Coping with Failure


We had a great honor yesterday to have Jerry Colonna visiting us at Zemanta again. Jerry specializes in helping founders and executives cope with stress and excitement of trying to make successful companies out of fledgling start-ups. While media likes to portrait start-ups through successful IPOs and billion dollar acquisitions, the reality of start-ups is mostly about failing. Consequently, one of Jerry's main objectives when working with frustrated founders and C-level executives is to help them develop psychological mechanisms to cope with failure. One of the more important things that Jerry told us yesterday with regards to coping with failure is that we should understand that we were hired because of our personal characteristics and traits, not because of our track record at previous companies. Since start-ups by definition try to do something new and risky, proven track record is not a guarantee of success. In many ways, a proven track record can even be a hindrance, since people tend to seek shelter of past success when things go awry, which might prevent them from seeing new opportunities and trying new approaches. On the other, personal characteristics and traits such as being smart, getting things done, and being a good team player, are of lasting importance and are valuable regardless of the particular business direction taken.

We did quick draw of hands yesterday, only to see that for half of people in our team Zemanta is the first start-up they have joined. I'm sure that learning how to cope with failure and how to persist in face of perpetual change will be their biggest challenge.

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