Work Fails with Video Specialist Christian Wearly
In this episode of The Leadership Habit Podcast continues our newest minisode series, Work Fails. We’ve all had experiences when things did not go as planned in the workplace, but people don’t talk about it. Great leaders know that failure is a part of life and eventual success depends on how we handle the situations and learn from that. So we decided to talk to people about real-life examples of when things didn’t go quite right, how they handled it and what they learned from the experience. And on today’s episode of the leadership habit, we’re continuing our Work Fails series with an interview by Crestcom’s one and only Christian Wearly. Christian is Crestcom’s Motion Graphics Media and Video Specialist, meaning he’s responsible essentially for all of the dynamic videos that we incorporate in all of our trainings. I’m so excited to be interviewing Christian as he shares his work fails because remember we all have the failures. We don’t have to suffer in silence, but we can learn from them and help each other.
Jenn DeWall: Christian, thanks for coming into the studio today. I’m so happy that you were able to share your work fails because we know that there are just so many people enjoying this – we’ve gotten a lot of positive response from this series because it’s helped many people. I think we’re conditioned to not really talk about our failures because it means that, you know, we should be embarrassed by it. It’s something that we could have prevented, or it’s something that in some way sends a message about who we are as leaders, but really knowing that our failures are really part of our growth strategy and part of our success story. And I understand that you have a few. So Christian, before we get into it, why don’t you tell our listeners maybe what you do, what your role is.
Christian Wearly: So, I am the video editor for the most part. I’ve done this for some variety of, for the last 20 years. So seen enough fails and had enough fails to have a story to go with them.
Jenn DeWall: Yeah. So I know that we are going to be talking about a few and I love that you’re bringing in even a different side of the, of the business that maybe not a lot of people see, which is that video side of what can go wrong behind the curtain, which is everything that goes into production. So you have a story that has to deal with essentially something that could have been prevented.
Christian Wearly: Yeah. So this happened probably, well this was early 2000. So we were going from, I worked at a post house at the time, and we were going from- pretty much SD, so standard definition to high definition- HD. So the company I was working for had the idea to invest in a camera, a great idea to try to pull in more business for our place. And also the sister company that we were part of, which was a production company.
Turning a Big Investment into a Big Mistake
Jenn DeWall: So this is a big deal. This was a big capital investment because it was something that could –
Christian Wearly: Close to a $100,000 investment. So, yeah, so it’s a big leap, but we felt that between the investment and what we were going to get back, that it was a good investment looking forward into the future.
Jenn DeWall: Yeah. The camera could allow you to do more things.
Christian Wearly: Yeah. So the first shoot that was scheduled was with the sister company, and they go out they have their video shoot, and everything goes great. As you know, as you’ve been on set, everybody gets chummy afterward and you know, it’s kind of one of those big steps you get done. You know, there’s pre-production and then there’s production and kind of once you get everything recorded it’s like, Oh great, We got that done.
Jenn DeWall: Yeah. You can kind of take like, yeah, just from that experience of knowing that the work is done, all the heavy lifting is done, and that’s just kind of the end to all of the planning that has led up to the actual production. See.
Christian Wearly: So everybody was, you know, starting to pack up, you know, the camera guy got the camera, and he put it in the box and then they were taking it out to the car and he’s chit-chatting with three other guys, and the grip and whatnot. And you set the camera down to load up a bunch of guarantees truck and thing gets in his truck and starts to leave. Well, when he left, he forgot to put the camera in the truck and backed over the camera.
Jenn DeWall: Oh, No!
Christian Wearly: Yeah.
Jenn DeWall: He backed over a $100,000 camera!?
Christian Wearly: He didn’t go completely over it, but he went far enough that it was damaged- and yeah…
Jenn DeWall: Like that was beyond just a simple, maybe screen repair like what we would do with our cell phones.
Christian Wearly: Yeah. Send it back to Sony and hope in four months they can send it back to you fixed.
Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh. And this is something that I’m sure if you’re thinking about even what the value of that camera was, the financial value of $100,000 but even with how much they probably attached to the future sales or the future business, how much additional revenue would be added just through this camera. Then it’s all gone. And this was the first shoot.
