The Fear of Failure is one of the most common restraints that holds people back from pursuing great ideas. Imagine if we could become totally free from the fear of failure. Imagine what we could then manifest and create. In this interview series, we are talking to leaders who can share stories and insights from their experience about “Becoming Free From the Fear of Failure.” As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Emely Roman.
Emely is a fractional CMO for 8 figure tech start-ups and a business coach to women in marketing and online service providers. She broke out of the traditional 9–5 corporate career path to build a platform for women to build their own profitable and sustainable online brands. She’s also the CEO of a half-a-million-plus boutique marketing firm and emelyroman.com.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
Thank you so much for having me. My name is Emely Roman and I was born in Costa Rica and migrated to the United States when I was 8 years old. I was raised in South Philadelphia, met my high school sweetheart in a public school and now I am the proud mom of a 3-year-old. I come from a traditional immigrant Latino household where certain expectations are set based on your gender and even the color of your skin.
I was raised believing that success came only from going to college, becoming a doctor or a lawyer, or a scientist and that in life you simply put your head down, work really hard, and hope for the best.
Throughout my childhood years and even well into my entrepreneurial journey, I always liked doing things my way. After years of trying to fit the status quo, I decided to burn down the 9–5 path and bet on myself. I felt like I had a better chance at success by betting on myself and my work ethic than continuing to try to climb the corporate ladder.
Even at 23 years old, I always had a really clear understanding of how short life really is and I wanted to design a path for me where I could truly enjoy the present and everything the world has to offer.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I lost over $400,000 in the span of four months in my marketing firm because I rushed into scaling it. I learned a lot of powerful lessons. Let me give you the top three:
Number One — Your reputation matters more than a quick buck. People often underestimate the power of reputation. I think that people who do not practice good business do not intend to be in business for the long haul.
Number Two — Price yourself properly. Scaling your business can be done simply through a well-thought-out pricing strategy (i.e. taking into consideration inflation, your market, your competitors, etc.) You’d be surprised what a few tweaks in your pricing can do for your bottom line.
Number Three — Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Nobody likes uncomfortable conversations, setting clear cut expectations at the beginning of the hiring process, holding people accountable, firing people, and defining working relationships with boundaries and tone — but all these things are necessary in order to find balance and ensure that your company and products are able to serve the customer — which ultimately, it’s the most important thing.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
The three traits that have helped me the most in this journey have been my work ethic, my faith, and unwavering focus.
I’ve always had an exceptional work ethic even in my 9–5s. I wasn’t afraid to roll up my sleeves and do the work — even if it wasn’t in my job description. I treated the companies I worked for as my own and always looked for ways to improve processes, and systems, and ultimately protect the bottom line. I transferred this same level of work ethic into my business and the client accounts I manage.
It takes a level of faith in yourself, in God, or whatever higher power you believe in — that no matter how violent the storm, calmer winds will follow. I have failed. And I have crumbled under pressure. Lots of sleepless, stressful nights. But, I’ve always been faithful to my God-given talents, and the opportunity to live another day. That’s a testament or a sign if you will, that I must keep going forward no matter what.
And focus. We are bombarded with information every time we pick up our phones. The next silver bullet, the next perfect solution to our issues — but I believe that if we practice unwavering focus on our business and life goals and commit to them for 60–90 days we will see dramatic results. Too many people quit right before the finish line just because they lose focus on the end goal and instead want immediate gratification.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the concept of becoming free from failure. Let’s zoom in a bit. From your experience, why exactly are people so afraid of failure? Why is failure so frightening to us?
I think society has oversimplified the concept of failure. We think failure is painful — so, therefore, we should avoid it at all costs. Whether it’s because it’s painful to disappoint your parents or because you may lose all your life’s savings on a business venture…
But failure is a sophisticated tool — that if used properly, could transform you into an extremely resilient person.
What are the downsides of being afraid of failure? How can it limit people?
I always asked myself, what would have happened if I had never taken the leap of faith I took back in 2015. I probably would have still been in the same company, making $40k a year, working 40 hours a week, and taking 2 vacations every year.
I would have to clock in and clock out… Tell my manager when I was going to the bathroom. Work basically to afford a babysitter… You get the gist…
Today, my life is the polar opposite. I work around 20 hours a week and travel (when possible) the world. I also have built a platform where people value my expertise and I can impact their lives.
Being afraid of failure can steal your potential right from your hands.
In contrast, can you help articulate a few ways how becoming free from the free of failure can help improve our lives?
