Need to succeed/need to avoid failure

Posted September 9, 2009 by bluerootblog
Categories: Blue Root

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I’ve not blogged for some time for the usual reasons: Work, lack of time, too much sailing, etc, but that doesn’t mean I’ve not been active within social media, so I don’t feel too bad for my absence.  I was inspired to write some thoughts on today’s newsletter from Chris Brogan. Well, when I say newsletter, I really mean “letter from an old friend”, because that is exactly how you feel every time  Chris writes. It’s not one of those lame and spammy emails sent out by PR companies, but an incredibly informative, information rich discussion with someone you feel you know well. So, just a quick note, if you’re thinking of writing newsletters thentake a look at how Chris does it. I promise you’ll learn something..

Anyway, on to the conversation. Chris discusses our fear of failure, the ways this affects our work and how we can utilise a few techniques to use it to our advantage. The primary point, however, is that we should all accept a bit of failure, knowing that we learn our most important lessons from making a mistake. It’s a great read, so I urge you all to sign up to Chris’ newsletter to have a look.

This fear of failure is closely linked to a Sports psychology issue that I’ve learnt over my years of dinghy racing. I’ve spent many years at the top level of the UK dinghy racing scene (we just finished 4th at the RS800 nationals. Thanks..) so I’ve learnt my fair share from my various coaches. Most of the psychological babble that I discuss on this site has been directly linked from past mentors or fellow sailors, and I find that they have always transferred extremely well into business. Attribution is a key example.

There are two different types of people. Those who have a “need to succeed” (NTS), and those who have “a need to avoid failure” (NAF). The NTS people will always strive to go above and beyond targets, because they have a strong need to impress, the need to do a great job, and the need to be noticed. In Football they’ll always look to score or catch a touchdown pass, in Golf they’ll look for the big drives and the whole-in-ones, and have little interest in making mistakes. Besides, when you’re this confident, mistakes are rare anyway.. This sounds selfish or arrogant, but we’re all a bit selfish, and it stands to reason that we would all want to be the best at what we do. After all, you need to go for the big swings to learn your boundaries and to taste that success, right?


The NAF crowd will work to simply avoid failing, to stay hidden in the crowd (a bit of social loafing is always good for them) and to try to stay away from any criticism. In a game of Rugby, they try to avoid the ball as they don’t want to drop it. In Tennis they’ll always serve the safe option rather than the killer serve, and in business they will aim to simply avoid any mistakes, stay out of sight of the managers or owners and quite simply keep their heads down.

Different people will suffer from one of these characteristics, so it’s important to be able to pick out each individual trait to make adjustments to their mental state. Sure, it’s great to have a player brimming with confidence and going for the killer blow every time, but do you want him always doing this? Will they make too many mistakes that affect the team or the business? How about the NAFs? Do you want a team who try to avoid messing up? Sure, it’s nice to have fewer mistakes, but you also want a few more victories, right?

So, how do we control these personality types? One way is to lesson the ease people have to indulge in social loafing, and make people accountable for their actions, both good and bad. furthermore, tell your staff that mistakes are fine, so long as they learn from them. Tell your staff to try new ideas, and work out why they succeed or fail. If you break down the whole theory of the need to succeed/avoid failure, you’ll notice that it comes down to one simple rule: the amount of pressure people are receiving regarding failure. If they are scared of failing (through your own actions), then you’ll have a larger number of NAFs in your business. If they are rewarded every time they succeed, yet also rewarded every time they try something new, then you’ll have an environment that breeds success, and a much happier team.


AVG, Twitter, and proof that you can only win if you’re in the game

Posted March 13, 2009 by bluerootblog
Categories: Blue Root

Tags: , , ,

I’ve always been told, by every sailing coach or rugby coach I’ve ever had the pleasure of being shouted at by, that you can only ever win if you’re in the game. It’s cliched, it’s cringeworthy, and it completely sidesteps the fact that if you’re not in the game then you have a greater chance of keeping your dignity, and also, not dying a horrible and mangled death. Either way, I think the saying still holds true in most things you do. If you don’t take part in any activities then you won’t benefit from them.

After my recent success with the lovely people from Marmite (those of you not on my Twitter stream will be pleased to hear that I was sent several tubs of Marmite for some successful Twitter based brown nose-ing… pun fully intended (get over it)) I recently added @officialavgnews to my Twitter profile. This move was to primarily keep abreast of the goings on in the fast paced and exciting world of anti-virus, and to secondly take advantage of their competition to win free anti-Virus for a year if you follow them.

