How Do Tech Founders Fail Just Enough to Learn but Not Die?!


So as you can probably see,
this airplane I’m flying today is not the airplane I normally fly.
This one belongs to a friend. But this airplane illustrates a point
I want to make about something we talk about in business all the time. It’s that if you’re not failing,
it means you’re not trying hard enough. And so this airplane and I actually
have an interesting history around failure. It’s bit of a scary analogy in aviation, but my friend purchased the airplane
a little over a year ago. I was the pilot with the experience to fly it back from its
point of purchase. As we were somewhere climbing out of the
Los Angeles area out of 10,000 feet the engine burbled once and quit cold. And there I was faced with a very high stakes success or failure situation. Which depended actually on the training I had received prior to
that and my amount of preparation So I immediately went through
something that my friend who was sitting in the right seat next to me, the owner of the plane,
that he and I briefed. We were on the ground before we took off, I briefed an emergency engine failure procedure to cover just the scenario like this. But even before that, I had been practicing short fuel landings, on short runways emergency engine outs in other airplanes.
You know where you have to circle down over the airport and land with no engine. Crosswind landings, all kinds of things like that. And so in business, we have to take a little bit of short term risk, just like we do in aviation to mitigate a long term failure, like what could have happened when the
engine quit in this airplane. And in business, it looks like for example
testing technologies that we otherwise might not want to use or that might a little bit of risk and
we’re not so comfortable with them. It means hiring somebody that has a
unique skill set but maybe a little bit difficult to work with or
working with an investor. Those types of things are
short term risks, they represent a potential short term failure to guarantee or to at least help guarantee a long term success. So the same thing was true in the airplane,
I had to have that short term risk and train for those scenarios,
to handle that much bigger deal that occurred when the engine quit and
I had to dead-stick the airplane in. And I encourage you to think about
when you think about taking risks in the business in the short term
think about it in those terms You want to come to market
with something that’s a highly competitive product,
not just a little bit but highly competitive. Better than your competitors, that
uses the latest technology, that’s built by the best people you can find
and fund it as well as it needs to be to get through that difficult launch phase. And that takes some short term risk, it does and sometime you have to go backwards and test a different technology stack or
let someone go and bring on a new team member And obviously in the airplane, our goal in the short term training scenarios
is not to crash or damage the airplane but we do have to take some risks to practice so we can handle the bigger stakes things that happen in the long term. So I’d love to hear your thoughts and what you’ve done in your business and how you’ve made short term risks work in the long term and how they paid off for you. Feel free to comment and as always,
I’ll get back if I can. Thanks a lot!

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