Being free from failure makes you nimble: You have the ability to pivot with more ease because you are more confident in your ability to think on your feet.
Being free from failure makes you wiser: You can assess situations with more clarity and without letting your emotions take over.
Being free from failure builds up your stamina: You will find that along the way certain challenges become easier to handle and less stressful.
Being free from failure improves your self-confidence: You can lead teams better, and you can make decisions under more pressure, and quicker.
We would love to hear your story about your experience dealing with failure. Would you be able to share a story about that with us?
Well, the biggest failure to date was probably the $400k loss I mentioned earlier. I underestimated my lead generation strategies and overestimated the capacity of my team to deliver. I took this failure and communicated with my clients. I refunded 4, 6-figure contracts, fired two leadership members in my team, and took a hard look at the platform on which we delivered our services. I audited my workflows, the processes, and the systems we used to deliver and then rolled up my sleeves and got to work on creating mitigation systems.
How did you rebound and recover after that? What did you learn from this whole episode? What advice would you give to others based on that story?
A lot of people in the online service provider space believe that running big teams and hitting 7-figures is a matter of discovering the perfect lead-gen strategy. But that’s not what I learned. I learned that running a legitimate business is so much more than a high-performing lead gen strategy. Leads should never be a problem for a business. What’s more important is ensuring that your business is capable to scale ethically, without being a burden to the clients that put their trust in your company or being a burden to your team.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that everyone can take to become free from the fear of failure”? Please share a story or an example for each.
Step One: Stop Oversimplifying the meaning of failure — Leverage the speed at which you receive feedback and the lessons learned.
Step Two: Create a tangible plan and break it into stages. Think of this as a business plan and I would even say add in some KPIs to measure how well you are doing.
Step Three: Find mentors that have been where you are and also a community for support.
Step Four: Execute and Focus. You can sit there, dream, and plan but you will never achieve anything unless you execute. But it’s not just about executing — it’s executing with excellence and purpose.
Step Five: Believe you were made for this. I think it’s so interesting to realize that even though we have oversimplified fear of failure, our very existence today and our success as a species has been because we were built to fail and learn from those failures and that feedback has been engrained in our DNA. It’s how we’ve evolved to what we are today and how we will thrive in the future.
The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “It is possible to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way.” Based on your experience, have you found this quote to be true? What do you think Aristotle really meant?
I think this quote is true! What I believe he’s trying to do is warn us about how powerful our mind is. You could be an overachiever, top performer, etc., and still, feel like you failed because you didn’t get the outcome you envisioned in your mind. But on the other hand, you could also be at peace with the journey to become someone better, to achieve things you couldn’t even dream of, and yes, get burnt along the way — and feel successful, fulfilled, and at peace with yourself.
And lastly, your mind defines what success truly is for you… Is it the outcome of what you think you can control, or the journey to it that shapes you, transforms you, and wisens you up? Ultimately, it’s your choice.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would like to spark a movement where women can command their markets and industries, build legacies with their bare hands, and impact communities across the United States — through intentionally designed business models that protect them from the senseless hustle and bustle, we’ve grown accustomed to. I believe that women can be successful business owners; build, launch and scale their intellectual properties, and create ripple effects in our communities — starting with their families, all the way to children, churches, and neighborhoods.
A Pride of Lionesses building Kingdom Wealth — that’s my call to arms.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
Sarah Jake Roberts for sure — I would love to ask her how did she prepare to become a leader for the thousands of women in her tribe. I admire her deep devotion to her calling and the plan that God has laid out for her.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Go to my website at www.emelyroman.com
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This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.
About The Interviewer: Savio P. Clemente coaches cancer survivors to overcome the confusion and gain the clarity needed to get busy living in mind, body, and spirit. He inspires health and wellness seekers to find meaning in the “why” and to cultivate resilience in their mindset. Savio is a Board Certified wellness coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), stage 3 cancer survivor, podcaster, writer, and founder of The Human Resolve LLC.
Savio pens a weekly newsletter at thehumanresolve.com where he delves into secrets from living smarter to feeding your “three brains” — head 🧠, heart 💓, and gut 🤰 — in hopes of connecting the dots to those sticky parts in our nature that matter.
He has been featured on Fox News, and has collaborated with Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, Food Network, WW, and Bloomberg. His mission is to offer clients, listeners, and viewers alike tangible takeaways in living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle.
Savio lives in the suburbs of Westchester County, New York and continues to follow his boundless curiosity. He hopes to one day live out a childhood fantasy and explore outer space.