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4 Reasons Why Failure Is Good

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Failure is kinda awesome.

It takes some audacity for a Type-A person like me to utter the words above. It requires even more cojones to tell you why, because I’m about to let you in on my biggest failure to date. It ain’t pretty. It’s actually quite terrifying for me to talk about — but what’s come through on the other side is nothing short of wondrous.  I am the woman, mama and entrepreneur I am today because of this failure.

Up until the moment I got hired to be the sideline reporter for The Sacramento Kings, I had not one single minute of live TV experience under my belt. So how the heck did I manage to land the job? The owners of the team at the time, Joe and Gavin Maloof, had seen me do TV work in another capacity for the NBA, and believed I’d be great in the live reporting role. They pushed for me, and it was hard to say no. I didn’t want to let them down. Besides, only a handful of people are lucky enough to step into these coveted broadcasting roles, and the paycheck was more money than I had seen in my decade of smaller hosting gigs in New York City and Philly. So I said yes, thinking that I would just learn as I went along. How hard could it be, right? I signed a two-year contract, moved across the country by myself, away from my new husband and our Brooklyn home.

It was a disaster.

I arrived at the start of the NBA pre-season, and was expected to hit the ground running. My learning curve for live TV was steep and unforgiving. No one mentored me, so I fumbled along, trying to stay out of people’s way. Once that red light flashed on above the camera lens, I’d freeze. I wasn’t confident in my basketball knowledge, and it showed. I had anxiety attacks. My one-take “hits” during the live game made me stammer. My previous TV work showed me at my best when interviewing others, riffing off someone else; sideline reporting was a lonely island, as I reported on things that at my core felt gratuitous.

I most likely gave the camera the finger by accident here. That is very indicative of how my time went in Sacramento.

I most likely gave the camera the finger by accident in this live hit. This was very indicative of how my time went in Sacramento.

The Kings fans’ message boards and blogs raged against me, and it got pretty personal (ahhh, the anonymity of the internet!). Some wrote about my stupidity; of course, some wrote about my appearance. Some fans said they hated me. It was my worst nightmare — suddenly, I was not only unable to please everyone, I was actually displeasing a few very vocal ones. The online bullying was devastating. In an industry where your worth is manufactured by your public likeability meter, I was a goner. My lowest point came when I overheard my own producer call me a [expletive + pejorative name for a mentally disabled person], thinking I was out of earshot (I will let you figure that one out! HR sure did). One of my fellow broadcasters, the amazing Jim Kozimor, tried to support me by telling me that since the team’s season was in the toilet, the fans were looking for anyone to scapegoat, and I happened to be the easy target. It sort of made me feel better, but it didn’t make the horrible words hurt any less.

So uh, why was this failure so awesome, you ask?

1) FAILURE MADE ME FIGURE OUT WHO I AM.

Here’s the thing: I had tried to be someone I wasn’t, and it came back to bite me.

Let me just clarify – this certainly was an extreme, public failure; even though I had years of fantastic television hosting experience under my belt, I allowed these two seasons with the Kings to pulverize me. The joy that I felt doing my previous TV gigs was gone. It took me a while, but I came to realize that those years in Sacramento were so very crucial because I learned so much about myself.

I know now what I will and won’t put up with. I know now what I can and cannot do. I understand my limits and need to be realistic in my abilities. I know now that I should ask for help if I need it, and that doing so isn’t a sign of weakness, but of initiative and self-preservation.  I realized that I don’t have thick skin, and I probably never will — but that’s okay.  I learned that I need to be my own boss, and not rely on the opinions of strangers to evaluate my worth.  I learned to not take myself so seriously and find my laughter again. I learned that I need a support network of like-minded, creative, funny and empathetic people in order to flourish. No more lonely islands for me.

I had to let go of who I felt I was supposed be in order to be true to who I really am.

2)  FAILURE MADE ME TAKE CARE OF MYSELF.

Sure, being in front of the camera takes confidence, but that can be said about any job. And confidence is built on a rock solid foundation of health — physical, mental, emotional. It was only when I dedicated the time to work out, eat better, talk through my frustrations and make time for myself that my confidence snuck back in.  Now as a mama, to be fully present and patient for my family means making sure I find time for myself. Period.

3) FAILURE MAKES ME GRATEFUL FOR WHAT I HAVE.

I can’t say I had a successful live broadcasting career; but I can say that I continued to work in TV after my time in Sacramento, in a format that I loved and thrived in. I can’t say that I’m an expert in the NBA, but I can give you fantastic insider advice on how to book the best vacation rentals and travel around the country with kids. My life feels full (and often hectic and chaotic) as a mama, and I am so grateful to be able to build a business that I truly believe in, with the support of my husband, friends and family. There is so much love heaped on me that it’s ridiculous, and I must remind myself each and every morning to give it right back.

4) FAILURE HAS TAUGHT ME IT’S OKAY TO BE VULNERABLE.

Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone; in fact, building a business is downright frightening, particularly while juggling full-time travel and parenthood.  But I’m putting myself out there again. I’m showing up.  Even though I love my scarf design, there is no guarantee that the Mamachic scarves will be universally embraced.  But I’m okay with that.  I’m in front of a live audience again — and I know that I’m doing the best I can.  And right now, that’s enough.

