The NY Tech Meetup has produced a series of short videos talking about some of the key early challenges that startups face.
They call this series #startupstories and currently there are three videos up on the web, one about pitching your company, one about building the team, and one about failing.
They are all great but I particularly like this one on Failure.
Very encouraging video to fail.Please DO fail and encourage yourself to get the courage to succeed.
I really liked the 2 statements out of the entire 3-minute video…1) As a start-up you fail every day.2) You learn a lot more from failing than succeeding.I commented on one of the fun friday that we could actually have FFF Fun Failure Friday may be once in every 4-fun fridays … sometime in AVC. People can learn how hard it is to fail and how fun it is to fail and still have to courage to succeed taking all that nightmares and learning’s with you
i will take that under consideration
As much as we use the word failure with tongue and cheek, I think what’s most important is WHAT was learned during the failure.
Yes agreed…. when failing what you learn is not to be successful … how not to fail the second time….or the third-time.Success is 30% luck …. who gives you the luck and how do you learn the luck … so what you learn is how not to fail and time and luck will meet you someday somewhere. (right people at the right time at the right place).
success is exactly 30% luck?
no to be exact it is 31.4159 26535 %ha … ha… ha … just thought 1/3 is luck and put 30 there is no exact for anything.
“Startup failures” should be renamed to something more positive like “Experience that counts”.There is nothing more important than failing to do so something, and then repeating it with success.I’ve done it. I will continue doing it. If I don’t, I’m not pushing things hard enough where it counts.”I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that that is why I succeed.” — Michael JordanDon’t fear failure, but embrace success!
I understand and agree with your sentiment but totally disagree with the idea of renaming this from failures to something more positive.”Failure” is where the tension is… not just in this video and the communication, but overall. I’d venture to say it’s why people watch it, like it, and learn from it. It’s what everyone is a little afraid of and feels a little bit and wants to avoid. No one wants to fail.But the video shows you the value of failure, and for many people, that’s a surprise. and that’s why its worth watching more than another positive energy piece.Sorry… marketing guy on rant. : )
To fail to fail is to fail to try to succeed.The video does make failure seem…sexy and desirable.
Really well put together video and concise. HD Made did a great job.
love that Andy told Dens’ story. it’s a classic
i played that part of the video yesterday for an entrepreneur i was meeting with. i love it too.
hehe… “founder is obsessed” might as well be part of the USV investment thesis
that is what we were talking about when i played the video
In my startup experience although they all had happy exits, I found that the majority of the time I thought I was “failing” that is, feeling that; the challenges were probably insurmountable, that the tension was unbelievable, and I was often ready to throw in the towel. The one thing that seemed to be the difference between ULTIMATELY failing or not, was pure tenacity, a refusal to give in to the fact that you are currently failing, and than by whatever means necessary, ending as a “success”. You may have to pivot the business model, fire your best friend, or take on your financier, but its what you as CEO need to do to make “failing” a temporary instead of permanent outcome.
Well said Matt
Extremely well said. And many parts of it very familiar…
Sometimes failing less than the other guy = succeeding.
That means bubble :-).
Thats just evolution – or something like that ;)don’t have to run faster than the bear ..just than the other guy.Then you gotta grab the customer ..’cause you don’t want them to get eaten by the bear.this makes no sense – I’m going to stop now…
.A whole lot of great successes are founded on being 80% right but done on time.The greatest shredder of time is when perfect wrestles with good..
I don’t know if this comes across as mumbo-jumbo, but I think that one of the hardest things to do is to learn how to forgive yourself.Once you can acknowledge your own weaknesses, and see them as challenges instead of flaws, you can begin to a) engage others who don’t have those weaknesses, b) look at tomorrow as an opportunity, and c) begin to look objectively at whether or not the weakness is actually important.I think that the hardest part of failure is when you think that what you are is the problem, instead of what you do.
NEVER REGRET ANYTHING, NEVER HAVE ANYTHING TO FORGIVE.
@JLM:disqus ‘The greatest shredder of time is when perfect wrestles with good.’I 80% agree, which means that so few can see the difference that it serves the purpose 80% done right.I cut many corners in design – the ones people don’t notice for speed. But only on certain things.
UNLESS OTHER GUY IS 81% RIGHT AND ALSO DONE ON TIME.
As the saying goes “I don’t have to outrun the bear I only have to outrun you..”
It’s so relevant to many things. Christopher Cross won five grammy’s in 1979 and it was acknowledged I believe that the lack of other talent that year was the reason.
Oh. Ya had to go and take that away from Christopher Cross, didya? “Ride Like the Wind” – dude, that’s so relevant to today’s post! (1980, BTW)
@JimHirshfield:disqusWhen CC hit his pinnacle of success, he was my back fence neighbor and was a perfect neighbor. He lived on 29th St in ATX.He would rehearse with his door open and it was like going to a concert.
Now, that’s cool.
Oh yeah???Well at the height of her career one of my printing customers was Pat Benatars ex husband!!!!!!!!!!(By the way when did CC move from 29th St?)
@domainregistry:disqusI don’t really recall but it must have been shortly after the early 1980s..
WHEN ZOMBIES AFTER YOU AND OTHER GUY, SAVE ONE BULLET TO SHOOT OTHER GUY IN LEG.
Too true – which often leads to the competitive tactic of ‘making the other guys look like they are failing.’
so, it’s all relative. 🙂
Depends if you define winning by dollars.Then degrees are relative somewhat but success is quantifiable. Success or failing exists only within the parameter that define it.
BEST WAY TO MAKE OTHER GUY LOSE IS WIN MORE.
really well said. It’s over when you give up. And giving up can all to often feel like a good thing to do.
