Leveraging Mistakes into Opportunities to Build Trust
Beep! I look down at my text which says "Anna, I'm trying to buy tickets to the Creativity Symposium and the website says they are no longer available."
Huh? This is ironic. Our team has done tons of marketing, pushing the final days of our early bird tickets only to find that people trying to buy a ticket--cannot. I found the mistake: I accidentally programmed the wrong expiration time for 12/31 at 12:30am instead of 1/1 at 12:30am. I had lost a day of sales on the biggest day for selling tickets because I didn't double check the expiration time on the ticket site.
Now is the moment of truth. I could fix it, text my friend it's fixed, then simply pretend like it never happened to the public. Why acknowledge a mistake? It only affects a few. Plus it looks bad, right?
You've heard it before: "Put your best face forward," "Fake it til you make it," or "Look as good as possible, leave no room for obvious error." As my former boss at a wealth management company said it, "I hate to say it, but yeah--we have to be perfect." Phew! Talk about pressure.
At Start Up Seattle, Shauna Causey, a former Executive at Comcast, shared how she risked her job by tweeting a mistake the company had made that resulted in customers not having internet access for several hours. Rather than cover it up with PR, she simply said what happened and apologized publicly, against the company policy. From her bold ability to embrace the mistake publicly, Comcast sales actually skyrocketed following the incident, customers appreciated the integrity. She kept her job, and even got recognized for it, eventually being promoted.
In this new year, what if mistakes were awesome? What if mistakes were treated as opportunities to build trust rather than something to cover up? Clearly, nobody's perfect. We are just human.
There's a wonderful little book called "Beautiful Oops" where all the pages intentionally are torn, they have holes; in essence, it's as if a toddler had gone through the book. I bought it for my son Eli in hopes of teaching him the beauty of mistakes and failure. Then holding my tongue as he tears up the pages you're not supposed to tear. :D
Imagine you've made a mistake. Now is the moment of truth. What if you boldly owned it 100%? In fact, you leveraged it as an opportunity to build trust. Heck, you could even get creative with how to turn that mistake into something bigger and better for everyone in the long run.
What would it look like if T-Mobile's John Legere or Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella fully owned their mistake? That they really went all the way in how their comments didn't work. Might that be a huge opportunity to build trust with not just their shareholders but the broader community and women in society?
Starting the Year Right
My volleyball coach Jennifer Tonkin said it best, "To gain confidence you must aggressively fail."
What will you create with your mistakes next year?
What mistakes have you embraced from this year and last?
Be proud of your next mistake. There just might be some confidence waiting for you on the other side.
Anna Sun Choi