Christian Wearly: Yeah, this was the first shoot. The camera had maybe about five hours of recording done on it. Oh my gosh. So it’s not even like broke in new, it’s still like new car smell new.
Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh. Yeah. And you haven’t even been able to use it to actually generate revenue yet. So what happened? Like guy gets into his truck or van and backs over the camera. That has to be the, just the worst sound that you’re running over once you figure out what it is.
Looking Back, How Could You Prevent a Work Fail?
Christian Wearly: I don’t know if I told you that the box was the cardboard box. It was shipped in, it was sitting in the box and they were moving around that way. So it was kind of a- how-to put this nicely- an epic fails on the management side of, you know, we have a production company and we’re pretty familiar with, you know, all sorts of gear, lighting, gear grip gear. So the things that hold up stuff on set. And so we’re pretty knowledgeable. I mean, our company has been around at that point for 30 years. So it’s not the first rodeo of going out and shooting something and you’ve done it before and I don’t know why, but there was no camera case ordered for the camera when it was purchased. So they were lugging the camera around in the cardboard box that it came in.
Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh. Well, it’s just, so that blows my mind. Considering the value of the camera that you know, if what’s inside the box has $100,000, would you use something that’s free and can be easily broken as the thing to protect that value?
Christian Wearly: Right. Most people see when they get packages at home, cardboard boxes don’t usually make it through shipping very well. So why a camera could do that? I don’t know. But yeah, that was,
Jenn DeWall: That’s a pretty big work fail, and I think what do you, what do you think is the lesson from that? So basically, the guy ends up ruining and destroying a $100,000 camera. Boots your entire ability to generate additional revenue out of commission for the next few months until you can get a repair. And you could have actually remedy that situation by also ordering a case for it instead of not having the protection be a cardboard box. Should anything ever happen?
Christian Wearly: Yeah, it was. It just kind of the overlying failures on a management side of, you know, there was no case, there was no checkout system. So if you wanted the camera, where did you go get a camera? I don’t know who has it now? I don’t know. What gear did they take with the camera? Who knows? So there was just this huge lack of, I don’t want to call it foresight because there wasn’t that either, but there was just no thought of how we should probably protect our investment.
Jenn DeWall: Right. Or they probably just made the assumption like people will know this is valuable. They’ll take care of it. Whereas that’s not always enough.
Christian Wearly: How many of us have dropped our cell phone? I mean, it’s a $700 phone, but gravity happens, and it drops and you know, you didn’t mean to drop it. It just dropped.
Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh. So I mean moral, his story is if you’re going to make a pretty big investment, what are you going to do to protect your investment to make sure that the, you know, that it still has integrity, that it can still perform its function that you needed it for. And to not, you know, I think the other thing that maybe could have happened because I have seen this and maybe it didn’t happen there, but I think it’s funny cause I think people sometimes are willing to invest in a thing that is really expensive, whether that is a phone or a computer or sunglasses or whatever that is. But then when it comes down to a case, then they’re like, oh, I don’t need the case. Like it’s okay. Like I don’t care. Right. And then all of the sudden- hindsight is 2020- like computer breaks, sunglasses break and you’re like, dang, I wish I would’ve had that.
Christian Wearly: Yeah. Should’ve bought the ten dollar case.
Jenn DeWall: That you know, sometimes it pays to just invest in that small amount even though that amount is significantly less than the item in there that is still protecting the value. And so that’s just, I think part of the stakes are like what you need to do to be able to actually own that is to know that you have to take care of it. Yeah. Okay. That’s a pretty Epic fail. $100,000 kills your chance of generating revenue. All could have been solved by a simple case, but just no forethought. So thinking about that, just assuming people are all taking care of things and human error happens. Okay. You have another story.
Christian Wearly: I do!
The Work Fail Suprise Story
Jenn DeWall: And you said there is a surprise element of it. So I call it the surprise story. So I’m not sure what the work fail message is, but I am excited to hear it.
