I’ve gotten to share a lot of exciting news this month. A project I’ve been working on for two years, Startup Caucus, got off the ground and is going really well. I was honored to be included as one of the Harvard Ash Center’s 2019-2020 Technology & Democracy fellows.
But these successes weren’t always inevitable and you’re only seeing the highlight reel, not the behind the scenes. I want to help other people who are trying to innovate and I think to do that we have to be more open about the process. That process involves a lot of failure and learning.
On the highlight reel, you’re not seeing the dozens upon dozens of people who I talked to about Startup Caucus and explained to me why it was a bad idea – and those are the people who agreed to meet with me. You’re not seeing the 15 versions of my slide deck that I look back and cringe at. And none of us knows for sure how it’s going to work out.
It’s a real honor to be part of the Harvard fellowship, but it follows about a half dozen rejections for other programs and opportunities.
Success isn’t an accident, but failing takes a lot of hard work. The harder part is figuring out why you failed and learning from it and trying again.
I’m a big believer in the Lean Startup methodology – learning, testing, and optimizing. When you are always trying new things, most of them don’t work. And certainly you want to mitigate the fallout from those failures, but if you don’t get a large enough sample size, you won’t be able to learn from it. If I’d stopped thinking about Startup Caucus after the first person I spoke to told me it wouldn’t work, that would have been a wasted failure.
I’m writing this to encourage you in a concrete way to keep at it – whatever it is you’re doing.