What Can Failure Teach and Why You Should Embrace It

OK, I’ve been hitting pretty hard about building your own independent future, rather than sucking up to people who don’t even want to hear from you in order to beg for a job … or even unemployment benefits, as the case may be.  You didn’t think I was done yet, did you?

How to Move to the Philippines Manual

It’s not 1950 anymore.  It’s not even 1985.  Heck, it’s not even the 20th Century.  Pick up, move on, get with the times.  It’s the 21st Century now, and you need to be a 21st Century person if you want to succeed. …

We live in an Internet Age.  No matter where in the world we are, we are (or can be) connected with people in other parts of the world easily and quickly.  Because of our ability to easily connect with people the world over, it makes it much easier for us to exploit our talents and knowledge.  If you have knowledge or expertise on subjects, you can take advantage of that knowledge and make money from it no matter where you live – anywhere in the world! …

These words above come from an article my colleague Bob Martin wrote over a year ago .. they have stuck in my mind and they ought to stick in yours.  You can, and should, read Bob’s full article, appropriately entitled “Enough, Get Over It“.

But I know what many of you are saying.  “It’s all well and good for you to tell us this, Dave, but we don’t know how to do this sort of Internet stuff you keep talking about.” Or, “You know all about this stuff, but it’s all a mystery to me.”

Well guess what, Sherlock, I didn’t know any of it either just a few years ago.  Further, I am still learning.  What you need to do is take it upon yourself to learn too.

You have got to stop waiting around for things to get better, for the “economy” (whatever the hell that really is) to get better, for the government to “fix” things or for your rich uncle Albert to die.  (Actually, Uncle Al could be your best bet, but I checked recently and I don’t have one 😉 )

The best way, hands down, to have a better future is to decide right here and now to make your own.

But of course, we’re all human and of course, you’re fearing failure.  I know you are.  But the beauty of empowering yourself to become a skilled web-earner is, failure just doesn’t mean that much … especially if you get the right sort of education before you cast off from the dock.  Here’s an example of that sort of learning.

This little failure story is taken from a  a free, no-obligation ebook I’m going to recommend you read.  It’s a story about poor business planning by a huge company that was one of the best, by far, in their business when they made their expensive boo-boo.  And it cost them plenty, too.

If you want to build a successful and profitable business, you must create value, and one of the easiest ways to see if your product creates value is by evaluating whether or not it solves a real problem or addresses a real need.  Sometimes people get so excited about their ideas that they forget to perform this primary reality check.

The Iridium project launched by Motorola in the late 1990s illustrates this point perfectly. Around that time, the mobile market was in ferment, and service operators around the world were fighting to claim the increasing number of mobile subscribers.  Most mobile networks, however, were using base stations that could cover only a couple of kilometers each.  Such technology obviously limited the range where operators could offer their services.

In order to address this limitation, Motorola tried to develop a network that would cover literally the whole  world. It looked like a great innovation, and the management team was enthusiastic about the idea that  people would be able to talk anywhere from the Sahara Desert to the North Pole. They thought that this  would definitely create value for the customers.

The project required an investment of 7 billion dollars and it involved 88 satellites that were placed into orbit around Earth.

After the network was in place, they started selling the services. The handsets were large and clumsy, because they required a more complex technology. They were also selling for $3000 apiece, and call charges were incredibly high. But hey, those devices would allow users to communicate anywhere in the globe!

A couple of months later, once the novelty wore off, people started to realize that there was not such a strong need to make calls from a remote city in Siberia or from an island in Polynesia, after all.

But it was already too late. Motorola not only missed the sales expectations by far, but it was also forced to keep paying the maintenance of the satellites, which amounted to 200 million dollars, monthly….

Motorola invested in what its managers thought would be a promising innovation, but there was no customer need to be met or problem to be solved in the first place. In 1999 the Iridium project filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11.

Before starting your website or business, therefore, make sure it will solve a real problem or address a real customer need. ….

This is an excerpt from a book my blogging colleague Daniel Scocco has written and wants you to read.  I want you to read it too, no matter where you are on the road to self-reliance and making yourself independent for failing companies, autocratic bosses or unresponsive governments which annoy you and keep you up at night … and cut off unemployment benefits when you need them most.

It’s small and easy to read, only about 17 pages, but it contains a wealth of usable, actionable information.  And did I mention it’s free and no obligation?

James A. Reeves (KinoSport) / 20091118.7D.00164.P1.L1.C23.BW / SML
Creative Commons License photo credit: See-ming Lee ??? SML

Daniel wrote it and asked other bloggers to help get it out into the world because Daniel and a whole stellar group of successful on-line entrepreneur partners are re-opening a very successful on-line course that teaches … actually takes people by the hand and coaches … a myriad of different ways to make money in the online world.  It’s not just about blogging, or selling eBooks about success to other people who want to sell eBooks about success.  If it were a university course it would be rare, very expensive and hard to get into, because all the people involved are not professors or theorists, but guys who can prove that they make money, on-line, each and every day.  And for a fee, they share information with you and guide you in applying that information.

