Friday, January 3, 2014

Failure Coach


The Ballroom at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando is full. Twelve hundred paying patrons applaud the keynote speaker as he waves and makes his way to the podium. Alan Edgewater, Failure Coach is in plain view on two giant rear projection screens on either side of the stage showing he is healthy, tanned and rested. “We are the music makers and we are the dreamer of dreams. World-losers and world forsakers on whom the pale moon gleams,” he begins.

“With apologies to Arthur O’Shaughnessy those are words, of which I paraphrase in It’s not easy being anybody, my best-selling book. Your attendance at this symposium is a tribute to your good sense. You have come to hear how the relentless pursuit of perfection, being driven by success, dreaming of personal satisfaction in your home lives and careers is all wrong. What my book shows you in detail, and what I will share with you in today’s keynote address, is that what is far more likely.” The audience is listening carefully. Some are taking notes in the workbooks they picked up at registration.

Edgewater is scripted. He has access to a teleprompter but the material is well rehearsed. He moves around freely on the stage with a Lavalier mic securely in place on his un-tucked golf shirt. He pauses for laughs and allows for questions from audience members queued up in the center aisle. “Mr. Edgewater, you call yourself a failure and yet you have a best-selling book, sold out lecture tour and millions of followers around the world…” begins the next question. Alan smiles and interrupts, “Precisely, my friend, but it is not a drive for success that got me to this point. It is rather the expectation of failure! I am not suggesting for one moment that you should not take risks. Success is not possible without failure. Failure should be celebrated. Allow me to show you some graphics that illustrate my point…”

The monitors project an info-graphic from the Mega Lotto. It’s a giant pyramid at the top of which is the word WINNER. “As you can see the mega lottery winner is all alone in his triumph. But, without being a colossal loser in the first place he would never have purchased that ticket from the corner c-store in his neighborhood town of Red Bud, Illinois. Furthermore, this guy is already failing with the IRS; with his friends and neighbors; and at his former job associates at the high school where he was a teacher and football coach.” Almost on cue, Coach Siena enters from stage left. When he reaches the podium the monitors show him adjusting his tie and shuffling some index cards. He’s petrified.

“Hello losers!” says the coach. “Alan asked me to participate in today’s keynote as proof positive that money does NOT buy happiness. You can read all about my ups and downs in your seminar workbooks but what isn’t there is the real reason I came here today. I wanted to use this platform to announce the Alan Edgewater Failure First Foundation Scholarship Fund. The first recipient of a four-year ride to the University of Miami goes to an undersized center on the Red Bud Musketeers High School team. The award goes to Johnny Appleseed. In my entire coaching career, Johnny best exemplifies what our coaches call giving 110% on every play. He has a lot of heart but I hope he is through playing football.” The monitors are now showing a picture of the coach and Johnny Appleseed in uniform at the sideline after the final game of the season, a crushing defeat by the screaming eagles of St. Edward

The crowd is thrilled as Edgewater regains control of the presentation. “Folks, please note that the entire conference will be available on CD for $29.50 if you sign up today. Coach Robert Siena’s story will also be included in my new book due out this Fall. Be on the lookout for You can’t give 110% in bookstores or buy it online at Amazon. Use the promo code ORLANDO and get an additional 10% off…”

The seminar continues with stunning graphic images, compelling twists and clever copy. Alan paces himself with the slides that each have a story and a point. Each is reproduced in thumbnails in the workbook with room for notes. The concluding slide builds with the final image signaling the end of the keynote and triggers a huge ovation.

You don't plan to fail, so don't fail to plan.

But enough about me. How did you like my last movie?

Icarus flies to the sun on wings of wax.

Pure chance. A roll of the dice.

I can’t wait until tomorrow, I get better looking every day.

Heisman winner denied re-trial

Chasing Windmills

The concluding slide/image signals the end of the keynote. It is expected. Most of those even remotely familiar with Alan Edgewater are familiar with his mantra. He walks his way through the slide as it builds. With his final remark, music fills the ballroom and all the doors open. Books are on sale in the pre-convene area. CDs, T-shirts, stress balls and a variety of other merchandise are also available.
It isn’t easy being Alan Edgewater.
It isn’t easy being Alan Edgewater. It isn’t easy being anybody.
It isn’t easy being anybody. It isn’t easy being you…
It isn’t easy being anybody. It isn’t easy being you, but no-one is better at being you.

24 hours later Alan Edgewater is in the catering manager’s office. The event was a success but there were some miscalculations with beverages, meals and audio/visual rentals that add up. Alan won’t know for another couple of weeks if he broke even on this event.

Author's note: This is the first in a series of blogs on the Failure Coach posted on Good Brands Better, New Brands Known. It is fiction and any similarity to person or persons is purely coincidental and not intended. 

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