Audio Of The Week: Recovering From Failure

In last week’s Positively Gotham Gal podcast, Christine Quinn, the former NYC mayoral front runner who got passed and beaten by Bill de Blasio, talks about dealing with failure and how to recover from it.

It’s a good listen:


Comments (Archived):

  1. Twain Twain

    “Cursed with clarity” and “shoving square onto a circle” … LOL! Yes, well, I’ve been building a sphere and I keep meeting engineers and PhDs of AI who only know how to make the squares, aka “black box” AI.And the lightbulb doesn’t even go off in their heads that the matrix cells in Machine Learning layers are 0-1, #, % squares. LOL!Seriously, it’s frustrating when you have clarity on this problem and even Professors of AI are blinded by the box they’ve built. https://uploads.disquscdn.chttps://uploads.disquscdn.c

    1. sigmaalgebra


    2. sigmaalgebra

      Another blank

    3. sigmaalgebra

      Can’t respond — Disqus refuses to upload a PNG from TeX of some math!That’s a problem with Disqus!

    4. sigmaalgebra

      Sorry, that math is awfully simple and won’t make any significant progress at all on natural language understanding or meaning.Will have to use some TeX and an image to respond!https://uploads.disquscdn.c…Secret of the Disqus Universe Revealed! I got the image upload to work by (1) flushing my toilet, (2) turning off the window fan, (3) putting my kitty cat outside, (4) setting Firefox 50.1 to accept cookies from Disqus, (5) ending Firefox 50.1, (6) starting Firefox 50.1, (7) in Firefox 50.1, enabling third party cookies from sites visited, (8) connecting to and logging out. (9) ending Firefox 50.1, (10) starting Firefox 50.1, connecting to, (11) logging into Disqus, (12) using the Disqus image upload as in the Disqus documentation. Steps 1-12 were sufficient. I have no idea what the necessary or minimal sufficient steps would be — determining that might take a week.Gee, to find the 1-12 sufficient steps took about 2 hours! It was like mud wrestling while throwing wet, used toilet paper against the wall to get it to stick.Standard Silicon Valley Computer Hacker Culture: Be just grotesquely sloppy and incompetent in writing documentation. Really, be just unable to write documentation that accurately describes how the heck to use the software.It’s a very old problem in computing: Once in some computer systems management work at IBM, for some of IBM’s software, a guy had a good business going as an independent consultant whose secret was that he knew how to install some IBM software actually, really, in fact, in practice, in reality to get it actually to work. Amazing! His remark was: “If you just follow the published documentation on installation, then I 100% guarantee you it won’t work.”This matter of documentation is, in fact, one of the worst bottlenecks in the progress of computing, information technology, success of related startups, and the ROI of Sand Hill Road, and this claim is flatly, rock solidly true and no joke at all, none, zip, zilch, and zero.E.g., for my startup, far and away, the worst problem was getting sufficient documentation on details of Windows, Microsoft’s .NET Framework, ASP.NET, ADO.NET, Visual Basic .NET, IIS, and SQL Server. To do this, I found, downloaded, read, abstracted, and indexed 5000+ Web pages just from Microsoft’s MSDN plus maybe another 1000 from elsewhere. I searched at Google enough that at a penny an hour I’d owe them the national debt.E.g., a simple, first, elementary, standard part of using SQL Server via ADO.NET is to get a “connection string”. Well, I got one. It took most of a week. The work was like mud wrestling and throwing wet, used toilet paper to get it to stick. Tried all kinds of stuff, right, down to close to flushing the toilet and putting the kitty cat outside. Read everything Microsoft published on the subject. Did Google searches (good that they don’t charge a penny a search). Guessed everything reasonable and a lot that wasn’t. Enumerated lots of options and went through them systematically. Finally I got a connection string that worked, and I never got any idea why it worked.SQL Server user IDs, logons, capabilities, and access control lists (really old ideas back to Multics) were more mud wrestling. I got some things that work, put them in scripts, and typed in all the possibly relevant notes I could think of.All, ALL, the work on my startup uniquely mine was fast, fun, and easy and still is. Yes, I’m going for the first single owner, solo founder, company worth $1 T, but all the work uniquely mine including the crucial, core, enabling technology seems plenty reasonable, doable, and easy to me — did and still does. But the documentation bottleneck was one, long, unexpected odyssey through a reptile infested swamp. At least for now I’m through the swamp and on dry land, maybe even a nice road.There’s lots more: Yesterday I had a question and did this and that — several more hours of mud wrestling.I was successful but along the way made a discovery, or had suspicions confirmed. Flatly, I have next to no idea just how Windows security works, e.g., what can a user with Administrator capabilities (we should avoid using new synonyms for that now very old idea) do with the Windows NTFS file system that a user with only User capabilities is not able to do? Apparently there is a huge minefield of secrets there.Again, it’s a very, very old subject in computing — the technical writers are widely and wildly unable accurately to specify how the heck to use the product.Now that I got the Disqus image upload to work, I’ll turn off accepting third party cookies and remove any cookies added.Gee, it’d be super nice to be able to get just a simple flat ASCII or CSV (comma separated values) file download of the current cookie situation, then be able to make use of some decently productive tools, say, a good text editor, to check and modify that file, and then be able to upload the results to Firefox, all instead of mud wrestling with some tiny scroll box that shows only three lines at a time and won’t copy either to or from the system clipboard.In particular, I’d like a file of the Firefox cookies before accepting third party cookies and then also afterward so that I could use simple file comparison tools to find the cookies added, remove those, and upload the result to get my cookie collection back where it was before I had to corrupt it for Disqus!For such files, similarly for the rest of the Firefox user configuration options, e.g., to use when setting up a new computer. Gee, no one at Mozilla thought of that? Same for all applications software. Gee, no one thought of that anywhere in computing? Ah, such advanced information technology!The Disqus documentation on how to post an image was simple, clear, short, nice, easy to read, etc. but flatly WRONG. That documentation left out that during the mud wrestling have to throw the wet, used toilet paper with a backspin with third party cookies enabled.Yes, back to meaning: That math won’t make even a tiny start on working with meaning.Sure, having computing understand meaning is a Holy Grail problem in computing.A key to my startup is its very nice progress with meaning; yes, some original applied math with some advanced prerequisites was involved; but such progress really is possible.

