The Resilient Entrepreneur

My co-author John Danner and I recently recorded a series of short videos for a project entitled “The Resilient Entrepreneur.” We did this for a non-profit agency assisting entrepreneurs in America’s heartland (Indiana, to be precise).  

Our series borrows heavily from “The Other ’F’ Word,” including an in-depth investigation of the seven-stage Failure Value Cycle.  It also contains many case studies and exercises for innovators and entrepreneurs.  

If you’re interested, check it out below: 

Playlist: https://bit.ly/NIIC-Playlist_ResilienceVideos

In this video series, John Danner and Mark Coopersmith share insights from their entrepreneurship classes at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, and from their Amazon bestseller, “The Other ‘F’ Word: How Smart Leaders, Teams, and Entrepreneurs Put Failure to Work” (John Wiley & Sons, 2015). In addition to their teaching, they advise startup ventures and established businesses around the world in multiple industries, combining their personal experiences as entrepreneurs and executives with their ongoing research findings. Insights in this series also incorporate John’s and Mark’s work with these hundreds of organizations.

The Resilient Entrepreneur includes:

“Introduction.” Ep 1A

This video introduces John and Danner and Mark Coopersmith, your anchors for this video series, and co-authors of the Amazon-bestselling book, “The Other ‘F’ Word: How Smart Leaders, Teams, and Entrepreneurs Put Failure to Work.” In this inaugural episode, John and Mark tell you a bit about themselves, about the inspiration and focus of their work, and how you should expect to benefit from the more than 20 videos that make up this series.

“Secret Sauce.” Ep 1B

In this episode of “The Resilient Entrepreneur,” Mark and John share how they originally got to the focus of their book “The Other “F” Word,” starting with investigating what’s unique and different about great entrepreneurs and innovators. What’s their “Secret Sauce?” It turns out that having a productive relationship with failure, and being resilient, is at the center of all this. This was learned through hundreds of interviews with great entrepreneurs, startup leaders, and other innovators. THAT’S why Mark and john focused on this topic, and have recorded this series for The NIIC about becoming more resilient through developing a more productive relationship with failure. Mark and john will share with you some of the stories of these great innovators and entrepreneurs throughout this series.

“Defining Failure.” Ep 2

Mark and John discuss the word “failure” itself, and how we all define it a little bit differently. We also introduce a brief survey – your Failure Leadership Profile – that everyone can take to help each of us better understand how we personally relate to failures and setbacks, and how we bounce back or become more resilient. The profile can also be found in Chapter 2 of The Other “F” Word book, along with more ideas on how you and your team put failure to work! Or get a free online copy at https://www.theotherfwordbook.com/

“Gravity.” Ep 3a

This episode really sets the stage for the rest of this video series, with John and Mark taking a deep dive into the metrics of failure. They talk about how “failure is like gravity,” a pervasive force that tries to drag us all down. However, there are ways that we can turn that force to our advantage. We even share some insights from aviation pioneers The Wright Brothers, who were able to fly in spite of gravity pulling them down – and they even got a little bit of an assist from gravity. We investigate the success/failure rates of topics from New Year’s resolutions, to vc and startup metrics, to patents, and more. And we undertake a brief exercise that provides an easy, helpful, and fun way to productively talk about setbacks to help extract value from them.

“Setting the Stage.” Ep 3B

Setting The Stage: A Quick Overview of The Other “F” Word and Its Impact. Every entrepreneur is in the “from . . . to” business, trying to move a venture from idea to reality, from getting your 1st customer to serving your 1000th, or from $0 revenue to $Ms. To do that, you need growth; to grow you need to innovate; and to build a long-term successful business, you need engaged employees. And that’s where failure – probably the ONE thing you don’t want – comes into the picture. Watch this video hosted by John to see what we mean by that statement, and why you may want to revisit your own attitudes and ideas about the other “F” word as you join us for this video series. Check out The Other “F” Word for more ideas on how these questions can help you and your team put failure to work!

