Why I think it’s important to talk about failure.

Chris Buttenham
Jul 17, 2018 · 3 min read

It’s funny, in a time when polarization and chaos are at an all time high, I’m beyond excited that long-form, unedited conversations and podcasts are beginning to trump mainstream media and clickbait (pun intended). To me, we’re long overdue for civil discourse through honest conversations. Of course, what I’m referring to is failure.

To the best of my knowledge, failure is inevitable — at least, in the pursuit of something great. That’s the first reason I believe it is important to talk about failure. On the other side of failure is reflection, and through reflection is growth and success (however you define it). I don’t think you need to be involved with startup ecosystems and entrepreneurship to see that most people never even get off the ground because they fear failure. Perhaps if we show anecdotes and highlight stories (both good and bad) of individuals who have done something great, we can mitigate that initial fear ever so slightly.

Another reason why I think it’s beneficial to share the toughest moments in our lives, careers, and businesses is because it’s hard. In a time where the barrier to entry (in almost anything) is the lowest it’s ever been, we seem to have created a culture of instant gratification. That’s no new topic, but what I think is underserved is sharing real failures — even when they’re happening, in the hopes of educating people of the realities that certain roles, jobs, or careers hold. I’m not convinced that we can succeed in whatever endeavor we want, at least not without the right formula of talent, passion and un-relentless hard fucking work.

While I don’t think that all failure should be treated equally, I’m grappling with the idea that talking about failure may create a positive bi-product by de-stigmatizing the act of failing. On that note, it’s important to reiterate that there are varying consequences for failure. I’d like to have more discussion around this detail to further understand the boundaries when it comes to failure. This reminds me of when Mark Zuckerberg felt it was time to change the Facebook company motto from “move fast and break things” to “move fast with stable infrastructure”. While proof-reading this, my friend Carolyn also reminded me that while all failure is different, it is also highly subjective. An important point to keep at the forefront of failure analysis.

Kristian Borghesan and I started a podcast last year on this very subject called The Art of the Fail. Our inspiration came from our own entrepreneurial experiences and specifically learning from the failures and stories of other phenomenal individuals we looked up to. We noticed that there was much more value from a fireside chat-type conversation, than any other meetup or seminar. There is something about the un-edited, un-filtered conversation that I personally find engaging.

One of our amazing guests in our upcoming season, Sanjay Singhal, helped me realize that most people who would get invited to speak on a podcast or event are individuals that have succeeded, at least in some capacity to be deemed “interesting”. This is true. Not all failures end in success, so I’d like to challenge myself to have those conversations as well.

If you haven’t picked up what I’m putting down by now, we’re trying to have these conversations on our podcast. The irony of the whole thing might be that in order to really gain from failure, you might have to experience it yourself. The human brain is funny that way. So despite having good intentions of creating lots of unique value with the podcast, we hope at the very least you find the conversations as entertaining as we do.

The Art of the Fail — Season 2 begins July 19th!

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Chris Buttenham

Written by

Entrepreneur | Founder of Obie.ai | Follow me @chrisbuttenham @theaotfpodcast

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