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9 Tips I Learned from My Biggest Failures – Don’t Make These Mistakes

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how to learn from failure

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I could feel the pace of my heartbeat quicken to a near frantic level, as if I had just sprinted to the finish line of 10k road race. No not excitement though, but sheer panic.

“Where are they?”

“What else is going on tonight?”

“Everyone said they would be here and it’s damn near midnight…”

These and many questions galloped through my mind, while I sat with my friends and try to play it cool.

Palms start to sweat, sweat starts to run down my brows, head starts to hurt. * checks watch * It’s only been a minute since I last checked.

“Bartender pour me another shot. Fxck it! Let’s get drunk!”

These were the sequence of events of a big party flop, that came right after an event that was a massive success. It’s that club promoter roller coaster of highs, lows, sickness and brink of vomit and elation experience.

As that late November night continued, we peeped out into the parking lot as cars would pull into the empty parking lot and then damn near peeled out of the lot like they were being pursued by the OJ Simpson police squad.

Those who were brave enough to stop and park, only came close enough to the door to speculate whether it was even worth coming in.

“Damn, I can tell it’s empty! You can hear the music bouncing off the walls!”

“Let’s leave, nothing’s popping here!”

Our hearts continue to sink deeper as our heads sink deeper into our near empty shot glasses.
nightclub fail
Thank God for the few amazing friends we had there to stick it out with us and help stroke our egos.

“You guys will get em, next time.”

“Shxt let’s call it a night,” one of my partners yelled out in aggravation. “No need to prolong the inevitable. Nobody’s coming!”

At least we were able to put everyone out of their misery, the DJs who were playing the B side of records at this point. The bartenders scrolling through their flip phones, wondering why they had to work that day for this wack ass event. Along with everyone looking at us with disgust… like

“You fools better not quit your day jobs!”

They never said that, but you could tell they were thinking it.

We locked up shop, paid all the bills from the few dollars we made and promised to make whole whoever we owed after that night.

My first event flop, I will never forget that feeling, nor the hangover the next day. If you’ve been promoting events and nightclubs long enough, I’m sure you’ve had a few of these nights right?

If not, lucky you!

The next day we found out it was a fight night. Apparently nobody goes out on fight night. To make things worst, one of our friends threw a BBQ for free and everyone went there instead. This after we moved our event date to accommodate his the day before.

“We were to bring everyone by after, but we just ended up getting stuck there…”

Stuck, sure!


“I’ll never move my date for this fxcker again!” I thought. But the words that came out my my mouth, were just “Alright… Cool… We’ll talk later.”

Threw the phone down on the floor and just rolled over to wallow in my sorrow filled sheets. Half hungover, half drenched in shame and another fictional half pondering what happened. (Like my math skills?)

Sad to say that event wouldn’t be the last time we’d have an event flop. As time passes you realize that it comes with the territory and you just have to learn from the Ls. That’s if you’re smart.

Over time we’ve learned to stop the insanity, sit down and diagnose why we failed, then try as much to limit those failures. We very rarely make the same mistakes, because we know what to look out for. Save for mother nature!

That’s one thing we haven’t figure out. How to plan around a snow storm hitting the day of a big event. Hell has no fury like Mother Nature scorned and suffering from Global Warming Menopause.

So how is this of any benefit to you?

Well here is where I break down the lessons learned from our most sensational flops, so hopefully you can avoid them for your own events.

Have your pen and pad ready? OK, here are the lessons we learned.

1. Believe In The Event from The Start

Tweet this! Some of the massive failures we’ve had are because we never believed in the event from inception. Whether it was the venue, theme, team we had in place, etc. The feeling towards the event was just… “Meh!”

No excitement whatsoever.

The problem with that is, the lack of zeal for the event carries over into your marketing. Your team, the club and your audience won’t get excited about your production, because you aren’t.

Everyone will just go through the motions and you won’t get the maximum support you’re looking for.

Make sure your heart is into the event you’re promoting. This will translate to your marketing and your audience will feed off it.

2. Don’t Go Against Your Gut

A spin off, of the previous lesson is going against your gut feeling. It’s something you can’t quite put your finger on, but you know something’s off and you might need to cancel or postpone the event.

Your gut might be telling you the club owner seems shady, or the date for the event is too close to execute a great experience, or the concept won’t quite connect with the audience.

Tweet this! If you’re unsure, follow your gut. You’ll be glad you did. Life has a way of revealing why you decided against that choice at some point in the future.

Sounds kind of woo woo, but trust your feelings.

3. Avoid Being Overconfident and Stubborn

Another great failure lesson has come from being overconfident, some would event call it arrogance.

It happens to the best of us.
don't be like this guy

You’ll go on amazing win streaks and feel like you’re invincible. *Cues The 300 Movie Soundtrack*

Then someone presents a concept that you’re not sure of, or you decide to promote an event despite knowing it won’t absolutely work.

You don’t have enough time, you’ve experienced this before and remember it didn’t go well the last time. But hey you’re winning now, it’s a different time now, you’re super human. Bring it on!

Not so fast!

Here comes a failure to serve you up some humility with a side of embarrassment for good measure.

There’s a difference between being confident and being arrogant. Yes you may be doing well, but do your due diligence. Remember your lessons and work according to the facts you have.

