Laura Bohannon

A Chat with Peter Shankman

Peter Shankman credits ADHD for his successes (and some failures), and spoke to our class about how understanding how his brain works has helped him become an extremely successful entrepreneur. Shankman also hosts a podcast called Faster Than Normal, which aims to help people use ADHD to their advantage.

Shankman founded Help A Reporter Out (HARO), which helped thousands of reporters connect with sources looking to be quoted in the media. He’s also well-versed in PR and social media strategy.

According to his website, “Peter’s Customer Service and Social Media clients have included American Express, Sprint, SAP, The US Department of Defense, Royal Bank of Canada, Snapple Beverage Group, Saudi Aramco, Foley Hoag LLP, NASA, Haworth, Sheraton, Walt Disney World, Abercrombie and Kent, The Ad Council, Discovery Networks, New Frontier Media, Napster, Juno, Dream Catcher Destinations Club, Harrah’s Hotels, and many, many others.”

There are some HUGE names on that list. SAP is the largest business software company IN THE WORLD. Let that sink in! Then, let’s bring the US Dept. of Defense into the mix, they’re fairly important too, right? Snapple, Walt Disney World, Harrah’s Hotels … if all of these powerhouses “and many, many others,” are putting their trust in Peter Shankman, this guy knows his stuff.

Fast forward to my class’ Skype conversation with Peter, and he is personable, humorous, vibrant as can be, and very frank. This is the type of person I respond very well to. I enjoyed every aspect of our class’ conversation, but I did have one issue with a message he conveyed. Peter Shankman, more or less, said that if you haven’t failed, you’re not trying hard enough.

I understand that failure is necessary to growth (both personally and professionally), but I don’t think that someone needs to fail outright in order to succeed later on. Granted, I’m not entirely sure if this is exactly what Shankman meant, since I didn’t ask outright: ‘does this mean I have to fail at something to become good?’ 

While that’s an admirable stance, I do not think it’s all-encompassing, I think people can make mistakes without failing completely. I think partial failures are important because you don’t need to completely botch something to understand how to be better next time. Partial failures are also more common, and if we’re able to take lessons from each of our smaller, individual failures, we will have a better understanding of how to better ourselves in the future.

5 thoughts on “A Chat with Peter Shankman

  1. I agree with the fact that you said you don’t need to completely fail at something to learn from it and little mistakes are just as important as failing horribly. I think we all learn day by day by making little mistakes so I think that is important in a startup too!

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  2. I also really enjoyed Peter’s conversation with our class. His openness to speak so openly about his failures reminded me that vulnerability is very important too.

    To give a project or any creative endeavor your personal best is a very vulnerable thing because you’re saying to the world that this is the best that you can do. And oftentimes, your best is not enough, but you’ll never know your limits until you test them. I agree with you saying that someone doesn’t need “to fail outright in order to succeed later on.” The more nuanced opinion of micro failures seems more fitting like you said “Partial failures are also more common, and if we’re able to take lessons from each of our smaller, individual failures, we will have a better understanding of how to better ourselves in the future.”

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  3. You brought up some interesting points on failure and provided a great explanation on partial failures. I have never thought about failing through that perspective, and I have to agree. I experience partial failures just about every day and while at times they are irritating and sometimes can be a one way ticket to a confidence killer, they keep me sharp and aware of myself. Little bumps in the road are perfectly normal. However, I will say that of the times I really pulled the plug on something, it knocked me down for a little but made me wiser the second time around.

    Your perspective on this talk was refreshing and I admire your unique thoughts and impression of it all!

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  4. Laura,
    I liked your intro to who Peter is and what he has done throughout his career and his different projects he is working on right now. It gave me a good overall summary of who he is. I also liked that you made counter arguments to his points, questioning what he said and adding your own insight. That makes your blog post your own, including what someone else who is an expert says but also adding in you down views and experiences.
    Over all great job, I enjoyed it.
    Thanks!

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  5. It’s a long process is what it is. Failure isn’t the best thing that can happen with you and I agree you can succeed without failing. It does help though, you do learn things from failure, and I think at some point in your life you do need to fail. Not because it will help you be successful, but it will give you a chance to grow as a person. If you never fail, I don’t think you will truly appreciate the feel when you do succeed.

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