.I am currently re-reading Winston’s War by Max Hastings. Hastings is a fabulous author.I have read with considerable interest the time period when the Germans had routed the English at Dunkirk and there was a high probability that Hitler would assault across the Channel.England had no Army to speak of and had almost no weapons with which to fight.The Germans however had no amphibious experience and did not even have a simple amphibious assault doctrine.[BTW, the American military became the foremost amphibious experts in the history of the world in the N African, European and Pacific theaters. A truly astounding feat of arms which has gone unheralded. Not only do we have a strong military, they are smart as hell.]If the Germans had simply forced the crossing using airborne troops, the result might have been a disaster for England.Churchill gave his famous “We Shall Fight on the Beaches” speech:”…We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…”And that inspiration fueled the rearming of England and scared off Hitler.Just words.In the face of failure, we need to summon up our own inspirational words and fight on. We all can do it.Never, ever, ever surrender..
Beautifully said. The Churchill quote gave me the chills – as so many of his quotes do. Fear and the potential of failure can break you and then it’s over. The fear of failure becomes self-fulfilling. Or you steel yourself and carry on. You believe you’ll win. Belief is the first step. Without it, there is nothing. Then there is a lot of work. But first there must be belief.
.www.winstonchurchill.org has all of WC’s speeches. It is a great website.The guy could give a speech. I have all of his speeches on a DVD and when traveling out to my lakehouse to work, I will listen to one of his speeches. It inspires me to do a better job.I told this to my family — that I am inspired to do better carpentry and painting by Winston — and they told me I am a simpleton.It is good to be a simpleton. Refreshingly enervating really.On the other hand, while I used to love hearing Pres Obama give a speech, I can no longer bear to listen to him..
Come to London. I’ll take you to visit the WWII War Rooms under Whitehall where Churchill ran the war effort from. You’ll be amazed at the meagre resources they had available.
. @liad:disqusI will take you up on that. I have spent many a glorious hour at the Imperial War Museum..
FEAR IS A LIE. LIES ARE STUPID. DON’T BE STUPID, INSTEAD BE AWESOME.
THERE IS A TIME TO SURRENDER. IT CALLED DEATH.
i read a great piece on that in NY Mag this past weekend.http://nymag.com/news/featu…
LIFE SHOULD END WHEN THERE NO YOU THERE TO LIVE IT ANY MORE.ME SUGGEST EAT MORE BACON WHILE HAVE CHANCE.
Wonderful comment, Matt.”The one thing that seemed to be the difference between ULTIMATELY failing or not, was pure tenacity”Not enough can be said about tenacity.I know that it takes more than that. But tenacity seems to be one attribute that compensates for the lack of or enhances others. At least, that’s what I am banking on.My first boss when I moved into recruiting didn’t want to hire me because he thought I didn’t have an aggressive enough personality to be a recruiter. I countered his objection by telling him that I was one of the most tenacious people he would ever meet. Why he finally hired me is another story for another time, but I became one of the firm’s top billers within the first year.I met him for lunch recently after not seeing him for over a decade and he told me with a twinkle in his eye that one of the attributes he now looks for in hiring recruiters is tenacity.There is a downside. Those of us who are tenacious sometimes don’t know when to quit and have to rely on the insights of others to make that call.
Thought I remembered Fred doing a post on “tenacity” — here it is…http://www.avc.com/a_vc/200…@reecepacheco:disqus is used as an example.
funny… at lunch today i coached a young team about overcoming some tough obstacles they’re facing (no runway left, light traction) but they totally believe in what they’re doing and want to make it happen. i love it
How cool that you could be there for them…that during a time of agonizing circumstances, they could hear from someone who was so totally believable and empathetic to their situation.I sometimes wonder if this is one of the reasons we learn these lessons…so that we can be there for others.
what’s funny is i asked them to meet for lunch because i read their recent blog posts and though they didn’t say it explicitly, they’re strugglingi’ve been where they are, so i knew i could help and though it’s hard to give tough love, i’m confident they’ll turn things around in the future
THAT HOW IT ALWAYS WORKED, UNTIL STUPID MODERN HUMANS FORGOT.
what was the advice?
lesson #1: stay alive. you have to be alive, functioning and able to focus to start a company. this may mean getting a part time job to pay rent (which CAN be a distraction, but it means you live to continue building and you just have to make it work)lesson #2: focus. one step at a time.lesson #3: less time writing (bad) code and more time figuring out product/market fit and your ultimate value propositionoverall… you’re not ready until you’re ready. they left jobs and got going too soon. should’ve given themselves more runway and figured out product value before trying to get into incubators and raise money etc
FIRST THING GRIMLOCK DO WHEN INTERVIEW NEW MEMBER OF TEAM IS DESTROY THEM COMPLETELY.IF THEM GET UP WITH SMILE ON FACE, ASK FOR MORE, THEM HIRED.
Failure is real and although the “Matt Foley” skit on SNL is presented as a joke what all those “I should have spent more time living life” deathbed urban legends ignore is that they all come from people who can probably afford healthcare and aren’t living “in a van down by the river”. I remember visiting San Francisco in 2002 with a girlfriend who had to attend a conference there. We walked through Chinatown and there were some homeless people on the street. I got a sense of panic as if I could end up there if I didn’t work hard enough. And things were fine at the time. I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel room and do some work to ease the anxiety. A good way to ward off failure is to work hard, not put all your eggs in one basket, and have a plan b and/or a safety net. Don’t invest more time or money than you can afford to loose (same with relationships as well.)http://www.youtube.com/watc…
Funny side story. In my second start up I met a venture capitalist who decided to fund my hospital software company. It was 1996 and the guy seemed obsessed, almost to a unhealthy degree with the internet. He left our board to take over his own fund, but he made quite an impression on me. The guy who funded by company was Fred Wilson
ME, GRIMLOCK, REMEMBER INTERNET IN 1996.EVERYTHING SINCE REALLY JUST SHINIER VERSION OF USENET.
i still am obsessed with the internet
obsession is short lived i think you are in Love with internet 🙂
yes. you are right.
BEST WAY TO KEEP GOING IS NOT STOP.
Failure is liberating once you embrace it. When someone asks “how’s you’re start up doing?” it feels good to say “it’s doing great, I’ve hired a programmer, the product’s being built, the video being created [focusing on all the things you’re doing]”, but it’s liberating to answer, “it’s failing, we don’t have user engagement, and working to solve it [to focus on the one important thing you’re missing]”
Failure only feels like failure if you thought you were ready to succeed.
