“My advice to those experiencing failure is to take it as a learning opportunity. Instead of focusing on exactly what went wrong, focus on the learnings that can be drawn, and how they can make you better equipped to do what you love.”
The Fear of Failure is one of the most common restraints that holds people back from pursuing great ideas. Imagine if we could become totally free from the fear of failure. Imagine what we could then manifest and create. In this interview series, we are talking to leaders who can share stories and insights from their experience about “Becoming Free From the Fear of Failure.” As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Manuel Machado.
Entrepreneur, award-winning advertising professional and cultural decoder, Manuel E. Machado is a top-level executive with decades of robust experience in branding, image development, strategic marketing, public relations and business administration. Machado’s cross-cultural industry expertise, proven leadership and entrepreneurial spirit allow him to elevate brand practices and business models for his agency, while his skills in the full spectrum of the marketing and communication practices help his client partners build market dominance and consumer appeal. Machado currently serves as Co-Chairman of the Miami based full-service agency CCOMGROUP, which specializes in culturally fluent communications with key clients across the beauty, automotive, wine/spirits and energy industries.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
Ientered the communications and broadcast-media arena with a role in Univision’s globally renowned variety entertainment show Sadado Gigante. It was very early in my career, and I landed a spot as a Commercial Producer, which introduced me to the world of brand partnerships and working hand-in-hand to further the vision of multinational companies. Since then, I’ve developed my entrepreneurial and business management skills, leading me to serve at the head of several agencies for the latter part of my career, which has proven to be a rewarding opportunity. From my early years in the marketing and communication arena, I have been able to create and champion campaigns that push the envelope for multicultural audiences across not only broadcast media, but also advertising, digital marketing, public relations, and experiential events.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
It’s tough to narrow it down to just one, because I’ve had many interesting experiences and anecdotes that have resulted from those.
However, a memory that stands out is when BVK/MEKA, an agency that I founded and oversaw at the time, pitched a well-known telecommunications account, Sprint/PCS. Not only did we compete against multinational and global firms for the opportunity to handle Sprint PCS’s Hispanic market advertising, but also against industry colleagues that I’d looked up to for years. It was a very thorough process, and despite all of the talent that came forth among leading agencies, our minority-owned firm prevailed. In fact, we were subsequently featured on the cover of Adweek Magazine for our efforts. It was such an impactful moment in my career that I’ll never forget the headline — “Sprint PCS Selects the Lone Stranger.” Before that, we were the “lone stranger” who wasn’t widely recognized, but that win helped catapult us on the map and boosted our recognition. We’d always excelled with our client campaigns, but by being validated by a respected trade publication our agency experienced a new level of growth.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Three-character traits that are intrinsically weaved into my personality are humility, compassion, and dedication. Humility can only be achieved when you always believe the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s important to be humble and treat clients as partners. Also, it’s especially important to me that I treat individuals that work with me as associates rather than just employees.
In my opinion, compassion is part of everyone’s success story, because no relationship has ever survived and thrived on a long-term basis if one-party benefits more than the other. You can only achieve a balanced relationship by having empathy and a keen understanding of the needs of the other person or group that you are working with.
Lastly, dedication is part of my DNA as a professional. At this point in my career, I not only focus on working on campaigns — I also dedicate time to mentoring and nurturing talent. I choose to never use the phrase “young talent,” because I believe that one can have talent at any age, and with talent comes the dedication to commit to what one is passionate about.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the concept of becoming free from failure. Let’s zoom in a bit. From your experience, why exactly are people so afraid of failure? Why is failure so frightening to us?
So many are afraid of not accomplishing what they’ve set out to do, but both personally and professionally, I turn a blind eye to fear. Truthfully — What is the worst that could happen? If I don’t achieve what I expected from the onset, then I’d just have to start over again, and if that’s the case, it is OK. Failure is frightening to many because of their perspective. They forget that failing is just an opportunity to start over and reinvent yourself. I’ve often experienced failure in my career, so I’ve learned to embrace all key learnings, aim to do better the next time, and see any failures as opportunities.
What are the downsides of being afraid of failure? How can it limit people?
Being stuck in the same place and not growing is the biggest downsides of being afraid of failure. Personally, I would rather avoid the feeling of being trapped, than being held back due to a fear of failure. For instance, many have business ideas that don’t come to fruition because they don’t pursue them or don’t have the courage of bringing them up during a meeting. You will never know the joy of success if you limit yourself from growth or from experiencing something new.
