Laura Petrolino

How to Fail at Writing a Post for the New Year

By: Laura Petrolino | January 2, 2014 | 

How To Fail at Writing a New Year's PostBy Laura Petrolino

When I found out I was the one who was going to write the very first Spin Sucks post of the year, I obviously was ridiculously excited (and nervous)!

This was a huge responsibility!!!

So, I decided I was going to write the most gosh darn inspirational New Year’s post to ever be written in the history of New Year’s posts.

My goal was to make you, our amazing Spin Sucks community, weep with joy.

And then, be so inspired and motivated to accomplish great things that for years later we would be hearing of your many amazing successes (Nobel Peace prizes, cures for cancer, teleportation devices, you name it).

And how they all stemmed from MY 2014 New Year’s post.

This was going to be amazing!!!


I sat down (Ok, I didn’t sit. I stand to work, so I stood) to dig deep into my “vault o’ inspiration” and pull out something awesometastically fantastic for you all (and of course it would include many made up words such as “awesometastically”).

Bringing You an Inspirational New Year’s Post

We are talking super-sized inspiration here, folks. Take the best TEDx talk ever, add in a little Dali Lama, a dash of Abe Lincoln, a teaspoon of Vince Lombardi, then put some Peter Drucker sprinkles on top for the added business angle.

That’s what you were about to get.

But Inspiration Left

Unfortunately, I got really hungry (as I often do) and took a break to eat something. When I came back, my inspiration vault had decided to suddenly close.

I panicked! This was my big chance and now I had nothing — zip, nada, nil inspiration to share.

Trying to remain calm, I went through all the common methods I employ when needing to produce my highest quality work. I did burpees and push ups. I sang and danced around to Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff songs, I dressed up my cat and dog in several of the different ridiculous costumes I have for them. I dressed myself up in several of the ridiculous costumes I have.


Let’s Crowdsource!

So, at a loss for what to do next I did what any other communications professional would do. I turned to Facebook to crowdsource. I asked everyone to contribute five names of people who had changed their life during 2013 in some way, big or small.

I was so proud of myself with this idea. YES! THIS was going to be inspirational. I’d gather up all of these names and then write a post about how we all affect people’s lives everyday, whether we know it or not, and how average, ordinary people can have a huge affect on the world.

You know the drill.

But, I’m not sure if my request was just too gosh darn deep for a Sunday morning, or you all didn’t appreciate the cute picture of a baby panda I posted as a ploy for participation, but only a handful of people contributed their names.

Foiled again! Sigh, back to square one (p.s. for those that did participate, hold on to your hats because I’m not done with this idea yet).

This led me to the next obvious solution. When in doubt, Google it out! And that, folks, is precisely what I did. I typed in “New Year’s Inspiration,” and came to a page with lots of quotes. One of my favorite quotes came up from Neil Gaiman:

I hope in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Geez, thanks Neil, what are you trying to tell me here exactly? Yes, I know I’m bombing this post, but please have some compassion!

He continues:

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

You can listen to the entire speech here.

And that, folks, is what I’ll leave you with as we all journey into this fresh new year.

Like every year, 2014 is full of awesome and scary possibilities. It’s bursting with both successes and failures just waiting to be experienced. Like my intentions for this post, more often than not things won’t necessarily turn out exactly how you might have planned.

Often they turn out better. The rest of the time, they just turn out different. So go out there and fail like a champ, because in the long run, that’s probably the best thing you can do for yourself, your business, your customers, and the world in general.

And that is your official 2014 Spin Sucks pep talk! Go team, GOOOO!

About Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is the chief client officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She also is a weekly contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

  • You quoted Neil Gaiman. Great author and in my mind, one of the greatest practitioners of the short story these days.

    Happy New Year Laura!

  • Happy New Year Laura! Kleenex in hand I was totally ready to weep with joy instead I laughed really hard. Lovely way to start off 2014. Love that you quoted Neil Gaiman. Thanks for the inspiration and I am so ready to do something!

  • OMGosh — That’s one of my favorite quotes too. (I posted it first thing yesterday to ring in the New Year.) And I agree, it’s in the ashes of our failures that greatness often rises. Happy New Year Laura Petrolino! It’s going to be a great one!!

  • I have a complete and total nerdcrush on Neil Gaiman. 

    Have you seen the animated version of that speech? It’s so awesome.