Failure is a state. The best way to avoid failure is to never stop!
You also had a post about Failure in January 2011 http://www.avc.com/a_vc/201…
So says gawk.it?
uh oh…I may have helped create a monster… 😉
that’s a good thing. more monsters please.
Actually it was via a Gmail search I was looking for something else! So I wasn’t intentionally looking to see if you had written about that topic before. But I’m rooting for Gawk.it @falicon. That said, here’s a potential related idea for Gawk.it: “Related posts”, but then it rubs shoulders with Zemanta. You didn’t have a Related Posts for that one.
Hey thanks!At the moment I have a bit in the side bar that sometimes points out another blog you could try your search on (it will only show if the other blog would have results — so for example if you searched avc for ‘failure’, it might recommend you also try the search against feld thoughts blog because he has a number of results for that term too)…so it’s a little bit like ‘related posts’, but more from the searchers point of view than the bloggers (I think that’s a big difference compared to what Zemanta is doing).Eventually I’ll be doing some features around suggesting additional keywords to search…and some of that may fall more into the related posts concept because it will keep you within a given blog set of results…but I think the idea around any/all features I include is to focus around the ‘search experience’ primarily for the ‘reader’ but with a secondary focus on the ‘blogger’.I believe that focus remains unique, and out of scope, from what others (like engag.io, disqus, duckduckgo, and zemanta) are doing…I also believe it addresses quite a major need for both ‘readers’ and ‘bloggers’…I guess time will tell 😉
Its a good video, and I think it touches on that nagging doubt that we all feel that maybe we’re doing it wrong. I think it was Einstein that said “You only fail when you stop trying” (at least that’s what a quick search says).
Fear of failure is the state to avoid at all costs.Failure does indeed suck of course.
true, but is is also normal – it all how you move through the fear.
fear —> adrenaline —> energy —> action.action could be to run away or it could be to fight/press on.
+1.I remember my friends mother told us this thing … when we said we are really afraid of tom’row exam … she said… the fear will either make you prepare the whole night for the exam or give-up and skip the exam.
If you fear failure then the proper course of action is to skip the exam.
Ever heard of fight versus flight? Flight (skipping the exam) is not the only course of action. Stand ground and fight, is an option. To the entrepreneur that is pressing on.
Cool, I was just saying that if you fear the exam the proper course of action is to skip it. Fear is an emotion not a conscious logic process. Fear is telling you something that logic is missing. Having a fear of something might mean you are not prepared.If Disqus would just cooperate today… It keeps jumping around the screen.
IN ENTREPRENEUR, FIGHT OR FLIGHT REFLEX PERMANENTLY TURNED TO “KICK ASS.”
But isn’t that for people in the wrong career? Entrepreneurs, as opposed to business people, get up everyday and document last nights ideas. They spend the day selling ideas. It doesn’t take fear to drive them, it’s just what they do and who they are.
“Entrepreneurs, as opposed to business people…” huh? Entrepreneurs are business people. Fear is human. Entrepreneurs are human.
All entrepreneurs are business people. But, not all business people are entrepreneurs.I’m saying that true entrepreneurs don’t need fear to drive them to action.
HIM MEAN THOSE BUSINESSPEOPLE THAT JUST SOULLESS SHELLS WRAPPED IN EXPENSIVE SUITS, EXISTING ONLY TO DRAIN MONEY AND HOPE FROM REST OF WORLD.NOT THE GOOD KIND.
No, that’s not what I meant. Let’s look at a silly but fun example:I’m going to assume you’re a man, but ladies you can translate this to your own terms. :-)If you’re job was to drink free beer on a beach where all women were topless. Would you need fear to get yourself motivated for work in the morning?When you are a true entrepreneur fear isn’t your motivator.
ALL EMMOTIONS FUEL FOR ACTION.IT ONLY PROBLEM WHEN FORGET ACTION PART.OR CHOOSE DUMB ACTION, LIKE PANIC.
I believe in acknowledging the fear…then accepting it and moving forward anyway. I’ve been riding a motorcycle for 20+ years now, and still every time I go out (especially on the highway) I have fear…but I use it to help me ride a bit safer…and I never let it stop me from riding (because the fun way outweighs the fear) 😉
Thanks for sharing…Well said! I feel the same about a new project I”m starting. I’m doing it cause I just must.
I’m excited about what you are working on too…I can’t wait to experience it myself (I could have really used it this past weekend!)
Doing a MVP for a marketplace that includes shops makes it more complex as you don’t just need to sell value to the users you need to get businesses to entrust their brands to you.I like stuff that is hard to get done obviously 😉
Yep – I tried an approach like that back in ’99 for supermug (attempting to run fantasy leagues for bars)…was a bigger uphill battle on more fronts than I could surmount at the time (but still believe in the overall idea actually)…but I think you’ve got all the unique skills and knowledge, and it’s the just the right time, to be pulling off what you are trying to do…that is why it will be so interesting and useful (and rewarding for you).
We shall see…I do appreciate the vote of confidence of course!
I wanted to learn to fly when I was young and my dad told me to put it off until I made money and could afford it. I also wanted a motorcycle (had a minibike which was the rage when I was going up). Definitely to fearful now to do either.(Loved gawk.it by the way)
[email protected]:disqusI learned to fly when I was 50 and it was a great experience.I went to a school which was quite demanding because I did not want to “get a pilots license”, I wanted to master flying.The guy understood exactly what I was saying. I had 225 hours before I got my license and the Designated Examiner went up with me and was ready to return in 15 minutes. I had learned how to control the plane and had mastered it for just a second.One of my instructors was a Navy Captain with about a million traps. I had him for instruments and he was just perfect. Because we had both been in the military, we spoke a shorthand that was at times brutal.Another young student heard the Capt talking to me and said — how can you let that mean son of a bitch talk to you like that and I laughed. I kind of miss his instruction.He could fly a plane so steady that you looked outside to make sure you were moving. He had the pipper centered like it was welded.I have never been prouder than when that instructor cleared me to take my instrument flight exam. The exam was a piece of cake after flying with him.I had had tons of chances to learn to fly for nothing in the military and always wanted a bit of dirt to dig into.Flying is incredibly easy once you get comfortable with the physics of the situation. It really is much easier than driving a car..