      1. Twain Twain

        Yes, the maths chosen by others which is the standard in all Machine Learning processes is awfully simple and that’s why it’s not going to make any significant progress at all in NLU.There are also all sorts of foundational problems with the assumptions that have been made in linguistics over the last 250+ years.That’s why no one should have any expectations the machines will understand us with the existing legacy (and dogma) of approaches in Machine Learning.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          That’s right.

  2. Salt Shaker

    In retrospect, it’s hard to see how Quinn was defeated in the 2013 Dem Mayoral primary by the doofus running NYC today. Seems there are similar qualities in a politician going “public” with h/her aspirations and a company going public. Timing is a critical component. Quinn came out way, way too early (and I’m referring to her choice to run, not her sexual preference) and her candidacy declined w/ time. In light of New Yorker’s particular disdain for Trump and his policies, I think a female, gay candidate in particular would do well this go round (re: backlash). Most important, Quinn is also immensely qualified.

    1. LE

      I think a female, gay candidate in particular would do well this go roundCurious if it was apparent that Deblasio was a doofus back when he was running for office?Also I don’t know why it matters one iota that she is gay. [1] And if that is a reason that someone should vote for her. NYC is a big place with a multitude of competing interests and problems. This is not Key West. Correct me if I am wrong but the gay community in NYC has it way better than most places, no? Or is this simply a matter of ‘white men have no feel for the downtrodden’s problems?’ Is this really much different than a jewish person electing someone because they feel ‘it’s better for Israel’ (and I am jewish saying that). That is exactly the type of thinking that gets us into trouble. “Support abortion, forget the rest, support guns, forget the rest”.That said you are probably right and this is exactly what bothers me and many others about politics.[1] For God’s sake Deblasio’s wife is ‘a former lesbian’ and black. Hard to see how he doesn’t have his ear to the grindstone.

      1. Salt Shaker

        There are many different attributes/qualities that make a candidate attractive. One of the primary reasons Trump was elected is cause he’s (allegedly) a “successful biz man.” Everything in his world is pretty much defined, either explicitly or implicitly, in economic terms, social conscience be damned. A lot of people don’t see the world through that prism. Many will view the fact that Quinn is gay as a signal she’s empathetic towards social issues/concerns, qualities that resonate w/ a highly liberal base like NYC. That said, as I noted in my comment, most impt she is immensely qualified, irrespective of her gender or sexual preference. De Blasio won handedly. Like a fine wine, his doofus qualities increased w/ age.