I’ve entered things like this since I was a kid, yet the only thing I ever won was not the Blue Peter mountain bike or huge jar of teeth rotting sweets at the local fair, but a stupid sodding Mickey Mouse toothbrush. When I was 15. Great. Thanks for that one, much appreciated.

Anyway, I was slowly losing hope with humanity, but then…. BOOM… I get a Twitter update that almost floors me. Almost. “You have won a fully paid for version of AVG anti-virus software!” was the message I received. YES! GET IN! I’m finally, FINALLY victorious and will benefit from years of virus free surfing!

Ok, yes I may have gone over the top, but I won something so I don’t care what anyone else thinks. Besides, what can you do? Send me a virus? HA! I don’t think so! Me= fully covered.

Fully covered? That links us nicely into insurance. Man, this post is exciting huh? Anyway, I recently had a thought about the price of pet Meerkats. Ever since started advertising with the oh so awesome Aleksandr the Meerkat, I can’t stop talking in pigeon-Russian/English, and describing everything as “simples!”. Therefore, I’m now in the meerkat market for a Meerkat. But alas, they are too expensive now for my modest budget. However, this got me thinking. If only I’d bought several hundred of the furry blighters a few months ago. The average price of a Meerkat has almost quadrupled so I would have been up to my armpits in Meerkat related money. Damn! Business opportunity missed…

Thanks again to AVG for the Anti-virus. I promise to use it to combat viruses and trojans everywhere, for the good of us all.


It doesn’t matter how big you are, you can’t bully social media

Posted February 12, 2009 by bluerootblog
Categories: Uncategorized

This blog post has been inspired by a news article regarding the Conservative party changing a Wikipedia page to back up a claim made by David Cameron in a debate with the Labour party.  I’m not going to go into politics here, as that’s not what this blog post is about.  Further more, I’m not going to take a negative stance towards the Conservatives as I feel this was more a case of misunderstanding and naivety towards online social media then a case of aggressively changing history for their own means.  However, the backbone of the story remains true.  No matter how big you are, how much money you can spend, you can not change social media if it says something you dislike.

Now, when I say “you can not change social media”, I don’t mean it’s physically impossible.  The issue is that it’s in fact very easy to alter what Wikipedia pages say, it’s entirely possible to pay a blogger to write a new story (everybody has a price, I’m sure), however, the issue is that these practices are so strongly hated by the billions of people online that use social media that the backlash would be horrendous.  There’s no point in actively trying to control what people say, as we will always find other ways of saying it.  Besides, history shows that even super powers have tried to silence the people, and we know how this has always ended up.

Rather than controlling bloggers words, why not just treat them like respectable human beings?  Social media isn’t a little kid in the playground who can be pushed around for his lunch money, so please don’t try it.  You’ll only get burned.  However, there ARE ways that you can use social media to your advantage that won’t get your company on the front of Yahoo news

Blogging your greatest hits

Posted February 11, 2009 by bluerootblog
Categories: Uncategorized

We’ve all seen those washed up bands, struggling for new material.  Rather than spending time in the studio writing new music, they launch a greatest hits album with a couple of well known songs and filled with back catalogue junk.  It happens more and more, as pressure from recording companies grows for bands to bring the money in.

However, when done properly, a greatest hits album is a great method to introduce your music to new fans.  For example, a few years ago I tried to listen to more Iron Maiden.  Yet, with 14 albums worth of content, I quickly lost focus.  Don’t get me wrong, I love listening to Iron Maiden, but there’s no way am I ever going to listen to every one of their tracks.  In this situation, when a band has a serious back catalogue of music it can be daunting for new fans to get into them.  therefore, a greatest hits is a superb way to provide an easy entry into your music and a starting point for legions of young fans.

This brings me neatly into blogging.  My sailing blog that I’ve been running for a year has nearly 100 posts.  I don’t like to blow my own trumpet (as I’m only a part time blogger so I’ve hardly got the back catalogue to back me up..), but a few of them have been very well received.  I even had a blog postfeatured in one of the largest watersports magazines in the US, providing 3,000 views in one day.  The issue is that these blog posts are buried below several pages of other articles.  How are new readers meant to find these posts?  Sure, I can have a widget to show the most successful blog posts, but very few people actually look at anything other than the content on a blog, besides, a post name is hardly enticing to click on so you need to take a few more steps to draw in your new

Why not write a greatest hits blog post every few weeks, to reintroduce a favourite piece of writing from your past?  This way you can sell your work a little better, hook in a few extra readers, and also reinvigorate your writing.  I was reading through an old blog post on my sailing site, and actually laughed out loud a few times (and then immediately starting writing a new post, with fresh ideas).  It’s so easy to bury your old content under new writing, but it’s such a waste.  Get a greatest hits out, you’ll feel like a rock star in no time.

