The importance of sucking at a new job for a year or two

It's super important to embrace to make mistakes, because it is only through mistakes we learn and become better at our craft, no matter what it is. 

What I enjoyed about the article below is that Ross differentiates between mistake and failure. I am sure you have been told as well to “Fail early and often.” But just like him I think the word "fail" or "failing" does us all a disservice.  To strive to fail is to aim for an ultimate negative result while if we allow ourselves to make mistakes, it does not mean the result will be failure. Besides helping us to grow and become better at what we do, mistakes can also lead us to achieve an all-together better result since we might consider an approach we might not have considered before. 

So go forth and make mistakes! I do daily...

The importance of sucking at a new job for a year or two

by Ross McCammon via

You suck.

Also: I suck.

I don’t know what it is that you suck at, but you suck at something very important. You suck at things you will someday not suck at. But for now, you are not good at these things. In fact, you suck at them.

This must be accepted.

It might take a while. So I’ll wait.

You know what? I’ll do it too.

While we’re both accepting that we suck, let’s talk about failure.

Failure is huge right now. It’s being studied. It’s being written about. It’s being blogged about. “Fail early and often,” we’re told. “Surrender to the pain of failure.” “Failure is fundamental.” The latest key to success is to fail but to fail in the right way.

But is there a right way to fail? Is there a right way to submit work you know is half-baked, like I did during my first few months at Esquire? Is there a right way to stumble through a presentation to the sales staff, like I did during my first few months at Esquire? Is there a right way to indiscreetly talk about another magazine at a party and then turn around and two editors from that magazine are right behind you, like I did during my first few months at Esquire? Is there a right way to have a story killed? Is there a right way to do shit work?

I don’t think actual failure is what’s being discussed. “Failure” is just the word that makes the books and articles seem more intriguing than they actually are. Actual failure is awful and expensive. It’s devastating. Failure teaches you nothing. You should not consider “failure” a positive outcome. Not early. Not often. Not ever, if you can help it. Really, what’s being discussed is: mistakes.

All of the studies that the books and blog posts cite basically boil down to two messages. 1. Humans hate to make mistakes. 2. A key determinant of success is both accepting that you will make mistakes and paying attention to the mistakes that you make.

One of the most cited experts on this topic is Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, who pioneered the idea of “mind-sets.” People with “fixed mind-sets,” she says, believe their abilities are unchangeable—a belief that causes them to shy away from situations in which they might fail. By contrast, people with “growth mind-sets” embrace challenges because they believe they can become smarter and more capable even if they don’t succeed. They’re willing to get things wrong, but more important, they’re ready to listen to the feedback. Screwing up is not a defining thing. This is such a useful attitude to have. I’ve been at my current job for 10 years and I’ve only just recently adopted this mentality. It’s made my work better. It’s made the process more efficient. And I have a lot more time to spend with my family.

What people with a growth mind-set know is that mistakes are useful when you’re willing to have a conversation about them, when you’re willing to be corrected.

But actual failure? Humiliating, devastating failure?

Aside from teaching us that certain decisions are bad decisions and that we should not make them twice, failure totally blows. But mistakes are amazing.

The main failure of my first couple of years in New York was the shame I felt at making mistakes. If I have a regret, this is it. I was too caught up in the fear of making mistakes. I sometimes acted timidly. In the short term, I probably did “better” work, but in the long term I did worse work because I didn’t allow myself to get my mistakes over with early. I would stay at work until midnight working on a headline. I would refine a single joke over two or three days. There is nothing wrong with focusing on the details. But focusing on the details at the expense of your personal life is not a good idea.

Now that I’m a manager, if I see someone hanging on to something for what I think is too long, I will tell them to give it to me. As is. Just turn it over. Doing work too fast is a bad idea. But doing work too slow is a terrible idea. The last thing a boss wants is to be left without any options if the work isn’t good enough. Being fastidious is possibly the worst thing a young worker can do. The work is probably not going to get to where it needs to be no matter how long you hang on to it. So turn it in early and then make corrections. You’re supposed to do bad work.

Everyone wants you to do bad work.


Your boss wants you to get it out of your system and learn what not to do. He’s certainly expecting it.

And your peers want you to make mistakes too. Either they understand the value of a fearless colleague or they just want to feel superior...if they even notice. Loads of studies have shown that we tend to think people pay attention to us twice as much as they actually do. This is the spotlight effect. (Turns out my mom was right about this, which she repeated to me on a weekly basis during my adolescence.)

And you don’t realize it, but you want to do bad work too. Because in every bit of bad work, there is always a kernel of something good. Bad work is 2 to 13 percent good. Your job is to pick through the mess you create and find that good. Other people will help you find it. Let them.

Ross McCammon is the author of Works Well With Others.

I can't wait for THE YOUNG POPE

It is not so much the subject matter, but the obviously fantastical and devilish take on it, which makes excited for this mini-series. And of course, that this is directed by non-other than one of the greatest directors, Paolo Sorrentino. Also, I cannot wait to see Jude Law and Diane Keaton light the screen on fire as they already do in the trailer. Check out the trailer and you will know what I mean.

'The Young Pope': Venice Review

via by Deborah Young

Jude Law is a dangerously iconoclastic Pontiff and Diane Keaton his chief advisor in Paolo Sorrentino’s Vatican-set satire made for Sky, HBO and Canal+.

Who knows where Paolo Sorrentino’s amusing, unpredictable and irreverent Vatican fantasy, The Young Pope, will lead over the course of its 10 episodes? From the look of the first two hours screened in Venice, this is a potential hit for Sky, HBO and Canal+, combining the Italian director's sardonic, Fellini-inspired gift for the bizarre with the world’s ever-growing hunger to peep behind the screens at St. Peter's — a match made in heaven. The miniseries has already sold widely and the door is open to a second season. 

