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Learn to Love Failure and Be a Success

Topics: Career Advice
Jesse Bowser/Unsplash

Every career suffers from setbacks. If you’re like many, you try to recover as quickly as possible … and then forget the bad times even quicker than that. But what if instead of forgetting about failure, you used these reversals as valuable lessons?

The Swedish Museum of Failure is touring the globe currently, with a residency in Los Angeles at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum through February 4th. At the museum, you can explore failed ideas and consumer products that can make you laugh, cry and even think about your own life.

What Can You Learn from Corporate Failures? 

1. Perseverance

Remember “New Coke“? Or how about Sony’s Betamax failure or Bic’s ill-conceived “For Her” line of pens marketed for tiny lady hands?

These are some of the bigger fails in the history of failed products, but the companies involved are still going strong. They faced their failure and moved on to the next (hopefully) bigger and better idea. They didn’t give up, that’s for sure.

2. Leaving the Comfort Zone Can Backfire

We all like to think we can be good at everything we do, but sometimes that just isn’t the case. Harley Davidson once decided to create its own signature fragrance. If you’ve ever wanted to smell like a motorcycle … you are out of luck, because the perfume doesn’t exist anymore.

The perfume was a terrible blunder and was relegated to the world of marketing-class case studies to forever illustrate brand over-extension. While the company is great at making and marketing motorcycles, shirts, keychains, can coozies and nearly everything else under the sun, they likely won’t try to make a perfume again anytime soon.

3. Don’t Forget Marketing 101

When Google launched the ill-fated Google Glass, they seemingly did so without any idea of what it takes to get a customer base fired up about a new tech product. Again, Google has been put in the case study group with some other legendary fails.

“It was worse than simply a product that didn’t catch on, even in its prerelease, from a sales point of view it has been a monumental failure,” writes Siimon Reynolds at Forbes.

Google was already stretching its expertise by coming out with a hardware product like Glass, but they didn’t seem to remember how to create a buzz, conduct a launch and entice their fanbase to spend a heck of a lot of money on it.

4. You Can Learn from Others’ Blunders

As we move forward in time, these failures become things we smile about and file under the nostalgia folder in our brains.

The public doesn’t have to figure out what the day after a product failure looks like, so we have the benefit of hindsight and the ability to study failures from all directions. We’re not tasked with burying unsold E.T. Atari games in a mass grave somewhere. We’re ready to work!

5. Get Ready for Whatever You Want to Do 2.0

Better than wallowing is figuring out what’s the next BIG THING. You can rise like a phoenix from the ashes and find yourself reborn.

Technology advances, lessons are learned, products are returned to their original flavor and texture. The world turns. Don’t let failure make you feel stuck in one place.

Do You Know What You're Worth?


What was your most memorable failure? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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