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Saturday, November 30, 2013

My Personal Failure - Veranto RIP, 1999-2001

My personal story of failure hails back to the first bubble - used to be online but seems to have disappeared, so posting a link to my personal narrative, published in Repertoire magazine back in December of 2001. Would love to hear comments - help me learn!

One's Story
Update - found a link online.

Friday, November 29, 2013

A History of Design @ Apple

Readers familiar with my writings and opinions know that I am NOT a fan of Apple. But if Apple is a success at anything - it's a path breaking design firm. Max Chafkin produced this six-part series on Apple design. He did fail to begin the story where it should have, in 1984 with the introduction of the Mac... (hello?) ..but spins a good tale nevertheless. And, heck, we should spend some time understanding why DESPITE everything else that is wrong with this company's approach and strategy - it IS so successful... So here goes:

Part I: An Oral History Of Apple Design: 1992 "The greatest business story of this generation is a design tale."

Part II: An Oral History Of Apple Design: 2000 Steve had to have control over anything and everything that had to do with his products.

Part III: An Oral History Of Apple Design: 2001 Apple Design becomes experimental.

Part IV: An Oral History Of Apple Design: 2004 Perfecting the iPod.

Part V: An Oral History Of Apple Design: 2010 Milking the cash cows.

Part VI: An Oral History Of Apple Design: 2013 After Steve's death, Apple loses focus. Coming soon: the iWash, an iPod controlled washing machine... :-)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

10 Signs You May Have a Fear of Failure (from Psychology Today)

Ten Signs You Might Have a Fear of Failure

How fear of failure makes us sabotage our efforts
First Published on June 18, 2013 by Guy Winch, Ph.D. in The Squeaky Wheel

Everyone hates to fail but for some people failing presents such a significant psychological threat their motivation to avoid failure exceeds their motivation to succeed. This fear of failure causes them to unconsciously sabotage their chances of success in a variety of ways.

How Failure Can Pose a Significant Psychological Threat

Failing elicits many feelings such as disappointment, anger, frustration, sadness, regret, and confusion that while unpleasant are usually not sufficient to trigger a full blown fear of failure. Indeed, even the term fear of failure is somewhat of a misnomer because it is not failure per se that underlies the behavior of people who have it. Rather, a fear of failure is essentially a fear of shame. People who have a fear of failure are motivated to avoid failing not because they cannot manage the basic emotions of disappointment, anger, and frustration that accompany such experiences but because failing also makes them feel deep shame.

Shame is a psychologically toxic emotion because instead of feeling bad about our actions (guilt) or efforts (regret) it makes us feel bad who we are as people. Shame gets to the core of our egos, our identities, our self-esteem, and our feelings of emotional well-being. The damaging nature of shame makes it urgent for those who have a fear of failure to avoid the psychological threats associated with failing by finding unconscious ways to mitigate the implications of a potential failure (for example, by buying unnecessary new clothes for a job interview instead of reading up on the company—which allows them to use the “I just didn’t have time to fully prepare’ excuse).

The 10 Signs You Might Have a Fear of Failure

The following are not official diagnostics but if you feel these criteria are very characteristic of you (‘very’ being an important distinguishing marker as we all feel these things to some extent), you might want to examine this issue further, either by doing more reading about it or talking to a mental health professional.

1. Failing makes you worry about what other people think about you.
2. Failing makes you worry about your ability to pursue the future you desire.
3. Failing makes you worry that people will lose interest in you.
4. Failing makes you worry about how smart or capable you are.
5. Failing makes you worry about disappointing people whose opinion you value.
6. You tend to tell people beforehand that you don’t expect to succeed in order to lower their expectations.
7. Once you fail at something you have trouble imagining what you could have done differently to succeed.
8. You often get last minute headaches, stomachaches, or other physical symptoms that prevent you from completing your preparation.
9. You often get distracted by tasks that prevent you from completing your preparation that in hindsight were not as urgent as they seemed at the time.
10. You tend to procrastinate and ‘run out of time’ to complete you preparation adequately (read procrastination expert, Dr. Timothy Pychyl’s article about fear of failure here).

