It won’t be, of course, and like the true entrepreneur that you are, you’ll pick yourself up and start all over again. But before you do, the most important thing is to analyse what went wrong in order to avoid it happening again.
Learning from past mistakes will definitely make you better at what you do in the future. As a rookie journalist many years ago, I can recall a few foul ups that taught me some valuable lessons and made me better at my job.
What I meant to say...
The first magazine feature I ever wrote was for a women’s tabloid magazine; a piece to mark a key anniversary of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. I’d visited a training centre, interviewed the trainers and some of those who were waiting to get their new dogs, and the story appeared several weeks later. On a return visit to the training centre shortly afterwards on I ran into one of my interviewees and his guide dog. I asked him if he’d seen the story. Tactfully, he asked if there was a Braille version.
Lesson: Think before you speak
Lost in transcription
One of my most exciting assignments came in 2003 when I flew to Basel in Switzerland to interview the late Dr Ernst Schneider, chairman of Oettinger Davidoff for a business magazine. I had a wonderful day, touring the famous Davidoff cigar factory, learning about the various cigars within the line; Numbers 1, 2, 3, etc, and smoking a Davidoff cigar with the man himself. A Laguito No. 2, a panatela, was Schneider’s own personal preference and he admitted that he wouldn’t contemplate starting work until he’d had one. It was a sharp-eyed sub editor working on my story who pointed out that the phrase “he liked a number two before he started work” didn’t have quite the same ring.
Lesson: Think before you write
Never Trust A Spellchecker
Like most journalists I started out writing for a local newspaper, and one of my jobs involved reporting on local council meetings. One particular write up that I recall had been hit by various delays and the print deadline was looming. The story included quotes from two of the town’s most respected councillors. I remember them well, Dan Ashcroft and Brian Iddon. With the editor yelling for copy, the pressure was on, but I finished it, spellchecked it, and gave the Ed a confident; “Good to go”, as he hit the Send button and the page went to press. When it appeared the next day, what everyone wanted to know was who were Don Asteroid and Brain Iodine?
Lesson: Think before you go to print
Everything on the line
A few years ago I ghost wrote the autobiography of a famous wrestler. He came from a poor background and tough upbringing to reach the top of his profession, become a millionaire, and then lose the lot, mainly to drink and drugs. The story was gritty and shocking, and publishers were showing an interest in this ‘warts and all’ account of life in and out of the ring.
One American publisher was particularly keen and arranged a trans Atlantic conference call to discuss the details. Although eloquence wasn’t his strong point, I thought having the wrestler there would help to swing the deal. He agreed, but only to listening in to the speakerphone because he “didn’t want to say anything that might mess things up”. So he sat and listened to the VP of the publishing firm spend 20 minutes outlining their proposal. Everything seemed to be going well, when the three other executives who were also dialled in, all began speaking at once. Utterly confused, the wrestler looked up and said, loudly, into the speakerphone, “Who the ****’s this?” A stunned silence from New York, and from me: “That was our publisher”; ‘was’ being the operative word.
Lesson: Think before you try to close the biggest deal of your life.