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Dec 11th, 2014

What Did You Learn?

Tonight I spoke at one of Singularity University’s Executive Programs about the work we’re doing at SU Labs (getting to the venue was a completely different story in and off itself — the Bay Area had the storm of the century; this happened to a friend of ours!).

After my talk I was asked to comment on the cultural differences between failure in the Valley and Europe. I answered the question with the following story:

With my first company, whilst still being in college, I raised $2.5M as a single founder and on a five page business plan (those were the days!). As much fun that was — it didn’t end well: We were caught by the dot-com crash, lost a good chunk of our customers and went under with them. To this day, when I tell this story in Germany, people ask how I cope with the fact that my company went bankrupt. Failure is just not an option.

The first time I told that story to someone in the US the person said: “That’s awesome. What did you learn?”

Failure is inevitable. You will fail. You better get used to the idea. The only question which matters is: “What did you learn?”

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