Monday, April 21, 2014

Failure Coach XLII

Circumstance, Scholarship and Ambition

AEFFSF scholar Johnny Appleseed is getting into a groove as a Sociology Major at the University of Miami. Andrew Valentine is as home on the Ohio campus of Oberlin College. The latest scholar to be named, Alicia Apricot, is the first female winner of the unique and irrevocable award. Jan Abbeshire insisted that the Alan Edgewater Failure First Scholarship Fund (AEFFSF) diversify. Coach Robert Siena agreed. Jan was also shaping the mission of the program to include documentary style coverage of the winners. Daniel Bluestone enjoyed being executive producer and found emerging filmmakers. Abbeshire & Bluestone was becoming something more than an advertising and public relations firm. They were becoming somewhat expert at working with nonprofits. They still dabbled with new product launches and occasional sales promotions for Sazerac brands but they were quickly gaining a reputation for full service support and  management of 501(c) entities. They owed much of their success to the visibility of AEFFSF from fundraising to the well crafted transparency of its regular reporting. The AEFFSF scholars were becoming celebrities but it was Coach Siena who was becoming more comfortable with the legacy he was building. Abbeshire & Bluestone was always able to leverage the Alan Edgewater connection too.

The first female winner of the AEFFSF award was from a small town in Kansas. Alicia Apricot was determined to study construction management at Pittsburg State. Her father, a concrete laborer had been injured on a job site when she was a little girl. Dad received some compensation from contractor and the real estate development firm to return to school and a desk job. He worked his way into project management. Along the way, Alicia learned a lot about the peculiar business of managing sub-contractors and approving working drawings from architects and engineers. Bubba Apricot quickly became a well loved project manager because he was approachable and sensitive to crews on his jobsites. He was older than most college boys who were often in charge inside a typical job trailer and his battle scars and the noticeable limp added to his status. He was given to sayings like, “I’m not going to ask anything of you that I wouldn’t do myself.” He was fair and friendly. Alicia wanted to follow her old man on this career path that to her seemed honest, rewarding work. Her dad was divorced, only slightly disabled and capable enough but hardly a rich man. He started reading Alan Edgewater books in the hospital where he spent the better part of six months working through surgeries and rehabilitation. He was quickly drawn to the failure fans. In a sense, Alicia and Bubba Apricot were learning together when she was still in High School. She wanted to be there for her dad, a non-traditional learner, who at 40 was still working his way through college. They were both surprised by her affinity for construction management and simultaneously concluded that she needed to get an education at Pittsburg State. Go Gorillas.

So when Bubba found himself reading about the AEFFSF in a print publication produced by the Association of General Contractors (AGC), he decided to tell his story and make a case for Alicia. Were it not for Jan Abbeshire behind-the-scenes the two paragraphs in the ACG publication would not have appeared. It was Jan who persuaded the freelance writer to include the AEFFSF in the context of the larger story about a wide variety of scholarship and financial aid for students. It was serendipitous that he caught the article. It was almost fate that caused him to respond almost immediately after putting the AGC publication down. He wrote for an hour composing an e-mail that read like stream of consciousness. Fortunately he included enough for a junior account manager at Abbeshire & Bluestone to research the construction accident and Bubba Apricot. Once Coach Robert Siena became aware of Bubba and his daughter, he enthusiastically supported this prospective scholar.

So the AEFFSF scholars seemed destined to study sociology, music engineering and construction management respectively at the University of Miami (FL), Oberlin College (OH) and Pittsburg State (KS) from the towns of Red Bud (IL), Arlington (OH), and Galena ( KS). Abbeshire & Bluestone crafted tight bios on Johnny Appleseed, Andrew Valentine and Alicia Apricot.   

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Failure Coach XLI

Epic Failure is Everywhere 

One Year after that Missouri Athletic Club West presentation Alan was feeling fortunate at how far he had come. Alan Edgewater, business coach and bestselling author of business books. Now available in collector edition three book set. Three paperback books packaged together in a special edition book sleeve. Purchase includes limited edition Abraham Lincoln #epicfailure poster, three limited edition paperback volumes not available anywhere else. A great gift for the holiday season. 

It isn’t easy being anybody, but no one is better at being you.
You can’t give 110%
Negative Space

As this project gets closer to fruition, Alan gets more and more excited about marketing his career. This special edition set was his idea and he personally pre-sold the concept to the world’s number one retailer. Here he was looking over the promotional materials and a mock-up of the product. They were planning on a retail price of $24.00 and expected to sell 100,000 units in 3 months. This release alone keeps him on the radar as a prospect for keynote speaker gigs and will surely help him build his brand going forward.                                 

Failure Fans everywhere understand the reality of our cultural bias and focus on winning. Alan is careful to collect supporting materials from popular culture, books, magazines, television and the internet.

The New York Times recently quoted actor Steve Coogan as he talked of his role in the Academy Award nominated film Philomena, for which he helped write the screenplay. In the movie, a young woman who approaches Steve Coogan’s character about writing a human interest story about her mother, Philomena (played by Judi Dench). Philomena has searched for decades for a child taken from her and given up for adoption by Irish nuns 40 years ago. He agrees to write the story. So begins a softly comic tale of Philomena’s sad and touching road trip undertaken by this pair of almost complete opposites: From Ireland to America and back again. A Catholic, Philomena has lived her life believing that the nuns who forced her to give up her son were executing a fit punishment for the sin she committed by having a child out of wedlock. They track down her son, only to find that he died a decade before. Philomena is devastated. 

The actor Coogan says “Americans are about success, the American Dream and all that,” adding “the British get more pleasure from seeing other people fail than ourselves succeed. We like people who keep trying, even though they’re losing. That’s the character I play in Philomena.” Says Coogan. Alan Edgewater sees Coogan’s interview as another reinforcement for his failure followers. He likes the international point-counterpoint and considers adding it to his keynote address materials.

At the Sculpture City conference across town in the Saint Louis Central West End neighborhood at the Chase Park Plaza, Canadian-Mexican artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer speaks to a group of artists, students and academics. “My work lives at the intersection of architecture and performance art,” he says adding: “It is just like a club: you set things up and hope people will come in and make it a scene. If they don’t, it’s okay. You move on and do something else.”

Elon Musk, African-born Canadian-American business magnate, investor and inventor who is currently the CEO of SpaceX and also Tesla Motors strikes Alan Edgewater as another fine example for failure fans. Both companies are dramatic illustrations of failing first thinks Alan.

The local bookseller, Left Bank Books with a corner location in the heart of the Central West End is selling all three of Alan Edgewater’s Books with a prominent window display that includes the Abraham Lincoln #failurefirst Push Pin Studios style poster. On display, adjacent to It isn’t easy being anybody, You can’t give 110% and Negative Space are two other recent book releases: The Rise, The Gift of Failure and the Search for Mastery by Sarah Lewis and The Up Side of Down, Why Failing well is the Key to Success by Megan McArdle.

Alan Edgewater feels he is riding a wave but continues to fiddle with his body of work ostensibly preparing for the next show. He knows the power of storytelling. He also knows that he is only as good as his last movie (or book, or keynote, or seminar). Still, he knows he must forge ahead to stay ahead of the curve.