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This week’s guest on Famous Failures is Vanessa Van Edwards.Vanessa Van Edwards is a bestselling author and behavioral investigator. She runs Science of People, a human behavior research lab in Portland, Oregon where she studies charisma, influence, and power body language. Her most recent book, Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People, is the first comprehensive, science backed, real life manual on human behavior and a completely new approach to building connections.
[/fusion_text][fusion_text]1. What were your three most valuable failures?
My biggest failure was writing a book that flopped. I landed a book deal with a major publisher and hoped it would be life changing. Worked on it for 3 years. Had a big media and marketing campaign and then…nothing. No one bought it. No one read it. It was a disaster.
Another big failure was hiring a manager. I was told that if I wanted to get media attention I would need a ‘manager’ to ‘manage’ me—whatever that meant. Basically it was adding another cook in the kitchen and giving away 15% of earnings. I wish I had known more and gotten better advice. It took 2 years to get out of that ‘partnership.’
Lastly, one of my earlier failures is personal. I did not get into the college of my dreams—I had my heart set on Brown University. I didn’t get in, but did get into Emory University. It was another great school and was meant to be because it is where I met my husband my junior year. Thank goodness I didn’t get into Brown![/fusion_text][fusion_text columns=”” column_min_width=”” column_spacing=”” rule_style=”default” rule_size=”” rule_color=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=””]
2. Which of those three failures was your favorite? What makes it your favorite?
I suppose my favorite was the big one—the book launch. I pitched a book and wrote a book I thought people would like. It was not a book I would have liked. So I didn’t write it for me, I wrote for others and that came across. I think that is why it resonated with no one—because it never originally resonated with me. Working on my latest book I had a completely different perspective. Every aspect of the first book shaped the second one. I made sure I wrote a book I would want to read. And it just hit the Wall Street Journal best seller list!
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3. Which of those three failures was the hardest? What advice do you wish you had when you were navigating that failure?
I think the hardest was the book launch because it was so public. I had all of these announcements and press and everyone in my life knew it was happening. So when it didn’t succeed I was humiliated and had to constantly field people’s genuine questions with “actually it didn’t do well.” It was torture. I wish someone had told me to write a book for me.
Trying to appeal to everyone means you appeal to no one.