With experience that spans roles at PepsiCo, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer, Greg has worked on and managed some of the world’s largest brands. In 2015, Greg became an early-stage employee at Exact Media, a marketing start-up disrupting the sampling arena globally. Greg helped to triple the business and became a trusted marketing thought leader across North America. In his spare time, Greg is author of the book Becoming Spreadable, a part-time college marketing instructor, and contributor to publications that include the National Post and Marketing Magazine, which named him as a Top 30 Under 30 Marketer in 2016.
Why do you think failure has a bad reputation?
As children we are taught to over-learn from failure and under-learn from positive experiences. We are taught to question why we got a B+ in math instead of an A, and why we didn’t place in a gymnastics competition instead of focusing on how we actually made it to the competition to begin with!
Developmentally, we learn that failure gets more time and attention than success does. If you aren’t performing in school, you get more attention than if you are performing well. Our brain becomes hardwired with the predisposition to focus more on failure than we do on success. As a result we don’t celebrate successes and drown ourselves on where we missed the mark.
We learn to explain failure, we never learn to explain success. It continues into adulthood: if you walk around university campuses or office buildings today and asked “why are you succeeding?,” you would be greeted with countless blank faces. Meanwhile, movements like mindfulness and self help are growing rapidly to help people control their negative self voices.
Those are the same negative voices developed during childhood because we focus too much on what went wrong, compared to what is going right.
What does failure mean to you?
I have rarely been scared of failure. It’s a concept that I don’t fully understand – perhaps it’s my upbringing, self confidence or even my anti-establishment err. Sometimes this has gotten the best of me as I find myself in positions that are less than ideal having taken too large of leap.
I consider myself a creative person, and to me failure is a success metric. I wish I could encapsulate how little I care about failure – and my predisposition to not even notice failure – as I know it could be of use to many people.
In my life, I have quit six-figure jobs to take a role at random startups, I’ve signed-up to speak to thousands of people without any experience in what I was going to talk about, and I’ve bought massive properties on a whim.
The secret to taking risks is to acknowledge that nothing will kill you – there are too many safeguards in society to protect irreparable harm from taking place. Have more faith in humanity, the connections that you have built and the natural propensity of the world to want to see you successful.
What should we do when we fail?
The most common answer will be to learn why you failed and try never to do that again, but I believe life moves too fast to do a post-audit every time something goes wrong. I believe that as a species we are experts at pattern recognition and will naturally make sure the same issue doesn’t happen again. What’s more important than learning from your mistake is to get moving after your mistake. You do this by training your brain to view failure as a success metric, as opposed to a failure metric.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time/what are your hobbies?
I have a wide array of passions including drumming, writing, spending time in Muskoka, and fostering my love/hate relationship with Crossfit.
How would your friends describe you in 3 words or less?
Driven, thoughtful, creative.
What is your favourite TED/TEDx talk and why?
Simon Sinek’s How great leaders inspire action is by far the greatest talk of our generation by the greatest idealist of recent history.
What is something you can’t live without?
My nightly walk to think and dream.
What are you most proud of?
The loyal group of family and friends that surround me.
What is the role that conversation plays in your life?
A powerful conversation can have you riding a high for weeks and months – they may be just words, but their impact can be greater than any event or moment in time. The trick is surrounding yourself with people who don’t think like you do, and who don’t want to think like you do either.
What is your personal philosophy?
Think about what you’re not thinking about.