How to avoid fear and get things done

The biggest problem we have faced as a company is flakiness— smart, well-meaning people who for whatever reason can’t seem to show up on time, turn their stuff in, or do simple tasks.

Why? It’s because of fear.

Overcoming fear becomes harder as you get older, just like changing old habits. This is a recurring theme with people who have trouble iterating, even when the answers are obvious, like when they are handed to us by the client.

Here’s a real world example based on an actual email chain stressing the importance of iteration and not succumbing to fear and “action paralysis.”

You’ll notice the project leader constantly trying to trigger the new analyst into iterating and being actionable, but the analyst’s fear is paralyzing them from acting. We’ll highlight the terms that clearly indicate their reluctance to act:

New analyst says: “I kept on stabbing away at trying to create suitable audiences for the client and who to target. These are our findings so far. And for any of the following are asking if you see any other directions that we could go to increase numbers…”

The project leader responds: “Hard to say if adding ‘mobile’ to various app names will work. But rather than debate, let’s set up small campaigns to find out quick. Even if we’re assigned a low Quality Score by Google (you get scored even without any traffic yet), don’t let that deter you.

  • Remove the 5,000+ employee filter, which may be unnecessarily cutting down the target counts. Certain job titles will only occur in enterprise companies, so one target will automatically filter for other targets that might not be explicitly available.  In other words, some workplace information is sparsely populated, so be careful.
  • Make a list of the apps/modules that for, which are most– then bucket into “high” and “not high” value to start.
  • Don’t forget to look at the ad copy we already have.
  • Check out the Project Reporting Template to see how we approach Goals, Content, and Targeting (including the accompanying notes in the slides), so we don’t approach this in random order.

The new analyst now has the green light to take immediate action. They have a specific list of tasks to complete, action points, and this is the time for them to act and get this campaign running.

However, they still cannot overcome his fear to act, evident as the new analyst responds with more questions, answered by the project leader in-line:

  1.    I know we’re avoiding expensive terms like ‘enterprise mobility’ for AdWords keywords. There are so few searches, that I’d probably not even recommend running Search except for brand-related terms. That being said, are there any other keyword roots you recommend us researching?

Doesn’t hurt to try at low volume.

I’m worried less about squandering budget, as opposed to being fast at iteration cycles.

So try one ad group in AdWords with a $50 daily budget on this term in broad and exact match with two text ads.

We’ll probably do a lot better in search when we have vendor/app specific searches, but why not quickly and easily find out?

Short answer: quick test to find out CPC, CTR, volume, Quality Score, bounce rate.

Have the client write the first couple ads for us, then we can make small tweaks.

  1.   I’m uncomfortable removing some filter to keep them to larger companies, because I know a lot of 10-person companies with a CTO. What other ways in FB do we have of filtering to larger companies? What other types of titles do you suggest going after? I don’t know a lot of IT-specific titles that would not be found at smaller companies, but still be relevant customers. Your experience and insights will be extremely valuable for us here.

Perfect is the enemy of good.

Rather than trying to solve for the weirdest edge cases that sometimes come up (something that really bright people do), go for what’s most likely to win. I’m lazy– you should let the system do the work for you.

Certainly, the price of traffic is 20X higher in LinkedIn, plus we don’t have oCPM or ad sets, so we can appreciate your caution.  Not going to be the issue on Facebook, as we like to discuss.

Another way to look at it– focus your effort on where you can make the biggest impact.

That’s a corollary to “Top N”.  How far will you get targeting an audience of just a few dozen people for each ad?

  1. We’re having troubles understanding what is of high-value and what is not.

This is thinking way too hard.

Enterprise B2B lead gen doesn’t mean we have to be super complex.

If we know where all historical leads have come from (what apps are being used), why not mirror those same targets in proportion going forward?  

They’re on the site– the elephant is in the room.

And we can adjust over time– remember that iteration allows us to change our answers many times.

I suppose we might be able to find some weird niche apps that nobody has ever heard of that might drive a couple leads, but I’d recommend going after the big easy target in front of us.

See how Occam’s Razor works, which is also similar to Top N.

The key thing to know about Top N is that there is an N– N is something like 5-6, so your iteration cycle doesn’t go forever or devolve into analysis paralysis (lack of action).

  1.    Do we have existing ad copy? Or are you reminding us to draft up ads? Sorry, didn’t understand your task here.

Not that I know of– ask the client to help out at first, so we’re clear on the value prop.

We can suggest some based on their decks, if you want to go for extra credit.

I just want the campaign to go live.

There are so many reasons to just stop, which may appear to be conservative, but is actually the most dangerous thing in online marketing.


This conversation went on much longer than it needed to due to the new analyst’s inability to get past their fear and take action. They exhibited a problem that many smart people face, which is trying to make a campaign too perfect and being afraid to act until he knows every possible detail.

The beauty of online advertising is you don’t need to know everything right away. You are able to test on a small scale and alter your campaign time and time again. This means there should be none of the hesitation to begin the campaign that is being shown here.

Better to go live with a few short iterations than have the most amazing planning for the next couple weeks to study, but not have the benefit of traffic.

There are other ways to filter for enterprise companies beyond company size– for example, enterprise tools and certain job titles.

I see this blockage often and I know everyone can overcome it by simply acting. Overcoming fear will fast track your personal campaign and prevent you from action paralysis and being too afraid to launch.


Another important thing to note is the expediency of responses. The new analyst struggled with the fear of starting this campaign, but this fear was overcome quickly by the rapid communication between themselves and their project manager. This strong communication cut down time on starting the campaign to a day or two versus dragging on for months without action.

One of the most valuable lessons I learned starting out in this company was to maintain consistent communication and make baby steps towards an end goal. If the end goal seems impossible with your current skill set, just start somewhere. Don’t worry about looking incapable or dumb; we’re all constantly learning. Communication is the most important skill you can have in a professional setting (or life, for that matter)

Bottom line: if you don’t understand something, say it. Otherwise, it’ll never get done.

The biggest takeaway is that the pursuit of perfection is the enemy of taking action. It is always best to start small, then scale as you produce favorable results.


Are you overcoming your fear, and acting?


Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu is co-author of the #1 best-selling book on Amazon in social media, The Definitive Guide to TikTok Ads.  He has spent a billion dollars on Facebook ads across his agencies and agencies he advises. Mr. Yu is the "million jobs" guy-- on a mission to create one million jobs via hands-on social media training, partnering with universities and professional organizations.You can find him quoted in major publications and on television such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, and LA Times. Clients have included Nike, Red Bull, the Golden State Warriors, Ashley Furniture, Quiznos-- down to local service businesses like real estate agents and dentists. He's spoken at over 750 conferences in 20 countries, having flown over 6 million miles in the last 30 years to train up young adults and business owners. He speaks for free as long as the organization believes in the job-creation mission and covers business class travel.You can find him hiking tall mountains, eating chicken wings, and taking Kaqun oxygen baths-- likely in a city near you.