Twitter to charge companies for marketing use

Posted February 10, 2009 by bluerootblog
Categories: Blue Root


I’ve been saying it for some time, companies need to be careful how much they use Twitter for marketing.  Twitter is meant to be a social media medium, where individuals can communicate and share ideas.  It shouldn’t be used to spam links, and now it looks like Twitter has decided to clamp down on theses goings on.  It’s about time I say.

Have a look at the following link for the full story:


Lost, 24, heroes… and social media

Posted February 10, 2009 by bluerootblog
Categories: Blue Root

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I’m terrible when it comes to television series.  Without fail, I’ll get halfway through a series of Lost, only to miss an episode and be forced to either watch the remainder of the series without the whole story, or wait for the DVD box set so I can start again from episode 1.  I’ve almost got to the stage where I’ve given up, a process where I ignore all adverts and shows to buy the box set straight away.  Anyway, my point is that the wait between shows has always been far too long, and I’m sure producers know this.  Yet, they are stuck in a catch 22 situation, they need to fill out a certain number of weeks for the networks, yet also need to keep the audience entertained.  Historically, view figures always tail off after the first few episodes for these reasons, so perhaps it’s time to find ways to engage the audience during the 7 day interludes.

lostWhy don’t the networks begin a social media campaign to keep viewers interested?  Have the key roles (played by copywriters, of course) writing twitter profiles in character to release new information, chat about latest happenings, answer questions etc.  Why not hide snippets of the next episode online, providing key bloggers with the opportunity to announce new information and to get behind the show?  Millions of viewers would be directed to their blogs, encouraging them to continue to talk about the series to keep the traffic coming.   Finally, why not have a website that allows viewers to interact with the computers in 24 during the show?  So when Chloe sends Jack a GPS uplink, we can view it on our laptops.  When a key suspect is profiled, we get to view the mug shot and information.  And then finally, you can take it offline, providing GPS coordinates and mugshots for special characters hidden in various cities that when found can provide cinema tickets, boxset goodies, or more in context experiential fun.

The opportunities are endless, I’m just surprised more hasn’t been made of this already.

Having faith in Twitter

Posted February 9, 2009 by bluerootblog
Categories: Blue Root

I’ve discussed Twitter numerous times before, not because I think it’s the holy grail of social media, or because I feel it is an essential part of every marketing program (mainly because I don’t believe that this is the case), but because I believe it adds an essential human element to every cold and corporate marketing campaign.

Every brand needs a soft side, a side which doesn’t always say “buy me” but instead says “check out this picture of me, I have a stupid hat on”.  Ok, that’s a bad example which has forced me to write a “don’t talk about hats on your Twitter profile” blog post.. coming late 2009..

Anyway, onto what I want to talk about.  Religion.  As more and more celebrities jump on the Twitter band-wagon to self promote their latest movie/book/rehab story, and as more and more obscure companies join the crowd (adding thousands of profile’s to their watching list, in the vain hope that a few will return the favor..), a few surprising groups and individuals have joined the party.  Osama Bin Laden is an avid Twitterer, talking about his life in caves (mostly about rocks), his favourite food (rocks..) his seven wives, and his latest weapons of mass destruction (more rocks, with sharp bits on them).  There is, however, a theory that it’s not really him twittering, but I won’t let that ruin the story.  Moving on, Father Christmas, although busy over Christmas, had time to update us on his movements  (I guess he had his Blackberry set up for mobile posting).  Finally, Batman Twitters as he fights the bad guys of Gotham.

As the list grows, religions have begun to jump on board.  The office of the Dalai Lama has joined the community to keep their followers up to track with his grace’s (or his Excellency’s, or his Holiness’s. I’m not sure of his title) movements, thoughts and feelings.  It’s refreshing to see the personality and motivation behind another culture’s religious leaders, as I’ve never really thought about what they go through during their travels and work.


This brings me back to my main point.  Whilst religions can feel separate from every day life, and their leaders can feel untouchable, Twitter has enabled them to interact with their followers in a new way that will surely reinvigorate their faith and devotion to their chosen religion.  It works for Marmite…