What a Failure!

In this episode JJ and Melissa talk about a business venture that didn't go quite the way it was intended.

December 8, 2020
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Melissa Albers  0:00  
Hey everyone, you are listening to the self awareness journey podcast. This little banter is about a car ride long and features your hosts JJ Parker, and Melissa Albers. JJ owns a tech company. And Melissa has been a coach working with influencers for the last 18 years.

JJ Parker  0:17  
Hey, Melissa, I was digging through some stuff. Yeah, I found the very first email exchange You and I have ever had.

Melissa Albers  0:26  
Wait, Wait, really?

JJ Parker  0:29  
Yeah. It was August of 2014.

Melissa Albers  0:32  
Really? Oh, no. Oh, was I. So?

JJ Parker  0:36  
Here's how, here's how it went down. I sent an email. Because you and I have a mentor in common. Yeah, I'm Dawn. Yeah. Yep. And, like, I didn't know you, but I knew dawn right. You didn't know me. But you knew dawn. Yeah. First email goes, Hey, Melissa, your names come up a few times. As I've met with Don, I've been working on a 360 feedback for all our employees. It's been a good experience. I love to get together and bounce some ideas. I hacked together a computer app to customize and distribute surveys to all 35 of our employees. The app sets a circle of influence for each employee, and gathers four to eight responses. I'm wondering if you have come across a tool like that? Right. Okay. So then you go, Hey, JJ, thanks for reaching out, how's next Tuesday? Look, I'm not quite sure if you are wanting some ideas on how to run 360s? Or needs support and coaching? Or actually how to affect change from the data you'd received? Oh, well,

Melissa Albers  1:43  
that would those are good questions.

JJ Parker  1:46  
And, and I go, I want to discuss the market of doing 360s specifically for administering to entire organizations. Do you use any software tools? Do you think doing 360s? company wide is effective? Where are there opportunities to automate the process with new software and approaches? Got it? And you go. Thanks for the clarification. Yes, I do many 360s. I'm a bit buried at the moment. Can we look at a date in September?

Melissa Albers  2:21  
Is that actually what I wrote?

JJ Parker  2:23  
That is actually what you're seven? I think at this point, I'm like, well, like, like, this lady blew me off.

Melissa Albers  2:35  
You know what, like reading this now? Like, I'm feeling super uncomfortable. Because I think probably what happened was now that I know you like I could totally read what that email said, You were like, oh, is there a startup in here somewhere? And the thought that

JJ Parker  2:51  
there's one last email after your last email after your email, there's one last email from you. Because I pretty much dropped it. Okay, you go. Okay. So my brains been working a bit on your concept. I've changed my mind. And I'm thinking that you might have something cool here. And then we met for coffee.

Melissa Albers  3:17  
Oh, my God. So that's right. That was the Star Wars

JJ Parker  3:21  
the start. So that was the start of cardiology,

Melissa Albers  3:25  
it was

JJ Parker  3:26  
simple idea that maybe we can bring, you know, we started kind of at 360s. But yeah, moved into coaching for everyone.

Melissa Albers  3:38  
Yes. And, and for the listeners benefit core, ology was the startup that you and I then came to create, and have had for a few years with some really cool things. Yeah,

JJ Parker  3:50  
so so we've mentioned it a few times on the podcast. And in the early podcasts, we didn't refer to cardiology by name. We always said something like, Oh, yeah, Melissa had a company together or, you know, we're very loose about it.

Unknown Speaker  4:07  
Yeah. And I'm purpose.

JJ Parker  4:10  
Yeah. Right. And, and then, a few months in, I just thought, like, why are we not saying that company's name? It's like, it's like Voldemort and Harry Potter. Like, Thou shalt not name he who must not be me. Yeah, my company, the company. Who shall not be named. Yeah. But what was causing us to do that? You know, I think this is like, this was a really big moment for me and you Yeah. That I think it's great to talk through because it was really weird. Like I had trouble saying the name Karachi for years. Yeah, we shut it down.

Melissa Albers  4:47  
Right. I know. I I think I did, too. And I think that my reticence was based on feeling so bad that It didn't work because I so believed in it, that even though the experience was and remains to be one of the best experiences I've ever had in my professional life, I mean, I would actually say it's probably the number one best experience. I still was carrying around some feelings that didn't really make sense to that.

JJ Parker  5:20  
Yeah. So, you know, we talked about failure, right? We were even talking about a couple weeks back was international failure day. Yeah, right. Or I hate right. Where everybody? I don't think it's a very popular international take. celebrating it.

