“If I’m going to fail, then I want to do it well – fast and with minimum risk. And as a result of this ethos, I’m quite prepared to try out a lot of new and interesting things, unafraid of the outcome.”
We all have fears, but what we don’t all realize is how strongly they can hold us back, especially when the one thing we need to be successful is confidence within ourselves. In Daring & Disruptive, Lisa Messenger recounts a number of stories that feature her own experiences of fear: from stage fright gone terribly bad, to having everything except for a bikini and her passport stolen from her in Rome, and then eventually, the terror of launching a magazine into eleven countries, successfully. She is open and honest about her best and worst moments in business, all the while maintaining that anything is possible.
A mix of Messenger’s personal stories and business advice, Daring & Disruptive is an all-encompassing guide to eliminating the fear of failure as you pursue innovation and disruption. From believing in yourself to value exchange, Messenger touches on 10 actions to take in order to set the stage for positive failure leading ultimately to success. Messenger flies through these entrepreneurial challenges in less than 200 pages, connecting them all to the importance of strength, self-belief and finding your purpose.
The Big Idea
"Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out."
Lisa’s three-part approach to fear is as follows:
- Prepare for your worst-case scenario by devising steps towards prevention, as well as an educated solution should your worst-case scenario ever come to be. Having a plan in place will reduce fear of the unknown, simply by making it known. By walking through the experience of failure in your head, and deciding on the best way to deal with failure every step of the way, you not only become comfortable with the possibility of your fears being realized, but you also produce a plan to prevent it from happening.
- Detach yourself from the outcome, and fail fast. Spending time, energy and money to predict and prepare for a possible outcome can set you back and suffocate the project before it even begins. It also gives you ample opportunity to overthink and drive yourself crazy. Instead, spend a bit of quality time with your idea—do some market research, hash out a model—then dive right in and put it to the test. If you truly believe in what you’re doing, you should feel comfortable to making the move and excited to get your idea out into the world. If it works, take the next step with confidence. If it doesn’t work, move on.
- Eliminate risk. Or at the very least, calculate your risks. Put some money aside, schedule with buffer time, and ask for help, but most importantly: hire your weaknesses. Whether you like it or not, you can’t do everything, and it’s not enough just to get things done—they need to get done properly. Hire people to cover the bases that you can’t cover, and you’re less likely to encounter disasters along the way.
Disruptive Ideas and Your Why
"You must have an almost irrational self-belief that propels you forward, despite any chaos or failure around you."
The best ideas are the ones that address a “pain point,” or a source of frustration within an industry. These “pain points” often represent a gap in the market. To be disruptive is to enter an existing industry through the back door and attack it’s pain point with innovative thinking, ultimately filling the gap.
The trick is to get moving before you have all the answers. Disrupters look to outside industries for functional ideas that can be applied in new, disruptive ways. They don’t have a sense of what “can’t” be done in the industry they are disrupting—which means they can do it anyway, and do so in a constant state of change. They do not fear lack of knowledge or financial capacity. They dream big, envisioning the ideal result, and work back from there to make it happen, financially and otherwise.
All of this is dependent on one thing: your why. The application of an idea begins by forging ahead fuelled with self-belief and with little to no external validation of your idea. Before anyone backs you, you need to back yourself; without a sense of purpose, it would be impossible to get off the ground. In Messenger’s case, her why is to make a widespread positive change, “to make a vast difference in the lives of other people,” and to demonstrate that “anything is possible.” Her idea was Collective Hub, a publication that would fill the gap in the market by doing exactly that for entrepreneurs around the globe. As an entrepreneur with a strong sense of purpose, disruption would inevitably follow.
Your Culture Is Your Brand, and You Are Your Culture
"If your culture also equals your brand, then in building an extraordinary culture, you will be automatically and organically building an extraordinary brand."
As a leader, it is important to ensure that your culture is a reflection of your why. When hiring, consider the fact that skills and experience are teachable; passion and attitude are not. You as a leader need to remind the members of your team individually that they play a crucial part in carrying out the vision of the company. Even so, your employees should enthusiastically share your values.
Your employees should also feel empowered, knowing that they make a significant contribution to the company. Empowerment equals proactive and positive thinking. It also promotes what Messenger refers to as intrapreneurialism: entrepreneurialism within a company. By investing the time and money into skill development and training, guiding your employees into the roles that they seek themselves as opposed to forcing them into the roles that you wish them to fill, they will find their own sense of purpose in the company and yield satisfying results, both personally and professionally.
By supporting and appreciating the unique wants and needs of your staff, you are fostering loyalty, productivity, and engagement while building a culture that is united. At the same time, you must invest in yourself. You, too, need to face challenges, take new opportunities, learn, and grow. Your attitude, your health, and how you spend you time will affect you, affect your team, and therefore affect your brand.
If you’re looking for a book that digs deep into business strategy, this isn’t the book for you. If you’re looking for something to inspire you, or give you a swift kick in the pants to get moving on that idea you’ve always had, you may want to check it out. Bonus points if you’re a visual person or someone who works in a creative industry: This book is overflowing with handwritten mantras and messages.
If I had to choose one pieces of advice from Daring & Disruptive to share with the world, both inside and outside of business and entrepreneurship, it would be this: You can easily get rid of fear by reframing your perspective to view moments of hardship, desperation or complacency not as failures, but as catalysts for something wonderful to happen.