Entrepreneurship Personal Musings

How Entrepreneur Failure Made Me a Better Person

Have you heard of Fuckup Night?

It is a global movement born in Mexico in 2012 to share publicly business failure stories. Hundreds of people attend each event to hear three to four entrepreneurs share their failures. Each speaker is given 7 minutes and is able to use 10 images. After each speaker, there’s a question/answer session, as well as time for networking.

A few months back the Singapore version was held.

I went there as an attendee and it was really refreshing and different for once to hear about people sharing their failures and importantly the lessons learned.

As Edison aptly pointed out, “Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.”

And the best way to learn is really from other people’s mistakes (and here too). This was something I picked up from a book I read in 2006 – Why Smart Executives Fail: And What You Can Learn from Their Mistakes

I was slightly depressed when I was there the first time but listening to the speakers had a therapeutic effect on me. I hope others could feel like that and volunteered to be a speaker for the next run.

It was a full house crowd to hear Kevin Flanagan (@lostdiaspora), Elisha Tan (@elishatan), Grace Sai (@gracesai) and myself.

Kevin started the ball rolling with his bit that reminded us the importance of asking right questions. His wrong one cost him $1.8million.

Elisha took the stage next. She is really funny and so authentic. I started to get worried on how boring the crowd would find my presentation which is right after hers.

But I learned a lot from her and key take away is to work for someone so you can learn the mechanics and all. This will pave a smoother path when you attempt to strike it out on your own.

I shared about the pitfalls encountered during my time in running my recruitment business and how my ego, laziness and lack of financial prudence took its toll on the business and how much that had cost us.

The event was concluded by Grace Sai, the founder of The Hub Singapore. You could tell she has been through a lot and her emphasis was on starting with the right co-founder as the wrong one could lead to detrimental consequence.

The event ended with networking session and I saw my university friend that came by to support me. One guy even came up and told me he was there just to listen to me. I was so humbled by that.

More importantly I’m still getting emails on how inspired they are from the talk and for some, it help in the recovery phase from burning their previous venture.

And I was so surprise and elated to be interviewed by CNBC Asia about this event too. Spoke on air live and it was nerve wrecking!

But I believe the messaging is important so I took a deep breath and did the best I can.

I hope all this provide both side of the coins for aspiring and current entrepreneurs.

Like how I ended my speech, I will still do it if the right opportunity comes along. Because the things you learned in this journey is immense and you learn so much about yourself.

Things that will help you be better prepared to face the challenges ahead in your life.

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