Flying is incredibly easy once you get comfortable with the physics of the situation. It really is much easier than driving a car.I have no doubt about the “flying” part. After all if someone takes you up in their plane they could hand the controls to a person who has never flown before and they could steer the plane, right? When I was a kid I used to wax cars so I was able to pull the car in and out of our driveway to turn it around. That is different than being able to drive into Manhattan and merge in traffic of course. I think the skill and difficulty comes in when there are problems or in knowing how to avoid problems, weather, mechanical issues etc. That is the entire experience, right?If you want a challenging ground hobby try rc helicopters (larger type, gas). The hardest part is hovering . Takeoff is easy. Control and landing is hard. Fairly impossible for someone to simply hand you the controls. Takes much coordination and steadiness. And in fact if you take a OTC drug where they caution against operating machinery you will see that you actually loose control of the chopper.Part of the hobby is crashing and then having to rebuild. It’s not like bowling, tennis or anything else. You fly three tanks and you’re a little tired you crash and the craft gets chewed up. Lots of fun and puts you in a total zone though. Actually the hardest part is trying to keep control when flying it and not losing the direction that the chopper is flying in and freaking out. Hovering isn’t that hard to master.
Indeed.I’d go so far as to say that most of my mistakes at Riskalyze have been based on not wanting to re-experience past failures.Killing that fear has been incredibly freeing.
PRACTICE FAILING UNTIL GOOD ENOUGH NOT TO.
It’s easier to say failure after the fact or later when you have has a success.It can be packaged as “learning experience” but going through it is no treat. And all these people were speaking from a distance when the pain is less.
I remember when i started oponia (now failed tech startup) saying “failure isn’t an option”. Now I know with my new company, failure is always an option. With the newco, i have this in the back of my mind all the time. I take nothing, and I mean NOTHING for granted. Any successes we have, are just giving us a time window to make the next one happen.Keep, keepin’ on.
I checked out the #chat2lrn Twitter chat last week for the first time and the topic was on failure. In my opinion, the biggest issue with education in the U.S. is the over emphasis on perfection. Failing in a low risk environment is the key to learning anything.BTW, I’m working with a young entrepreneur who intends to solve that problem – specifically for future entrepreneurs to start with. More on that later.
“Failure” was a good morning watch.A favorite book of mine from years ago is The Innovation Paradox: The Success of Failure, the Failure of Success (previously Whoever Makes the Most Mistakes Wins: The Paradox of Innovation). Redefining the term failure itself, redefining failure as a positive word or sought after experience – that perspective shift was an interesting part of the book.Not enough people innovate to know that unplanned outcomes are so revelatory – about you, and idea, the conditions you experiment in. Perhaps that’s why schools have become boring in trying to make successful students. Successes don’t make thinkers, mess makes thinkers. I love teaching kids for this reason, and before they are boring enough to want perfect.
.The issue is really one of CRITICAL thinking.The ability to think — well to think at all really — critically is the most important skill that can be imparted by middle and high school education.It shows up in every element of education and personal choices..
@JLM:disqus I agree with critical thinking, but that doesn’t ensure creative thinking, nor risk taking. Creative thinking and risk taking are dance partners no? And they need critical thinking along the way, for sure, but critical thinking didn’t make an iPhone, it refined an iPhone.
,@panterosaI agree with you more than you agree with yourself.I have a theory that I call the “360 degree businessman” which says that the days of being good at one thing are gone forever. Now one has to master a myriad of things — business, operations, finance, marketing, legal, legislative, HR, etc.And all of this must be known and used with an eye toward its packaging — graphical presentation.There is no question that the industrial engineering and the graphics of the Apple suite of products is what has made them “cool” and that this “cool” is a driver of customer loyalty.Jobs was the perfect pitchman for cool. Which apparently he worked diligently to burnish and project.The quality of Apple’s design has created a cult. A business cult that will print money based upon the quality of design.I find it amazing that the thin notebook idea was sitting out there just waiting for someone to make it happen and then in a two year period, it exploded.I honestly believe that people — myself included — are buying things that look cool and then double checking to ensure they are technically advanced.My Perfect Daughter, the UGA graphic artist grad, who thinks I am a graphic design neanderthal (not hugely off the mark) — or as she says “Dad, you are the before that screams for the after.” — had an exit show when she graduated.She received three job offers left in the exhibit book. That’s great design.When I was building high rise office buildings, I used the very best architects to tap into this sentiment. I was buying the quality of their design. It always worked..
“There is no question that the industrial engineering and the graphics of the Apple suite of products is what has made them “cool” and that this “cool” is a driver of customer loyalty.”I think you are incorrect. “Perception” is what made them cool. Look at all the men’s shoes today that have the big floppy “clown shoes” look to them. Are they cool? No, they are stupid. But, people have been convinced to perceive them as cool.Another and better example: Many times I hear people say they don’t like the new model year for this or that car. Then two years later they say they didn’t like that car when it came out but now it has grown on them. The car didn’t change, the person’s perception did.So, none of the apple products are cool. People’s perception of them “labels” them as cool, but just for now. Years from now they may no longer be viewed as cool. But, how can that be? If they are cool, then they are cool, period. The look of today’s phone will not change, if it’s cool today how can it no longer be cool in the future? They way it becomes no longer cool if it’s look doesn’t change is if people’s perception changes.
[email protected]_EWS:disqusWell played. Perception is reality and as perceptions change, the reality changes.2008 – Barack Hussein Obama — hope and change — very cool!2012 – President Obama — track record — not so cool!So perceptions do change. And with these changing perceptions drive different outcomes.As to clown shoes — uhhh, well, some of us have never thought they were cool. They just make you look like a clown.As to cars, I drive a ’66 Impala Super Sport convertible, candy apple red — past, present, future — very cool!As to Apple, they have made their products cool and the modifications they make — thinner, sleeker, faster, more capable — make them cooler to say nothing of what they allow you to do.Apple has successfully created an iconic finger swipe which competes only with the outstretched middle finger as the most important gesture available to mankind.