“Definitions.” Ep 4

In this episode, Mark and John put some focus around how failures and setbacks are defined, including giving you – the viewer – an opportunity to define failure through your own perspective and experiences. There’s a quick exercise at the front of the episode with three questions that are posed to you. Take a minute and reflect on those. Then Mark and John share the definitions of other leaders, ranging from venture capitalists to entrepreneurs, designers to technology execs, and nonprofit executives to government leaders. Plus of course, they share their own definition. See how it compares with yours!

“Fear & Memory.” Ep 5

In this episode Mark investigates why many of us have such a challenging time processing failure, and how fear and memory of prior failures influence what we might do in the future. As it turns out – and here Mark draws upon some of the pioneering work of his late father Stanley Coopersmith, who was a leading psychologist investigating issues such as self-esteem and individual performance – the ways in which we remember prior failures and also fear the recurrence of them frequently has a major impact on whether or not we will try new things and take risks, and even helps predict future failure rates. We discuss how fear and memory are truly failure’s “force multipliers.” We wrap up this episode with a powerful exercise you can undertake with your colleagues and team to unlock some of their best ideas that might currently be hidden or constricted by fear or memory of failure.

“Startups,” Ep 6A

“What is the #1 inside secret of great entrepreneurs and innovators?” Finding the answer to that core question was the impetus that led Mark and John to undertake their research and write The Other “F” Word. Want to know the answer? It’s one of the first things we address in this episode. We then turn our focus to a broad range of issues that are faced, in particular, by startups. We discuss some key startup metrics. And we uncover the primary insight – and how they arrived at it – that the founders of Instagram used to pivot their venture to the sweet spot they ultimately owned, resulting in a huge success (and payday!) for the founding team. We close this episode with an exercise we call “What has to be true?” It’s a straightforward way to test your assumptions about your business, your products, your customers, your competitors, and more. Watch this video to learn about this framework, and how to use it.

“Keep-Ups.” Ep 7

Small and medium enterprises are the backbone of almost every economy in the world, including America’s. How do these organizations learn from their failures to build resiliency and grow? In this video, John shares some stories and ideas about what you can learn from their experience. They’ve been where many of you are today: starting a venture against long odds, making mistakes while you try to get traction, and – above all – trying to keep your doors open for business. Take advantage of their battle lessons. Check out Chapter 7 in The Other “F” Word for more ideas on how small & medium companies put failure to work!

“Grown-Ups.” Ep 8

Established organizations have a particularly difficult time dealing with failure. Complacency and conformity can often suffocate their appetite for innovation and the experimentation that goes with it. Many startups, in fact, are born out of this tendency of large companies to overlook promising new market opportunities soon enough. So what can you learn from the successes and mistakes of these major corporations as you try to become one yourself? We share some of our insights in this video hosted by John. Check out Chapter 8 in The Other “F” Word for more ideas from the world of large companies on how to put failure to work!

“Failure Value Cycle.” Ep 9

In this episode Mark introduces the pioneering seven-stage Failure Value Cycle he and John developed over numerous years and based on hundreds of interviews and case studies. Effective use of the Failure Value Cycle helps you reduce the incidence and impact of failures in the first place, limit their damage when failures do occur, and – perhaps most importantly and most relevant to this topic of resilience – enables you to extract the most insight and value from those failures and, as the title of Mark and John’s book promises, “put failure to work.” The seven stages of the Failure Value Cycle are:

– 1Respect
– 2 Rehearse
– 3 Recognize
– 4 React
– 5 Reflect
– 6 Rebound
– 7 Remember

“R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” Ep 10

You’ll probably recall this stage in our Failure Value Cycle by Aretha Franklin’s song ringing in your head. That’s great, because it’s the essential foundation of our Failure Value Cycle. (or FVC). Failure is like gravity. It’s a relentless, pervasive fact of nature and perhaps even a force of nature. You can try to deny it or maybe defy it, but you do so at your peril. It will happen in any fallible organization made of fallible human beings and imperfect technologies. In order to leverage failure to help you improve your odds of success, you need to begin by respecting its likelihood of happening and its potential for learning. John will explain in this video. Check out Chapter 10 in The Other “F” Word for more ideas on how to put this R.E.S.P.E.C.T. stage of the Failure Value Cycle to work!