Melissa Albers  5:40  
In European countries. It's actually much bigger than here. shocker.

JJ Parker  5:44  
Yeah, well, we should, we should promote it next year. More. But yeah, so the idea like, especially here, right, failure is, is not a positive thing. Like, oh, you failed. Right. And, and what's interesting is, we had this business idea. Mm hmm. We spent a lot of time on it.

Melissa Albers  6:11  
Oh, my goodness.

JJ Parker  6:12  
I everything we had into it. We did we put money into it. We had investors into it. Yeah, we had employees into it. Right. We had so much into it. And then it didn't work. Yeah. You know, it didn't work out like we like thought it would work out or right vision, it would work out. Yep. So we feel like we felt like we missed the goal. Right. Now. We ended up having to shut it down. Right. So financially, it was a failure.

Melissa Albers  6:43  
Yep. We took it in the shorts.

JJ Parker  6:45  
Yeah. But, like, to me, there's so much good about that experience, that it's hard to just measure it on that one metric.

Melissa Albers  6:59  
Well, I know just as you're thinking about it, I was thinking, why? Why did we have such a strong feeling that it failed? Like because we didn't even talk about it. Like the the two of us didn't even talk about it. And I think our partnership is one of the healthiest and most robust business partnerships that I've seen. And we still didn't really talk about our feelings around it. We really stayed connected in bringing everything to a close, like we did all this stuff. But the perception that we had, that it didn't work came from very specific expectations of what success looked like. I think, for me, that's what I've really learned over the years in reflection.

JJ Parker  7:43  
Yeah. I one of one of the most amazing things anyone has ever said to me, was when when it was clear that that we had to literally close the doors, right? And, and, yeah, it wasn't gonna work. We had a meeting with our biggest angel investor, right? And we had to tell them, Hey, we got to shut down the company, it's not going to make it like we're, we're not going to make it. I remember at that meeting, I was so nervous. I like dropped my phone,

Melissa Albers  8:21  
you broke your phone, I was thinking that you dropped your new iPhone and shattered. And

JJ Parker  8:29  
we sat down, and we we told them, you know, the decision that we that we made about the business. And he just looked at us and said, Thank you for working so hard on this. Do you know I thought that that was like the most gracious thing I've ever heard. But do you know what else he said?

Melissa Albers  8:46  
But I remember that. He said right after that. He said, I'm really proud of you. Yeah, that's what he said. I'm really proud of you. And I think both of us were like on the verge of bursting into tears because so much amped up emotion. And we tried and work so hard. And we were so all in. And we were very, I don't want to say that we were scared of his reaction. But we were so disappointed that we would be disappointing him. Like we had the natural assumption that he was going to be very angry and disappointed. And he was Yeah, nothing like that.

JJ Parker  9:20  
Yeah, it was. It was amazing. I mean, it was amazing. Yeah, but you're right. We had we assumed how he was going to be. Yep. which caused us to just have a really strong reaction.

Melissa Albers  9:35  
Yeah. It's It's interesting, too, because the premise of that whole business was the premise that we believed at the core that everyone should have an opportunity to see themselves. Mm hmm. To understand themselves. And at that time, we were coming at it from the premise that the best way to do that would be as if everybody else weighed in to tell you what they thought of you. Yep. And and. And while that's not completely wrong, it's actually not completely right.

JJ Parker  10:12  
Yeah. You know, it's interesting. So this is that one of the interesting things about that observation that was our initial Yeah, idea. Yes. Right. But we had kind of pivoted towards the end.

Melissa Albers  10:27  
Yeah. So where

JJ Parker  10:28  
we weren't doing the peer feedback part anymore. We're doing some of the coaching that is just purely based on your own personality. Right. Right. Remember, we are we at the end, we're actually running tests on employee groups, to see if we could get enough information about their self awareness just by a single self survey. Oh, my God, I remember that.

Melissa Albers  10:57  
I remember I hadn't I didn't forget that. Again, work. amnesia is real. That's real

JJ Parker  11:02  
nice. And I have like the worst work amnesia. I know, maybe everyone else has it. I can't remember a single thing I did in the past.

