Why I Needed to Fail in Order to Succeed

3min read

Failure is a loaded word.

It's largely viewed as something we want to avoid at all costs. We're conditioned from a young age, directly or indirectly, to the idea that success is 'good' and failure is 'bad'.

Truth be told, I'm not convinced. Failure may not always be welcome or comfortable, but in my experience, it's been a necessary stepping stone towards greener pastures. Like everyone else, I've tried and failed many times in my life, but in hindsight, I've inevitably come away from each experience a little stronger.

With a subtle switch in our mindset, I believe we can all transform our perceived failures and shortcomings into growth experiences. Today I'd love to share with you a few ideas to help do just that.

Failure Breeds Resilience

In the early stages of growing my organic meal delivery company, Fresh n' Lean, I came up against a challenge that's all too common amongst young, female entrepreneurs: getting my voice heard. As a 19 year old student with an ambitious goal, on many occasions I was ignored in meetings by people. It was frustrating to say the least, but it's something I now value.

I used the experience of failure and rejection as a catalyst to grow stronger and more determined to succeed. Not necessarily just to prove the naysayers wrong, but to pave the way towards meaningful work and inspire others to do the same.

Those countless experiences of negotiating and trying as hard as I could to get my voice heard reinforced the value of persistence. Of being gritty and not taking taking no for an answer if you have something you're truly passionate about. There will always be critics and those that expect you not to succeed, but they can be some of the most important teachers you'll ever come across.

Failure Shapes Your Priorities

Another under-appreciated benefit of failure is that it can help define and reinforce your value system - what's really important to you in life.

For example, Fresh n' Lean is all about providing healthy meals - ones that are organic, homemade and affordable. The mission is largely centered around cultivating well-being and was initially inspired by the unfortunate health struggles my father faced. I wanted to provide him with nutritious food that would support his healing journey. Today, the mission remains the same, but on a larger scale.

If the business was instead based around supplying junk food or something else that I don't value, sure, we could cut our overheads by sacrificing the quality of our ingredients, but that's not the point! It's just not aligned with my core values, so I wouldn't have that same drive to keep working hard. For me, success isn't just about how well we're doing financially. It's about doing meaningful work that's enjoyable and provides value to the world.

Failure Leads to Innovation + Growth

If you never fail, how can you learn to do things more effectively?

Fresh n' Lean has essentially been a ten year experiment in efficiency. Since day one, we've been testing and retesting countless food containers and labels trying to figure out which one works the best for shipping, extending shelf life, sustainability, and food presentation. We're currently on the 8th generation, and still trying to improve.

The truth is, failure is always going to be there to some degree. There are always going to be little tweaks we can make to evolve, whether that's in the product we create or the way we deliver it to our customers. But that's all part of the journey - it's not a negative thing, but a gateway to the next stage.

Just like a plant needs to be pruned before it can flourish, sometimes we need to take a step back, evaluate things and make adjustments before we can move forward and truly thrive.

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5 Min Read

Michael Bloomberg Can’t Handle A Woman With A Voice (aka Elizabeth Warren)

Elizabeth Warren majorly called out "arrogant billionaire" Michael Bloomberg for his history of silencing women through NDAs and closed-door settlement negotiations. Sound familiar? Probably because we already have a president like that. At this point, Bloomberg may just spend the remainder of his (hopefully) ill-fated presidential campaign roasting on a spit over a fire sparked by the righteous anger of women. A lesser punishment than he deserves, if you ask me.

At last night's Democratic debate, Michael Bloomberg could barely stammer out an answer to a question on whether or not he would release any of his former accusers from their nondisclosure agreements. His unsatisfactory response was basically a halting list of what he has done for certain nondescript women in his time at City Hall and within his own company.

But that certainly wasn't enough for Elizabeth Warren, nor should it be, who perfectly rephrased his defense as, "I've been nice to some women." Michael Bloomberg is basically that weird, problematic Uncle that claims he can't be racist, "Because I have a Black friend." In a society where power is almost always in the hands of straight, white, cisgendered, men being "nice" to a lucky few is in no way a defense for benefiting from and building upon the systematic silencing of all marginalized communities, let alone women. Stop and frisk, anybody?