Oh my… I’ve stated in the past that perception is reality. But, that is not quite correct. Perception is one person’s view of reality. Example: Something is of a particular color because the light from it is within a certain wavelength. I can change your perception of reality by giving you glasses that make the item appear to be a different color. In “reality” the item is still the same color but I’ve changed your perception.As to the car… well let’s just say that our perceptions are quite the same when it comes to the ’66 you drive.I still contend that Apple doesn’t make their products cool but people who buy them do. What Apple does is make products they hope will be well recieved and labeled (perceived) as cool during the product’s production life. Apple then hopes that those products will become perceived as un-cool and the newest production item will take it’s place as being perceived as cool. That’s how you build wealth in a product market.
.. @Rick_EWS:disqusApple leaves very little to chance. When their current product hits the stores, they probably already know all the features of the next iteration — sleeker, thinner, faster, more capable, Gorilla glass, etc.One thing they absolutely do not leave to chance is the public perception of their products — they are focus grouping the crap out of everything they do. They know what the public thinks before the public even starts thinking.This incremental improvement provides the ability to get the buyer to “trade up” having already established that the underlying product is cool.The new product is both newer — a marketing advantage and value unto itself — and cooler.It is not that their former products have become “uncool” but rather that the band continues to march and the latest and greatest product is “cooler”.When you think about it, it like the changing world of fashion which moves to a seasonal impetus with lapels widening and narrowing but always, always changing.And yet I have several pairs of 15 year old khakis that continue to be my best friends..
“Apple leaves very little to chance.””One thing they absolutely do not leave to chance is the public perception of their products — they are focus grouping the crap out of everything they do.”I didn’t know that. That’s the difference that makes people professionals in my view. The discipline to increase your chances of selling more product through research.
@JLM:disqus Ahh, I agree with you more then yourself too!On the 360 types especially. I tested as high Renaissance, which gave my widowed mother little consolation as I moved from heavy academics to arts to design and so on, spilling over the boundaries of each place and moving on to contain the spill in a new direction. I always wanted to go to grad school but could never commit to one thing, so life was a broader field and better teacher. Mummy wrings her hands that I never found a broad enough place to pursue my work – she always wanted me to specialize that big thing into a concrete one thing. My father would have enjoyed it but he only made it to my 16th bday.What my mother sees as ‘generalist’, you and I see as knowing all sides of the dice, so you can actually roll the thing properly. I can’t say she was the proud parent you are of your design daughter. I am used to being underestimated I guess, which sounds defeatist, but I see as opportunist (crouching tiger hidden dragon style).Apple don’t just sell design objects in white boxes – it sells a vision of a cool way to live, with elegant, intuitive products. An iPad is not about the thing, but what it does, for you.I hope perfect daughter entertains her prospects well. If she’d like to intern in NYC for a bit on very high end graphic and product, then send her my way.
@panterosa:disqusI continue to agree w/ you more than you agree with yourself.I agree completely that the iPad is all about what it can do for you.But don’t you admit that that little finger swipe and the screen doing your bidding and that sleek little wafer of tasty industrial engineering gives your inner gadgeteer just a bit of a smile.It does for me.I love the sense of being connected to the entire world while sitting there sipping on my coffee. It’s like the whole freakin’ world is a coffee shop.It is a marvelous feeling.Is this a great time to be alive or what?.
@JLM:disqus I was outed by my sister-in-law as a gadgetress, and by my coach as a closet diagrammer. I have also done seminars and some session with Edward Tufte who is putting his books on iPad. Damn, you should see how they are making visual informatics into high art. The rigor ET has on design is the highest I’ve seen – Jobs-like. I actually enjoy when he crits my work because it’s an honor, even when he slashes something it was worth his time to engage with it. My cards are on his desk.ET hates the hard edges of iPad and I agree – holding it gives you dents in your fingers. He also feels, and here is where you will probably agree with him more than he does himself, that proper content for iPad should be 0% interface and 100% content for the very reason of the intuitive actions of the device itself.Yes It IS a great time. I only wish PantherKitty were raised by my toys and games, and not just alongside them. And on an iPad at two. Parents doing that are having a great window into frictionless design when they choose the right content.
Often times, those that are ‘creative’ bemoan those that are ‘critical’ and vice versa. When both realize they are after the same result, miracles do happen.
Also @JLM:disqus … Creative vs. Critical- one does not ensure the other, but promoting both leads to expanded possibilities.The Creative one who is able to analyze Critically knows the probable issues that will come with doing something ‘truly’ from scratch.Hence, you are able to Anticipate failure, leading to a better position to pivot/adjust when it happens.
.Well played. The notion that creative and critical thinking co-exist is an idea for our times.Everywhere we look, we pick the better design..
I liked the video. The only thing I disagree with is that you learn a lot more from failing than you do succeeding.We do learn from failure and it’s great to be positive about it (A learning a day etc..)But you learn a heck of a lot more from successes from failures that you can repeat in the future.
Not sure I agree with you Rohan
Let’s imagine you are learning to cycle – of course, you will likely begin by falling down a few times and you probably learn how not to pedal/keep balance. And then, once – just once in that hour you get it right.You go home and are back the next day to cycle again.Where would you build from? The many times you fell down or try and repeat what you did when you did actually succeed?
I had little stabilizer wheels either side of the back wheel of my Raleigh bike when I was learning to ride at the age of…4(?). So I never fell off, never cut my knees or elbows, and have always enjoyed cycling.What is the equivalent of little stabilizer wheels for a baby startup?
wise man on your board on one-side and a good VC on the other side :-).
Apparently baby wheels are a bad way to learn for exactly the reason Rohan mentioned – it is easier to learn to pedal than balance – so mastering balance means mastering bicyling
The best technique I’ve seen for teaching a child to ride a bike is to put them on a very under-sized bicycle at first (without training wheels). Training wheels tend to prolong the need for them as the child relies on them for quite long, but the tiny “circus-like” bike, with the low center of balance, allows the child to very quickly find the balance point. It can be achieved in a day with no injuries. I’ve seen it several times (including my own daughter).Now, back to our regularly scheduled failing. 😉
got one I can borrow for an adult?