Melissa Albers  11:09  
Oh, my gosh, I forgot about that. And we were super, super excited about that. And what happened is, is that that person would answer their own assessment about themselves. And it was a really quick, a quick survey, like were there 10 minutes? Yeah. And it would put them into a model that would use the top five personality traits. So like, your level of assertiveness, your level of extraversion, you know, it would take those traits. And based on your own responses, if pushed that person into a coaching. I don't know what the phrase would be model.

JJ Parker  11:49  
Yeah, like a coaching. Yeah, correct. Like a curriculum, we call it yeah, that we send them weekly emails about

Melissa Albers  11:55  
Yeah, for 10 weeks, for 10 weeks, they received a really quick email that said, Hey, your survey indicated that you feel that you're this if you are, watch this brief video for an idea on how to work on yourself this week.

JJ Parker  12:09  
Yep. Oh, it's such a good idea. We should just a segue off. Well, I so as you know, obviously, as we talked about this, right, yeah. Like, we are starting, we're remembering all of these things that we did, right? Yeah. So like, I while this project did ultimately, like financially fail, the successful parts were like, absolutely amazing. Like, like, you're going you're kind of like starting to, like, bring up like some of the amazing work we did. Yes. Around self awareness and coaching. And things like that. Right. And our, our core ology, yeah, our core OS are still present, like desire to bring that to as many people as possible. Right. Exactly.

Melissa Albers  13:03  
Yes. Um,

JJ Parker  13:04  
the other thing that was amazing about horology was the team. Oh, I

Melissa Albers  13:10  
know, I was just going to talk about that.

JJ Parker  13:12  
We had is me and you. We had a couple of engineers, john and john. Yeah, just absolutely amazing. Yes. Mary, I, we had this team of people that were so supportive of each other. Oh, my

Melissa Albers  13:28  
gosh, it was so much fun. It was just like a electric to be with that team.

JJ Parker  13:34  
Yeah. Yeah. Every every day was like, new ideas. New work done. Yeah. Is is really exciting.

Melissa Albers  13:44  
And we were in a, we were at cocoa, which was a co working space that was really geared a lot towards startups. So the energy of that space was also very much around growth and building a new idea sparking everywhere. And then, you know, we also had a whole cast of characters that were supporting us from the outside in, we had a board of advisors. So we had two or three people that we felt really knew us and we're very passionate. And a couple of them had done exactly that started with an idea built a software platform and made huge, huge company. So we had a whole bunch of stuff around that, that were that was very exciting and very provoking.

JJ Parker  14:27  
Yeah. So as I think about like, after core ology, right, I think one of the things that probably hit me most was, you know, not that we lost some money and things like that, but like, the energy of that project went away. Yeah. Right. Like, like, the creation of that had to stop. Right, right. And I didn't have any control or ability to keep it going. Yeah, me either. Yes, that was really hard. Because, like you said, we all believed in it so much and just see it. Have to stop. Right? Because we had no money. You know, I mean, it has to stop because we had no money. And we were out of it. It was sad that that was the reason, you know, like, yeah, yeah. And it was during humble years. So yeah. working on a project for a couple of years. That doesn't create what you expect. Yeah. What you expect is, is it's hard to stay at that state for Yeah, for a long time.

Melissa Albers  15:33  
Right. Right. But it is interesting, because I think as you and I have started to talk more and more about cardiology, in the history of Cardiology and and how we got our start working together. It's not a very far jump, to see why we're doing what we are today.

JJ Parker  15:54  
Right? Well,

Melissa Albers  15:55  
it's a pretty cool little hop over a very, very, very small puddle.

JJ Parker  16:01  
Well, we are both fans of Simon Sinek start with why Yeah, stuff. Right. Like, really know, why you do what you do. Right. And, and it's hard for people to, I think a lot of people, it's hard to get to a why. Right. Like, why are you on the planet?

Melissa Albers  16:24  

Unknown Speaker  16:25  
that's a heavy question. Yeah.

Melissa Albers  16:26  
What's your WHY?

JJ Parker  16:28  
Yeah. What's your purpose here? Right. Yeah. Why were you put on the planet? But it's funny as that was? That's a hard, hard question. And, and, and for you, and I, it's having this second project, where we're working on the same thing, I think, brings your and my why. Post sort of focus, right, because, oh, here we are, like, add it again. Not even on purpose. I mean, we kind of joke that we didn't make a podcast of the self awareness journey on purpose. Right, right. But if we did, we kind of did, but like behind it. But we kind of gorgeous hanging out and talk and you're Yeah, riffing on this idea. We started riffing on the idea. And here we are.

