by: Geoff Ficke

Ayrton Senna, the great Brazilian Gran Prix driver, once famously was quoted: “To survive Gran Prix racing, you need to be afraid. Fear is an important feeling. It helps you to race longer and live longer”.

Fear is an element that each of us face in different ways, and at many intervals during the course of our lives. We may suffer fear of physical confrontations, emotional clashes, personal and professional setbacks, declining physical or mental capacities. When undertaking an inventory of our life’s experiences we inevitably underline for emphasis the role fear has played on so many occasions during our journey.

In the entrepreneurial work my Marketing Consulting firm conducts we see examples of fear manifested in a number of ways. Many prospective entrepreneurs are afraid of success. Others are afraid to fully commit or even to enter the race. A few, and ultimately the most successful, are fearful of failure. They succeed in large part because the stigma of not being successful is something that compels them to gargantuan effort, overcoming all obstacles and full-bore focus on achieving their goals.

Recently my firm reviewed a golf training product that had been submitted by a young man. He had limited resources, but a wonderful device that had been tested and endorsed by numerous competitive golfers. Golfers are typically passionate. If they perceive that a tool, or aid, can improve their score, they will make that product successful in the marketplace.

The young entrepreneur had designed the training aid with the assistance of his father. They had spent a good deal of time and money in their effort to self-market the product. Nothing had yet worked for them. The product was languishing. While they had passion for their products features and benefits (and they were many), they lacked focus, vision, a strategy and were fearful of fully committing themselves and their full energies to overcoming the normal obstacles that all entrepreneurs confront.

Fear can be constructive or destructive. In the case of the golf training aid product negative fear is instrumental in imploding a great opportunity. After meeting the young entrepreneur and carefully reviewing the project, I left the meeting convinced that this would end in disappointing fashion. The fear of commitment, and ultimately the opportunity for success, was paralyzing this young man’s will to overcome.

Conversely, we meet entrepreneurs of all stripes that possess positive fear: fear of failure. There is no challenge that they will not meet and conquer. They find a way to succeed. They confront and tame their fear.

Tragically, the sensational racing World Champion Ayrton Senna was killed while racing in 1994. His exceptional talent and seeming fearlessness as displayed on the race track was nevertheless leavened by his understanding, appreciation and respect for the emotion of fear. He lived life to the fullest and reached the ultimate pinnacle of the international sporting world. He died too young. But, he lived so well.

Author's Bio: 

Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.

After putting himself through the University of Kentucky (B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1969) and serving in the United States Marine Corp, Mr. Ficke commenced a career in the cosmetic industry. After rising to National Sales Manager for Vidal Sassoon Hair Care at age 28, he then launched a number of ventures, including Rubigo Cosmetics, Parfums Pierre Wulff Paris, Le Bain Couture and Fashion Fragrance.

Geoff Ficke and his consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing, Inc. ( has assisted businesses large and small, domestic and international, entrepreneurs, inventors and students in new product development, capital formation, licensing, marketing, sales and business plans and successful implementation of his customized strategies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Page Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Business School, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.