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Cintia Miranda Cintia Miranda
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Smart marketers learn from their mistakes

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Forbes recently reported a new research study from Stanford's business school, which suggests that individuals who tend towards feeling guilty when they do something wrong exhibit strong performance as leaders. The study involved 520 people and three separate experiments. For each of these experiments, researchers subjected participants to online personality tests that measured their tendency to feel both guilt and shame, among other traits.

Many (if not most) people think that guilt and shame are the same emotion. Psychologists, however, feel that this is incorrect. The difference, they say, lies in the actions a person performs subsequently. After doing something wrong, guilt-prone people often want to correct their mistake to make things right. Those who experience shame, on the other hand, tend to feel bad about themselves, but do nothing to correct their errors.

I found this study to be fascinating, as I have always thought highly of business people who admit to their mistakes and go to great lengths to make up for their shortcomings. In essence, mistakes are bound to happen we are 'only' human, after all! The key is figuring out the best way to make up for our errors and move forward.

I always tell my daughter that saying 'sorry' is not enough; learning from our mistakes and trying our very best to not repeat them is a crucial part of being a respectful human being. Because of this, she always shares her experiences with me, and explains how she was able to make a better choice based on the past 'boo boo.'

The same should hold true for our marketing relations, as well. When your organization's performance is below par, what is your in-house policy? Or, more simply, how do you to take charge of the situation and move forward? Do you notice a tendency to brush things under the rug and wait for time to perform its miracle? Or do people actually take responsibility for their mistakes?

Great brands are proactive, responsive and realistic. The results of the aforementioned Stanford study only solidify the common assertion that great brands are led by great leaders. It is only through this leadership that organizations are able to become proactive, responsive and most importantly of all honest.

The bottom line: Don't feel guilty about feeling guilty. Admit your failures, embrace your mistakes and always strive to improve your performance based on past lessons learned.

Cntia Miranda is the president of Pulse Marketing Agency. Learn more about her work at


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