September 23, 2014
By now, you’ve heard/read it before: failure is inevitable and you just need to learn to embrace it and move on. It’s a common message and lesson that has been shared repeatedly in the startup community because, well, failure happens a lot in this sector. Oftentimes, though, the extent of this message doesn’t go beyond accepting the failure on one’s own part – that this failure (or multiple failures) becomes reduced to nothing more than isolated and insular experiences not shared with others in the community. For Randall Thomas, this approach to failure actually further removes people from the experience of failure itself rather than truly embracing it. His advice: really go with it, accept it, share it, learn from it, let others learn from it, then move on.
Thomas is the founder and CEO of Thunderbolt Labs, a company that builds data platforms for companies competing in this information age, and he recently joined us to speak during Tech Cocktail Week. During his talk, Thomas spoke about his own past failures and his takeaways from those experiences. For example, prior to Thunderbolt, he helped build a company called Engine Yard. Rather than hopping on the opportunity to create something very much like today’s Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) – the major host for many sites and applications currently in existence – the company focused merely on a smaller target and created a place to host Ruby on Rails applications.
“Be prepared for the failure, [but] don’t make that failure define you,” says Thomas. “Make it define one step in the journey that you have to take to get where you think that you need to go.”
According to Thomas, if you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to prepare yourself to encounter these kinds of failures. And, even if you plan for failures ahead of time, you need to know that there will always come a point in your startup journey where you’ll encounter problems that you never could have anticipated. Embrace the failure though, notes Thomas, and truly embrace it. His suggestion: tell others and learn from others; someone in the community of founders around has either already gone through or are going through the same shit you’re going through, so learn to share your experiences and have others share their experiences with you.
Watch what else Randall Thomas from Thunderbolt Labs had to say during Tech Cocktal Week. Here’s the video:
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