Melissa Albers  17:15  
Yeah, I think too. I wanted to just mention side note, if anybody's interested in who's Simon Sinek is his last name is si n. Ek. And he originally started with a TED talk that you can find with millions of views. And it's a real he's he's very interesting, just in terms of start with why if you're in that place in your life, and you're kind of curious about what your why is, he's a great person to check out. But I also just want to bring back this idea that you brought up early in our discussion here, which is, you know, the relationship that we've had with a thing that we did, that the expectations were pretty specific. And we we, if the expectations did not work out the way that we expected that we would, and so we felt a degree of failure in that. And but I think that what we're really talking about is our own emotions and how your own perspective frames your sense of if you're doing a great thing or not, which is bringing back to the self awareness journey, right? You're how we have a certain mental perception of something and because we have thought that for so long, and believed that for so long, like we thought this model with core ology was it we really were all in, we believed that, and we believed it so long, or we thought that so long that it became a really core belief. And then when it didn't work out the way that we had expected. Wow, it just like was an undertow, right? It took us under we felt bad we, we had to recover. There was a recovery period. Yeah.

JJ Parker  19:02  
Yeah. I sat in a hammock for an entire summer.

Melissa Albers  19:04  
I literally sat in a hammock. And I had a beer every most every day. Not often more than one beer. And sometimes I couldn't finish one. But that's beside the point. I also listened to Jimmy Buffett, I sat in a hammock and listened to Jimmy Buffett for the entire summer in recovery. But I think what I guess what I'm getting at now, though, is is as we talk about that and just sort of unfolding and you know, peeling back some of these feelings. It's really interesting. I wonder how we would feel today if given the same set of circumstances. I wonder if our awarenesses such personally and you know, like because there were times when I knew certain things didn't feel right but I was really just hell bent on pushing through no matter what. And I don't honor myself in a lot of situations because I was so hell bent on proving myself right.

JJ Parker  20:00  
Yeah, yeah, you're right there. There definitely were times where we were just trying to force this thing out into the market. Yeah. When we went at what? Maybe a more centered or relaxed approach would have.

Melissa Albers  20:17  
Yeah, and better? Well, it certainly would have given us opportunities to see what was and to see how our own interactions in our own feelings were trying to tell us, you know, trying to tell us some stuff in the process. And again, I don't think if there is, you know, in looking at it, did we create a business that flourished? No. Did we have great success in so many ways? We sure did. Yeah. And just framing that emotionally as we think about building future stuff.

JJ Parker  20:50  
Yep. Yeah. The, the, if you zoom out a little bit, and think about failure, and think about about things like, I once did a talk at my after I graduated years out, like at my high school, like at the graduation, I don't know why they invited me to do that. Because

Melissa Albers  21:15  
that's awesome. Must have

JJ Parker  21:16  
been you had never heard. Yeah, right. They had never heard anything I spoke about before. And like, I think they wanted a like, successful former student. What they got was a fairly opinionated college dropout. But But when I got when I, when I told this graduating class was that they should go out and fail like that they needed to remember how they were in kindergarten, and how they learned in kindergarten. And the way you learn in kindergarten is like, you just try stuff, like you build up tower of blocks, and then it falls over. And then you learn how to build it a little better. Right? And you're learning as a kid as a child is like a great way to learn. Because you mostly learned by getting on your bike, skinning your knee, right? Yeah. And trial, and you didn't learn you didn't make it through childhood by being successful all the time,

Melissa Albers  22:16  
like, are just sitting back and theorizing about experiences rather than having them.

Unknown Speaker  22:21  

Unknown Speaker  22:22  

JJ Parker  22:23  
So so. So getting out there, trying things and having it not work and skinning your knee is the most powerful way to learn. It's like how everybody learns, right? Right. Right. So we, but we, as adults, for some reason, start to get into this mode, where failure is not okay. Right? We can't have a failure in our job, we're gonna

Melissa Albers  22:48  
judge ourselves harshly.

JJ Parker  22:50  
Yep. If we do, it's gonna be Yeah, it's gonna be hard for us. And I just don't know, where when does that turn in someone's brain? where it goes from a trial and error method of learning to a like, I must always be perfect. Yeah, style of operating? You know, it is really interesting question. It's

Melissa Albers  23:12  
such an interesting question. And I think too, especially as we talk about, you know, our what is the expectation of self. And when we talk about, you know, the biggest the top five triggers that people experience through the self awareness journey, I'm speaking of one of the one of the triggers is fear that I'm either not good enough, or I don't have enough. And that triggers so much emotion in people that spools people into all different directions. So it's one of the primary triggers. And that is such a good question is where who plants that? Who plants that trigger? Where does that happen?

