Every few minutes I refreshed my browser it felt like a dream, and if I’m being honest, a nightmare. The numbers in my affiliate account were staggering and showed no signs of letting up. On my best days I spent nearly $10,000 on Google Adwords with 20-50% profit margins depending on the day.

Although I had very high available balances on my credit cards I was nearly maxed out. When I opened the floodgates on this advertising campaign there was no way to stop it. Except, of course, running out of short term cash to keep the whole thing moving.

I showed my Parents my screen.



“I don’t know what to do. I need money to keep these ads alive. I have about a week of credit limit left. How much can you give me?”

It wasn’t a question of, “Can you loan me a few hundred bucks?” That would keep the campaign alive for an hour or three, at best.

It was more a question of, “How much is your life savings? Because I’m going to double it in a month.”

At the same time I was scrambling to open a no credit limit account with Amex Platinum while also trying to open a massive line of credit with my bank. I needed every possible available penny or this would all end in an instant.

The end didn’t come in any way I could have imagined.

It was much worse …


What happened next?

I’m writing a book about it, tentatively titled¬†Failure: What You Don’t Know About The Greatest Successes In History.

I am nowhere near a “greatest success in history” so the focus will barely be on me. But every good book needs some personal anecdotes, doesn’t it?

I love reading about success, but nobody writes about failure. And while we can learn a lot from success, we can learn just as much from failure. Especially when it’s framed in a “here’s where and why I failed and then here’s what I did to ultimately succeed” context.

I need your help.

Here’s the deal: if you want to read this book, type in your email address below and click “Click to learn about Failure!”


When this post generates 1,000 people who are interested I’ll send more of the story above. And more info about the book as well. (Current count: more than 100 but less than 1,000!)


P.S. I need your help Part 2. Can you please share this on Facebook and Twitter? Just click the buttons below.

16 Responses to Failure

  1. Sweet cliffhanger, bro.

    I’ve been in the same situation too, getting a temporary increase in credit limit with my credit card company.


  2. I was actually thinking about Failure in a sense on my bike ride into work this morning as I was re-listening to Delivering Happiness. Probably the cornerstone of Tony Hseish’s success is the culture he created at Zappos, and that was almost completely driven by the failure of creating a good culture at LinkXchange and not wanting to repeat that failure at any cost.

    Sievers talks alot about his massive failures and learning from them as well in his book, but I’m looking forward to hearing your spin on the topic as well!

    • It’s hard to point to LinkXChange as a failure considering he sold for 100-something million. A culture failure is relative. For example, when I did the Zappos tour that place was a mess to me. I could never get any work done. So it was a failure from my perspective.

      I’m going for things like bankruptcies, foreclosures, personal tragedies, and general business failures. Rise/fall/rise or fall/rise patterns.

  3. What kind of tech project is so dependent on AdWords? Spending $10k/day on just driving traffic to your site? Did the project not merit to social media sharing or a post fron TechCrunch or some other high-traffic blog? “Advertising is a tax for being unremarkable”. Would love some context….

    • “Advertising is a tax for being unremarkable.”

      Interesting. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve read in a long time. (I know it’s the Geek Squad guy. Best Buy did his advertising for him so I guess technically he’s right that he didn’t have to.)

      You’re making too many assumptions. Who said it was a tech product I was advertising?

      Since when did a single post from a site like TechCrunch build a business? Even when something goes viral it’s very short term.

      This happened in 2006.

      I will, until my dying day, invest $1 to make back $1.20 – $1.50 if I can.

      • Hey man, no need to get defensive – I have no choice but to make assumptions because you gave no context in your post. Clearly there’s more to this story but you’ve chosen to keep it from your readers.

        The advertising quote doesn’t necessarily apply to your product/service – it’s just an interesting quote I heard, my point was, what startup requires so much money in advertising spend, why doesn’t it get more word of mouth?

        Of course you would spend $1 to get back $1.20. But I would ask why did so much of your investment go towards PPC?


        • I’m going to give you $120 Million. But first you have to give me $100 Million for 30 days.

          Would you do it?

          That’s why.

          In my case it was more like “give google $10k and I’ll get $12-15k” but it still stands.

  4. Are we anywhere near the 1000 mark?

    You have me eagerly anticipating the second part of this story :)

  5. […] A note: thanks for all the interest in the Failure book. I’m still a ways off from writing/releasing it. I’ll write more about this in the future, but I am not planning on self-publishing.¬†Click here to learn more. […]