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  • [This talk contains mature language Viewer discretion is advised]

  • If we traveled back to the year 800 BC,

  • in Greece, we would see that merchants whose businesses failed

  • were forced to sit in the marketplace with a basket over their heads.

  • In premodern Italy,

  • failed business owners, who had outstanding debts,

  • were taken totally naked to the public square

  • where they had to bang their butts against a special stone

  • while a crowd jeered at them.

  • In the 17th century in France,

  • failed business owners were taken to the center of the market,

  • where the beginning of their bankruptcy was publicly announced.

  • And in order to avoid immediate imprisonment,

  • they had to wear a green bonnet

  • so that everyone knew they were a failure.

  • Of course, these are extreme examples.

  • But it is important to remember

  • that when we excessively punish those who fail,

  • we stifle innovation and business creation,

  • the engines of economic growth in any country.

  • Time has passed, and today we don't publicly humiliate failed entrepreneurs.

  • And they don't broadcast their failures on social media.

  • In fact, I think that all of us can relate with the pain of failure.

  • But we don't share the details of those experiences.

  • And I totally get it, my friends, I have also been there.

  • I had a business that failed

  • and sharing that story was incredibly hard.

  • In fact, it required seven years, a good dose of vulnerability

  • and the company of my friends.

  • This is my failure story.

  • When I was in college, studying business, I met a group of indigenous women.

  • They lived in a poor rural community in the state of Puebla, in central Mexico.

  • They made beautiful handmade products.

  • And when I met them and I saw their work,

  • I decided I wanted to help.

  • With some friends, I cofounded a social enterprise

  • with the mission to help the women create an income stream

  • and improve their quality of life.

  • We did everything by the book,

  • as we had learned in business school.

  • We got investors,

  • we spent a lot of time building the business and training the women.

  • But soon we realized we were novices.

  • The handmade products were not selling,

  • and the financial plan we had made was totally unrealistic.

  • In fact, we worked for years without a salary,

  • hoping that a miracle would happen,

  • that magically a great buyer would arrive

  • and she would make the business profitable.

  • But that miracle never happened.

  • In the end, we had to close the business,

  • and that broke my heart.

  • I started everything to create a positive impact

  • on the life of the artisans.

  • And I felt that I have done the opposite.

  • I felt so guilty

  • that I decided to hide this failure

  • from my conversations and my resume for years.

  • I didn't know other failed entrepreneurs,

  • and I thought I was the only loser in the world.

  • One night, seven years later, I was out with some friends

  • and we were talking about the life of the entrepreneur.

  • And of course, the issue of failure came out.

  • I decided to confess to my friends the story of my failed business.

  • And they shared similar stories.

  • In that moment, a thought became really clear in my mind:

  • all of my friends were failures.

  • (Laughter)

  • Being more serious, that night I realized

  • that A: I wasn't the only loser in the world,

  • and B: we all have hidden failures.

  • Please tell me if that is not true.

  • That night was like an exorcism for me.

  • I realized that sharing your failures makes you stronger, not weaker.

  • And being open to my vulnerability

  • helped me connect with others in a deeper and more meaningful way

  • and embrace life lessons I wouldn't have learned previously.

  • As a consequence of this experience

  • of sharing stories of businesses that didn't work,

  • we decided to create a platform of events

  • to help others share their failure stories.

  • And we called it Fuckup Nights.

  • Years later, we also created a research center

  • devoted to the story of failure

  • and its implications on business, people and society

  • and as we love cool names, we called it the Failure Institute.

  • It has been surprising to see

  • that when an entrepreneur stands on a stage

  • and shares a story of failure,

  • she can actually enjoy that experience.

  • It doesn't have to be a moment of shame and embarrassment,

  • as it used to be in the past.

  • It is an opportunity to share lessons learned

  • and build empathy.

  • We have also discovered

  • that when the members of a team share their failures, magic happens.

  • Bonds grow stronger and collaboration becomes easier.

  • Through our events and research projects,

  • we have found some interesting facts.

  • For instance, that men and women react in a different way

  • after the failure of a business.

  • The most common reaction among men

  • is to start a new business within one year of failure,

  • but in a different sector,

  • while women decide to look for a job

  • and postpone the creation of a new business.

  • Our hypothesis is that this happens

  • because women tend to suffer more from the impostor syndrome.

  • We feel that we need something else to be a good entrepreneur.