Don’t get overzealous and let your ego lead you astray.

4. Create Momentum for Your Event

If there’s no build up to your event, especially if it’s a big event, you may be setting yourself up for another failure. How awesome.

Lack of momentum means no buzz, means nobody’s talking, means you and your partners may be losing money that night.

It’s one of those double edged swords that could either skin you alive or be used to serve up a big slice of success.

Take some time to spread the word, get the right people excited and get the buzz going. You want that hype to be at a fever pitch come the night of your event.

5. Get Help from Others

This failure lesson could be tied in with arrogance above. It’s been said over and over “No man/woman is an island!”

Yet we’ve had moments where we felt we could do it all ourselves. Plan, execute, market and spread the word all yourself.

The problem with that is….

  1. You will get overwhelmed
  2. You will alienate others willing to help you
  3. FAIL

Even if you had some success, you still could have achieved more with the help of others.

More people spreading the word. More people helping lift the heavy weight. More people getting excited about the upcoming event.

Get help early and get help often. It takes a village to produce amazing event experiences.

6. Tell A Story to Get People Excited

The great thing about movies, TV series, sporting events and our own personal friendships are the stories they tell.

It’s the same with events and when you don’t have a story to tell, your experience will fall on deaf ears and phone screen zombie eyes.

So whether it’s a theme, someone major’s birthday, a celebrity, the venue, anything, it’s important that you tell a story about why people should attend.

We’ve just dropped flyers and imagery before, telling people to come out and “have fun”. What do you think happened?

Well the topic is failure, so I’m sure you’re bright enough to say that event FAILED. Lack of a good story/reason why, mixed with some of the elements mentioned before are perfect concoction for disaster.

So again, do your best to tie in a story for why others should take their time to get dressed, put gas in their car and come spend their hard earned money and Game of Thrones reruns time with you.

7. Don’t Fear Losing Out On Opportunities

stunned“Man I’m telling you, if you don’t take this deal / date / percentage right now, you’re going to be sorry!”

Like the wet-behind-the-ears suckers we were, we believed whoever was at the end of the pitch and ended up paying for it in the end.

“Hell yeah, a party on Wednesday afternoon at some hard to get venue is perfect! If not we’ll never get this spot.”

Trust me, you’re not missing anything. If the deal doesn’t fit with your timing, or what’s being offered is impractical, just walk, no, RUN away.

It’s human to have a fear of loss. That’s just life.

However fight against your natural human instinct when it comes to this situation. Other great you-cannot-miss-out opportunities will always come along.

8. Don’t Forced It

The evil twin brother to the fear of loss, is Forceful Fred. Yes that’s its actual name.

When you convince yourself to take that terrible deal, or believe you could finally make that losing idea work, you’re force things.

You become stubborn enough to think you can make it work. But as grandma would say…. “You can’t force a square peg into a round hole sonny boy!” My grandma sounds like a 1940s TV character by the way.

Anyway, Granny aside… DO NOT FORCE THINGS!

You’ll come off desperate, shoot those hail Marys and stress yourself in hopes that it will all work out. Let’s save you the suspense… it won’t!

Now stop being stubborn and shelve that 90s Rock Themed Pool Party on Easter Sunday you were thinking of.

9. Prepare and Organize Your Event As Much As You Can

This by far is the death nail to any event.

You can basically hear your Middle School teacher Mrs. Fadigan screaming…

Tweet this! By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. – Benjamin Franklin

Who knew she plagiarized Sir Ben?

You know what? Ben and Mrs. Fadigan were right. This translates to many things in life, including the next hot event you’re working on.

If you don’t have plans, systems, templates and a general course of action you’re going to take, then your path to failure will be paved with tons of bumps and bruises.

Whether it’s 100, 1000, or 10,000 people you’re trying to influence to come hang out for the weekend, you need to have some sort of idea what you’re doing. You can’t just wing it.

You don’t see builders show up to build a house without a blueprint and expect it to turn into an amazing mansion. At some point that roof is going to cave on them or floors bottom out under them.

Sit down and get organized well enough to at least give yourself a shot to succeed. Even if you grab a pen and the back of a napkin, sketch out what you think this event will look like and how you plan to execute it.

I’ve winged it before and had my wings clipped, then fell, then cried, in the middle of an empty nightclub. A little dramatic, but you get the point.

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Hopefully you found these tips on what to avoid useful. With practice you can keep them in the forefront of your mind when planning your next event. Make our losses your best tutor.

I doubt this is the type of post you’d expect when trying to learn to promote successful events. However in the words of Mike…

The more wins over losses you rack up, is better for business and also your ego. Who needs the pain and stress of empty parties anyway?

Of course there will be unforeseen circumstances and a few nights of terrible weather, those you can’t really strategize around. The most you can do is have an emergency plan, and if you’re smart, some event insurance to protect you on the downside.

Here’s to Your Success!


 tweetable Tweet this! Don’t Make These 9 Mistakes Promoting Your Next Party #nightlife
 tweetable Tweet this! Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. – Will Rogers
 tweetable Tweet this! I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed. – Michael Jordan #failure
 tweetable Tweet this! By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. – Benjamin Franklin

Now It’s Your Turn – What’s Your Take?
Have you had any big lessons from your own failures? Share in the comments below. Let’s learn and sob over them together.


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