  • TaraGeissinger Laura Petrolino I love that entire speech. It serves as a great reminder to me in so many ways of what I want to create (and how I view that creation). Plus I think Neil Gaiman voice is totally dreamy and just like listening to him….but I digress)

  • ClayMorgan 100% totally agree! I adore him. He is one of my top five favorite authors.

  • jasonkonopinski YES!!!! But let’s be real here, how could a collaboration of Zen Pencils and Gaiman not be awesome! (I also love their version of J.K. Rowling, among others).
    I’m so glad you posted this!

  • LSSocialEngage Go get ’em tiger!!! 🙂

  • LauraPetrolino ClayMorgan I need to reread Sandman.

  • LauraPetrolino Bringing this over from FB and switching gears: I distinctly remember buying “He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper” on cassette with my own moolah as a kid. It’s probably sitting in a box at my parent’s house in Jersey. 🙂

  • My new years started horribly for social media. I woke before the wife. Made the mistake of going to hootsuite. Saw a really stupid self serving post from Klout my in feed. Then responded by taking them to task. and then looked at their Klout Perk’s case studies to see failure after failure That made me happy. But under neath I was like WTF why did I go to HootSuite. The newspaper stories about death and destruction would be more uplifting crazy as it sounds. Then someone posted a silly blogpost about problems at Twitter. I checked it out and was like Hey Facebook has these same problems right now! And I retweeted the post with my comments. Then I went back and saw it was from 2011. Talk about content that IS NOT TIMELESS.

    So I decided to feel better and went around my new neighborhood playing ring and run. Made me feel so much better. Especially with it being 0F out seeing someone in a robe open their door to get that blast of arctic up their robe at 9am just gave me a spring in my step the rest of the day.

  • jasonkonopinski LauraPetrolino ClayMorgan Have you read Ocean at the End of the Lane yet? If not, go to audible and download the version that he narrates. Amazing.

  • LauraPetrolino jasonkonopinski ClayMorgan Oh yes. AMAZEBALLS.

  • jasonkonopinski LauraPetrolino So.much.yes.

  • but today I saw bdorman264’s broken hand from his bobsledding accident and I was back melancholy about the year.

    But YOU UPLIFTED ME LauraPetrolinothank you!

  • LauraPetrolino You’re giving me more gift ideas. STOP.

  • Howie Goldfarb Ring and Run is a game that connects all cultures, nationalities and generations. Thank you for keeping this practice alive and well. Our society owes you for your service Howie!

  • Howie Goldfarb bdorman264 LauraPetrolino You’re welcome!!! It is my humble duty to serve 🙂 My work here is obviously done! 

    And Bill, I’m quite concerned about your continuing injuries. My new year’s wish for you is a bubble suit. I looked into some bulk prices on bubble suits for @ginidietrich  after she met Toby, I think we can get a good group rate, so let me know if you are interested.

  • AlinaKelly

    Dear Laura
    You just failed at failing…I mean succeeded at failing… I mean…this was a GREAT post to start the year! Thanks for making me smile. 2014 is going to be terrific! Here’s to all of us failing brilliantly! Cheers!

  • JohnMTrader

    I full intend to fail in 2014. I just hope I can somehow fail forward.

    Great post to ring in the new year Laura, thanks. Look forward to a bright 2014!

  • AlinaKelly Hahahaha! Well you know how the old, wise saying (that I just made up) goes “the community that fails together….achieves world domination”. I can’t think of a better group of crazy people that I’d rather do it with then those of us here!

  • JohnMTrader No worries John, I’ll push you from behind, then you are guaranteed to fail forward! BOOM! Problem solved, congrats and your welcome!

  • LauraPetrolino “Go out there and fail like a champ” – I’m on it! 🙂

  • jasonkonopinskiLauraPetrolinoso just curious Jason and maybe we need to rope in ginidietrichyou have a lot of nerd crushes but they are all men. Are there no women nerds? Does Gini have to write one of those posts demanding equality for the sexes or challenge the glass nerd ceiling that seems to keep the talented Nerdettes from rising high enough for you to find them? Or maybe the Nerds just have better PR people than the Nerdettes. Obviously they hire males for media relations. So maybe men are better at this? 

    I will Quote Danny ‘The Hammer’ Edelman circa 1965 – ‘men just kick ass that is why I am the biggest name in PR’

    While I normally write him off maybe he is onto something?

    This is a theme that must be explored further here on Spin Sucks in 2014 for sure.

  • Howie Goldfarb jasonkonopinski LauraPetrolino ginidietrich I totally have some female nerd crushes.