Same principle applies, but sorry, I don’t have one. Maybe rent?
prototyping, hacking, and iterating with a core closed group…
My children learned the components of riding a bicycle while not being able to do so. They are / were both quite tall and balance related activities were inherently challenging.We set the goals differently – they wanted to ride a bike. I wanted them to feel the bike, connect how steering the bike affected their balance etc.The major difference in teaching sports to children – I have seen this in hoops, soccer, hockey, golf & tennis – is the resetting of goals into component parts of the overall goal.You should check out Dell Curry’s videos on shooting basketballs. They are fantastic in this regard (there’s a reason his boys are players, for sure – Pops is a GREAT teacher).Progressive tennis is like this; several golf systems are also like this…
I’ve been doing this positive inquiry thingy — it comes down to this:If you had a choice and you could only focus on one:- would you focus on what you did wrong and try to fix it?- or would you focus on what was working and successful and try to do more of it?
And a quote I like lots of course..’Many people don’t follow their dreams because they are afraid to fail. What they don’t see is that there is a big difference between failing and being a failure.’
Cool video. Unless you’re programmed to embrace risk, failure is a very difficult concept.When our business was almost 50% acquired by PE, something very strange happened — there was a shift in attitude, beginning at board level, towards a deterministic view of business: If you pitched an idea and gave a range for value, the high end of the range became your number and if you didn’t hit it was because you were a poor performer, or lazy, or both, and not because there was any uncertainty of outcome. This misunderstanding of failure is the antithesis of entrepreneurship and innovation, and eventually leads to the pursuit of nothing more ambitious than safe, incremental ideas [and later to aggressive patent litigation 😉 ]I think this is the natural state of mind for most individuals — and by extension communities. It’s nearly exclusively in startup hubs and research hubs that you find this bit flipped.
I have seen acquirers and financiers focus on failures during due diligence as if it wasn’t a natural part of entrepreneurship. As Steve Blank says, a start-up is about finding a business model. So that implies trial and error…i.e. failure – it’s part of the experience. So, it’s anti-thetical to hear due diligencers asking why did you fail here, here, and here?
Amazing, isn’t it? I’ve seen some financiers lobby to remove a CEO on the basis he’d had some failures and clearly didn’t understand business — they neglected to consider that he’d grown revenues 100% year on year for 4 years.
I wonder if it is really the natural state – I get the feeling that there is a range of normal behaviors, and that people with similar places on that range tend to cluster together.
I agree, but I think the distribution is skewed towards the risk averse end.
We need to draw out the lessons from failures more methodically. They seem to be mentioned anecdotally, but the questions are:- why did you fail?- what did you learn from it? – what would you do differently?- what can others learn from it?At a large company I used to work for (HP), we used to do this religiously a long time ago as part of Win/Loss reports. I’d like to see a real Success/Fail report from Internet companies. We single out the success and we’re quick to pass on the Failures, whereas we should spend more time understanding the failures themselves.
That’s funny, I thought the questions were:- how can I make it look like I won, somehow?- how can I make it look like I said we should not do this, b/c it would fail?- how many important people can I drag into this, so I don’t get axed?- who can I blame?;-)
Agree. Similar to NTSB’s on airline crashes or hospital that hold mortality and morbidity meetings to discuss bad outcomes.Of course there is the issue of honesty and reliability of the information. In the case of the NTSB there are only a few events to analyze and a tremendous amount of time and effort comes up with generally conclusive results that are accepted.Analyzing startup failures would be based on personal accounts of a) what people wanted people to know and b) subject to little vetting. So it could easily be a false history.People can paint a story with whatever spin they want.I read the other day about Paypal and how they almost failed but got the credit card companies to spend time on doing a review instead of cutting them off (or something like that). Let’s pretend for a second that they didn’t get that extra time and they failed. So how would the story be told? They might very well focus on other things that they feel they did wrong that may or may not have been relevant.Or the case of Fedex when Fred Smith went and gambled and brought the company back to life. Had his bet not paid off in the casino how would the failure of Fedex have been told?Trump essentially failed at casinos in Atlantic City. But never spoken is the fact that Trump had a really good casino exec (Mark Etes) who was killed. Had that event not happened how would the Trump story played out?
I think people mistake and misquote failure … the following statement from one of the most failed entrepreneur may help….. I don’t think i have to tell who he is…”I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb.”That is what a failure means … not falling down from Eiffel tower 🙂
EVERY TIME IS JUST A TEST. EXCEPT TIME YOU WIN.
Recommended on Twitter (and in various publications, etc)…Alain de Botton @alaindebottonThe surrender of ambition may play an embarrassingly large role in learning to be happy.
@alaindebotton is one of the first and few people I follow on Twitter.
Feeling the failure can be a nice pressure and adrenaline rush to get things done and move fast.I often feel that I get the maximum out of myself when things are crashing down and the only way out is to focus 100%.Failure itself is another story, the sooner you let go and take your lessons the better.
it is interesting seeing the different comments/ perspectives on ‘failing’ as: A. the end of the endeavor B. the poor results or experience down a path They are so similar, but the mental imagery is very importantDavid Tisch mentions ‘you are constantly failing as a startup, its how quickly you rebound (that might lead to success)’I feel that is absolutely an important key to founders/ companies… whether it is failing in a board meeting, customer relationship, design choice, hiring, or concept focus…. those in my opinion are all failures that lead to a new fork in the road or opportunity, which if you recognize can lead your company in a better direction.really glad this topic being discussed
I would just like to tell the people behind this insightful clip to keep up the good work!
Don’t mis-understand the word “FAILURE” …Here is another example of what is failureI did my Ph.D for 5.5 years … first 2.0 years was learning what to do …. next 2.5 years filled with 70-80 failures… filled with 100+ sleepless nights…. another 6-months went roaming wildly and reading only novels and books.95% of thesis contained only the last 4-months of work … and 2-months of putting that into writing.Does that sound like to explain what failure means?
what was your phd in?
