fail harder. there is no try.

Try Harder from steph says hello flickr

where’d you come from, cool image?

I watched the doc Art & Copy a couple of weeks ago. Rush out and do the same at your earliest convenience. (It’s on instant Netflix!) Really fun doc on the business of advertising. Appealing, I imagine, to Mad Men fans, advert junkies and general creatives alike. Cool to hear about the campaigns that almost didn’t happen—execs were scared of “where’s the beef?” for one—and to identify with the sometimes frustrating balance a creative in the corporate world has to strike. I’ve ranted about this before: on simplicity & committees and Gordon MacKenzie’s book Orbiting the Giant Hairball. Ultimately the movie is more fascinating than frustrating because, miraculously, creativity prevails. New ideas can thrive.

Art & Copy shows the history and inner workings of some of the biggest agencies in the world (like, dudes who invented Just Do It for Nike. see the website for more). My favorite was Wieden + Kennedy (like, the dudes who came up with the Life’s a Moving Target campaign…yes, that means those LOST finale ads…how much would i kill to work there? so so much.) whose Fail Harder pushpin mural was my desktop photo the next day. Lookie:

Fail Harder wk.comwhat’s your story, little guy?
(this blog has link to making-of video)

It’s amazing for a coupla reasons:
1) Took 100,000 clear pushpins to make.
2) The sentiment is so radical but so true and absolving—and also shares the secret to real creative success: failure.

Slightly related digression…
I went to a memorial service on campus today for Bob Roach, former director of Drury’s Center for Gifted Education as well as pioneer for gifted education in the whole state. (to me he was the quirky Capote-esque guy who always dressed well and told good anecdotes, whom i met as a h.s. student bound for nerdcamp, and then later worked with as a nerdcamp practitioner in college.)

[Slightly related footnote to my digression…the rights and needs of gifted kids, which Bob worked to promote throughout his career, are in serious danger as state budget cuts reduce funding…i just spent 20 minutes reading articles for and against funding cuts for programs like MSA. I get that this is a complex issue, and lord knows after this week’s Obama post I don’t need to invite more political debate to the little ol’ blog. But it does make me sad.]

The service was really moving. Just a simple gathering—no organ music or flowers or caskets–just celebrating the end of a life that had been characterized by courageous and authentic living, abundant giving to others and making the world a more stylish place.
This is how a funeral should be, I think: honest, vulnerable, a tad irreverent and with an excellent wine and fruit spread. Bob was eulogized for his belief that every kid—especially the gifted ones—needs to hear, “you’re okay” and “you’re enough just as you are.” I’d add to that list: it’s okay to fail. Maybe the last thing you need to do is try harder. Try to fail harder.


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