Sorrentino's taste for the grotesque at times gets out of hand, but generally serves him well in this comic approach to the hidebound traditions of the miniscule Papal state. It's a far cry from the gentle, respectful humor of Nanni Moretti's We Have a Pope, where Michel Piccoli played a newly-elected Holy Father so overcome with self-doubt he refuses to take office. The Young Pope is closer to the acid spirit of Il Divo, Sorrentino's merciless portrait of the Italian politician with nine lives, Giulio Andreotti, than to his contemplative recent films like Youth and 2014 Oscar winner The Great Beauty.

Shot in mixed English and Italian, the miniseries is galvanized by a commandingly arch Jude Law as Lenny Belardo, who has just been elected Pope Pius XIII. Not only is he the first American pope, he's only 47 years old, as well as arrogant, whimsical and hilariously destructive. How he ever got elected will no doubt be revealed in later episodes, but suffice it to say he comes off as a borderline anti-Christ not only in his power-mad dreams, but in all his dealings with the cardinals and the Curia.

Devilishly handsome and of uncertain intent, he refuses to let the canny head of Vatican marketing (Cecile de France) use his image or even show his face to the public, all to increase the air of mystery and power surrounding him. In his first homily to the overflowing crowds in St. Peter's, which he insists on holding at night, the clear sky is streaked by sinister lightning and the faithful are drenched in a sudden downpour. But that's nothing compared to the dire future he lays before their eyes as Catholics who need to think only of God, 24 hours a day. Could he be about to turn the Church into an extremist, fundamentalist organization? One thing is sure: His message has nothing in common with the love and brotherhood preached by the current Pope Francis.

Other alarming things: He drinks American filter coffee and breakfasts on Cherry Coke Zero. Oh, and he also wants to check out all the gifts sent to him, like an appalling kangaroo he has released in the Vatican gardens.

His main antagonist, one who is bound to give him a run for his money, is the wart-faced Cardinal Voiello (played by Moretti’s comic muse Silvio Orlando), the Secretary of State. Though he's the most powerful man in the Vatican, you can tell he's a good soul by the fact he loves the Naples soccer team and secretly takes care of a boy in a wheelchair. He also has sexual fantasies over the Venus of Willendorf. Pitting his human warmth against Lenny's icy control freak, it's clear who is likely to emerge the ultimate winner.  

But the story is just warming up, and one has the feeling the Pontiff is so unpredictable he could swing either way, to God or Mammon. In a scene high up on the dome of St. Peter's, he tempts his humble confessor with immense power if he'll break the secret of the confessional and tell him all the cardinals' sins, at the same time informing him that he personally doesn't believe in God. The poor priest is so shocked he has to backtrack. Tipping into the outrageous, this scene may prove to be the limit for some devout Catholics, but one has to wait and see if some redemption is in store for Lenny.  

In answer to the powerful cardinals who plan to run the show for him behind the scenes, he calls in as his chief counselor Sister Mary (Diane Keaton), who ran the orphanage where he grew up. Keaton gets a laugh just for wearing a nun's habit and makes a delightful addition to the wacky team. But even their Shakespearean co-rule is short-lived. When Sister Mary admits to admiring the speech about love Voiello has written for him, he makes her stop calling him Lenny and forces her to use His Holiness as her form of address.

Summoning Cardinal Spencer, his mentor who helped him reach the papacy (played as a tough old bird by James Cromwell), Lenny offers to kick out the head of the Congregation of the Faith on grounds of homosexuality (!) and let Spencer replace him. The cardinal all but spits in his face.

Spanish actor Javier Camara dons the robes of the saintly Cardinal Gutierrez, whose trim beard and sober, classic features are illuminated like a painting whenever he appears. He seems to the be only positive influence on Lenny, a figure he can't dismiss contemptuously.

Law makes the new Pontiff a memorable megalomaniac, but who can call it delusions of grandeur when he's the head of a billion Catholics around the world? Enigmatic and eerily composed in his impeccable white robes and wide-brimmed hat, he recalls Terence Stamp (who incidentally played a pope in the film Vatican Conspiracy) with a hint of Anita Ekberg in her Vatican visit in La Dolce Vita. Only here Sorrentino's fantasy has run even wilder than Fellini's, and verges on the incomprehensible when he tries to psyche out Lenny's dark mind. The editing could be clearer in certain parts.

Working with top Italian technicians, Sorrentino presents a majestic and slightly creepy Vatican City, whose marbled halls and stunning statues and architecture acquire a sense of timeless beauty in Luca Bigazzi's lighting and Ludovica Ferrario's production design.

Venue: Venice Film Festival (Out of Competition)
Production companies: Sky, HBO, Canal+, Wildside, in association with Haut et Court TV, MediaPro
Cast: Jude Law, Diane Keaton, Silvio Orlando, Javier Camara, Scott Shepherd, Cecile de France, Ludivine Sagnier, Toni Bertorelli, James Cromwell
Director-screenwriter: Paolo Sorrentino
Executive producers: Lorenzo Mieli, Mario Gianani, John Lyons, Caroline Benjo, Carole Scotta, Simon Arnal, Jaume Roures, Javier Mendez, Nils Hartmann, Roberto Amoroso, Sonia Rovai  

Director of photography: Luca Bigazzi
Production designer: Ludovica Ferrario
Costume designers: Carlo Poggioli, Luca Canfora
Music: Lele Marchitelli
Editor: Cristiano Travaglioli
Sales: FremantleMedia Intl.