Here is a brief clip of the Warren v. Bloomberg exchange, which I highly recommend. It is absolutely (and hilariously) savage.

But let's talk about the deeper issues at hand here (other than Warren being an eloquent badass).

Michael Bloomberg has been sued multiple times, yet each time he was able to snake his way out of the problem with the help of his greatest and only superpower: cold, hard cash. Each time these allegations have come up, in Warren's words, he throws "a chunk of money at the table" and "forces the woman to wear a muzzle for the rest of her life."

As reported by Claire Lampen of The Cut, here are just a few of his prior indiscretions.

  • Pregnancy discrimination—Bloomberg reportedly told a former employee of his to "kill it," in reference to her developing fetus.
  • Sexual harassment—You could literally write a book on this subject (someone did), but for the sake of brevity...
"I'd like to do that piece of meat" - Michael Bloomberg in reference to various women at his company.
  • Undermining #MeToo—Not only did he defend the accused, but he went on the disparage accusers every step of the way.
  • Defaming transgender people—Though he claims to support trans rights, he has also been qupted multiple times as referring to trans women as "some guy wearing a dress."
Yeah... That's not a winning formula for me, Mike.

Furthermore, Warren points out the simple fact that if, as Bloomberg claims, these instances were simply big misunderstandings (He was just joking around!) then why go to all the trouble to cover them up? Does Michael Bloomberg think women can't take a joke? Or can we only surmise that the truth of these events are far darker and dirtier than we could even imagine?

Certain commentators have called Elizabeth Warren's debate presence "agressive," especially in regards to this instance but also continually throughout her entire campaign. If asking poignant questions to known abusers who are seeking to further their own political power is considered "aggressive," then I am here for it. Bring on the aggressive women, please and thank you.

Calling a woman aggressive for being confidant and direct is a gendered complaint. You don't see anyone whining that Bernie is "aggressive" when he goes off on a screaming tangent. Also, have you seen our president? He's basically the poster boy for political temper tantrums. But still, it's Warren that is deemed "aggressive," for honing in on the exact issues that need to be considered in this upcoming election.

This type of derisory label is another aspect of how our society silences women—much like Bloomberg and his NDAs. Because "silencing" is more than just putting a "muzzle" on someone. It's refusing to listen to a person's cries for help. It's disregarding what a woman has to say, because she's too "aggressive." It's taking away someone's power by refusing to truly hear their side of the story. Because if you aren't listening, responding, or even just respecting someone's words, they may well have said nothing at all.

"Silence is the ocean of the unsaid, the unspeakable, the repressed, the erased, the unheard." - Renecca Solnit

Nondiscolusure agreements are a legal gag for people who have experienced harassment and abuse at the hands of those above them.

Gretchen Carlson, possibly the most famous person subject to an NDA, is one of these people. Her story is so well-known that it has even been immortalized on film, in 2019's Bombshell. Yet she is still forced to maintain her silence. She cannot tell her side of the story even when Hollywood can. She was cajoled into her current position after facing harassment in her workplace. She didn't have the power then to do more than accept her fate. And now, she doesn't have the power to tell her story.

She was, and still is being, silenced.

After her experiences, Carlson was moved to fight for all women to have the power over their truths. In a recent op-ed for the New York Times she declared: "I want my voice back. I want it back for me, and for all those silenced by forced arbitration and NDAs."

Carlson may still be tied to her NDA, but there are those who go a different route. Celeste Headlee, who wrote an op-ed on SWAAY about her experience, chose to break her nondisclosure agreement. Though doing so undoubtedly opened her up to numerous legal ramifications, she knew that she could no longer "sign away [her] right to justice."

Because that is what an NDA is all about, signing away a person's right to justice. Their story is their justice. Their NDA is a lock and key. Headlee may have broken through that lock, but she must face the consequences.

Neither Carlson nor Headlee are any less brave for how they have handled their journeys. They are both actively working to shift the cultural and political norms that led them here, and their work will, with hope and time, lead to real change. But they are just two drops in an ocean of women who are held hostage by their nondisclosure agreements, by men like Michael Bloomberg, and by a society that would rather silence them than let truth and justice be had.