—-

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19 replies
  1. Lara
    Lara says:

    Everything you said above is absolutely true, and I think anyone can relate to this. I definitely can. I read an interesting article a few weeks ago (http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/29/carol-dweck-mindset/) about a fixed vs. growth mindset. It touches on the idea of failure and success, how we react to experiences in our lives, and how these two mindsets affect our achievements. Interesting read. Glad you decided to put your self out there again. 🙂

    Reply
    • Angela
      Angela says:

      Lara – thank you so much. Getting to know you and witness your work ethic have been inspiring for me! I will check out the brainpickings link. Failure and success are something that I want to get “right” in teaching my kids, and figuring out mindset is key, for sure. xo

      Reply
  2. Mikaela
    Mikaela says:

    This is such an inspirational post. YOU are an inspiration. I think us parents in particular struggle with not relying on the opinions of strangers to evaluate our worth. It’s terrifying being a parent and being judged by others but we show up, we’re doing the best we can and that’s good enough. Thank you for reminding us and for being such an inspiration. I can imagine this was an emotional post to write and I am so thankful you did!

    xo

    Reply
    • Angela
      Angela says:

      You are absolutely right Mikaela – as parents we are each others’ own worst critics. And honestly the opinion we should value the most are our childrens’ … showing up is so important, and I know you show up for Milou each and every day. YOU are an inspiration for so many — including me, your #1 fan — and your daughter. Thank you for making me take all the cuss words out of my post too 😉 xoxo

      Reply
  3. Heather Smith
    Heather Smith says:

    YOU are the reason that I decided to actually pursue TV hosting! I loved watching you and it gave me hope, thinking I can do this too! I am two years into embarking on this hosting journey, I can relate to everything you mentioned. It’s frightening. Last night on the Esquire red carpet there were moments of “what on earth am I doing? What am I supposed to be asking?” It’s one of the most scariest things I have ever done. I would kill to be a sideline reporter for an NBA team, talk about dream job — But you are right, I do live hosting twice a week, but nothing is as crazy as THAT type of live! I give you 100 times kudos!!! You are truly an inspiration!!

    Reply
    • Angela
      Angela says:

      Heather, this means so much to read this. You, Julie and Kristen were always bright spots for me when I’d come into Arco (back then) for game nights (and you all were always so kind to my husband too!). I would love to see some of the hosting you’re doing — and if I can help you in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You got this 🙂 xoxo Angela

      Reply
    • Angela
      Angela says:

      Todd, WOW — blast from the past! Glad you read this post. While I was working with the Kings, I actually contemplated reaching out to you for advice and help with all things basketball. I was feeling so low and helpless, and I thought, who better to turn to than an ex-Blue Devil player who knew me really well back when I was confident and happy 🙂 Thanks for visiting my website/blog — it means a lot to me.

      Reply
  4. Kim
    Kim says:

    Hi Angela, I watched you on NBA Timeout and have followed your career since then. You are really inspiring to me as an Asian American girl wanting to get into broadcasting! You are an excellent writer and I know whatever you do will be a huge success despite this failure you wrote about. Thanks for putting yourself out there. That’s the only way to even see success!!

    Reply
    • Angela
      Angela says:

      Kim, NBA Timeout was an absolute blast for me to shoot and I’m so glad you watched! You are absolutely right. I put myself out there, and that is the only way to see failure or success. So all I can is, just continue to show up. Continue to learn from others, and keep an open mind. And don’t burn bridges! Best of luck! xo

      Reply
  5. James
    James says:

    I loved you when you were the sideline reporter. It’s true that many bloggers and flamers are the loudest online. Just know you had fans too. Great blog and best of luck with your company in the future.

    Reply
    • Angela
      Angela says:

      James, just know how much I appreciate you and the Sacramento Kings fans who have stayed in touch with me since my time there. Even though I wrote about how harsh it was for me, I did make some incredible friends in Sac (I even joined an improv team!) and learned so much about myself. Thank you for your kind words! xo

      Reply
  6. Noel
    Noel says:

    Hi Angela,

    There’s so many interesting things that catch my attention when I am sifting through FB, the NYT, and TED. I bookmarked this earlier in the month and finally got down down to reading this as I remembered seeing some of your broadcasts online.

    Powerful lessons, indeed as I think about my career trajectory. Thanks so much for sharing your story. It is easy to talk of our successes however it does take a lot more courage to see what we’ve learned. Just starting to see what the entrepreneur side is about. Best of luck in all your endeavors now and those to come.

    -N

    Reply
    • Angela
      Angela says:

      I appreciate you weighing in Noel! I wonder how we can make a paradigm shift happen when it comes to sharing our so-called failures with each other. The opportunity for growth just seems so huge that way. Best of luck in your enterprenuerial aspirations and keep in touch here!

      Reply
  7. Victoria
    Victoria says:

    Hi Angela,

    What an incredible share and shows tremendous courage to bare it all. The result of your failure could have been written by me – I related to that part of your story so much.

    Best to you!

    Reply
  8. Ron
    Ron says:

    Mazel Tov! Really neat to see you on ‘Shark tank yourself’, you nailed it!

    Super thrilled for you, Angela, you and your family. Your blog is great, as your personality–thought of what it means to be Real, from the book ‘The velveteen rabbit’, that being vulnerable, transparent…real.

    Reply

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