Failing right | #teacher | #children | #kids

“These guys are of a different league, they generally end up working with the leadership” said Raveesh, elaborating on how Nagarro has many entrepreneurs whose start-ups couldn’t sustain, Nagarro is a software development and technology consulting company with offices across the globe.

In charge of strategic initiatives at Nagarro, Raveesh Shrivastava was sharing his views at a recent NASSCOM organised Academia-Industry Round Table. Raveesh’s words instantly drove me down my customary memory lane.

“Vinod, I am looking for a few failed entrepreneurs,” Shirish Joshi had said fifteen years back, leaving me rather bemused. I was quite used to getting requests for ‘a’ failed entrepreneur for experience-sharing sessions on campuses, but this request for ‘a few’ was definitely new to me.

“My client Barbeque Nation is looking to recruit a few managers, and this is the one-line brief I have,” Shirish added. I was slightly surprised because Shirish is not a recruiter. “Since this is a distinct requirement, I thought of helping out,” he explained. I was super excited with this requirement because it was a huge vindication of my long-held belief.

“You have been training entrepreneurs for such a long time, I am sure you know quite a few failed ones,” Shirish added, tongue firmly in cheek, virtually paying me a left-handed compliment. However, our friendship was too strong for me to take offence.

Entrepreneurial journeys are often a study in contrast. It might be a team game, but Entrepreneurship is also an extremely lonely journey for the founder. Interestingly, this very loneliness creates space for introspection, for processing experiences and finally for learning.

It would be a rare individual who would come out of a start-up rollercoaster without transforming into a hugely improved version of oneself; whether through success, or otherwise. Moreover, failure is widely acknowledged as a great teacher; in fact, a vastly better teacher than success. It would be illogical though, to conclude that all failed entrepreneurs are more evolved individuals than successful ones. After all, the learner is as critical as the teacher.

That said, it would be reasonable to believe that failed entrepreneurs are not failed individuals. Not everyone may learn enough, but no human being, especially an entrepreneurial one, lets a failure go unanalysed. While failure may not teach you what works, it may teach you what doesn’t. And while the potential of success to breed arrogance is well-known; failure is generally considered humbling.

Failure is certainly not a benefit in itself, but it invariably brings with it the fringe benefits like learning & humility. It is this very fact that always prompted me to believe that failed entrepreneurs made for better employees. But I had never before heard of an employer brief specifically asking for such profiles. So, Shirish’s request was sheer music to my ears fifteen years back, and so was Raveesh’s recent affirmation.

“We are not the only ones; there are many more companies who acknowledge the entrepreneurs while looking for a suitable candidate, these folks have an edge, a wholistic thinking,” went on Raveesh, making it abundantly clear that failure in a start-up is no black mark on a CV. Now an Organisation Design & Strategic HR Consultant par excellence, Shirish had shared years ago that his previous employer Thermax Ltd. followed similar policies since the beginning.

Incidentally, this is a lesson I try driving home batch after batch of students, with only a modest success. I hope reassurances like Raveesh’s keep coming from more employers that even if your entrepreneurial venture fails, you don’t. Failing is never good, but failing right is not bad either!

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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