FOF and FOMO in business

In 2013 the word FOMO was added to the Oxford English Dictionary. A pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent, the “fear of missing out”. With a constant real-time awareness through social media, this awful condition is the root cause of so much discontent in relationships across the globe and, as we all know, business is also a relationship, it too can become a problem here.

There is, however, a trump card of FOMO and that is FOF, the “fear of failure”. The two can go, very much, hand-in-hand. So learning how to recognise these signs when conducting a discovery meeting with a potential new client, could be the key to understanding whether this is a real opportunity or not.

Listening to the language of the person talking to you is the only way to establish this. And by the language I don’t just mean what they say, it is the whole package. Body language can reveal so much once you have become accustomed to reading it. This isn’t going to become a blog about whether the leg crossed over another is pointing in your direction or not so you don’t have to stop reading here, no this is about FOMO and learning to recognise it in yourself so that you can then see the signs in other.


  • Do you constantly check social media to get your gossip updates?
  • Do you have to know what’s happening in the news 24/7?
  • When you add a photo, do you judge its success by a number of likes you get?
  • If your best friend has been invited to another friend’s house for coffee, do you become paranoid about it?
  • Worse still do you also try to get an invite?
  • Do you have to have the latest gadget but don’t want to buy because something new is coming out?


  • Do you wait for others to try something first?
  • Do you have sleepless or restless nights before important events such as exams, public speaking, interviews?
  • Do you say no to a new date even though you kind of like them?
  • Do you get embarrassed at your children’s behaviour in public?
  • Do you stay with the status quo even though there’s good reason to try something different?

I’m sure you will be able to think of many more instances similar to this and now comes the tricky part. When you do this, and I know that nearly everyone does, can you feel the source of where these feelings come from? Is it in your throat, your tummy, your head, your legs. Do your facial muscles around your mouth contract, do you start biting your lips, does your brow crease up?

Look at yourself in the mirror and establish just what happens to you and then observe a close friend or partner and see how they react. Eventually, you’ll find some commonalities. When you’ve got these, you can now begin to use them in a business context. With the right questioning and most importantly, armed with this detailed listening ability you will quickly establish whether they have a real business need or whether they are suffering from FOMO or worse still FOF.

In business term:

FOF = They’re not likely to take the risk.
FOMO = They’re not likely to make a decision.

How life lessons can help you in business

There are pivotal moments in everyone’s career and recently this has happened to me. Having suffered a number of forms of adversity over my 1/2 century on this planet, this last bout has been by far the toughest. Whilst I am still suffering intensely with the grief of my current situation, I am still obliged to and moreover, really need to continue working. The focus this situation has gifted me for my day job has been immense and whilst I don’t recommend it to anyone, it has certainly brought some significant clarity to all areas of my life.

I will not open up my private life for all to read, the word private in that opening sentence cannot be emphasised enough, I will, however, be drawing some parallels from a situation which some of you may or may not be familiar with. At the beginning of last month, I was delivered a bombshell and one which ripped the very soul out of my being. The impact hit me with the same magnitude as the hurricanes that were battering that the coastline of Florida at that time. Whilst all this was going on in my personal life, I was also expected to perform, at my very best, at the number one conference of my business calendar this year. It was awful! Multiple uncontrollable outbreaks of emotions in any given hour of every single day made for an extremely challenging 4 days and to cap it all, I was living in a small hotel room on my own in our capital city. To be surrounded by over 20 million people and feel so alone was such a devastating feeling, made even worse by the guilt of singling out that the homeless seemed to have it better than I did because at least they had each other to talk to. I was at the lowest point of my life to date and knowing how low I’ve reached in the past, this meant I was pretty darn low.

Each day that I trudged to the exhibition hall, I swore to myself that today would be a better day and each day my situation worsened. Within the exhibition walls, however, there was a different tune being played. Born out of this adversity, rose a fearless ability to tackle some of the most difficult of tasks in the murky world of prospecting. Direct questioning (so I didn’t bubble up in an emotional wreck in the halls) and concise reasoning for my being there were never more present than during this time. I was confident, courageous and creative. The conversations I had were all relevant and, after the feedback I’ve been given since then, nobody I spoke to walked away feeling that they had wasted their time. Quite the contrary, in fact, I’ve even received some very complimentary correspondence from a number of new contacts expressing their gratitude for the knowledge they’ve attained as a result of our meeting. What’s more some of these new opportunities discussed at the event, have already progressed further into the sale cycle and I am really enjoying delivering on the promises I gave during those 4 frightful days.

Since then I’ve had some time to reflect on the unfolding of both my personal life and my business one. And whilst the horrors of my personal life continue to shift at unprecedented vigour, I’ve managed to find a space where I can put these continued bombardments of emotions into neat little categories and consequently separate them from business life. Equally, I’ve been able to utilise the lessons I’ve learnt for the greater good of serving my clients.

So here are the top 5 lessons I’ve learned over the last few weeks:

  1. Learning to stop in the middle of a discussion and ask for a time-out because the clarity of your thinking is being clouded by emotional attachment.
  2. Learning to not be satisfied with the first answer given but deepen the understanding with further questions.
  3. When you feel the most uncomfortable, you’re actually beginning to get somewhere.
  4. Status Quo is the single biggest killer of any relationship.
  5. Daily journaling and meditation allow for space in the mind to get the real work done, one day at a time.