        1. LE

          Will preface by saying that I don’t know much about the NYC mayor’s race not living there. But I find this interesting:In the crowded, nine-candidate race for the Democratic nomination, Quinn was considered the front-runner early in the race. However, her position faded as time went on and she came in third in the Democratic primary. Quinn received 15.5% of the total votes cast, to Bill de Blasio’s 40.3% and Bill Thompson’s 26.2%.The fact that she was a ‘front runner’ was that supported by any polls? Or was that simply a case of the media deciding they liked her as a candidate (or were listening to certain people who touted her) and in the end the people clearly preferred either the tall white guy or the tall black guy (who appears quite qualified from a few things I just read about him).15.5% us pretty low. And as you know ‘qualified’ doesn’t hold a candle to ‘persuasive’. And that actually makes sense since qualified but non persuasive won’t get you anywhere in life and certainly not in politics.

        2. sigmaalgebra

          Here at I have a 2 1/2 year record of comments and predictions about Trump that when made were in strong and bitter conflict with nearly everyone else here at But my comments on Trump have now been proven very accurate where nearly everyone else was badly wrong. If you could have bet on my being correct, you likely could have gotten really good odds and made a bundle.On Trump, nearly everyone here is in an isolated, essentially NYC limited, Kool-Aid drinking, mutually reinforcing, wildly wrong, vicarious, escapist, fantasy, emotional experience entertainment, sound proof, windowless echo chamber.It appears that the echo chamber has been getting their news from the mainstream media (MSM), that is, the NYT, WaPo, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, NBC MSM, especially the NYT-MSM, Democrat-Hillary, Goebbels style (repeat a lie often enough and people will believe it), made-up, cooked-up, stirred-up, faked-up, gang-up, pile-on, lying propaganda.There is one item of good news from that propaganda effort: For two and one half years, they have done their very best to uncover dirt about Trump but the worst they found that has any credibility is something about two scoops of ice cream. Thus the effort has given Trump very high praise from totally meaningless damnation.Keep it up, MSM: You will further praise Trump and drive yourselves totally out of business!One of the primary reasons Trump was elected is cause he’s (allegedly) a “successful biz man.” Everything in his world is pretty much defined, either explicitly or implicitly, in economic terms, social conscience be damned. Sorry, that’s an example of nonsense from the echo chamber.The primary reason Trump was elected is very nicely visible in his recent speech in West Virginia at…The start of the speech was right in the center of the road of traditional US political populism: I.e., Trump walked in to the sound of US National Anthem. He walked slowly, was relaxed, with a big smile with lots of confidence, and each few steps stopped, turned, looked at the crowd including many individual persons, clapped along with the crowd, at one point borrowed a sign reading “Trump digs coal”, waved it around, and tossed it back to its owner, stepped to the podium, smiled, waved, let the crowd applaud — populism.Then his speech was mostly just a list of his campaign promises and his accomplishments so far, and at each point the audience applauded or went wild. It was a very high energy event with an audience of thousands of very happy people.Two and a half years ago when he started his campaign for POTUS, he was already good at such speaking. Now he is MUCH better.The Democrat lions and kitty cats, that have any insight at all, in their dens tremble at the thought of competing with Trump.Hillary, Chucky, Kirsten, …, Maxine — your party lost. Time to look into the mirror and frankly tell the person you see that they messed up big league, and need to change. What they SHOULD do is drop the civil war with the Republicans and Trump (unless they want to resign and get paid by the Democrat National Committee), help govern the country, i.e., the job they are being paid for, and, in particular, work effectively with Trump.This civil war stuff is just destructive, next to treason, and we should all vote against it.I know; I know; I know; Chucky, …, to Maxine want to so attack the US that they can “kick in the rotten door” claiming that only they can fix the rotten door (they caused). That won’t work.Everything in his world is pretty much defined, either explicitly or implicitly, in economic terms, social conscience be damned. That’s just from the echo chamber and as wrong as any of the nonsense about Trump from the last 2 1/2 years.Saying stuff like that can have one fit in socially with much of NYC, SF, and DC for the moment but at the cost of being wildly wrong (now to anyone who is informed and at all objective) and still more wrong later. At this rate, and Trump’s rate stands to speed up a lot soon, Trump is on his way to a reserved slot on Mount Rushmore, best POTUS since at least Lincoln.Let’s take the> economic terms:This effort to be POTUS cost Trump a lot of his green cash, continues to cost him big bucks in opportunity costs from building projects he has to set aside, and stands to make him, even if later he writes books, at most chump change in comparison.So, no way did Trump run for POTUS in> economic termsfor himself.Trump has already explained: He ran for POTUS to help the US, for, flatly, bluntly, literally, “Make America Great Again”. No joke or exaggeration, that’s his goal. Maybe his accomplishments will need some exaggeration to be called “great”, but a lot of people there in West Virginia will be willing to scream out “GREAT!”