  • LauraPetrolinoTaraGeissinger I was reading a great article on the Gold Rush and how it was the source of America’s failure culture. And the lottery. So few struck gold. So many failed. In fact 99% or more failed. Yet it was a source of pride that they tried. 
    So go forth thou young Miners and Pan for Ye Gold and don’t ye return until thou succeed or fail. And if thou fail it is ok. Go forth and try again.  As my chosen Miner’s I grant thou all of Tallahassee for ye mining exploits. And if there be any resistance to thy mining efforts, blow the horn and the walls will fall and all the mine will by thou’s. Because that is just.

    -Joshua 5:18

  • Lisa Ann Schreier

    As the Executive Director of the National Timeshare Owners Association, it was important to clarify our stance. So here it is:

  • jasonkonopinskiHowie GoldfarbLauraPetrolinoginidietrichahhhh but keeping them secret. Not fair! My guesses: Oprah. Jackie Collins. Yoko Ono. Miley Cyrus.

  • biggreenpen LauraPetrolino  If anyone is going to fail like a champ, it’s going to be you Paula!!!

  • LauraPetrolino JohnMTrader LOL!!! Best comment ever Laura 🙂 P.S. I wept with joy after reading this post, so goal accomplished 😉

  • Howie Goldfarb LauraPetrolino TaraGeissinger That’s really interesting. Our societies distorted view on failure is really a problem and stifles both organizational innovation and growth and individual professional growth. I have the start of another post lined up about how the resistance to failure is a major problem in allowing organizations to take the steps needed for progressive change. It creates a culture that stifles many of the things that should be encouraged and a tendency to not want to take responsibility because we are conditioned to think of failure as an end vs. a beginning. 
    I’d love to see that article Howie if you have the link?

  • danielghebert LauraPetrolino JohnMTrader Hahahaha! Yay! Thanks Daniel! It was the DJ Jazz Jeff and Fresh Prince video that really pushed it over right? They make me weep with joy too! 🙂

  • Howie Goldfarb jasonkonopinski LauraPetrolino ginidietrich I’m pretty sure Gini and I are Jason’s two biggest female nerd crushes…..I mean obviously!?!

  • LauraPetrolino Howie Goldfarb ginidietrich You’re both on the list.

  • lkpetrolino

    LSSocialEngage Thanks lady!!!

  • lkpetrolino

    MissZippy1 Imperfect perfection is what’s hip for 2014! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!!

  • lkpetrolino

    KatieMHutton Ahhh! Thank you so much!! Happy New Year! 🙂

  • Excellent post! A dose of #PetroPower is just what we need to start 2014. You’ve coined what is clearly one of my new favourite sayings- “When in doubt,! ” I don’t make new years resolutions per se, but I pledge to use this phrase throughout 2014 and beyond. 

    I shall fail in 2014, no doubt about that. And I shall learn, and laugh, and fail some more. Thanks for this lady!

  • RebeccaTodd Hahahaha! I honestly can’t think of a better new year’s resolution. Ambitious for sure, but if anyone can handle the responsibility of helping to make this phrase internationally legendary, it is you! 

    And I love your last sentence, “learn, laugh, and fail some more…..” because that’s what makes life fun!

  • lkpetrolino

    RebeccaAmyTodd Yay!!! Thank you so much! xoxoxo

  • LauraPetrolino RebeccaTodd Yesterday I received a nice note from a friend. He wished me a happy new year and then said he learned a new phrase in 2013: PetroPower. I told him to blame Laura and he said it was my fault for introducing her to all of you.

  • Love it LauraPetrolino! I’m printing out this post & pasting it up in my office & bookmarking it on my phone!  A reminder that “The best laid plans of mice & men often go astray” and with the right attitude “astray” just means differently!

  • ginidietrich LauraPetrolino RebeccaTodd OMG!!!!!! This is BIG!!! This is really BIG! You know how crazy exciting this is to me! Move over ‘selfie’, PetroPower is taking your place in 2014 as the word of the year!!!!!! Woohooo!!!!!!

  • lizreusswig LauraPetrolino For serious? I made print out status? Heck yeah, next thing you know I’ll be up on the fridge, then I’ll know I’ve made it!!! 🙂 

    And how much do I love that you just quoted Of Mice and Men!! Now I can say Steinbeck made a cameo too!

