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Everyone makes mistakes at one point or another, but mistakes are only mistakes relatively to a particular goal. In this case, relative to my goals of making $1 billion dollars by the time I’m 60, increasing my existence by contributing to society, and getting along with people, today was a day full of mistakes. However, mistakes also offer one of the greatest opportunities for learning, which I wouldn’t trade for anything.

So what happened? Well, the company I started with a friend (WM Media) purchased a website It’s a car enthusiast website dedicated to the local people of Southern Ontario. We’d purchased it because my partner was interested in cars, and it was a prudent investment opportunity. It took me about 2 days to fully move the website, as there were a variety of technical issues that came up. Finally, after much sleeplessness, the forum was moved successfully. Unfortunately, mistakes have already been made.

First, before I even did anything, the moderators in the forum were already wondering who the new administrator is. We were did not inform them of the sale, which made some of the moderators not happy. Granted, it’s not actually their website, but they do contribute their share of work for no compensation, so their motivation is based purely on their feelings of loyalty/duty/honor to the site. That’s mistake #1.

Before reading these posts, I’d already gone into the administration panel, and changed the site so that more advertising were displayed. That’s mistake #2, as my partner understood these people better, so I should have discussed it with him first. His input would have saved us a lot of trouble. Additionally, the moderators feel a more intense version of mistake #1, as once again, a decision was made without consulting them, making them feel completely unimportant. Since I did not know this yet, at this point, I’d thought my task was complete, oblivious to my mistakes.

At work, I suddenly got an IM from the previous owner, informing me of this thread: Unknown to us, this forum used to be an actual car club based in Southern Ontario. The people met once in a while and had fun together. It was not just a general discussion forum. In addition, it has already exchanged hands three times this year, making the forum members confused and angry. The owner before the one who sold it to us had sold it because he thought our seller was the most suited to keep the club intact. He viewed this sale as a betrayal of that trust. There lies mistake #3 – we should have investigated the history of the website more carefully.

Then, hastily, I posted a reply, using my partner (Michael C)’s account, stating that our goals were aligned. That act in itself was three separate mistakes. First, my partner is the one responsible for public relations and in this case, the one more familiar with the target demographics. By doing this, I’d taken over his job without discussing it with him, which can’t be good for relations :) That’s mistake #4.

Then, the message I posted was a rational argument, stating that we were in it for the money and one of us was very interested in cars, which makes our goals aligned with that of the forum’s. While this does make perfect sense (to make money we need to improve the forum), that is a horrible way to phrase it to an angry person. They probably stopped reading after “we’re in it for the money” (or at last stopped paying attention). It’s kind of like if someone raises a knife and yells, “I’m going to kill you” – you’re not going to hear the second part of that because you’re probably stricken with fear and running away. Additionally, even though making money implies having to create a good forum, that is not necessarily the way the people in the forum understood that. I had ignored one of the major points of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends And Influence People – to appeal to the higher motives. Clearly here, I should have just mentioned the one they cared about – growing the forum and the community. Since that’s precisely the same as us trying to make money off of the forum (See How Much Money Is Integrity Worth?), why mention the one they don’t like, especially first? That’s mistake #5.

At this point, I’d angered enough moderators that they outright quit. That’s not too surprising since they probably felt like some alien took over their club (someone far away with zero interest in cars). I’d exacerbated a very bad situation to begin with (the people were already angry with many sales of their club). Fortunately, my partner took over at this point, and taught me a thing or two about managing people. If it was me, I would’ve tried to convince the people that our goals are in alignment, which would’ve caused a lot of debate, and more focus on the thread. Instead, my partner took the other approach to relationships – letting the unimportant parts die. He redirected the focus of the conversation using humor. As everything is really fine, except for the unhappiness in the members’ minds, there really was no issue! That’s an important lesson to see in action, correctly applied.

During the day, I was quite concerned with welfare of the forum, so I checked it constantly. That’s mistake #6. Since I had agreed to let my partner handle this, there was nothing I could really do about it. It was just a waste of my time to worry about something I had no control over. Additionally, it may give my partner the impression that I don’t think he’s doing a good job, which would be very bad for our business relationship. Afterall, he said he’ll take care of it, didn’t he?

Lastly, this is not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. It’s a few pissed off people out of hundreds of active members, in one of the forums we own. I’d spent a lot of time talking to my partner about what’s going on etc., which causes doubt and wastes my partner’s time as well as mine. That’s mistake #7. I should have learned from mistake #5 and dropped the issue. We’d already reached a decision for action, so why dwell on it? Both of our times could’ve been spent better elsewhere.

There it is – a good day. I’ve learned a lot, for a relatively low cost, as situations like these will undoubtedly happen over and over again my life.

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4 Responses to “Seven Mistakes In One Day”

  1. Be A Good Manager By Letting People Learn And Grow on August 28th, 2007 6:08 pm

    [...] Recent Life Happenings The Cab Company That Gets My Business The Guy Who Keeps Hitting Himself My Google Ranking For The Keyword “Blockbuster” The Death Of Blockbuster Those Strange Dogs The Bright Spot In My Eyes An Accident Waiting To Happen The Girl With The Open Arms Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth Seven Mistakes In One Day [...]

  2. Is it just me... - #1 Car Club In Kitchener - Waterloo - Cambridge - Guelph on December 21st, 2007 4:32 pm

    [...] the life and times of vital motion Car Community Forum, Southern Ontario Based, Seven Mistakes In One Day not even a club anymore, just a forum/business —————— //Andrew | ’03 Mazda [...]

  3. Why Generosity Creates Wealth Day 2: A Deal And A License Issue on April 10th, 2008 5:06 pm

    [...] Here’s a real world case study regarding a deal WM Media was in last year, in which generosity would have been the better road to go. I’d written about it previously in Seven Mistakes In One Day. [...]

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    [...] if you in a managerial and/or people type of job. This is inspired by my recent experience Seven Mistakes In One Day, where one poorly thought out comment triggered an angry mob, and the article How Much Money Is [...]