The business world is all about success. After all, who would get into business to lose money?
But often it’s failing one day that makes it possible to succeed the next. For proof of this, look no further than our Monday Meeting question-and-answer features with local business owners and managers. Those Q&A-based stories include a particularly to-the-point query: “Many successful people learn from failure. Do you have a failure you can share and what you learned from it?”
The answers are often very honest, if not raw, and revealing. And more than anything, instructive.
Here is how our May 15 feature — Michael Brown of Atria at Villages of Windsor in Lake Worth — responded:
“Early in my career, I showed little tolerance for people who did not share my views immediately. I believe I lost good people by not sharing my vision and the reasons behind it. Turnover costs time and money. I have learned the tough lesson to invest in people and take the time to not only discuss a job description, but more importantly, the purpose of that job and how it contributes to our corporate vision.”
Others have provided equally insightful and honest answers. On May 8, we profiled Jeff DeMario of Vita Nova Inc. This is how he answered the question:
“I once hired a friend for a position in which they were more than qualified. I thought that since our relationship was great that it would apply to others in the workplace. Not so. After a while things became toxic and the team did not feel they could complain to me since I was friends with the person causing so many problems. Before I knew it, staff morale was at an all-time low, and I created a terrible work environment.
“I learned that it is very difficult to hire and supervise your friends. Just easier to see them after work. It is also very important to address problems in the workplace right away.”
And on April 24, we interviewed Henry Kaufman, an economist once known as Wall Street’s original Dr. Doom. This is how he recalled his biggest mistake in a distinguished career:
“Not asserting myself to influence others to make a change in the management of Salomon Brothers as we leveraged the balance sheet more and more. It led to problems, and to Salomon eventually being acquired by Citibank. To give you a feeling of the difference, when I became a partner in 1967, Sidney Homer, who was my boss at the time, said, “I want you to tell your wife that you’re going to be personally liable for $2 billion.” No one on Wall Street is liable any more for $2 billion, because it’s an incorporated business. When you’re a partnership, you watch more carefully. When you’re not a partnership, your focus is much more on leveraging. The difference in management is extraordinary.”
Three different anecdotes with three very important lessons.
Honestly, we all have our failures. The difference is, what did we learn and how did we apply those lessons to succeed?