.He has also said that he wants to leave a better US for his children and grandchildren. Noble enough.We will return to> economic termsbut here let’s take up> social conscienceUh, where was the social conscious of the past 8-16-24 years with:(1) A 16 year war in Akrapistan while we were being sugar sweet with Pukistan, IIRC gave them our cotton terry cloth towel business (who asked the people in N/S Carolina?), who is our main enemy in Akrapistan, from the first results of Google searchAfghanistan war cost isAccording to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report published in October 2007, the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could cost taxpayers a total of $2.4 trillion by 2017 when counting the huge interest costs because combat is being financed with borrowed money. (2) The grotesquely incompetent, dangerous, hugely wasteful housing bubble, the resulting crash of 2008, and the again grotesquely incompetent, dangerous, wasteful, slow exit from that disaster;(3) From Gulf War II to the present, thousands of US lives, some 3-7 trillion dollars of US treasure, likely some hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives lost in Iraq with now the place worse off than at the end of Gulf War I;(4) The progress of long range missiles and nuclear bombs in Iran;(5) The incompetent foreign policy to the wackos in Ping Pong Yang, North Korea;(6) The corruption, waste, and basically malpractice deaths in the VA;(7) As at…in May, 2017, the US trade deficit was $46.5 billion with $30.1 billion of that with China;(8) The 94 million or so US citizens out of the labor force;(9) The huge budget deficits and growth in the national debt (nearly paid off near year 2000);(10) The horribly slow economic growth rate;(11) The gut wrenching illegal drug problems;(12) The birth rate so low we are going extinct, literally;(13) Our crumbling infrastructure — e.g., recently I drove on I-84 from the Taconic State Parkway to I-684 south, and the roads were ROUGH.(14) Our many sick-o central cities with, until Trump, no hope in sight.(15) Our many closed factories and plants and resulting devastated communities all across Middle America.Trump has been making good progress on these issues of “social conscious” and more.E.g., Trump’s already stated that everyone deserves medical care.Back to> economic termsReally, Trump is no tight wad. He’s no traditional, rock-ribbed, conservative, let the poor and sick die in the streets Republican. Instead, he’s a big spender, really center-left although he doesn’t want to waste money — he wants all Wellman Skating rink type projects, compared to what NYC did, way, way, way “under budget” and just as much ahead of schedule.For US progress in Akrapistan, apparently Trump had his military brass face down on the floor, put on golf shoes with especially sharp spikes, and walked and stomped on all the brass, several times over, just to get their attention. Good for Trump.His AG was being a bit too naive, courteous, cautious, and slow on the draw, so Trump first practiced the golf shoe technique there.Priebus was supposed to be on first name basis with all the Republicans in Congress and could get the health care bill through. When he didn’t, the next day Priebus was out and Kelly in. Trump’s not fooling.No doubt his changes at the VA will require significant VA budget increases.Trump is eager to set up job training programs in the worst parts of the central cities.Sure, the old remark was that we have a (1) big heart but a (2) thin wallet. Right, a useless big heart. Well, Trump has the first but is ready to do something good about the second, “make America wealthy again”, so that he CAN fund the “big heart” programs.So, e.g., Trump has gotten lined up new investment in US manufacturing by Jack Ma, Foxconn, Toyota, Masda, and others. The action has been so fast that apparently those companies all got “offers they couldn’t refuse”. E.g., Foxconn is from Taiwan; their factories across the water in China have been a major source of products the US has imported from China; apparently Foxconn did find Trump’s offer too good to refuse.Those companies will hire lots of workers who will use less welfare and pay lots of taxes.Main street in towns with empty factories and windows boarded up on Main Street will be happy to get the jobs, and, still, Wall Street is happy.Trump is eager to have a tax holiday that will let some trillions of dollars of earnings of US corporations now held outside the US return to the US and, thus, be invested here and create more economic growth, more jobs, and more tax revenue.Also, Trump can’t be bought!I can understand just why the NYT can’t understand MAGA, but I’m surprised you don’t see it.

