The paradox of success – learning to love failure as pioneers of market research

John Kearon
BrainJuicer Group plc/BrainJuicer Labs, United Kingdom


The paradox of success is you need to embrace failure to achieve it.

This is a paper born out of a speech I gave to 600 17 year olds on entrepreneurship during the UK's enterprise week in November 2007. It must rank as one of the most nerve-jangling speeches I've ever done, since owning a teenager of my own I had strong clues that they can be a cynical and challenging audience. However, setting anxiety and cynicism aside, I really wanted to share something of what it takes to successfully invent an innovative new product and commercialise it. The reason for being invited to speak at these events is you've supposedly done something successful and the convention is to share this success as if it was the only possible outcome of your company's brilliance. But something about this teenage audience, over half of whom said they wanted to start their own business, made me abandon convention and share the brutal, unvarnished truth that the essential, hard earned ingredient in successful creativity and entrepreneurship is ... failure.