As I reflected on the past year and at times a mix of professional and personal challenges one word comes to mind...


It can paralyze us as business leaders and marketers.  Be it on the client side or agency side.  Be it as a budding entrepreneur or a C-suite executive of a Fortune 500 firm.

I say this because I've been a victim of fear in the past.  Be it fear of failure.  Fear of what others may think or say.  Fear of letting down my family, friends and advocates.  Fear of failing to exceed client expectations.

Then something happened to me last year where my perspective changed.  Fear still exists for me but it no longer prevents me from sticking to the conviction of my beliefs or going after what I believed as it may have in the past.  There were two points early last year (one personal and one professional) where I had to make difficult decisions but stood my ground and didn't let fear come into play.

Let it also be said fear can be a very strong motivator as it can push one to exceed what they thought was their previous personal best.  I first started to learn this while working at a certain ‘Fruit Company’ but the trick is to leverage 'fear' as a motivator.

Late last year, I attended the 2012 CMA Awards Gala as a guest of the folks at XTM and I met an executive who was impacted by a corporate restructuring; as that appears to be the norm these days.  This executive was extremely intelligent and after spending some time listening, I realized, also very forward thinking and innovative in his personal approach to business and technology.  But after recently becoming a 'free agent' his confidence was a little lower than normal which is quite understandable.

The executive was fortunate to not be in financial distress so he wasn’t desperate to immediately find a new job.  So I then asked him what he wanted to do?  His first reply was that he wanted a senior digital role within a large corporation, as that is what he had done throughout his career.  The perfect 30-second elevator sales pitch.

I then asked him what his passion was?  The executive paused and he eyes lit up and he said he really wanted to launch his own company specializing within the digital and e-commerce application space.

I asked what prevented him as he had the financial runaway and an extremely supportive spouse willing to help him see it through.  His reply?  You guessed it.


I then asked him what was the worst thing that could possibly happen?  The company failed after giving it a go for a year?

Couldn't he then pursue another opportunity in a large corporation as he originally planned?  When might another opportunity like this come up where he could pursue his dream? Perhaps him embracing his fear he might discover being a 'free agent' wasn't a curse but the biggest blessing in disguise?

The embracing of fear is all around us.  I've recently gotten to know an incredible entrepreneur who successfully recruited a big-time marketing executive for his start-up where others would have told him it was pipe dream.  Through the magic of Twitter I was introduced to a mother who embraced what scared her and learned something entirely new, in her case speed-skating.  I've been blessed to work directly with visionary business leaders (some in highly-regulated industries) that are willing to embrace fear of the unknown to drive their businesses forward.

All of these aforementioned individuals aren't reckless but forward-thinking and willing to be on the "leading edge" versus the "bleeding' edge".  They don't wait for a task-force or a committee to make a decision.  They don’t pause for polling results or industry quorum to proceed with approval.  They no longer wish to wait one more day because before they know it years will pass them by or their fiercest competitor.

They want to create change and not react to it.

Deep down almost all of us aspire to do exactly that.

So for 2013 what is stopping you from starting something phenomenal today?


Sulemaan Ahmed


1 Comment

  • Patti Pokorchak said

    Living life with no regrets has been my life's philosophy and that means facing your fears in order to do that which I'd otherwise regret not doing.

    Love this article! Face your fear and do it anyways is a great motto to have. Once you face your fear, then the next fear is easier to deal with.

    I also used to be consumed with fear but I had an amazing facade that never showed it. But finally, I"ve confronted enough fears to no longer need that facade - I'm pretty fearless. And having fun!

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