In today’s episode, I was privileged to interview Ramon Ray, an incredible global keynote speaker, entrepreneur, best-selling author, event producer, and event host. He’s the founder of SmartHustle.com, which inspires and educates small business owners like me.
Ramon has shared the stage with business icons such as Seth Godin, Daymond John, Simon Sinek, Gary Vaynerchuk, and many others. He has interviewed President Obama and joined Ivanka Trump at the global entrepreneur summit in India.
Over his extensive career, Ramon has written thousands of articles, spoken to thousands of business owners, and impacted hundreds of thousands of small business owners and entrepreneurs to help their businesses thrive.
Today he shares his personal story of how failure helped him find success.
Ramon’s Story: Pushed into Entrepreneurship
Ramon studied business administration in college and worked full-time at the United Nations for more than 10 years. During his time at the UN, he was promoted to the administrative officer. However, his career path at the UN wasn’t a good fit for his entrepreneurial spirit.
Ramon started a few small companies while at the UN and was eventually fired. “I got fired from there, and that kind of pushed me . . . into going full-time entrepreneurship, and that’s where I kind of had to learn books,” Ramon said.
Many entrepreneurs I’ve spoken with have been fired from previous jobs and just like Ramon, that firing or failure gave them freedom. It forced them to start on the path of an entrepreneur.
Sometimes we need failure to push us towards where we need to be. Sometimes God closes doors so he can push us in a better direction. Nobody is great at everything. We change the world through the unique talents and gifts God gives us. We must embrace what we are given instead of focusing on what we lack. It takes a journey to realize the gifts that we can share with the world.
Here are five ways we can use failure to our advantage.
1. Use Failure as a Way to Discover Unique Strengths
We can use failure as a way to discover our unique strengths.
“Your purpose in life is to use your gifts and talents to help other people. Your journey in life teaches you how to do that.”
– Tom Krause, world-renowned baritone.
We will fail. Failure is a guarantee in life. We must accept that we will make mistakes and acknowledge our weaknesses. We can’t be good at everything. Once we accept that, we can use that knowledge to determine what makes us unique. Failure helps us find what we are bad at, and then, what we are good at.
I asked Ramon to share one of his best secrets about his monetization strategy. He told me it is to personalize and humanize our brands. “Let me be who I am; I’m not going to be for everybody,” he said. “Those who want me will see what I’m doing and ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching. They will buy, and it’s worked every time.”
We won’t be right for everyone, but we will be right for somebody. We must find what makes us unique. It’s not about being like everybody else; it’s about finding our personal strengths that make us stand out. Those things will attract the right audience.
Failure allows us to figure out what our strengths are. It teaches us how to use our personal gifts and talents.
One of the most important things to do in digital monetization is to build a community and personal brand. We can impact a small but powerful group of people. We don’t need to be world-renowned or good at everything to make an impact. We need to find our group of people we can help. To do this, we must use failure to find our unique talents and gifts that will resonate with others.
When we mess up, move on gracefully. We need to accept our failure and learn from it.
2. See Failure as an Opportunity to Learn and Grow
We can see failure as an opportunity to learn and grow.
“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”
– Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company
Failure gives us the chance to recognize how we can improve. It forces us to adapt and grow. Failure is an opportunity.
In a 2018 study, researchers tried to determine the best method for studying. They had two groups of students complete a test. One group guessed the answers first and then got feedback. The second group studied by memorizing information. In the end, the students who guessed first and then got feedback did better than the students who simply memorized information.
“The researchers theorized that this is ‘because the students who guessed first were better able to reflect on their incorrect guesses and study the correct answers for the test.’” (Source: Water Ford)
Ramon explained he had made many mistakes while trying to grow his business. One mistake he made was using his credit card too much and going into debt.
“I think, some days I wish I would have spent money better,” he said. “Do I wish I would have done some things differently? Yes. Do I wish I would have taken time to think better, think slower, be more methodical? Yes. But I’m here talking. I’m alright.”
Because he made the mistakes he did, he was able to learn from them and not make the same mistake twice. It has allowed him to better save money and know where to spend his money.
Failure can help us understand things better when we learn from our mistakes. As Thomas Edison said, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
3. Reflect on Our Mistakes
We can reflect on our mistakes.
“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”
– Margaret J. Wheatley, American writer, teacher, speaker, and management consultant.
The only way to really learn and grow from our mistakes is to reflect and ask ourselves these questions: Why did I fail? How can I do better?
A study found that students who study in a way that allows for mistakes through self-reflection can increase critical thinking skills (Source: Water Ford). This same thing can apply to entrepreneurs. As we work in a way that allows for mistakes, we can continue to increase our skills.
As we embrace failure and reflect on what went wrong, we learn. Then we try again until we succeed.
4. Let Failure Build Persistence, Drive, and Determination
We can let failure build persistence, drive, and determination.
“Success is almost totally dependent upon drive and persistence. The extra energy required to make another effort or try another approach is the secret of winning.”
– Denis Waitley, American motivational speaker, consultant, and best-selling author.
Failure teaches us to keep trying until we get it right.
Nigel Barber, an evolutionary psychologist and contributor to Psychology Today, wrote, “People who fail repeatedly develop persistence in the face of difficulties . . . only people with extensive histories of failure could survive the difficulties that (some) individuals endured.” He continued, “With success, people keep on doing the same thing. When they fail, they are forced to adapt and change. That is not just a human characteristic but constitutes a basic feature of how the mammalian brain works.”
As we try, again and again, we develop a drive and persistence that will help us accomplish great things later in life. We learn to never give up. Whether we succeed in attempt one or 100, it doesn’t matter, as long as we allow each attempt to build character.
We must also recognize our wins as they come—no matter how small. It will help give us the motivation to push on.
5. Let Failure Build Courage
We can let failure build courage.
“The one who falls and gets up is stronger than the one who never tried. Do not fear failure but rather fear not trying.”
– Paulo Coelho, novelist, best known for The Alchemist
Don’t let fear of failure hold you back. Too often we’re afraid of rejection. Be yourself. Be authentic. Not everyone will pick us, and if we’re comfortable about that, we will be much happier. People will resonate with our message.
“There’s so many lessons learned with just being ourselves,” Ramon said. “Everybody’s not going to pick you and if you’re comfortable with that, you’re going to be much happier in the end.”
We must embrace our strengths and our failures. We must accept what makes us unique, as we talked about in the first tip. It’s not about being like everybody else. It’s not about sterilizing our message because we’re afraid that what we say is going to offend someone else. It’s our unique personality (weaknesses and strengths) that is going to attract the right opportunity. It’s going to create these points of connection.
Don’t run or hide from failure. We must let it make us courageous and brave. We must step out of our comfort zone. We can’t sit around idle waiting for the good to happen to us because we are afraid that if we take action, we will mess up. Try, try, and try again.
“Why wait for someone to call you?” Ramon asked. “Heck with it. Let me do my own event and call myself.”
Don’t wait around for life to happen—make it happen.
Thank you so much Ramon for sharing your stories and knowledge with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:
1. We all have unique talents and gifts.
2. Most times we need failure to push ourselves towards where we need to be.
3. Failure is inevitable. It is how we react that helps lead us to success.
4. We must personalize and humanize our brands.
5. Failure gives us a chance to grow.
6. To learn from failure, we must reflect on our mistakes.
7. We need to recognize our wins—no matter how small they are.
8. Not everyone will pick us, and if we’re comfortable about that, we will be much happier.
Connect with Ramon
If you enjoyed this interview and want to learn more about Ramon, listen to part two of this episode or connect with him on his website, ramonray.com.
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