  • Jessica Hirsch Attanasio

    I love Laura’s post, and the Gaiman quote is perfect. No attempts to be inspirational here, but I did decide it was a good time to refocus my fashion/shopping blog:

  • 2014, the year of making mistakes and doing something. 🙂

  • LauraPetrolinoginidietrichRebeccaToddnext time my home needs oil or my car needs gas I am going to buy some PetroPower. It is very energy efficient, supposedly inexpensive, and gets it’s energy from the sun and skittles.

  • LauraPetrolinoHowie GoldfarbTaraGeissingerwe are lucky in some cultures failure requires us to save face either by suicide or

  • susancellura

    This is awesome, LauraPetrolino! And so very true. I actually try to teach my daughter this as she can get frustrated if something doesn’t turn out absolutely perfect the first time. Try, try again!

  • The rambling of a mad woman! The fact that is makes perfect sense is kind of scary. Great first post of the year LauraPetrolino! Mistakes are a moral imperative for learning.

  • Well, regardless of what you may think, I still thought your post was inspirational. 
    That quote is probably the best one I heard yet. (I’m going to share it on Twitter in a moment.) It’s so simple and true, poetic and wise. 
    “I hope in this year to come, you make mistakes…” all simply because it means we done something. 
    I’m sure everyone feels the same this time of year when we finally think about the personal goals we’ve accomplished and realize with sadness we haven’t accomplished that much (or any at all). Making mistakes is tangible proof we’ve tried. Our only gift of consciousness that our year wasn’t wasted.

  • JRHalloran Well thank you sir! But I will say that I think sometimes people have a tendency to want to measure progress by big, huge milestones and life changing events, when really it’s in the details, the little day to day things that the magic happens. 

    I started a practice when I was in high school (believe it or not, based on something I saw on Oprah!) that at the end of each day I write down 5 things from that day I’m grateful for and 5 things that I did to make a difference. It totally transformed the way I view my goals and priorities in life. When you do this, you truly see that it’s the little things that mean the most.

  • briantudor LauraPetrolino Would you expect anything less from me than mad woman ramblings Brian? I mean, let’s be real here!  🙂 But thank you! And I love that quote “mistakes are a moral imperative for learning”. You can include that in the comic book series you will make about the Adventures of PetroPower. Well done!

  • LauraPetrolino Ah, I guess we should have Oprah come on SpinSucks one of these days as a guest, huh?

  • Howie Goldfarb LauraPetrolino ginidietrich RebeccaTodd I’m single handedly revolutionizing the sustainable energy space! 

    Actually my parents used to joke when I was little that if they could connect me up to some sort of bike or treadmill that transferred my energy output into electricity, I could sustain a major city. PetroPower in its infancy!

  • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes TaDa! 🙂

  • susancellura LauraPetrolino That’s so great Susan! I think that’s one of the things I’m most grateful that my parents instilled in my, to just go out and try. Sure, I’ve crashed head first into disaster many times as a result, but I learned to pick myself up, dust myself off, figure out what worked and what didn’t and do it again!

  • JRHalloran LauraPetrolino Word on the street is that #PetroPower is one of her favorite things… least that’s what I heard….

  • lkpetrolino

    amyviny Gracias Amy! Wishing you an amazing 2014!

  • lkpetrolino

    JMmktg How much do I love you that you added #petropower to this tweet? SO MUCH!! Happy New Year!! 🙂

  • Laura Petrolino

    Thanks so much for sharing this!!

  • stevesonn

    Very inspirational LauraPetrolino! I also like the reminder that Google is a great safety net: “When in doubt, Google it out!”

  • I love love love this post. I am a HUGE believer of finding the silver lining/everything happens for a reason style of thinking. And I also believe one can create content – in your case a blog post – out of the smallest and/or seemingly most inconsequential nuggets of information. I once wrote a post that was wholly based around an early morning conversation about the Sesame Street phone martians. *yip yip yip yip* BRRRRIIIIINNNGGG!!! 

    Seriously. It remains one of my all time favourite pieces. You wrote a knockout post Laura. Petropower indeed!!

  • JMmktg

    lkpetrolino Rock on! Happy New Year!

  • belllindsay You know it means galaxies to me to have you say that! AND then you posted one of my fav Sesame Street clips! This is a gold star comment right here!

  • stevesonn LauraPetrolino Hahahaha! Google has saved me many a day!

  • aimeelwest

    Lovin’ this post! I have been working on starting a blog post and well it is not going as smoothly as I would like… ah well. But I will get there! I will win the Nobel Peace prize for best written blog!! Yes I know that is not how you normally win the Noble Peace prize but my blog will inspire people and world peace will come about because of it. 

