Make the Most of Your Mistakes

Posted August 9, 2012 by Marcy Farrey in On the Ladder

You’ve heard the saying before: “Nobody’s perfect.”  There’s no avoiding the fact that you will make mistakes, and unfortunately, you will make some of those mistakes at work.  They could be big or small blunders, but they will happen.

Alex Furmansky, founder of the dating site Sparkology, told Under30CEO about one mistake he made that angered some of his potential customers.  One Friday in June, his company accidentally sent e-mails to 650 people.  These people were referred to his service, and were supposed to receive their reminder e-mail to join four months earlier.  Due to some technical glitch, the e-mails were sent out in June.  The company was met with a few “nastygrams” from people who thought they were being spammed.  Furmansky says he worked to fix the problem and thought all was well — until the e-mail went out again that same weekend, to the same people, on Sunday morning.

It would have been easy (and probably natural) for a CEO in this situation to get angry and pass the issue on to his employees.  He could have chosen to just walk away from the situation and hope it didn’t happen again.  Instead, Furmansky showed how much he valued his customers by addressing the issue head on — and admitting to his mistake.  He wrote a letter to all of the customers he’d accidentally emailed, and sent it from his personal inbox:

I detailed exactly what went wrong, how we planned to fix it, and how I had personally wiped their email addresses from our system so it wouldn’t happen again.  I also expressed my sincere apologies for ‘clogging up their inboxes on a Sunday afternoon’ and my hope that this would not negatively impact the trust that we build with our customers.  Lastly, I included a section where I offered to comp the membership of anyone who was affected but still wanted to join our dating site.”

Furmansky owned up to his mistake and, as a result, he only received two mean e-mails.  Dozens of the people affected became members and many expressed their appreciation and respect for the company.  Furmanksy successfully turned his mistake into an opportunity: he used it to show potential clients the kind of respect and attention his company can give.  He actually used that mistake to further build his brand.

Whether or not you run a company yourself, you can use this tactic in your everyday life.  It is much easier to make excuses, push mistakes onto others, or just ignore them altogether.  But it shows character when you can admit to your mistakes and then immediately take action to correct them.  And you can also impress your clients and your bosses when, like Furmansky, you turn that mistake around and make it work for you.

Did you make a mistake recently?  Ask yourself what you can do to turn it into an unexpected bonus.  And at the very least, you learned from it!

Read more of Furmansky’s advice here.

About the Author

Marcy Farrey

Marcy Farrey is a videographer, writer, and editor. In her previous life, she worked as a broadcast news reporter and producer in Lincoln, Nebraska and as a writer and producer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has a Master of Arts in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University and a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University. Learn more about Marcy on her website


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