  3. sigmaalgebra

    The pod cast has a lot of old stories about women’s values in some special but significant fraction of the US.I have to suspect that nearly all of that conversation is really a reflection of the US Great Depression although maybe earlier.In some ways it’s super nice that such capable women (sorry, Fred, it’s nearly all women — sorry ’bout that, it’s not my pod cast) are working so hard to help people.Just where those values originally came from, I don’t know.But, I’ve seen some of that.My wife’s maternal grandmother was the first female Methodist minister in, I don’t know, maybe Indiana, maybe the US, somewhere. Uh, she was a school teacher with three children; her husband died; and she put herself through Methodist seminary. So, during the Depression, she got a congregation, built a nice church, put all three of her children through college, and also acted as essentially a social worker for some people in really bad shape, including drunk, violent husbands.The picture I saw of her had her in an ankle length, loose, black dress from, maybe coarsely woven cloth, gray hair tied up behind her head, a really nice warm smile, and her right elbow at 90 degrees and the hand holding a bible.So, from her mother and maternal grandmother, my wife was “to do great things”, regarded any grade in school less than an A as a moral lapse (as in a slut) so, sure, was Valedictorian, …, PBK, and got a Ph.D. in mathematical sociology (profs including Rossi and Coleman, both past presidents of the American Sociological Association and Coleman part of Brown v Board) to have a mathematical and scientific background to do “social change” with a “career that helps people”.Yup, seen that.I promised her that if I got rich, I’d let her be a leading phlanthropist and give away half the money. But I wasn’t rich yet.So, now she never helped anyone; I got hurt a LOT; and now I have no wife and am looking for a kitty cat. So, I’ll get a young boy who runs all over the house, climbs and jumps, and otherwise follows me room to room, or I’ll get a girl who mostly wants to keep my lap warm. Fine either way or both.Right away I found some really nice women (sorry, Fred, all the people who answered the phone really were all woman and really nice) to help me — two running a veterinarian office, one at the local SPCA, and one at an amazing site in Beacon.As nice as those attitudes and aspirations can be, there is a dark side, maybe more than one.Uh, sorry, ladies (women, females, persons, whatever is the best now), that conversation with the praise for Hillary might work in NYC and, maybe, SF but has little or no chance anywhere else in the US. So, the conversation has a very limited context and, thus, is insular.At least one person from NYC saw that quite clearly!For the rest of the country, Trump is MUCH better.

  4. Garnett D.

    Thanks for sharing this track. Love the message

    1. pointsnfigures

      Agree. Dealing with failure can be hard, crushing and soul sucking.

  5. George Woods Baker

    Nothing better than listening to two smart people riff. Thank you.

  6. Peter Sinkevich

    This was a great message and audio piece Fred but I have been saying for some time now, why does there even need to be a “recovery from failure”? I argue if people’s mindset’s are int he right place when it comes to failure, there is no “recovery” from failure. That is to say there is no negativity, upset feelings, yada yada.Failure is simply a lesson and a drink in the road to success. You know full well, success does not come without failure first… and in some cases an entire boatload of failure. This isn’t to suggest any sort of emotion around failure, just acknowledgment that “oh, here is something else that didn’t work” and it should be examined to determine exactly what did go wrong, and why so ultimately you can take the most important step once a failure occurs: remove what it is that you learned broke or didn’t work from your process going forward and give it another go (because everyone is going to try again, right??).Failure is not something to be praised and celebrated per se, but removing the the thing that broke the machine is because it shows self awareness, intellect and back to my point, brings you just that much closer to reaching the success you strive for.