Chapter 10: Greg Lindberg’s Historical Perspective on Failure
Greg Lindberg has been through a lot to get to where he is today. And most of it, especially in recent times, has not been easy. But through the hardship, the pain, and the failure, he’s learned more, grown, and ultimately become a stronger and better man.
He speaks of failure as a friend, as a mentor, and as something essential to and inextricable from success. And history proves him correct. In the 10th chapter of his fascinating and inspirational prison autobiography/leadership guide 633 Days Inside: Lessons on Life and Leadership, Lindberg discusses the historical perspective on failure and its importance.
He wrote: “We honor stories of heroic perseverance: Thomas Edison and his 10,000 attempts to find the filament that could burn inside a light bulb; Dyson’s 5,126 attempts to make a bagless vacuum cleaner; and Helen Keller’s determination to communicate, despite being deaf and blind. Steve Jobs was fired from Apple before he returned, making it the $2 trillion tech giant it is today.”
As someone who built his empire from the ground up and has been in the company of entrepreneurs and self-starters for most of his life, Lindberg knows a thing or two about failure.
Born in 1970, Greg Lindberg grew up in San Mateo, California. As the youngest of five children, he grew up in a large family. While his family wasn’t wealthy, his parents worked hard to provide for them. As a result, Lindberg was the first member of his generation to attend university.
As a 21-year-old Yale student, Lindberg read a medical newsletter and was shocked at the lack of quality in the writing and production. Ultimately, he decided to start his own business after researching and making some errors.
His weekly medical newsletter, “Eli’s Home Care Week,” quickly became a highly-rated medical media resource. Over time, “Eli’s Home Care Week” developed into Eli Research, which became Global Growth. This was ultimately Lindberg’s claim to fame, success, and a billion-dollar fortune.
But even as he was succeeding beyond his wildest dreams, Lindberg couldn’t imagine the massive fall he would take — one he says taught him more than he could ever have anticipated.
He wrote in 633 Days Inside: “We can only succeed if we embrace failure as our ally, as a badge of pride. We have to honor the effort, the struggle, and not the result. We need to seek failure early. Not as a risk, not as a setback, but as a moment of learning that offers us the momentum to propel us forward. When you fail early and often, you avoid catastrophic failure later.
“The true innovators in our world — people such as Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Patricia Bath, and Temple Grandin — place no value on the judgment of others. They succeed because failure isn’t shameful for them. It isn’t humiliation. It’s just a lesson learned.”
Rigid Societies (and People) Are Not Innovative
Greg Lindberg’s life came crashing down in 2020 when a jury found him guilty of bribery and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. During the case, Mike Causey, the commissioner of the North Carolina Department of Insurance, was a key figure.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vacated his convictions because his fifth and sixth amendment rights were violated. Nonetheless, the matter isn’t over: The case will be retried in 2023.
As a result, Lindberg spent almost two years in prison. His new book documents his experiences and feelings about his time behind bars, but perhaps most importantly, it speaks of his personal growth and ultimate redemption.
Lindberg believes that the more rigid, fearful, and unwavering a society, the less innovation it produces. In Chapter 10, he discusses how a fear of failure ultimately causes rigidity.
“The most rigid, top-down hierarchical societies, companies and cultures are the least innovative because they breed fear of failure and judgment,” he wrote. “It’s a cycle that’s hard to break. Rules become increasingly complex and convoluted as successive governments pass their laws and regulations on top of previous laws and regulations.
“Socialism, in all forms, including national socialism, Soviet socialism, Chinese communism and Cuban socialism, is based on this single idea of dominating individuals through fear of judgment and reprisal. Socialist societies ostracize and prosecute those who do not conform to maintain their centralized power structure.”
Poignant insights from a man who never has, nor ever will be, in a prison of his own making.