Christian Wearly: So this work fail happened when I first started off at the post house, I worked at, at the time, this was, I started there in 2000. So when you start there, they put you at the bottom of the room, which was in the tape room. So the tape room was essentially a room that fed and generated the rest of the building for content. So we had most of that time, most stuff was still on analog tapes. So you load up a tape for the video letter upstairs. He would do his thing, and he was laid back off to tape. Your record is a finished commercial to the tape and then it would go to duplications or wherever else it was going to go. So I had done that for probably four or five years. And then as the progress grows, you go from tape room, then you’re a junior editor at night and you prep material for the editors.
Christian Wearly: And then after a while, you know, if the editor, one of the big guys upstairs leave, you become an editor. One of the things in the tape room is that you run dubs or duplication.
Jenn DeWall: That’s what dubs means? I never knew that.
Christian Wearly: Yeah. So yeah, so when we would get a dub order, a duplication order, it would be you know, you get your paper and it would have, you know, is it this spot? It’s for this client. It’s on this tape. It has this code number, and it needs these four other things, you know, video signals and all this other stuff. Okay. And then you’ve run your dub and then the first thing you are ingrained to do is hit stop, rewind and check it.
Jenn DeWall: To make sure all the changes went through, or –
Christian Wearly: You have now made a complete duplication of the original master. So you go through, grabbed your dub order, and you go through the same steps. Is this the spot? Is this the client? Is this the spot the client needs? Yes, yes, yes. Is it meeting all these technical specs?
Always do the Double-Check
Jenn DeWall: This is your double-check. Your safety checker. All of the catch-all.
Christian Wearly: Yes, this is your, this is part of your job of, you know, you did the dub, you checked it, and it’s done and ready to go. Because after you do this, it goes to the television station and goes to the air. So there is no redo at that point.
Jenn DeWall: Yeah. Once it’s life, or once it aired, it aired. Yeah. Okay. So that’s if you don’t do that and something ends up sliding through the cracks, I imagine that could be bad in a variety of ways.
Christian Wearly: In a variety of ways. Well, it is. Yes. so I had been there probably at this post house, so I was going on 10, 11 years and it was I was moving on. So usually when you’re in a video editor or even speaker stuff usually tend to have a demo reel or a, it’s kind of a series of clips that, you know, show your talent. So I was getting my demo reel together. Awesome. You know, I got it all put together, you know, three and a half minutes of the awesomeness of what I’d done in the last, you know, seven years.
Jenn DeWall: Yeah. You’re probably like, good job!
Christian Wearly: So I got that done. And then, you know, at this time, DVDs were the main format to send out your demo on. So I go down to the tape room and you know. Usually, there’s like three to five guys in there, you know, at any given time during the day. And I’m chit-chatting with the guys is on, you know, running my dub for my DVDs for my demo reel and you know, chit-chatting and at that time I’d probably say I was a little more hot-shotty- you know, when you get comfortable in a spot, you kind of do the kind of that rooster strut of, you know, you’re just kind of the,
Jenn DeWall: You get a little cocky.
Christian Wearly: Yeah, exactly. Like get outta the way, kid, you know. So I run my DVD dubs make about five or six copies, whatever it was. And then so then I started going to interviews and the first interview out of the gate goes really well, with this gal that was worked for a cable company and one of the channels there. And I was going to be an editor there and you know, we had this really great interview. Everything goes awesome and super well and I leave her an extra copy of my resume and my demo reel. Sweet, awesome, this is going great.
Jenn DeWall: Totally going to get this job.
The Interview Fail
Christian Wearly: I’m feeling great. You know you had those interviews when you leave, and you’re like, Oh, that one went really good. You know, I didn’t bomb too bad there. So a couple of days go by and I was like, oh wait for the email. And the email comes in. All right, great. Oh, here it goes. You know, start reading. Dear Christian, it was a great meeting with you, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It’s like, Oh, this has gone great. Oh, I just can’t wait to get to that part. Do you know? And it was a period. Unfortunately, your demo reel was blank.
Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh. Yeah. So the one thing that you needed to essentially secure the job You didn’t do.
Christian Wearly: Yes. So from years and years of being ingrained of these three steps of you make a dub, you check your dub, you make sure before you send it away that it’s right. I didn’t do the basic steps that were just ingrained into me year after year, after year after year,
Jenn DeWall: Especially after you are all cocky. Like I’ve got this all figured out. What happened?