What to Do When You Have a Fear of Failure

The primary problem with addressing a fear of failure is that it tends to operate on an unconscious level. For example, you might feel it’s essential to finish writing out your Christmas cards because you promised to send them off by the end of the weekend—even though you’re about to take your final exams. There are two important things you can do to conquer the maladaptive ways a fear of failure can influence your behavior:

1. Own the fear. It is important to accept that failure makes you feel both fear and shame and to find trusted others with whom you can discuss these feelings. Bringing these feelings to the surface can help prevent you from expressing them via unconscious efforts to sabotage yourself and getting reassurance and empathy from trusted others can bolster your feelings of self-worth and minimize the threat of disappointing them.

2. Focus on aspects in your control. Identify aspects of the task or preparation that are in your control and focus on those. Brainstorm ways to reframe aspects of the task that seem out of your control such that you regain control of them. For example, If you’ve failed to find work because you just don’t know the ‘right people’, set the goal of expanding your network by going through your address book, Facebook and social media contacts, and reaching out to everyone you know even if they are not in your field as they might know someone who is.

For more about the many other ways failure impacts us negatively and what you can do about it, check out my book: Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt, and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries (Hudson Street Press, 2013).

Copyright 2013 Guy Winch

Friday, November 8, 2013

Apple Flops and Failures!!

If you ask me, the entire Apple approach is a conceptual failure - but obviously a lot of common people have fallen in love with it. It's not very different from a religious following, with all of the inherent implications. But more on that some other time...

But - Apple had also launched a slew of products that were downright business failures. This gem of a piece lays down the goods on ten of them:
1) Apple III
2) Lisa
3) Portable Mac circa 1989
4) The Newton...
5) The Pippin (never heard of it...)
6) The 20th Anniversary Mac
7) Apple eMate
8) The Hockey puck mouse...
9) Powermac G4 Cube
10) The U2 iPod

From Business Insider: From The 'Apple Lisa' To The U2 iPod: Apple Products That Totally Flopped

Saturday, October 26, 2013

26 Successful People who Failed at First

26 Successful People who Failed at First

Typically those who dare learn so much from first failures that they come back as a roaring success - from a great little piece on Business Insider here are 26 famous ones including:
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • Winston Churchill
  • Thomas Edison
  • and more...

Follow on twitter: Steiner on Failure

Friday, October 25, 2013

From Discover - 20 Things you Didn't Know About Failure

20 things you didn't know about failure

Google actively invests in promoting failure, Ford had far worse ideas than the Edsel, and failure as a whole follows a power law - i.e. can be proven mathematically and expected. For more - click over to the article.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Collection of Quotes on Failure and Success

"A Quote-a-day keeps failure away..." :-)
Erik A. Steiner, Innovator and Entrepreneur

Nov 24, 2013

“If something fails despite being carefully planned, carefully designed, and conscientiously executed, that failure often bespeaks underlying change and, with it, opportunity.”

Peter F. Drucker, Author and Leading Management Thinker

Nov 18, 2013

"Fail Forward Fast.

It is far better to have sloppy success than to have perfect procrastination. It is easy to get caught up in the endless tinkering and perfecting of a project. It is true some things require perfection – most simply need excellence. All need action today!

Do you find yourself waiting to launch important projects? Are you forever splitting hairs about elements that are not mission critical. Do you spend hours and hours on details that don’t matter much?

Start your Monday with action! In taking action you may fail – but even that failure will move you forward toward ultimate success. Pick a project you have been putting off and begin today to take the action which will accelerate your path to achievement. "

Tom Peters, "Father" of All Business Gurus, Incredible Guy

Nov 17, 2013

"Life is pretty simple:
You do some stuff.
Most fails.
Some works.
You do more of what works.
If it works big, others quickly copy it.
Then you do something else.
The trick is the doing something else."

Tom Peters, "Father" of All Business Gurus, Incredible Guy

Nov 3, 2013

"If I find 10,000 ways something won't work, I haven't failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward."
Thomas Edison, American Inventor and Businessman

Nov 2, 2013

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt, 26th US President

Oct 26, 2013

Thoughts from Guy Kawasaki:

"Let’s say a startup is hot. It ships something great, and it achieves success. Thus, it’s able to attract the best, brightest, and most talented. These people have been told they’re the best since childhood. Indeed, being hired by the hot company is “proof” that they are the A and A+ players; in fact, the company is so hot that it can out-recruit Google and Microsoft.

Unfortunately, they develop a fixed mindset that they’re the most talented, and they think that continued success is a right. Problems arise because pure talent only works as long as the going is easy. Furthermore, they don’t take risks because failure would harm their image of being the best, brightest, and most talented. When they do fail, they deny it or attribute it to anything but their shortcomings.

