“QUITTING, SUCKING, andfailingyour way to a better life”Michael Wolfewww.michaelrwolfe.com@michaelrwolfe
FIRST, ABOUT MEI am a QUITTERI sometimes SUCKI often FAIL
1. MY JOURNEY2. WHY IS FAILURE SO HARDTO ACCEPT?3. WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT?4. WHAT CAN YOU DO?
MY JOURNEYAVOIDfailureACCEPTfailure
My CareerFour startups and a few bigcompaniesSeveral roles (CEO,Engineering, Product)Advising and mentoringFull of quit, s...
QUITTINGI quit several good jobsSeveral businesses pivotedI shut one company down
SUCKINGI was a mediocre studentMy teams and I always in overour headsLack of resources
FAILINGThey all had a highprobability of failureOne did failSeveral failed products
RESULTOne IPO, two acquisitionsVery rapid learningGreat times, amazing teamsMaintained family life, sports,travel, sabbati...
Why is quitting, sucking, andfailing so hard?
OUR MENTAL MODEL of theworldKNOWN PROBLEMSDEFINED CRITERIACLEAR AUTHORITY
CHILDHOODKNOWN PROBLEMSBe good, sit up straight, do yourchoresDEFINED CRITERIAPraise, rewardsCLEAR AUTHORITYParents
SCHOOLKNOWN PROBLEMSMath, reading, writing, languageDEFINED CRITERIARight and wrong answers ,gradesCLEAR AUTHORITYTeachers
WORKKNOWN PROBLEMSWell-understood customers,products, processesDEFINED CRITERIADeadlines, quotasCLEAR AUTHORITYBosses
SOMETIMES THIS is the rightmodelI don’t want these folks toQUIT, SUCK, and FAIL
BUT IT DOES NOT WORK FORINNOVATIONCustomer, product, market are unknownSolutions are found through trial and errorCompanie...
Let’s test ITQuit school, quit jobsPoor management skills atfirstMany failed projectsNear-death experiences
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?
GO to failconDone!√
PLEASE JUST STOP THIS“That seems likesuch a time waster”“That will neverwork”“No company willtrust that”“That team has noe...
“LIVE in the future”Ubiquitous mobile devicesCheap tabletsRobotics and 3D printingFracking and cheap energyDecline of reta...
EMBRACE YOUTHIf you are young, jump in – don’t waitGive young people real authority and powerNo “paying your dues”
FIND a way to quit, suck, and failTry something hard, risky, and scaryEncourage others who do the sameSeek “career securit...
QueSTIONS?Michael Wolfewww.michaelrwolfe.com@michaelrwolfe
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Michael Wolfe - failcon

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Slides from talk at Failcon Zurich, 2013

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Michael Wolfe - failcon

  1. 1. “QUITTING, SUCKING, andfailingyour way to a better life”Michael Wolfewww.michaelrwolfe.com@michaelrwolfe
  2. 2. FIRST, ABOUT MEI am a QUITTERI sometimes SUCKI often FAIL
  3. 3. 1. MY JOURNEY2. WHY IS FAILURE SO HARDTO ACCEPT?3. WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT?4. WHAT CAN YOU DO?
  4. 4. MY JOURNEYAVOIDfailureACCEPTfailure
  5. 5. My CareerFour startups and a few bigcompaniesSeveral roles (CEO,Engineering, Product)Advising and mentoringFull of quit, suck and fail
  6. 6. QUITTINGI quit several good jobsSeveral businesses pivotedI shut one company down
  7. 7. SUCKINGI was a mediocre studentMy teams and I always in overour headsLack of resources
  8. 8. FAILINGThey all had a highprobability of failureOne did failSeveral failed products
  9. 9. RESULTOne IPO, two acquisitionsVery rapid learningGreat times, amazing teamsMaintained family life, sports,travel, sabbaticals
  10. 10. Why is quitting, sucking, andfailing so hard?
  11. 11. OUR MENTAL MODEL of theworldKNOWN PROBLEMSDEFINED CRITERIACLEAR AUTHORITY
  12. 12. CHILDHOODKNOWN PROBLEMSBe good, sit up straight, do yourchoresDEFINED CRITERIAPraise, rewardsCLEAR AUTHORITYParents
  13. 13. SCHOOLKNOWN PROBLEMSMath, reading, writing, languageDEFINED CRITERIARight and wrong answers ,gradesCLEAR AUTHORITYTeachers
  14. 14. WORKKNOWN PROBLEMSWell-understood customers,products, processesDEFINED CRITERIADeadlines, quotasCLEAR AUTHORITYBosses
  15. 15. SOMETIMES THIS is the rightmodelI don’t want these folks toQUIT, SUCK, and FAIL
  16. 16. BUT IT DOES NOT WORK FORINNOVATIONCustomer, product, market are unknownSolutions are found through trial and errorCompanies are understaffed, unfunded, full ofinexperienced folksMost of them fail, but winners are huge
  17. 17. Let’s test ITQuit school, quit jobsPoor management skills atfirstMany failed projectsNear-death experiences
  18. 18. SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?
  19. 19. GO to failconDone!√
  20. 20. PLEASE JUST STOP THIS“That seems likesuch a time waster”“That will neverwork”“No company willtrust that”“That team has noexperience”Being wrong will destroy your business and career
  21. 21. “LIVE in the future”Ubiquitous mobile devicesCheap tabletsRobotics and 3D printingFracking and cheap energyDecline of retailOnline universitiesRemote labor poolsSelf driving carsThese things are happening whether you like it ornow – what are you doing about it?
  22. 22. EMBRACE YOUTHIf you are young, jump in – don’t waitGive young people real authority and powerNo “paying your dues”
  23. 23. FIND a way to quit, suck, and failTry something hard, risky, and scaryEncourage others who do the sameSeek “career security” not “job security”
  24. 24. QueSTIONS?Michael Wolfewww.michaelrwolfe.com@michaelrwolfe
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