Christian Wearly: Well, I didn’t hear, other than that email. I sent a very nice email back to her saying I completely understand. I apologize and you know, and let that be that. And then I had sent out two other blank demo reels with my resume and surprisingly, I didn’t hear back from them.
Jenn DeWall: I mean I feel like it’s the equivalent of maybe someone that wouldn’t have a demo reel, but it would probably be like sending a resume just littered with errors, like something that is obviously just not what’s going to make you seem attractive or just something where they would assume like, this is obvious. Like you’re in this space, you do the production. So you understand that you always need to check these things before you ever send them out. And so there’s an assumption there I’m sure about like your attention to detail, your ability to.
Christian Wearly: You say you’re great at attention to detail, but the one detail you really nail you completely missed.
Jenn DeWall: That’s like, yeah, that’s kind of, I’ve definitely reviewed resumes in a past life and saw, I’ve seen the wrong phone numbers, I’ve seen a missing phone number and given that that’s such an important piece of a resume when those things don’t work out, it’s very hard to want to try to figure out how to get in touch because there’s so much that you could argue is said about their lack of attention to detail, to making sure that they’re going to get a callback.
Christian Wearly: Yeah. I always kinda think of it, you know, your resume and demo reel or speaking for you when you’re not there. So when you’re not there, what are they saying for you?
Jenn DeWall: Yeah, you know,and yours was saying nothing.
Christian Wearly: Mine is saying just two minutes of blank space.
Jenn DeWall: What did you like? How did you recover? What insight did you gain from coming to that failing moment?
The Blame Game – Taking Accountability
Christian Wearly: First, you know, the first thing that goes through your head is you want to blame someone. You know, you always feel like you need to kick the dog somewhere else instead of saying, no, that was completely your mess up. Do you know? I think that was the main thing of just owning it, just owning that colossal failure.
Jenn DeWall: But I think, you know, there’s another lesson that it sounds, let’s end within there. Outside of ownership. It’s also just because you have achieved success, and you have the experience, does not make you somehow perfect. There’s a reason these things were set up and just because you’re really good at what you did didn’t mean that you were never going to face some of those things that you could have fallen into.
Christian Wearly: Yeah, look, it’s, it’s, you know, missing the little things that you’ve been so accustomed to always doing that usually the second, at least for me, the second you’ve taken it for granted is the second that usually comes back to bite you.
Jenn DeWall: So when you start taking the shortcuts, you’re like, I don’t need to do that. I don’t have time for that. I already know how this works out.
Christian Wearly: Pish Posh, I’m Good!
Jenn DeWall: Yes. And I think that’s really common as we get into things. And we do get a little cocky just naturally because we think we’ve seen everything before or that we’ve mastered it so well that we could possibly not make a mistake. Whereas a mistake can absolutely happen.
Christian Wearly: That’s right.
Jenn DeWall: Well, thank you so much for sharing your “Work Fail” stories with us, Christian. I love that. I especially love just even if you’re thinking about applying for a job, you know you can recover from it. You may not be able to recover quickly, but obviously, you’re fine. You’ll be able to find another job. But definitely making sure if there’s anything where you’re putting that resume forward or the demo reel forward that you know you’re double-checking that because those are the ones that we often think are just so boring or we don’t have to pay attention. That’s what’s going to speak for us. But if that doesn’t do the talking for you, there won’t be anything said.
Christian Wearly: That’s right!
Jenn DeWall: So thank you so much, Christian, I appreciated your stories and I’m so glad that we got to finally bring you in front of the microphone instead of behind it.
Christian Wearly: I know, it was very exciting!
Thank you so much for listening to today’s Work fails Minisode. If you enjoyed it, or if you know someone that maybe is in a similar situation, share this with your friends or leave us a review. Our goal with work fails is to help everyone understand that mistakes happen, and it’s not a matter of whether they happen, it’s about how we deal with them. So if you found this podcast episode useful for you today, feel free to share it with your friends or give us a review on your favorite podcast streaming service. Thanks for listening.