Kristina Alexandra Kovalyuk of Trident Advisory On Becoming Free From The Fear Of Failure
An Interview With Savio P. Clemente
Give yourself permission to fail, by doing that you also give yourself permission to excel. Also keep in mind, most people are thinking about themselves — not you.
The Fear of Failure is one of the most common restraints that holds people back from pursuing great ideas. Imagine if we could become totally free from the fear of failure. Imagine what we could then manifest and create. In this interview series, we are talking to leaders who can share stories and insights from their experience about “Becoming Free From the Fear of Failure.” As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Kristina Alexandra Kovalyuk.
Kristina is a business strategist, amplifier and vision actualizer. She is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for building, scaling businesses. As CEO of Trident Advisory she works to identify blocks to innovation, identifying, curating and executing strategic partnerships to accelerate growth. She has worked across countries and industries ranging from financial services to tech, fashion, telecom, aviation, renewable energy, EV and media/entertainment.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
Absolutely. I came to the U.S. when I was 13 years old from Ukraine and built my career starting as an intern at the age of 16. I met my first mentor Sanford “Sandy” Weill whose more well-known protegee is Jamie Dimon. I worked my way up on Wall St for the next 12 years in roles ranging from corporate strategy, investment banking and institutional sales working with sovereign wealth funds, university endowment and private foundations. I started my entrepreneurial journey at 28 when I started my first fund which invested in early-stage tech and consumer goods companies in Europe and the U.S.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
There are many stories and it’s hard to pinpoint just one. I would say one was going from a bullied kid to becoming a socialite — and even modeling for a bit. I used to work 16–18hrs a day and didn’t know how to apply makeup or wear a dress. Then, I’m a partner in a fund with a luxury fashion brand as one of our portfolio companies, attending premieres, red carpet events and Met Galas. Learning the art of small talk was probably one of the hardest things to pick up believe it or not. I can see how Elon Musk feels!
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Confidence, Persistence and Creativity. I also genuinely love people and am a natural extrovert. The first question I ask when I met someone new is “What can I learn from this person” and “How can I add value to them?”
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the concept of becoming free from failure. Let’s zoom in a bit. From your experience, why exactly are people so afraid of failure? Why is failure so frightening to us?
Fear of failure stems from a fear of experiencing shame or embarrassment. Failing can trigger feelings worthlessness. As humans, we strive to be liked, valued, appreciated. This can cause people to stop trying altogether so avoid the feeling of being shamed and rejected from society.
What are the downsides of being afraid of failure? How can it limit people?
‘The biggest risk is not taking any. In a world that changing quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” This is a quote from Mark Zuckerberg and I couldn’t agree with it more. LeBron James said “You have to accept failure in order to get better”. Accepting that we will fail if we try anything new is the first step. The downside of being afraid of failing is not trying at all and if you don’t try anything new, you’ll never learn anything new. Everything we desire, from the material success to the relationship/partner of our dreams and so on, lie on the other side of fear, it lies in the unknown.
In contrast, can you help articulate a few ways how becoming free from the free of failure can help improve our lives?
One of the people I admire in business, the great Richard Branson once told me: don’t be afraid or embarrassed from your failures — learn from them and start again. It made a big impression on me. Richard has achieved such amazing feats in industries he knew nothing about and he always strives to learn more, fearlessly, boldy, enthusiastically. Remembering that failure isn’t final — it’s the courage to continue, to reflect, to learn, to adjust and to try again that counts.
We would love to hear your story about your experience dealing with failure. Would you be able to share a story about that with us?
Losing my first business. I put almost all the money I earned after 12 years of working in that business and trusting my business partner implicitly. We were like family, or so I thought. When I found out he was stealing money from the company and effectively bankrupting it I was in shock. After I confronted him he disappeared after clearing out our bank accounts. I had to go to our employees and portfolio companies and tell them we can no funds to pay them or honor our contracts. It was one of the worst feelings I’ve ever had.
How did you rebound and recover after that? What did you learn from this whole episode? What advice would you give to others based on that story?
It was a tough blow. I did a great deal of soul searching. I discovered Tony Robbins. I probably attended 20+ of his seminars and built a family of close friends in that network. People from all corners of the world and walks of life. Many who are entrepreneurs like myself who have started business and ‘failed’ multiple times. Having that network of people who understood and supported me was key to having the courage to get back up and start again
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that everyone can take to become free from the fear of failure”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Understand that failure is temporary. The only real failure is if you stop trying
- Learn the lesson. Reflect on what went wrong and what you could’ve done differently. Make a note of it
- Read about people you admire in all walks of life who have failed on a grand scale — and how they came from it
- Get a support group and/or friends who have had success in the area you want to master. If you don’t know anyone, check Twitter. It’s a fabulous resource
- Give yourself permission to fail, by doing that you also give yourself permission to excel. Also, keep in mind, most people are thinking about themselves — not you.
The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “It is possible to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way.” Based on your experience, have you found this quote to be true? What do you think Aristotle really meant?
I’m not sure I agree with this quote. I think it’s possible to succeed in many ways. It all depends on what your definition of success is. For someone success in business can mean money, for someone else is fame, for another is gaining the respect of their peers, and so on. No one’s definition is ‘correct’ or permanent. Even if you achieve your goal, there will be another goal immediately after. I think a true measure of a person's success is to ask yourself “Am I striving for what it is I truly want”
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I want to inspire people to believe in themselves and take risks — great big risks. The greatest of men and women became so because they took the chance, they believed they were meant for something bigger. All of the things we enjoy today came from those people. I’d like to inspire others, kids, teenagers, and adults to do the same.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them :-)
I’ll take two. Elon Musk and Richard Branson. He’s a brilliant man and visionary who’s changed the world
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Absolutely. My website is: TridentAdv.com — I can also be found/reached on LinkedIn or Twitter @KKAlexandra. https://www.linkedin.com/in/kristina-alexandra-k/
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.
About The Interviewer: Savio P. Clemente coaches cancer survivors to overcome the confusion and gain the clarity needed to get busy living in mind, body, and spirit. He inspires health and wellness seekers to find meaning in the “why” and to cultivate resilience in their mindset. Savio is a Board Certified wellness coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), stage 3 cancer survivor, podcaster, writer, and founder of The Human Resolve LLC.
Savio pens a weekly newsletter at thehumanresolve.com where he delves into secrets from living smarter to feeding your “three brains” — head 🧠, heart 💓, and gut 🤰 — in hopes of connecting the dots to those sticky parts in our nature that matter.
He has been featured on Fox News, and has collaborated with Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, Food Network, WW, and Bloomberg. His mission is to offer clients, listeners, and viewers alike tangible takeaways in living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle.
Savio lives in the suburbs of Westchester County, New York and continues to follow his boundless curiosity. He hopes to one day live out a childhood fantasy and explore outer space.