Better CEO

Why Young CEOs Fail

Hey, manager! Here’s a reality check for you. Young CEOs and new leaders fail every day. Some of these failures are temporary setbacks, many of them are job and business killers. Maybe you’ve been there, but you want to avoid that situation going forward. Maybe you’ve managed to dodge that bullet so far, and you are hoping your luck continues.

Doesn’t matter which group you fall into, you should know better. Failure happens. I won’t say it’s inevitable … well, okay, yes I will. You are going to fail. You will make mistakes, make bad calls for good reasons and good calls that go bad. Sometimes these failures will be totally outside your control. Other times you will realize too late what you should have done differently. Sometimes you will get no warning at all. Regardless, failure happens.

So what … is this article just meant to make you quit. To get so depressed and worried you just go find a job wearing a nametag and a paper hat? Nope, because those businesses can fail too. Nothing is “surefire” and “foolproof.” Anyone who says differently is selling something. And you don’t want to be the one buying.

Here’s the thing. You can learn to fail like a pro. To be adaptable and patient and resilient. These qualities, above all others, can make or break a business person. You also need to be prepared for failure. Have contingency plans in place. Take nothing for granted, and never ever assume anything. Just ask BlackBerry. A few years ago they were on top of the world. Then an upstart who had “no interest in business customers” came onto the scene and destroyed them, practically overnight. Now, after swearing for years not too, BlackBerry has been forced to join those they could not beat. They recently released the Priv, an Android-based handset. Guess what, it’s selling like hotcakes.

That’s just one example of a company that had to pivot in the face of failure. Didn’t matter that they didn’t do anything specifically wrong. They still failed. They failed to anticipate and prognosticate.

Another example: Walmart. Remember when supercenters were all the rage? Well, they’re not anymore. They are causing the company to lose tons of cash. Nobody’s happy. Stockholders are grilling leadership, leadership is yelling at managers, and employees are getting fired. It’s a bad scene all the way around … and Walmart has already admitted it will be at least two to three more years before they can pull out of the slump.

But they will pull out. Walmart has been here before. They know how to fail forward. Do you? How have you dealt with failure in your business life? What have you done about it?

Roman Temkin is an entrepreneur who hails from NYC.

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