2/27/2008

Bounce! - Q&A With Author Barry Moltz

Barry Moltz's book "Bounce" may do more to help you understand the reality of career paths and success and failure than anything else you'll ever read. I'd just wish I'd read it backwards, because then everything would have been clear to me on the second page.

That second-to-last page used the analogy of the old text-based computer games like Adventure, where you explored an online world by looking around, picking things up, and trying to use them to interact in that world. It was never a simple linear process. No one expected to solve all the puzzles and win the game on the first try. Customers would probably be angry if they did! Most advancement came from trial and error learning, but sometimes bad things happened randomly. Sometimes you had to backtrack a level or two because of a miscalculation. But that was part of the game experience and no one felt shamed for having made a mistake.

In Bounce! Moltz posits that life works the same way and that we should have the same attitudes about "failures" and "setbacks". I had the opportunity to ask Barry a few questions about the book to give you a flavor for it.


Question: What was the inspiration for the book?

Answer: I get sick and tired of people saying that failure is there is always something to learn from failure. We are continually reminded by those around us that failure is an important ingredient in the next success, possibly even a prerequisite. We tell ourselves that failure “happened to us” so that we could learn some important lesson that would later propel us to even more success.

Sometimes failure just sucks. There is absolutely nothing to learn.

When I lost my largest client because they were indicted by the SEC, what did I learn? That I wasn’t supposed to do business with criminals? I knew this… When my best employee left my company because her husband got a job in another state, what was I to learn? Not to hire people who are married?

If failure was such a necessary ingredient for success, then when we fail we would be sending emails to all the people in our business network that read something like this:

To: Everyone I Know
From: Barry Moltz
Subject: Yippee! Another Failure


“I can’t help but brag that I have failed yet again. I am writing because I knew you would want to share this wonderful moment with me. I am so proud of myself because as a result of my latest failure and all the unbelievable things I was able to learn, I am now so much closer to that big financial success I deserve. I am certain that my time is coming soon since I have failed at an increasing rate lately, and I have learned so much. Please stay in touch so I can share with you when I even have an even greater failure and get that much closer to the success you all want for me.”---Your Close Business Friend, Barry

Failure is valuable only when we realize it is a normal part of the business process even when there always isn’t something to learn.


Question: You identify ten building bands for bouncing. Is there any special order to them? Are some natural precedents of others? Is that implied in the order of the chapters?

Answer: Yes, there are an order to the bands like the chapters are ordered. The first thing you need to appreciate is your environment. Just like your parents told you, it matters where you are from. Culture shapes your individual tolerance for success and failure. These archetypes of success teach you how others define it and the pressure they put on you with their definition. They drive you crazy and hold your back.

Next you need to develop Humility. Our business careers are not linear. Life changes very quickly and bad times will happen to you. We all screw up sometimes. Randomness and luck play a large role in financial success. With humility, we Face the Fear of Failure and Give Up the Shame. Failure is an option, a good one in fact. It is okay to be afraid. Grieve your failures and wallow in it if you need to. Hold a “Pity Party”, but let go whatever shame you have absorbed and deflect what others are placing on you. Remember that Failure Gives a Choice: We don’t always learn from failure. It provides an escape hatch to find a different choice. We need to learn that Process matters more than Outcome. We are too focused on the binary outcome: success or failure. We need to realize business is all about cycles and focus on the process more than the outcome for better decision making that will improve our chance of success.

Finally, we need to set Patient Goals– Reality eventually collides with the dream that has been thrust upon you. Create your own dreams. Set goals before you start so you know what success and failure look like when you get there. We need to define Own Measurement System. This requires that we Value Action. Stop reading my book and see what comes next. Experience builds confidence.


Question: Which of the bands do you think are the hardest to internalize intellectually? Which are the hardest to put into practice?

Answer: The hardest ones are to set patient goals and define your own measurement system. There is a lot of pressure in our society on success. We are all addicted to achievement. We need to pause and be thankful for what we have today. We need to lower the bar a bit because there is always someone that is going to be richer, smarter or better looking than you. We need to downsize our dreams. In this, we can begin to define our own brand of success – not someone else's.

First, we need to set patient, interim goals. I remember when I asked my Zen master when I first began mediating, how long I should mediate for- 15 minutes, half hour or an hour each day? He said that I should try it for a minute for each day for the next few months. If I was successful, I should go to two minutes. This is where I learned when striving for new goals, what we important in the climb was not even to get a foothold. Get a toehold…if you can get some progress toward your goal, you have a better chance of achieving it in the long run.

We also need to strive for minimal achievement. We need to focus on being good at a few things and focus on doing one thing well at a time. This is so difficult in a society of multi- tasking which is really ineffective. There is tremendous power through focus.