Writing about myself is a bore !! 🙂 … but i do sometimes to encourage others.It is nice you asked … so here it goes.It was on a MRI scanning method… theoretically a beautiful method but never found any practicality ( i knew that when i closed my thesis…never published any article because of that… except for conference presentation when initially clicked on the idea).The title of the thesis still makes me giggle “Stochastic-ally excited spiral scan MRI imaging”.
I don’t know if it’s so much about learning *more* from failure than success. But I think that what you learn from succeeding can’t make up for what you won’t learn from not failing. In other words, you *are* going to fail. The earlier you fail and learn how to turn that into success, the better. I think the longer you go without failing, the harder it becomes to turn your first (and subsequent) failures into successes.Thanks for sharing these. They’re perfect viewing for me right now 🙂
I am expecting a blow-out comment from JLM …P.S. what is got into me today … too many comments… too many failures to share i guess 🙂
now there’s a disqus feature I’d like, the ability to tag a blog post and email me when JLM makes a comment on it.
You can follow JLM on the disqus dashboard already. Or via your Engagio dashboard, you will see his threads only. Btw- I will be in London June 18-21
I like alerts William, which is why I like the Engagio daily email and it is also why it’s no coincidence I am working on something that involves alerts 😉
+100 as well (giving out lots of 100 points today I guess). 😉
also will email you off thread about your visit
Failure only counts if you can process your way through it – if it marks you too much, it won’t help you.
fear not failure, but dreams unfulfilled.
I fail, therefore I am.
personally i feel as though i’ve been failing for at least 6 years now — depends on how you look at it though. or, as i prefer, to stop looking at it at all in terms of success and failure. there is only the mission and there is only more left to do. i found failure to be less painful once i adopted this perspective.
Do, or do not, there is no fail
Doing is key and committing to an outcome or process is the key…..but failure exists. @kidmercury:disqus has decided what he wants – to pursue a goal that is different from the goal he could not reach for the last 6 years.
The work you do now is worth much more….
I don’t ever feel like I fail (though I have gobs-o-projects and things I’ve been involved in that never quite worked out)…I often feel like I learned an expensive/hard lesson…and things will often not work out as I planned going in, but I tend to focus on changing my expectations and reactions (the things I can actually control in a given situation)…and that makes life so much easier to roll with.99% of the time something better, more interesting, or at the very least provides a bigger ‘happy’ quotient comes along anyway…and I get to apply/reuse all those expensive/hard lessons to make it even better.
+1 on the happy quotient. Nicely said.
.At the end of the day, isn’t life just a continuing series of actions balancing triumph and disaster — a binary outcome most of the time?Isn’t failure just the default state until we wander into triumph? Don’t you only need one real triumph founded on a series of seeming failures to win out?Rudyard Kipling had it right:”If you can meet with Triumph and DisasterAnd treat those two impostors just the same”The big variable is one’s willingness to get into the game and actually risk failure. Every shot that you do NOT take is always a miss. So why not give it a go?I also think that a bit of daring is a learned skill and an acquired taste. I remember my first parachute jump. I had trained hard, had jumped off the 500′ tower and was now getting ready to make my first jump — CLUELESS.In my cluelessness, I had not an iota of real fear until I was standing in the door and they opened the door. I was #1 in my stick and I had my hands on the door frame and my boots overhanging the edge and my head into the jetstream at 125 knots and was looking for the drop zone.Of course, it was all make believe because a green light was going to come on to tell me when to jump but if I failed to jump there was a sergeant with a big boot getting ready to shove me out the door.We made three passes because the winds on the drop zone were too high. On the third pass off we went. The exit was quick and terrifying but the ride down was superb. Just had to watch not to fall onto someone else’s chute or to have someone land on yours and collapse it.The next time I jumped, it was “informed consent” because I knew what was going to happen. I was scared but not scared enough not to perform.In business, we are all standing in the door ready to go and we have to jump.Fear becomes fuel. It is a call not to inertia but to action. Maximize the use of fear — fear of failure in particular — to drive yourself. Become your own counselor and talk yourself off the ledge. Use your “adult brain” to do the talking.It is OK to be a bit terrified and as you continue to do it, the fear becomes just a passing phase. A demon who visits you from time to time but who cannot really change things. Let it rise up in all its fullsomeness and then simply banish it.All you can do is your very best. And your very best is much, much, much better than you could ever imagine.There are really no extraordinary men, there are only ordinary men who rise to the occasion in extraordinary circumstances.You are that man. Or woman.So, every day rise early, go to work and bit the ass off a bear..
“Isn’t failure just the default state until we wander into triumph?”Good point. I’m really stuck on this topic today. I’m thinking there is no such thing as failure! There is always some result. The only way to mark something as a failure is to define in very specific details the current objective. Then that objective must be labeled as unchangable at the start for a person to reach failure. If it is allowable to change the objective then failure cannot be reached. Defining an objective in such detail as to declaring it so complete it will not need changed is probably not likely.Well this is all going too far. I have to stop. I would only like to say that, at this point, the world failure seems like a useless word. Right now, it appears, the only way to fail is by quitting.One last thing… Can someone explain to Disqus what a paragrah is. It keeps removing the separations between my paragraphs and making all my text run together. I have to edit and save to get my text to look correct.
Re: the paragraph issue, we’ve seen that too. It’s a bit of a tricky issue to pinpoint but rest assured good minds are working on it.
Excellent. As long as I don’t have to write any code I’ll be OK with the wait.