In contrast, can you help articulate a few ways how becoming free from the fear of failure can help improve our lives?
Becoming free from fear can benefit every area of our lives because it allows us to achieve bigger and better things. I wouldn’t suggest that we face all our fears at once. However, it is for the better of our well-being and professional development that we work on confronting certain fears that hold us back. For example, some are terrified of failing during a public speaking opportunity, while for me, speaking in front of a large group comes naturally. However, if this is something that hinders you professionally, you should take calculated, small steps to overcome that fear. Proving by results that you can overcome at least one of your fears, will give you the confidence to face more and more as time goes on.
We would love to hear your story about your experience dealing with failure. Would you be able to share a story about that with us?
Failure is never an option in my book; therefore, I pay close attention to reflect on past instances where success was not achieved. I then, focus on the tweaks and steps I can take in the future to ensure my goal is accomplished, which inevitably helps enhance my skillset as a professional.
For example, selling my previous advertising agency filled me with fear, because it was a passion project that I devoted a good portion of my career to. However, doing so challenged me to be fully equipped when negotiating business deals, especially those in which I have a personal stake. It was an opportunity for growth, which I can now draw on when I am faced with big negotiations.
How did you rebound and recover after that? What did you learn from this whole episode? What advice would you give to others based on that story?
After the sale of my prior agency, I focused on the next chapter of my career. I now co-chair CCOMGROUP, and as part of my role I have taken the time to foster a healthy work environment that my colleagues and associates could appreciate, as well. Promoting a productive work environment is part of my passion as a professional and as a business leader.
My advice to those experiencing failure is to take it as a learning opportunity. Instead of focusing on exactly what went wrong, focus on the learnings that can be drawn, and how they can make you better equipped to do what you love.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that everyone can take to become free from the fear of failure”?
Five steps that anyone can take to become free from the fear of failure include:
Analyzing the situation before springing to action
Figuring out why it makes you fearful or uncomfortable
Coming up with a thought-out, actionable plan to overcome it
Facing the situation resolutely, despite reservations
After the situation is resolved, looking at your achievement and leveraging that experience as your vantage point for future success
The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “It is possible to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way.” Based on your experience, have you found this quote to be true? What do you think Aristotle really meant?
In that same instance, Aristotle continues by mentioning that to miss the mark is easy, but to hit it is quite difficult. There are many opportunities to make a mistake, but if we focus on the things that we can do well to succeed, then one can reason that, yes, while it is easy to miss the mark, there are always opportunities to make it work. When you believe in innovating, you break the mold and create new possibilities, which hopefully translates to varied new avenues for success.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
If I could, I would choose to rally our community to eradicate world hunger. Too many of our fellow humans live with constant hunger; in fact, according to the World Food Programme, more than 48 million people are facing emergency levels of hunger, with the threat of acute malnutrition, starvation, and death. As someone who cherishes and understands the value of food, I wish the world could come together to help support those in need. By overcoming hunger, which is a basic need, we give our fellow humans the bandwidth to focus on overcoming many of the other challenges that we face in society.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
I like this question! I would choose the Dali Lama because his spiritual serenity has always been inspiring to me. The Dali Lama’s selflessness has always been a conundrum to me. How could someone be so selfless and live in such peace and harmony? I’d also want to know if he isn’t in that state of mind every day, or if he has trouble keeping it up. The response would probably be something very profound that I would most likely have to wrestle with, but I think it would be an interesting topic to discuss with someone like him.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
To keep up with my business endeavors, please visit our website, www.ccomgroupinc.com and follow along via Instagram and TikTok, @CCOMGROUPINC.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.
About The Interviewer: Savio P. Clemente coaches cancer survivors to overcome the confusion and gain the clarity needed to get busy living in mind, body, and spirit. He inspires health and wellness seekers to find meaning in the “why” and to cultivate resilience in their mindset. Savio is a Board Certified wellness coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), stage 3 cancer survivor, podcaster, writer, and founder of The Human Resolve LLC.
Savio pens a weekly newsletter at thehumanresolve.com where he delves into secrets from living smarter to feeding your “three brains” — head 🧠, heart 💓, and gut 🤰 — in hopes of connecting the dots to those sticky parts in our nature that matter.
He has been featured on Fox News, and has collaborated with Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, Food Network, WW, and Bloomberg. His mission is to offer clients, listeners, and viewers alike tangible takeaways in living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle.
Savio lives in the suburbs of Westchester County, New York and continues to follow his boundless curiosity. He hopes to one day live out a childhood fantasy and explore outer space.