And this is the beginning of the end."

(Source: The Effort Effect)

Guy Kawasaki, Author, Speaker and Investor

Oct 25, 2013

"Ambitious failure, magnificent failure, is a very good thing."
Guy Kawasaki, Author, Speaker and Investor

Oct 24, 2013

"We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails."
Bertha Calloway, Founder of the Great Plains Black Museum

Oct 23, 2013

"Failure isn't fatal, but failure to change might be."
John Wooden, American Basketball player and coach

Oct 22, 2013

"Success is never permanent, and failure is never final."
Mike Ditka, former American football NFL player, television commentator, and coach

Oct 21, 2013

"Make failure your teacher, not your undertaker."
Zig Ziglar, Motivational Speaker

Oct 20, 2013

"Failure is a detour not a dead end street."
Zig Ziglar, Motivational Speaker

Oct 19, 2013

"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it."
Pablo Picasso, Artist

Oct 16, 2013

"Failure is the price of excellence."
Leonard Pitts, Jr., Pulitzer prize winning commentator

Oct 12, 2013

"We learn from failure, not from success!"
Bram Stoker, Author (Dracula!)

Oct 11, 2013

"When I was young, I observed that nine out of 10 things I did were failures, so I did 10 times more work."
George Bernard Shaw, Playwright

Oct 10, 2013

"Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn't really matter.”
Dwight L Moody, Evangelist

Oct 9, 2013

"I thrive on failure. I thrive on things that are not perfect. It sends me back into the ring to get it right.”
Tom Ford, Designer

September 8th 2013

"Persistence can change #failure into extraordinary achievement."
Matt Biondi, Olympic Athlete, Swimmer

Dec 19, 2012

"Many people dream of success. To me succes can only be achieved through repeated failure and introspection. In fact, success represents the one percent of your work that results from the ninety-nine percent that is called failure."
Soichiro Honda, Engineer, Founder of Honda Motor Company (aka "Honda")

As quoted in The Power of Failure: 27 Ways to Turn Life's Setbacks into Success

Dec 15, 2012

"Failure is the foundation of success, and the means by which it is achieved."
Lao Tzu, Philosopher

As quoted in The Power of Failure: 27 Ways to Turn Life's Setbacks into Success

Dec 14, 2012

"The Achilles heel of failure: hindsight is 20/20."
Erik A. Steiner, Innovator and Entrepreneur

Dec 13, 2012

This time, a poem... IF by Rudyard Kipling


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling, short-story writer, poet, novelist

Dec 12, 2012

"Only he who does nothing makes no mistakes."
French Proverb

As quoted in The Power of Failure: 27 Ways to Turn Life's Setbacks into Success

Dec 9, 2012

"He that is overcautious will accomplish little."
Friedrich von Schiller, Poet, Philosopher, Historian and Playwright

As quoted in The Ten Commandments for Business Failure

Dec 8, 2012

"For this is the tragedy of man-circumstances change, but he doesn't."
Machiavelli, Historian, Politician, Diplomat, Philosopher, Humanist and Writer

As quoted in The Ten Commandments for Business Failure

Dec 2, 2012

"In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure."
Bill Cosby, Comedian

Dec 1, 2012

Referring to every well-educated person, Charles Kettering, one of America's greatest inventors and innovators of all time, said, " is not a disgrace to fail, and that he must analyze each failure to find its cause...must learn how to fail intelligently. Failing is one of the greatest arts in the world. One fails towards success."
Charles Kettering, Inventor
Quoted in Whoever Makes the Most Mistakes Wins

Nov 12, 2012

"Being successful is kind of dull."
Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari
Quoted in Whoever Makes the Most Mistakes Wins
Nolan Bushnell

Nov 11, 2012

Tom Crouch writing about the Wright Brothers...
"They were as excited about failure as they were by success."
(from The Bishop's Boys: A Life of Wilbur and Orville Wright)
The Wright Brothers
Tom Crouch

Nov 10, 2012

"One must be God to be able to distinguish successes from failures and not make mistakes."
Anton Chekov

Nov 9, 2012

"Good men are still liable to make mistakes, and are sometimes warmly engaged in errors, which they take for divine truths, shining in their minds with the clearest light."
John Locke

Oct 29, 2012

"If there is a single tragic flaw that mars our biggest enterprises, it is conservatism - the failure to fail, and fail big, in an era of unprecedented volatility and ambiguity."
Tom Peters Oct 17, 2012

"Failure in Innovation - it's a price worth paying."
Tim Harford (from: Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure . New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2011)

Oct 15, 2012

Man has been writing of failure since biblical times. Here we go back to the time of Aristotle, to a controversial quote that I do not believe does justice to reality:

"It is possible to fail in many ways...while to succeed is possible only in one way."
Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, II, 6

Oct 14, 2012

"I was never afraid of failure; for I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest."