That video is great, but this one makes the point a little bit more simply. :)”I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career…I’ve lost almost 300 games…”http://www.youtube.com/watc…
Fred, this is a great video, thanks for sharing it. I have had a long-running interest in learning from mistakes and failure and since 2007 have had a site (http://mistakebank.com) for gathering these types of stories (text, video, audio) and research on failure learning.I have learned that successful entrepreneurs are highly attuned to learning from mistakes and failure (as the video suggests), in part because they plunge into the unknown, and there’s no way to navigate the unknown other than trying, failing and readjusting.Several of your stories are there, as well as interviews with one of the AVC community, Charlie Crystle. I will be sure to add this video as well.regards, John
Nice Spots. Was actually looking yesterday on Tom Peters (sick) innovation tactics: “Reward excellent failures. Punish mediocre successes.” I believe that failure as a culture is something that many entrepreneurs see as the key to success. However only few have answered the WHY of the “culture of failure”. Why should we fail in the the first place? From my experience, failure is crucial to executing ORIGINAL ideas. The trial and error game is necessary when you step into unknown territory. You actually find the right path by excluding the wrong path. The more you fail the more you experience ORIGINAL success. Talking about failure is equal to talking about originality.
I am not sure you learn more from failing than from succeeding unless you really understand why you failed.You certainly learn more from failing than from never trying.
If you fail and then continue/pivot, you analyze the failure and iterate. If you succeed, there isn’t as much incentive to analyze WHY you succeeded. Failure forces you to learn or quit.
You see this all over the place, especially in the arts & sports.
Perhaps some people have too high an expectation and deem an undertaking to have been a failure when to someone else it may have constituted a qualiified success. What is the measure?
how you define yourself, and how you allow others define you, i think, has a large impact on how you see failure.
I disagree – failure is not reaching a goal.
who sets the goal?what if you end up in a better place even though you quote-fail-unquote? is that a failure?has part of the goal been set by what you think others expect of you?if you view the world stochastically,”a system’s subsequent state is determined both by the process’s predictable actions and by a random element”does that have an impact?if you want to live the same life after you succeed or fail, does that impact how you view failure?does the goal move over time? or does everything stand still whilst you try to reach the goal?i find it to be more ambiguous.
The difference between children who play organized sports and the majority of professional athletes is the definition of the goal.You cannot, I believe, convince a hyper competitive child – Sidney Crosby, Kobe Bryant, Tom Brady, Wayne Rooney – that having fun is the goal.You set the goal.
i agree to the importance of goals. goals are inherent in life. plants, animals, people, all have goals. there could be no life without goals.but lets look at this. you set the goal, and if you don’t reach the goal it’s failure. in a mechanistic sense i agree: if you launch a rocket and it has a target, if it doesn’t reach the target then it failed. but what if you start at university with a goal of getting a qualification but then create facebook and drop out. you’ve failed at your initial goal. that failure doesn’t seem so bad.how about if your parents pay for your education and expect you to do a certain subject. your goal has now been set for you. it’s a goal. you can reach the goal, but maybe it’s a goal that should have been reached.society and other people will set your goals for you if you don’t set them yourself. #ProgramOrBeProgrammedand sports is a subset of life. i like the metaphors that come from them, but they often don’t capture the full complexity imho.
I’ve had that exact problem with my youngest daughter and soccer… she’s was seriously bummed that they lost every single game despite her best efforts to play hard.I suggested the “fun” angle a few times, the “skill building” angle.. didn’t work because to her the goal was literally more goals and better team play .. and short of that was failure.So.. she just had to learn how to accept a certain amount of failure and learn from that.[edit: she definitely has ideas on what better team play actually means now ..and when to run hard vs rest ]
Many times I see such warnings for entrepreneurs. Every time I do, I always think “Why can’t we do better?” Why so many business failures? It appears we as a country struggle with making businesses successful. We can send people into space but we can’t reduce the start up failure rate!?The first issue that comes to mind as being the main culprit is the “my baby” problem. Many people get into business without knowing that within the first five years of start up, most *successful* businesses aren’t in the same “business” which they started. That’s doesn’t mean they moved to a different company. It means they changed the focus or offering of their business to something else. Without knowing that, people tend to make their business “their baby” they are bound and determined to make the exact business they started a success. This translates to no flexibilty.One side note: True entrepreneurs don’t take a job, ever. They beg, borrow, and steal but they don’t take a job. That is propbably the best question for people to ask theirself before starting down the road of entrepreneurship… “If you fail are you willilng to accept a job?” If the answer is yes then that person isn’t a true entrepreneur. True entrepreneurs have one business going and thirty more projects waiting to be turned into a business at the same time. Taking a job means all those projects will be abandoned.
Nice message, reminds me of the Michael Jordan commercial from a couple of years back….failing is great if you can manage to make different mistakes on the way to success. Repeating the same failure doesn’t quite have the same result.
The timing of the Failure video is perfect as I’ll want it shown at our next board meeting (I’m a director). It seems that the management team doesn’t often realize how valuable their persistence is in making it past the downturn of the moment. They’ve been at it for a long time and have made good strides, but they need to continue to persist and to innovate.
Mark Pincus said I believe that if you are going to fail then make sure you fail fast.
Nice sharing, i think something i missed…..http://www.4bsolution.com/i…
Ask Jon Corzine what he thinks about failure these days.It will be lot different than a leaning experience or something to build on.President Obama should have Jon the WH, tell him he is indicted and is going to spent the rest of life in federal prison or he can go run the SEC and kick some ass. Indictment kept in WH draw as leverage.
Nathan Myhrvold was on CBS this morning regarding Patent Wars. He gave a great analogy related to the subject of failures using baseball:In baseball, you consider someone a great hitter if their avg is .350 which means he misses way more (basically 2 to 1) than he hits. If you can’t handle failure, then you need to get out.
he is a troll. a shakedown artist. it is sad to see him waste his life with this nonsense.
Gotcha. Just happened to be walking by TV when their segment on him was airing.
While I think there’s great value in surfacing the knowledge that success is often, if not always, built atop a pile of failed attempts, we should be careful not to glorify failure in the process. There’s no “badge of honor” to be had in having failed – only in having failed and then succeeded. Careful you don’t learn too much from your failures, lest all you learn is how to fail.
I want to start a company and take it public under the ticker symbol $FAIL
I cut many corners in design – the ones people don’t notice for speed. But only on certain things.
It’s very comforting and inspiring hearing successful people talk about failing- what about those who don’t succeed…
good read……thank you
Don’t know him, but it appears that he has good hair, and that can make up for a lot of faults in this world.
.Hahaha, well played!.