“Rehearse.” Ep 11

If you’ve ever been in a school play or played on an athletic team, you already know the value of rehearsals and practice before showtime. Failure presents a different kind of “showtime.” It may not be you versus somebody else; but it is you and your team on stage to deal with an event or circumstance that is unlikely to get better without your attention. Your organization may already practice fire drills or similar preparation for bad events; but how well do you and your team prepare for the much more likely business-related failures that can threaten your growth if not survival? You obviously can’t prepare for every contingency, but you should prepare for forseeable potential failures that threaten the crown jewels of your particular venture or that could jeopardize one of its life lines. In this video, John lays out some steps you might try in order to get ready, including applying the “UNgolden rule.” Being ready is a whole lot better than being surprised. Check out Chapter 11 in The Other “F” Word for more ideas on how to put this Rehearse stage of the Failure Value Cycle to work!

“Recognize.” Ep 12

It may be that the worst kind of failure is the one that’s least expected; or even worse, one that could and should have been expected. In this video, John explains the importance of strengthening your organization’s early warning system of failures-in-the-making, before they spin out of control and cause significant damage. There’s no one way to do this effectively. But make sure that you think not only about the core elements of your business but also There’s no one way to do this effectively. But make sure that you think not only about the core elements of your business but also its perimeter; because sometimes the things that jeopardize your future come from unexpected angles – perhaps a new technology, regulation, or business model. How alert are you and your team to the important indicators of your venture’s true health – whether they are leading, lagging, or just plain nagging indicators? Check out Chapter 12 in The Other “F” Word for more ideas on how to put this Recognize stage of the Failure Value Cycle to work!

“React.” Ep 13

So what do you do when failure occurs? One thing’s for sure, it will – probably sooner than you’d like and more frequently than you expected. So you need to think through the what, how and who of making your team and organization more resilient when it does. You might think of this as an exercise in failure triage, like a hospital emergency room. Some failures are just not that important; maybe a band-aid or aspirin is all that’s required. But some require an all-hands-on-deck rapid response to stop the bleeding, preserve the pulse, or fix the broken bone. And most will probably fall in between. So try to figure out who should handle which type, ideally requiring your attention primarily for the most consequential variants. And make sure you’ve thought about how you will handle communications – and apologies – with your customers, colleagues, investors, and perhaps the media. Your team’s ability to react well in these moments of failure is a moment of truth for your organization, your strategy and your own leadership. But as difficult as it may be, it is also a powerful opportunity for you to forge and preserve the trust that is essential to employee engagement and customer loyalty going forward. Check out Chapter 13 in The Other “F” Word for more ideas on how to put this React stage of the Failure Value Cycle to work!

“Reflect.” Ep 14

Too often, when a failure occurs in a business, there’s a tendency to ignore or rush past it, or – worse – to cover it up. After all, why do so many startups and even large businesses fail? Most had smart, dedicated people working for them, and many had pretty good ideas they were developing. But somewhere along the line, they stopped listening to the verdict of the market or the insights of their own team. They kept failing rather than learning, sticking to a doomed strategy rather than pivoting and trying something different. In other words, they stopped truly reflecting on why those failures – of their product, sales campaign, business model, or even their own company culture – were happening. Reflection requires both humility and analysis, but it also requires time to think and discuss. In this video, John suggests why this is so important and how you might go about understanding the why behind a failure in your business rather than pointing fingers at the who involved with it. The worst failure may be the one whose lessons you ran out of time or resources to apply to keep your business alive and strong. Check out Chapter 14 in The Other “F” Word for more ideas on how to put this Reflect stage of the Failure Value Cycle to work.