    Wait maybe that is a bit much. How about I just hope people will read it.

  • aimeelwest um…..Aimee, you are commenting on my blog post, do you really think the words, ‘wait maybe that is a bit much’, translate here?

    NO! Congrats on your Noble Peace Prize!

  • KatieMHutton

    lkpetrolino Happy New Year to you too!

  • lkpetrolino

    VernetteOutLoud Thanks Vernette! Wishing you lots of tiramisu in the new year!

  • lkpetrolino

    jhirz Wow! What an endorsement! 😉 Thanks Jeff! Cheers to a fantastic 2014!

  • VernetteOutLoud

    lkpetrolino thank you kindly 😀 All the best to you for 2014!!!

  • LauraPetrolino MMMMoooooooooo!!!! MMMMMMoooooooooo!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!

  • belllindsay LauraPetrolino so.much.YES!!!!!

  • LauraPetrolinobelllindsaymeeeep meeeep! My daughter and I used to watch the muppet show on youtube a lot. She loved in fact of the 39 mil views 38 mil are us. Which is why you can’t use Youtube views to decide if something is viral or not.

  • LauraPetrolinostevesonnahem. It is not Google. That makes it sound like it is some minor tool to be used vs The Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe. It is The Google. Please refer to The Google in the proper manner. People way more high profile than yourselves have disappeared mysteriously from such errors. And don’t think The Twitter can save you either.

  • The Parent Coaches
  • I was seriously wondering where you were going with that post… UNTIL I read the quote (which I also love, by the way) you totally surprised me in your turnaround. 🙂 What an appropriate post for starting a new year of piles o’ failure topped with the occasional success! Cheers (and burpees) to 2014!

  • Help A Reporter

    Anytime Laura! We love you guys!

  • Laura Petrolino

    Big ditto right back at ya!

  • aimeelwest

    LauraPetrolino haha you are correct! Oh I can’t wait to do the speech it will be soooo long the music will play FOREVER before I step down.

  • lkpetrolino

    O_SocialMedia Thanks so much for sharing!

  • lkpetrolino

    bowden2bowden Thanks Randy!! Happy New Year!

  • lkpetrolino

    DesignSpike Thanks for sharing this!

  • bowden2bowden

    lkpetrolino and HNY to you Laura

  • aimeelwest LauraPetrolino that’s my girl! I’ll be there to cheer you on, wearing my custom made Versace gown and Harry Winston half million diamond tiara….of course…

  • kaitlynworkman HAHAHAHA! “Cheers and burpees to 2014”, is my favorite New Year’s greeting now! I thought about doing 2014 burpees as some sort of symbol of the new year…..and then I realized I would die, so that idea went to the back of the line and I did two and just multiplied. Math saves lives!

  • Howie Goldfarb LauraPetrolino belllindsay HAHAHAHAHA!! I love this one too! The muppets are seriously such quality programming!

  • Howie Goldfarb LauraPetrolino belllindsay I just tried to post this comment, but it disappeared, so if suddenly there are two don’t blame me! But I LOVE the muppets! A world without muppets is a sad world indeed!

  • LauraPetrolino Howie Goldfarb ginidietrich RebeccaTodd I believe it.

  • Nice one Laura. I think we are all pretty psyched now. 
    I don’t usually do resolutions, but I often pick 2-3 words I want to better include in my life. This year’s one is Grace. So we’ll see how that goes. 
    Any words in mind for your 2014? Other than, say, PetroPower and Ninjamaniac = )

  • JoeCardillo Grace is quite ambitious for sure Joe! I actually do that as well. I first got the idea from a post Chris Brogan did, but I do it slightly differently and pick one or two words and then use them as my anchors for my priorities for that year. My word this year is vibrance. 

    I also pick one or two quotes or phrases that really resonate, but I do that quarterly.

    I think the simplicity of the single words is really powerful in helping to focus intention and energy.

  • LauraPetrolino kaitlynworkman I guess I will let you use it, but only because it’s much more appropriate. I wouldn’t even entertain the thought of 2014 burpees.

  • DanielGHebert

    RickCooper SpinSucks lkpetrolino Thanks for the Rick! 🙂

  • RickCooper

    DanielGHebert SpinSucks lkpetrolino You’re welcome Daniel! Glad to share! Have a great week!

  • lkpetrolino

    RickCooper DanielGHebert Thanks kids! Hope the first Monday of 2014 is treating you both well!

  • O_SocialMedia

    lkpetrolino Hi Laura – My pleasure to share!