Why Failure?

One of the reasons I continue to produce FailCon and it’s offspring FailChats is that the theme always makes people passionate. I NEVER had people write me for any of my other shows with either such excitement or such anger, and that tells me I am doing something right. For every 4 emails I get of praise, I usually get one of criticism. Those people usually argue that I am focused on negative energy, that I am cutting people down, that I am scaring them. With FailCon coming back, I’ve decided to address the issue publicly with my two most common responses:

1) If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get Out of the Kitchen!

The oft-quoted statistic is that 9 out of every 10 start-up companies will fail. Now, I don’t know what – if any – scientific studies have been done to verify this statistic, but I bet it isn’t too far off. And guess what, I’d bet my entire life-worth that 10 out of 10 start-ups will have to deal with a failure, severe mistake, or tough road block along the way to becoming successful. This is inevitable. If we supported a baby every time they tried to walk, they would never learn. Similarly, if we just coddle and unrealistically encourage entrepreneurs, they will never be prepared – emotionally or practically – to overcome the challenges ahead.

2) Because EVERY Show is SuccessCon.
People sometimes ask “Well, why not make a ‘SuccessChat’ series?  Wouldn’t that be nice?” to which I respond with the above.  Josh Linker on Fast Company puts it best: “One skill that that few of us ever learn, however, is how to make mistakes: How to learn from setbacks.” Dozens of conferences focus on the success of their speakers, on their accomplishments and incredible stories.   Now, I never want to belittle a speaker, but I want to hear where they slipped up and how they recovered – that to me is a much stronger, more impressive, and (most importantly) helpful story!  If you want to go see “SuccessChat,” if you want to keep getting empty encouragement of how awesome you could be, go join the hundreds of other meetups out there.  I try to focus on practicality and reality.

If the above still makes you angry, if you think it is poor form, I’m sorry.  FailCon probably isn’t for you.  But if you love it, give a small cheer, or are just plain curious, be sure to check us out.  Tickets are just $99 through July 21st.

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Any well run business will have post-mortems after a project to discuss what went wrong and how to avoid it in the future. I see FailCon as the startup post-mortems. It’s not focusing on the negative it’s a logical part of creating a positive future.

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