The Value of Losing; Carrot vs. Vayner Basketball Gameby Robert G.
It's no secret that Carrot Creative is on a hot streak right now. Coming off the success of the Ford Explorer Facebook launch, the Pepsi Refresh " Good For the Gulf" campaign and our continuing work with Disney Digital Books, we're in our A-game professionally. However, the long hours our developers and designers are logging, while conducive to the enormous success of our campaigns...is not the best way to practice for an upcoming basketball game.
When my business partner Mike Germano challenged Vayner Media over Twitter three months ago to a " social media smack down", I thought a friendly game of ball sounded like a great way to spend the afternoon. As the weeks went by, smack talk intensified and we began getting requests to host a more formal game. Now, a few of us would get together after work to play a game of Horse on the concrete courts adjacent the Manhattan Bridge here in DUMBO, but by no means did we employ a 6'10" ex-Boston College baller who played overseas.
We went into yesterdays game feeling confident. Our guys are fast, nimble and I've been known to land a few 3′s in my day. Everyone was in a good mood and although the majority of Vayner's team towered over us, being from Brooklyn, we're used to being considered the underdogs. That hasn't stopped us before and we've barreled through the competition on many of our RFPs, many of whom have legacies of traditional advertising experience. This wouldn't be any different, right? We're used to winning. We were ready for them.
Despite our quick feet, despite our great defense and despite Kyle MacDonald's pre-game ankle weight warmups, we lost. We lost by 20 points. I don't need to go into details beyond that. It was a tough game and Vayner Media was on fire. They won fair and square (but not without an accidental elbow to the eye to @JOates32). Afterwards, both companies hugged it out and went to have a beer. There was no animosity, just a bunch of internet friends who finally got to meet in real life and play some ball.
As a CEO, there are ample opportunities for me to be proud of my team. They work hard, never let me down and have pulled through with some incredibly tight deadlines for some very powerful clients. However, it was the grace at which they handled this defeat that reminded me why our employees are some of the greatest in the business. We're used to hearing "yes", we're used to the win and we're used to celebrating our victories with vigor and enthusiasm. But – no one has gotten comfortable with that. Each one of them knows that losing is just as much a part of business as anything else. We've lost pitches, we've lost clients and we've lost some teammates along the way – but it's never been handled inappropriately or with an ugly attitude. Losing is done much the same way as winning; heads held high, smiles on their faces and the knowledge that there is always a rematch just around the corner.
As John Wooden once said, "You must simply study it, learn from it, and try hard not to lose the same way again. Then you must have the self control to forget about it.". So with that, we look forward to the rematch Vayner Media (or whatever challenging project, client or RFP comes our way). We're ready for you. Bring it on.