  • But I have seen that in many, many cases women have everything that's needed.

  • We just need to take the step.

  • And in the case of men,

  • it is more common to see that they feel they have enough knowledge

  • and just need to put it in practice in another place with better luck.

  • Another interesting finding has been

  • that there are regional differences on how entrepreneurs cope with failure.

  • For instance, the most common reaction

  • after the failure of a business in the American continent

  • is to go back to school.

  • While in Europe, the most common reaction is to look for a therapist.

  • (Laughter)

  • We're not sure which is a better reaction after the failure of a business,

  • but this is something we will study in the future.

  • Another interesting finding has been

  • the profound impact that public policy has on failed entrepreneurs.

  • For instance, in my country, in Mexico,

  • the regulatory environment is so hard,

  • that closing a business can take you a lot of time and a lot of money.

  • Let's begin with the money.

  • In the best possible scenario,

  • meaning you don't have problems with partners,

  • providers, clients, employees,

  • in the best possible scenario,

  • officially closing a business will cost you 2,000 dollars.

  • Which is a lot of money in Mexico.

  • Someone who earns the minimum wage

  • would have to work for 15 months to save this amount.

  • Now, let's talk about the time.

  • As you may know, in most of the developing world,

  • the average life expectancy of a business is two years.

  • In Mexico, the process of officially closing a business takes two years.

  • What happens when the average life expectancy of a business

  • is so similar to the time it will take you to close it if it doesn't work?

  • Of course, this discourages business creation

  • and promotes informal economy.

  • In fact, econometric research has proved

  • that if the process of declaring bankruptcy takes less time and less money,

  • more new firms will enter the market.

  • For this reason, in 2017,

  • we proposed a series of public policy recommendations

  • for the procedure of officially closing businesses in Mexico.

  • For a whole year,

  • we worked with entrepreneurs from all over the country

  • and with Congress.

  • And the good news is that we managed to help change the law.

  • Yay!

  • (Applause)

  • The idea is that when the new regulation comes into force,

  • entrepreneurs will be able to close their businesses in an online procedure

  • that is faster and inexpensive.

  • (Sighs)

  • On the night we invented Fuckup Nights,

  • we never imagined that the movement would grow this big.

  • We are in 80 countries now.

  • In that moment, our only intention

  • was to put the topic of failure on the table.

  • To help our friends see that failure is something we must talk about.

  • It is not a cause of humiliation, as it used to be in the past,

  • or a cause of celebration, as some people say.

  • In fact, I want to confess something.

  • Every time I listen to Silicon Valley types or students

  • bragging about failing fast and often like it's no big deal, I cringe.

  • Because I think that there is a dark side on the mantra "fail fast."

  • Of course, failing fast is a great way to accelerate learning

  • and avoid wasting time.

  • But I fear that when we present rapid failure

  • to entrepreneurs as their one and only option,

  • we might be promoting laziness.

  • We might be promoting that entrepreneurs give up too easily.

  • I also fear that the culture of rapid failure

  • could be minimizing the devastating consequences

  • of the failure of a business.

  • For instance, when my social enterprise died,

  • the worst part was that I had to go back to the indigenous community

  • and tell the women that the business had failed

  • and it was my fault.

  • For some people this could be seen like a great learning opportunity for me,

  • but the truth is that the closure of this business

  • represented much more than that.

  • It meant that the women would stop receiving an income

  • that they really needed.

  • For this reason, I want to propose something.

  • I want to propose that just as we put aside the idea

  • of publicly humiliating failed entrepreneurs,

  • we must put aside the idea that failing fast is always the best.

  • And I want to propose a new mantra:

  • fail mindfully.

  • We must remember that businesses are made of people,

  • businesses are not entities that appear and disappear

  • magically without consequences.

  • When a firm dies, some people will lose their jobs.

  • And others will lose their money.

  • And in the case of social and green enterprises,

  • the death of this business can have a negative impact

  • on the ecosystems or communities they were trying to serve.

  • But what does it mean to fail mindfully?

  • It means being aware of the impact, of the consequences

  • of the failure of that business.

  • Being aware of the lessons learned.

  • And being aware of the responsibility

  • to share those learnings with the world.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

[This talk contains mature language Viewer discretion is advised]

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【TED】Leticia Gasca: Don't fail fast -- fail mindfully (Don't fail fast -- fail mindfully | Leticia Gasca)

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    林宜悉 posted on 2018/09/13
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