Today, I'm going to talk to you about my failures. In fact, I'm going to share with you my biggest failures from my life. I've compiled them in what I call my failure resumeWhy am I going to tell you about my failures? Well, it's because they're kind of embarrassing and they're kind of funny. But actually, it's because each failure, as cheesy as it sounds, did lead me to becoming a published author/illustrator.

First Failure

 

So, let's talk about the very first time that I failed on a massive scale. The very first time for me was in college when I got my first "C" in Chemistry. Back then, I'd decided that I wanted to become a doctor. I wanted to please my parents, and I wanted to be successful and rich. In my mind, becoming a doctor would lead to those things.

 

But I also knew that getting "C"s in college wasn't going to cut it. In fact, the next semester I studied extra hard. And I got another "C" in Chemistry 2B or 2C, which was basically Organic Chemistry. And so, I knew that just wasn't my path. And I'm so glad I did not become a doctor because I think other people are better at it.

Second Failure

 

My second failure was something that hit closer to home and really freaked me out. It was actually missing out on the biggest publishing opportunities I had early in my career in publishingI was just getting started, and I want to break in. In fact,tried to go to as many conferences as I could. I tried to meet as many people as I could. I hounded editors, and I showed them my work. But the truth was that I just wasn't ready.
But in 2010, I actually did win an SCBWI portfolio award.I started working with a very high profile agent, and I started sending him stories. This agent actually represented one of my favorite picture book author/illustrators, and I thought that I'd made itI thought from there that I would have a clear path, that it would be all smooth sailing from there. But unfortunately, I learned really quickly that although I could draw, and I could design, and I have lots of story ideas, the truth was that I didn't really know how to tell story. I didn't know how to structure the story, and I didn't know how to make my ideas clear, or compelling, or entertaining. So, the agent told me that a story needs to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. And then he stopped returning my emails for a while, and it was because he'd told me what I needed to know. I just wasn't ready to be the storyteller that I wanted to be yet.

Third Failure

 

For my third failure, I failed in making products and apps. So, while I was trying to get published, I actually was working on a lot of other creative ideas. I wanted to make an iPhone game. I wanted to make an iPhone book out of this series called "Kid Monkeys" that I had my mind. I actually tried to make greeting cards. I was all over the place, and my creativity was on a high. And I thought I could make all these different products. But the truth was that I failed. And the reason why I failed was because I was spreading myself too thin. Sometimes with creativity, you have a lot of ideas. But to make anything really happen, you need a lot of focus, and finishing a project is only the first half of the work.
I'll talk about that part next.

Fourth Failure

 

My next biggest failure, I failed to launch an online business. I thought this business was an amazing idea. It combined my passion for storytelling and children's book artwork with a need, which was wall decals. So I launched this company called Live in a Story. I launched it with a couple of friends. We really enjoyed working together, but we had one really big problem that led to the demise of the company. We didn't know how to get customers. We couldn't find what you would call Product-Market Fit in timeAnd so, we basically worked a lot and made some really great products. But the truth was that we didn't know how to connect our products to the right customer. We didn't test it ahead of time, and we didn't have our marketing and sales processes down. I lost a bunch of money, as well as a lot of time in that failure.

How Failure Helps Us

 

So, why am I telling you about all these failures? Well, I truly believe that each one of these failures has actually helped me to grow as a person, and that they are still helping me continue to grow, so they led me to where I am today.
If I hadn't failed in that chemistry class, and had actually gone on to become a doctor, I would never have become an artist. I would never have become a children's book author or illustrator. If I hadn't gotten dumped early on in my publishing career by a high profile agent that really knew quality work, then perhaps I would have gotten published earlier. But maybe I wouldn't have developed the skills that I needed to develop at that time. And so, although it was painful at the time, I really needed his honest feedback of where I was. My failure in making progress early in my career actually taught me how hard it is to make physical products and how much time and focus it takes to be able to follow through on your ideas. That really helped me focus on how to produce books, as well as produce future products. And lastly, if I hadn't failed in starting an online business, I would have never learned the importance of marketing and sales processes. That's something I'm still continuing to learn today. And I think it's so important for every creative person to learn about marketing and sales because you're going to be the best person to put your work out there.

Level Up

 

Yeah, failing sucks. It hurts when it happens, but don't give up. You've got to pivot. You've got to take what you can learn from that situation. Pick yourself up, and know that your failures are actually going to propel you to the next level. Your failures will actually help you become the unique storyteller and unique artist that you are and will lead you to your own personal success. 
Now I want to hear from you. What are some of your failures that helped you get to where you are todayWhat are some things that you're failing at now because you're still figuring them out?