I Fail Better Than You
My name is Broderick Turner. And I have a failed. A LOT. What follows is my anti-resume. It’s what has not worked.
In 2000, when I was a senior in high school, my school decided that it would no longer sell class shirts. The seniors were devastated. I sensed and opportunity, and had 200 shirts printed. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I sold 50. Then, 3 students (whose parents owned a screen printing business) came in a week later and sold their shirts with a much better design, for less half the cost of mine. I donated the other 150 shirts to the goodwill.
In college I started a new business every week. I took cat5 cable leftover from a tech install I did and tried to sell them to freshman, I tried a college dating service (HAHAHAHAHA), I tried promoting parties that no one attended, I sold advertising for pageants, I managed a male stripper (long HILARIOUS story), I sold party bus passes on commission, I sold bumper stickers. And the result…
FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL.
After college I moved to China were I pitched a magazine on my ability to write a relationship advice column. I got my friends to write questions. After I ran out of their inquiries I made up my own questions and answered them. I still don’t know if I ever had a single reader.
After China I moved to Minneapolis and tried to launch an office humor magazine called FLOCK. I even sold 4 advertisements. I never wrote a single article. It failed.
I moved to San Francisco and became project manager for a large bank that wanted to build text message banking. We crushed it. We launched to 2 million customers. 3 weeks later the iPhone dropped and a year later, none of our early adopters cared about using text messages to check their balance when they could do it on the internet on their phone.
That same year two friends and I tried to launch a hot-girl-meet-old-rich-man dating service called Moguls and Models. We got Ms. Maryland to host. We sold 2 tickets for $500 each. And then we got a cease and desist letter from the company that we stole the idea from.
Six months later I tried to build largest beer pong tournament in America. We had one event with 36 teams at Jillian’s in San Francisco. Somehow we made zero dollars. That could be because at some point during the event I invented champagne pong.
I moved to Atlanta a few months later after convincing a friend to start a baby proofing business. We were in business for six month. He quit. The recession hit. I went broke.
I spent 3 years as a high school math teacher. I tried new lessons every week. I tried to reach my students with technology, and humor. I think 90% of everything I tried broke.
I can not count the number of failed relationships I had before I met and married my wife.
At one point I tired to open an online maid service. We made a few sales. I got bored. Fail.
And that’s just the failures I can think of off the top of my head. Their are thousands more. And I will fail again and again.
But you know what…
The old cliche of what does not kill you makes you stronger is a cliche for a reason. It’s true. As long as you failure is not terminal (which is why I don’t ride motorcycles) then every failure is an opportunity to learn. You can’t learn to be an awesome developer without a ton of failure. You can’t be an amazing salesman without a ton of failure. You can’t be great at ANYTHING without a ton of failure.
So I say…
Be proud of the failures
Test your ideas. Sometimes. Most time. They fail. But every failure there is learning.
And I have learned a lot. And I know that failure is not that big a deal. I’m alive. I’m happy. And I can kick your ass because unlike you, I know how to take a punch.