Trust yourself. Simply because no one else will do it for you. If you fear a certain decision, dig a bit deeper: why am I having this fear? Is it relevant? Just you can solve that.
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 Sara Simackova.
Sara Simackova is a marketing savant. In her early twenties, she helped launch influencer marketing in whole Europe for fashion e-commerce BIBLOO, and then worked as an influencer marketing freelancer for tech startups in the EU and US. From there she co-founded a Prague-based creative studio Pure stuff with her business partner Pepa Dvoracek. An entrepreneur, speaker, and feminist, Sara inspires many.
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’?
I grew up in a small town in Czechia. Therefore, the first step for me was to leave my small town and relocate to the capital city of Prague when I was 16. I graduated from film & TV school and moved to Germany to do an internship with Ivory Production in Munich. Later on, I moved to Dresden to Hechtfilm to learn more about production. In Hecht Film they focus on social topics. One time my boss Michael got smashed by Neo-Nazis when he was trying to shoot a documentary about the first refugee wave in Germany back in 2015. That will forever resonate with me: first to do something I am passionate about and second to try to make the world a better place.
After returning back to Czechia I decided to change direction to marketing, because advertising just simply fascinates me.
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?
I wanted to be an entrepreneur before I knew what entrepreneurship was. My parents are business owners as well, so it was just a natural way for me to start my own business. In 2018, after years of marketing as a freelancer, I craved more. I wanted to collaborate directly with innovative clients and build exciting brands. That is why I started a creative studio Pure stuff in the center of Prague with my business partner Pepa Dvoracek. He is in charge as an art director and I am in charge of production and marketing. I remember when we started and the first days it just seemed so unreal. We didn’t know if some clients would come in and would like to work with us. It was fortunate that our clients from the freelance years wanted us both in studio format. We come to realize that we are able to convey a brand’s story in a way that resonates with their customers. Our first job was to create a cycling magazine. After a man stepped into our studio he saw our photos from the magazine and he wanted branding for his biggest Aikido club. Sometimes the only thing you need is to be patient and believe in yourself and your clients.
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?
- Persistence: Our creative studio started 2018 with a few clients. Fast Forward grew internationally and got clients like Amnesty International, Volkswagen or the french magazine Liberation. The idea of working consistently on your goals and dreams become reality and that is what I love about it.
- Optimistic: If you are starting your business especially in today’s advertising environment, I strongly believe that, apart from having a skillful and talented team among you, you need to be an optimist.
- Cooperative: I love to cooperate and I think it is the key to having a successful business. I always try to connect with people whose work I admire and organizations that have similar values. Also our campaigns are more meaningful and authentic.
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?
I can speak mostly about entrepreneurs. Having your own business is basically putting yourself at risk, and suddenly it is not just your company that can fail but also your name.
What are the downsides of being afraid of failure? How can it limit people?
Setting your goals too low, because you don’t believe you can make it.
In contrast, can you help articulate a few ways how becoming free from the free of failure can help improve our lives?
When I was working for client Hedepy, a company that provides psychotherapy online, as part of marketing content I did many interviews with therapists. Fear was one of the topics discussed. Fear is something that is natural to us and can be helpful in some ways. First, I need to ask myself: is this feeling relevant? What is the most terrible scenario that could happen? Speaking of my own experience, it can relieve lots of fear and stress. Then it is wise to be strict about having time off to not think about work all the time and meditate.
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?
Sure. I am always trying to challenge myself in what I am afraid of. Several years ago, I dealt with frequent flying to overcome my fear of flying. I am now trying to speak at conferences as much as possible to overcome my fear of public speaking.
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?
Even after several public speeches I have a fear of public speaking, but it is getting significantly better. Don’t be afraid to do what you fear if it is significant to you.
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”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Work on your emotional intelligence. I cannot say how much my life has changed after reading the book Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. It is basically understanding what you feel in certain situations and controlling your reaction.
- Ask for help. It is helpful to find a mentor or coach to be realistic about your state. Mentors will see your work from a broader perspective. I am mentoring for example for Femme Palette, so feel free to reach me about it.
- Learn more. Whenever I am not sure of myself, I sign up for a marketing conference, webinar or look for a book on a topic I need. Educating myself keeps me up with today’s advertising world.
- Take some time off. Enjoy swimming, hike a mountain, read a book. Just do something that will shift and calm your mind.
- Trust yourself. Simply because no one else will do it for you. If you fear a certain decision, dig a bit deeper: why am I having this fear? Is it relevant? Just you can solve that.
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?
As far as I know, winning is the hardest part, and it doesn’t happen every day. So, we need to consider failure as part of learning. This is because at the end of the day you can’t even learn so much from winning. Maybe it’s just right for your ego as well.
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. 🙂
Equality. In advertising there are still the same white old men behind big agencies that are pretty comfortable in their seats. So they can speak publicly about diversity and have diverse creative teams but they will never put women or people of different ethnicity in leadership. That is why these people should start their own small agencies.
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 🙂
Lately, I really like the work of another creative studio called Uncommon based in London. It will be a pleasure to chat with them.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can check the portfolio of Pure stuff studio here: www.purestuff.studio or follow me on LinkedIn.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.