“Rebound.” Ep 15

Rebounds and their counterparts are pretty interesting in sports. Think about it: they have two contradictory roles. If one of your teammates rebounds your team’s missed shot, you’ve kept your offense alive for another play. But if a member of the other side rebounds that shot, they’ve just handed their team a fast start to go back on offense. Which type would you prefer? Probably to keep the ball and try to score again, we’d guess. It doesn’t do anybody any good to wallow in a failure; better to swallow your pride, get over your anger and disappointment at the missed shot, and figure out quickly how to score on your next possession – better you than the other team. This video will give you some ideas for why and how rebounding is an important way to turn failure from a regret to a strategic resource. After all, rebounding is about resilience in the face of failure -whether that’s a missed shot on the court or a mistake in your business. Check out Chapter 15 in The Other “F” Word for more ideas on how to put this Rebound stage of the Failure Value Cycle to work!

“Remember.” Ep 16

As much as we may like to forget or hide our failures, we usually hurt ourselves and our companies if we do that. Instead, you might think of those failures as experiments that didn’t turn out the way you wished or even promised, but they actually contain insights and discoveries that deserve to be understood and shared so you and your colleagues can benefit from those lessons. And the story of how you overcame setbacks can be a powerful way to demonstrate to current and future stakeholders what your business is really made of. Check out Chapter 16 in The Other “F” Word for more ideas on how to put this Remember stage of the Failure Value Cycle to work!

“Your Report Card.” Ep 17

In this video, John introduces one of the many tools we’ve developed to help leaders, teams, and entrepreneurs put failure to work. It’s a handy way for you (and your team) to use our Failure Value Cycle to honestly assess how failure savvy you and your organization really are, and where you may want to focus your attention to better leverage the insights your own failures are creating. We’ve used pretty informal “non-B School” language to make it easy to understand (although it may frustrate your engineers or finance types looking for more objective metrics). But we invite you to experiment with it, feel free to adapt the wording and scoring as you see fit, and – above all – make it your own. Many teams have used this to get a clearer picture of where they stand and where they need to go in order to reduce the fear of failure that hampers innovation¬¬ and corrodes trust in their operations. Check out Chapter 17 in The Other “F” Word or go to our www.theotherfwordbook.com website to see and use the Failure Report Card, and help you put failure to work in your business!

“Next Steps.” Ep 18

Next Steps . . . on your journey to turn failure from a regret into a strategic resource So what do you do when failure occurs? One thing’s for sure, it will – probably sooner than you’d like and more frequently than you expected. So you need to think through the what, how and who of making your team and organization more resilient when it does. You might think of this as an exercise in failure triage, like a hospital emergency room. Some failures are just not that important; maybe a band-aid or aspirin is all that’s required. But some require an all-hands-on-deck rapid response to stop the bleeding, preserve the pulse, or fix the broken bone. And most will probably fall in between. So try to figure out who should handle which type, ideally requiring your attention primarily for the most consequential variants. And make sure you’ve thought about how you will handle communications – and apologies – with your customers, colleagues, investors, and perhaps the media. Your team’s ability to react well in these moments of failure is a moment of truth for your organization, your strategy and your own leadership. But as difficult as it may be, it is also a powerful opportunity for you to forge and preserve the trust that is essential to employee engagement and customer loyalty going forward. Check out Chapter 18 in The Other “F” Word for more ideas on how you can move forward to work!

“Conclusion.” Ep 19

In this final, closing video for the series, John and Mark provide some perspective on the variety of topics raised across the other 20+ videos. And provide some next steps to those entrepreneurs as they launch and build their own organizations. Here is the YouTube playlist for Mark and John’s “Other ‘F’ Word” podcast they mentioned during this video. If you liked these videos, then definitely check out the podcast!: https://bit.ly/Playlist-TheOtherFWord

*** Brought to you by: The Northeast Indiana Innovation Center, aka “The NIIC,” helping innovators and entrepreneurs launch and grow more than 500 new ventures.

As they say at The NIIC: “Dream Big. Get Real.”

www.theniic.org

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