small underground places where they have shelter from humiliation, and bright places where they can shine when necessary– but that’s not always how things happen.

A band that’s “sold out” due to its popularity (or connection to the zeitgeist) loses the very thing that made them work in the first place– their ability to fail small instead of fail huge. The amplification of that failure throughout all of culture (made worse by social networks, actually) helps push them back down towards obscurity, making them a sort of temporary has-been, before they can rise from their own ashes.

This rise and fall is then cyclical. It is the nature of “packaged media” (TV or blog post) vs linear/continuous media (the news). You aren’t actually as good as your last album. You’re as good as your last remembered album. The difference is significant.

If you are a part of this landscape, either your successes are dragged back down to obscurity, or your failures are put in the spotlight. There is no other option.

Or maybe there is?

* Filed by Julien at 8:30 am under systems


Hi, I’m Julien Smith. I'm the founder and CEO of Breather.

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4 Responses to “There Are Two Stages”

  1. Ron De Giusti Says:

    Great blog-post!

    I hate responding to post if I am not helping to move the conversation, but I had to respond to this post just to say “thanks!”

    It’s been a while since I’ve had a post made me think and think like this one did.

  2. Tommy Walker Says:

    I was going to say that when you’re so big your failures are highlighted and your successes stay hidden, it might be time to find a new crowd.

    But it’s not always that easy. When you’re huge, there is no escape from the spotlight.

    I think this is where the whole conversation about being transparent comes into play. It’s not just a matter of admitting the failure, it’s acknowledging it for what it was and how you plan on making it better, and experiencing and showing noticeable growth.

    “Yes, I effed up. Yes, that last thing sucked. Yes, I learned from it. No I’m not making excuses. This is the next thing, and it’s a million times better.”

    At a certain point, it’s time to stop phoning it in and rekindle the same passion that you had for what you were doing in Phase 1. Because let’s face it, no matter what level you’re at, there’s always some level of phoning it in.

  3. Debbi Morello Says:

    Julien,

    This was a wonderful post, but all of your posts are very thoughtful,provocative and digs deeper.

    I just posted to Twitter and said, after meeing you it’s even more wonderful reading these. I often wondered the man behind the words.

    I have to ask, up to you if you want to share this with me, what prompted you to write this one… you were clearly had motive, theme, a particular event or like me, the cumulative result of existing, watching this landscape more and more each day.

  4. Derek Says:

    Very insightful.

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