Enough on the sales pitch, though, the course isn’t even open for new enrollment yet.  What this article is about, and what you want to do now, not sometime later after you have thought about it, is to download and read 10 Deadly Business Mistakes You Must Avoid.  Recommended.


  1. John Miele says

    Dave: A bit more about Iridium… It was purchased and is still in existence. Sales are now in the niche markets, like maritime (How else are you going to make a call while 1,000 nm from land?). They are doing OK in that market, along with INMARSAT. My company uses the Iridium network to transmit data from ships to shore… That is the future of the network. Now, the satellites are being used as relay stations for Vsat systems – mobile satellite transceivers. Aircraft use them (That’s how the Internet on some planes works), and cruise ships use it. Obviously there are many military and security applications, particularly when high-bandwidth requirements such as streaming video are thrown into the mix. It is interesting to note, though, that where Motorola failed, others have stepped in!

  2. says

    Ha ha, it’s a small world. I purposely kept from making my article any longer than necessary … it’s already huge, even for me.

    I liked Daniel’s example, that’s why I used it as a ‘hook’. But it’s also true he didn’t tell anything like the “whole”story.

    Iridium is still alive and well, getting better in many ways even. There are several back stories to that. One of the most interesting is a segment I played a tiny role in. The satellites were literally within days of being de-orbited when an arm of the US government which I can not mentioned stepped in and said, “This is too precious a resource to throw away”.

    That agency was one of my clients when I worked for USAF Space Command as a communications provider. Money changed hands (and perhaps changed “color” from black to blue, although I really can’t say) and the iridium ‘birds’ were added to the task list of a contractor of ours who ‘flew’ many other satellites.

    Talk about “Socialism” … the military stepped in and saved a public company’s assets from irrevocable destruction. But don’t worry, the tax payer didn’t suffer even though s/he may never know the details. In return for the orbital reprieve, various government agencies got a payback “in kind” … let’s just say and extremely good ‘rate’ for voice and data calls over the network, long into the future. Long, long into the future, actually.

    Today, the ‘voice network oriented’ old guard at Motorola is no longer in the picture and Iridium now offers extremely attractive rates … especially for narrow bandwidth data, like position and condition tracking from ships at sea, aircraft in flight, troops in the field, and a host of other uses, many of them business (and thus jobs) critical, some of them life-critical, others, essential to national security. A pretty successful social experiment, in my narrow view at least.

    (Of course to avoid creating a firestorm, we won’t mention the US military greatest “social (Socialist?) experiment”, the Global Positioning System, global operational headquarters address is, Module 18, Building 400, Schriever AFB (on the empty plains of Eastern Colorado (one of Colorado’s other redeeming features)). I often wonder how many anti-government, anti-American, or anti-something else guys think about this as they turn on their GPS … but that’s a satellite of a completely different color 😉 )

    INMARSAT is one of the few examples on earth of a true multi-national consortium that actually works. I was a big user of INMARSAT in my past life as well. But it has at least one fatal flaw, that the average person fails to consider. It’s essentially useless above 60-odd degrees of latitude, north or south. Why would the average person ever care about that? Well they wouldn’t, except if they ever did some sort of extreme polar flying, like flying from New York to Manila or London to Los Angeles or some other unheard of thing. (Or if the ship carrying their new car travelled well up into the Bering Sea on the GC course from Tokyo to LA.)

    No other existing system can provide the coverage as iridium can. There are polar competitors, but they are ‘store and forward’, and can’t provide the near real time service Iridium can. because INMARSAT birds are on fixed stations, naturally selected for maritime coverage, they are not that good over the worlds’ large landmasses, either.

    Anyway, now you can see why I didn’t pursue the critique any farther … even in retirement my satellite geekiness is always ready to boil over it seems.

  3. Chas says

    Hi Dave,
    You raise some interesting points.

    I have found,many times,that many people expect things to fall into their laps.
    Instead of putting in some hard work and researching,they expect others to literally guide them by the hand,and for free.
    I see a good example of this on many Phil’s forums.People always asking the same questions over and over again,coz they are too lazy to search the archives where most of the info is.

    Regarding failures,
    I read some time ago that most highly successful entrepuerners,have on average 7 failures behind them before they made it big time.
    The secret (or not so secret) fact that led to their eventual success,was that “They never ever gave up”.They knew,given time,and learning from their mistakes,that one day they would crack it.As one guy once stated “The harder i worked at it,the luckier i got”.

    I have a personal phrase in life “The best things in life,never come easy”.

    While i am in the Phrase mode today,i will leave you with this old adage:
    “Repertition is the master of all skills”.

    regards Chas.

    • says

      Exactly, Chas. The day of the cradle to grave “job as a care giver” time has passed … those who realize that and take positive action will survive and do well. Those who are sitting around moaning that things aren’t the same as the last century are hurting and they are going to keep hurting.

      An interesting development since I wrote the original article … California released their latest State budget … one of the richest and most progressive states in the Union … and it’s shocking. The cutbacks are wide and deep and the governor’s message is clear … we don’t have a printing press to crank out money as Washington does, so suck it up … do more with less.

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