JJ Parker  23:49  
Yeah. Is it maybe it's society? Maybe it's just how adults mature? I don't know.

Melissa Albers  23:56  
I think and I think to like that. Yeah, exactly. And maybe it's, you know, your parents had their own failures, and they never got over them. And they want their kids to not have those. So they put a lot of that pressure and expectation on, on the generations down and it just continues to pull it proliferate.

JJ Parker  24:11  
Yeah. I remember, whenever I would tell anybody that we shut down cardiology, like, the, the reaction was always like, Oh, I'm so sorry. Like, all that's really too bad. Like, you know, it's like, Uh huh. Yeah. Like some, someone died. And, and I always kind of thought that was a funny reaction. Because it's like, what, if you just step back, right? It was a startup software company, like the likelihood that it was gonna succeed is very, very low to begin with. Exactly.

Melissa Albers  24:45  
Yeah. Yeah. Less than one in 10.

JJ Parker  24:49  
The stats on these things are not like good, but, but we I would have felt worse if we hadn't tried. Yeah, you know, yes. The things that actually happen Kind of haunt me, or, or the things that stick in my head or are more often the things I didn't do, then the things I tried and failed that I'm

Melissa Albers  25:11  
Yes, you know, that's very, very true that and there's a whole lot of video floating around with Carl that might haunt us to someday because some of them are,

JJ Parker  25:23  
it was all mostly you on camera.

Melissa Albers  25:25  
I know that. I mean, I do remember what I do remember one time I had my hair in a ponytail, and you were and you never say things that are like, it's always funny when you give critical feedback, as you will just deliver it like this is the way it is. And I did not feel good about how I looked at all I knew wasn't gonna be good nearly to me. And you said, that ponytail is not your friend. I love that Gregg's me up. I still laugh about that. So anyway, this has been such a good conversation. And I'm really glad that we've been able to sort of unpack core ology, because we've actually never had this kind of conversation together about it. And I'm glad we were able to know here.

JJ Parker  26:10  
Yeah, that's, that's a really, that's a really fun thing about even this podcast is, is that it kind of gives us an opportunity to sit down and talk about some things that maybe we just don't come up in, like normal conversation. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Or at least it forces us to deal with the things we don't want to talk about. Maybe?

Melissa Albers  26:32  
No, it couldn't be that. That's for sure. It's not that. That's silly. Well, I do think it's kind of interesting, though. Like when in reflection, as we've been talking about being aware of ourselves and having more awareness in the moment, I think that there's so many lessons in this story, that really go hand in hand with the opportunity to understand our feelings about something like have a feeling about something and just trace it back. Like, where does that come from? I mean, I think by us having this kind of conversation, it really helps us understand what are the primary feelings that we had around that? Because you know, what, as we continue to grow and build, we may start another 10 companies together, I'd much rather know what's behind those feelings so that they don't get carried through to the next stuff. Yep. So I mean, I think it's really I think it's really good.

JJ Parker  27:23  
Yeah. And, you know, there's people will will have failures, you know, they'll think of failures in lots of different ways. Like little ones, big ones. I mean, a company is relationships, like all sorts of things. Right. Yeah. And just remembering to kind of zoom out on some of those things. Right.

Melissa Albers  27:42  
Yeah. And allow yourself to change the perspective. Just a little bit about why you think it's been a failure and what parts of it have been wildly good.

JJ Parker  27:50  
Yeah, yeah, it it. What's making you feel certain ways could just be the story that you've decided to put around it.

Discussed in this episode

Let's get real

Meet your guides

JJ Parker

JJ Parker is a serial entrepreneur passionate about building creative strategy, efficient operations, and unique marketing perspectives. Parker got his start as a student at The Minneapolis Institute of Art, and soon after launched his first company Tightrope Media Systems (TRMS) with a high school buddy in 1997.

Melissa Albers

Melissa is passionate about developing people’s self-awareness and ability to positively interact with others. She focuses on the importance of building influence, and highlights the most important relationship we have is with self first. Ms. Albers speaks on leadership and self-awareness, and has shared the stage with John Maxwell (Leadership Author and Speaker), Lee Cockerell (Exec VP of Disney) and Les Brown (Motivational Speaker) to name a few.

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