Question: You talk in the second chapter of the book about you fascination with One Hit Wonders? I thought being a one hit wonder was a bad thing and how does it relate?

Answer: What happens if you go out there and only hit that big success one time like those one hit wonders? Remember, it doesn't matter how many times you fail. It doesn't matter how many times you almost get it right. No one is going to know or care about your failures, and neither should you. All that matters in business is that you get it right once. Wayne Gretzky said that “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” We can’t get caught up in the failures. It only matters that we met our success requirements that one time. When things go bad, we can think back to perhaps that one time where the planets aligned, and we got to the goal line.

With true business confidence, we can look back a single success and enjoy it for what it was. Maybe there is only one success on a particular path. We may need to bounce to an entirely different path to get another success. The complete answer to this puzzle can’t be known until the end of our lives. The order of successes and failures does not diminish the high point. Hitting it once can help root a sense of business confidence that will carry through whether the rest of the path is filled with failure, success, or a mix of both. It will give us the resiliency spring to bounce through the rest of our business lives.


Question: Who are the most interesting people you interviewed for this book?

Answer: They are all interesting. But one that stands out for me is Brett Farmiloe. Here is a guy that graduates college and decides that he will travel around the country in a Pursue the Passion Tour to discover what really makes people tick. There is also Scott Jordan, who left being a lawyer and started Scottevest to carry all those gadgets in pockets we didn’t have! He actually now has a clothing line that really is second to none if you travel so much like I do.


Question: There's a lot in this book. In the span of a page and a half you cover IBM's F.U.D., Escape from Cubicle Nation (a fave of mine), and the 'prevent defense'. If I only have an hour to spend with the material, what would you suggest (aside from learning to speed read beforehand)?

Answer: Skip around. Skip entire parts of the book if you want. The short sections have bold headings so this is easy to do. Only read the parts that interest you and will make a difference for your life. Then throw the book away and take action on how it fits into your life.


Thanks, Barry; both for writing this great book and for taking the time to answer these questions. I think people in any point of their career will benefit from reading Bounce!


xyzzy



posted by Mike at 2:47 PM


4 Comments:

Blogger Bob said...

OK, I admit; I haven't read the book. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way...

Barry's opinion that sometimes there is nothing to learn from failure leaves me cold! Frankly (hmmm... how can I put this delicately?), that's a lotta baloney!

If you can't learn anything from failure, then I think you're really missing the boat!

For example:

When his largest client was indicted? First thing I'd ask is: Are they your only client? Lesson: diversify your client base!

When his best employee left? Who else knew what SHE knew? Lesson: Have a succession plan for key people in your organization! (Granted, this one's probably hard for very small organizations - but what's life without risk?)

But to suggest that some failures have nothing to teach us is, in my opinion, ridiculous!

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Barry Moltz said...

Bob...good thoughts. Sometimes we can learn from failure. I did not say never, my point is the always part. And thinking that we can always actually holds us back from moving on. We are waiting until we find what failure teaches us hurts us from bouncing, taking the next action that can yield a success. When we fail, we need to see if there is something to learn, mourn if we can, then take action so we can move to another place. Bounce! so we can get ready for another success!

4:09 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Hi Bob,

I've got to go with Barry on this one. I had at least one such notable experience.

I was working in Raleigh NC at the time, and was ready to move up in the organization. An account exec in Chicago wanted me to join his team as an engineering manager, and my boss (who had worked with him before) said he was the best AE he'd ever met. Everyone else who knew him said the same thing. He flew me AND MY WIFE up to Chicago to meet both of us and then I interviewed with his team. With one exception, they all really wanted me to join them. They made me a nice offer and we sold the house and moved to Chicago.

Three weeks after we moved into our new home, my AE announced to everyone that he was leaving the company and moving to Georgia. No one saw it coming. My new boss? Yep, the one guy who didn't want to hire me.

5:07 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Don'cha just hate it when people criticize your book and they haven't even read it? (Luckily, I put in that handy disclaimer first!) :-\

Anyhoo -

Sorry, guys (and by the way Mike - ouch... and been there); I must have missed that little detail when I read it the first time. (That happens when I get riled. Sorry!)

No, I wholeheartedly agree that one shouldn't sit around waiting for "the lesson" to manifest itself. (I can think of any number of lessons I'm still waiting to learn! Like, read things twice before reacting.) Speaking from experience, it's a great way for someone to get waylaid on the path to success.

I'm on board with you now, Barry! And that's comin' from an experienced, er, "bouncer" from 'way back!

Cheers!

10:46 AM  

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