Sharing lessons learned, and dealing with scrutiny of failure

By Steve Outing

It’s been an odd week for me. After my business partner and I decided to shut down our small company, the Enthusiast Group, I decided to be open and transparent about what happened. Following the lead of Judy’s Book founder Andy Sacks, I’ve blogged and written a column about what we learned about grassroots and social media from the humbling experience of presiding over a failed company trying to succeed in that space.

The Editor & Publisher Online column got a lot of attention; I’m pretty sure it’s seen more write-ups and blog mentions than any other column I’ve written.

For the most part, I’m glad to be sharing what we learned. I did it because I felt strongly that we learned some lessons that others in the media business needed to hear. Perhaps I’ve caused some business plans involving grassroots and social media to be tweaked to avoid the problems we encountered.

Most of the folks who blogged about my column seemed to get my message, though there were some that I disagreed with. Then there was this oddball one by Tom Abate, comparing me to Dilbert creator Scott Adams…

Abate makes some interesting points, but I didn’t “fail at blogging”; the Enthusiast Group was a niche grassroots content and social networking play. I blog here and occasionally on Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits. Neither of those efforts make me money, but I don’t think I’m a failed blogger. :)

But that word, “failure,” is what makes the week “odd,” or maybe disconcerting is a better word. Many of the posts about me this week were supportive of our efforts at the Enthusiast Group. Some particularly good write-ups can be found by Robert Niles for Online Journalism Review, Dan Pacheco and Jeremy Wagstaff.

Some of the headlines, I must admit, were a bit hard to take:

Ouch. Well, I suspect in the long run that talking about this publicly will be a good thing.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!