John Keats, one of the greatest and most important poets in the history of mankind - born in 1795, he died so so young, only 26. One hesitates to think what Keats would have accomplished in a full lifetime...the following are ruminations from a letter written to one James Hessey on October 8, 1818:

"The Genius of Poetry must work out its own salvation in a man: It cannot be matured by law & precept, but by sensation ad watchfulness in itself - That which is creative must create itself - In Endymion, I leaped headlong into the Sea, and thereby have become better acquainted with the Soundings, the quicksands, & the rocks, than if I had stayed upon the green shore, and piped a silly pipe, and took tea & comfortable advice. I was never afraid of failure; for I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest."
John Keats

Oct 13, 2012

Mark Zbaracki, at the time a professor at NYU, wrote a nice little piece titled "Success, Failure and the Race of Truth" for the Journal of Management Inquiry back in September of 2006. Thought I'd pull a nice quote from there:

"...those moments when life sends us sliding along the pavement or tumbling over the handlebars are gifts, opportunities for clarity..."
Mark J. Zbaracki

Oct 12, 2012

Here's John Adams writing on failure in 1755 (!):
(I received this newest volume from the Library of America today - the man was only twenty years old when he inferred and wrote the following and much more. Incredible. The strange spelling, capitalizations etc. as in the original text)

"If we look into History we shall find some nations rising from contemptible beginnings, and spreading their influence, 'till the whole Globe is subjected to their sway. When they have reach'd the summit of Grandeur, some minute and unsuspected Cause commonly affects their Ruin, and the Empire of the world is transferr'd to some other place. Immortal Rome was at first but an insignificant Village, inhabited only be a few abandoned Ruffins, but by degrees it rose to a stupendous Height, and excell'd in Arts and Arms all the nations that praeceeded it. But the demolition of Carthage (what one should think would have establish'd it in supream dominion) by removing all danger, suffer'd to sink into debauchery, and made it att length an easy prey to Barbarians."
John Adams, Revolutionary Writings, 1755-1775

"There is the greatest practical benefit in making a few failures early in life."
T H Huxley, On Medical Education (1870)

Oct 10, 2012

"83 percent of Chief Executive Officers fail."
Lucy Kellaway, writing for the Financial Times Oct 9, 2012

"Failure is good. It's fertilizer. Everything I've learned about coaching I've learned from making mistakes."
Rick Pitino, NBA Coach

Oct 8, 2012 - Today I've decided to start up a compendium of my favorite quotes on failure - I'll be making a valiant attempt to post one-a-day (A quote a day keeps the failure away?? :-)

Here's the first one for you all - from the creator of Peter Pan no less:

"We are all failures - at least, all the best of us are."
J. M. Barrie

Just came across this on Gotham so here's another one for today:

“Ever tried.
Ever failed.
No matter.
Try again.
Fail again.
Fail better."

Samuel Beckett

Saturday, October 12, 2013

6 Ways to Avoid the Product Failure Bin

Great article from Fast Company - "Six ways to avoid landing in the product failure bin"

  • Be honest about your product
  • Consider side effects (alternative uses, environmental impact etc.)
  • Innovate (duh...)
  • Cannibalize - aka compete with yourself "ala Intel" - as Grove said so well, "Only the paranoid survive"
  • Act quickly - the world has become incredibly fast...
  • Ignore traditional market research (it went the way of the Edsel) - "focus groups" ARE OUT!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Thousands of the Dumbest Moments in Business

Business 2.0's 7th Annual 101 Dumbest Moments in Business - Hindsight's 20/20, isn't it? :-)


Product Failure - Huge Flops from Great Companies

Great product flops courtesy of Fast Company.

For some more excellent examples from the era pick up Philip J. Kaplan's F'd Companies.

But never forget, failure leads to success.
Those who don't fail - haven't tried.
Those who haven't tried - typically never succeed.