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Failing Faster and Failing Smarter

Today on The GenTwenty Podcast, Nicole and Marina discuss the idea of failing faster. How can we embrace failure to get to where we want to be more quickly?

Failing faster isn’t just about embracing failure – it’s using your failures to be more productive and reach your metric of success more quickly. Failure is part of the process to achieving the goals that you want to achieve.

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This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Nicole Booz: Welcome back to the Gen Twenty Podcast I’m Nicole…

Marina Crouse: And I’m Marina! Today we’re talking about failing faster—a productivity method.

Nicole Booz: Yeah, so failing faster is when you’re essentially embracing failure and you’re acknowledging that something may have gone wrong, but you’re just moving forward more quickly instead of dwelling on that.

Marina Crouse: Yeah, it’s basically figuring out faster where you need to pivot and you know that we love a good pivot.

Nicole Booz: Yeah, so a lot of times I think when we “fail”… I’m just going to say fail like when things don’t go the way that we wanted them to. I think it’s really easy for us to get stuck on it and see it as like a personality trait or something that’s going to define us for the rest of our lives. But that’s really not what we should see failure as because we essentially just need to get over ourselves, right?

I mean I feel like a lot of times when I feel really stuck with something…It’s not going the way I wanted it to…sometimes I have to change my mind and change my method about the way that I’m approaching that thing to actually see the change that I want to see and find the outcome that I want to find. It’s scary to put yourself out there and that’s part of what failure is. Because when you fail you might be thinking “oh I’m not good enough” or “I didn’t make the cut” or you know any number of things but really failure is part of the process to achieving the goals that you want to achieve.

Marina Crouse: Yeah, I Love that you say “change my mind, change my method” because I think at least for me I notice when I’m avoiding something it’s because I’m afraid I’m going to fail at it because I don’t know how to do it and when I have that breakthrough or whatever I think oh “Let me just do a little more research of ways I can do something” or think about why am I so afraid to fail. I think we should accept and get excited about failing like it’s part of it’s literally one of the steps to forward momentum and growth is things didn’t always work.

Nicole Booz: Yeah, you kind of want to see failure because it’s really just information gathering like it’s knowing that “Okay, this isn’t working So what can we try next? what else can we change?” I think that we take failure too personally.

Marina Crouse: Oh definitely and I think too that because we live our lives online now with all of the social media—Nicole and I run essentially 3, 4, how many now? 3 to 4 businesses online. We have to show up every day and it’s really hard because  I’ll post on Instagram and it won’t get the reaction I’m hoping for or the response or the engagement and my first thought is “what did I do wrong? What’s wrong with me?” But really, it’s just like “all right today wasn’t that day. The people weren’t looking for that today. That’s okay.” If we let ourselves fail faster we can get there sooner with this information we’re collecting.

Nicole Booz: And so I guess here like a really good example that we can talk about is one of our businesses which is The Capsule Collab, our product-based business, which is both of our first foray into anything product-based or e-commerce.

So the whole operation we embrace from a very big learning standpoint. But it also is essentially a passion project for both of us…a passion business.

Marina Crouse: Yeah, it’s a passion project definitely and I have to give you credit Nicole because before we started the business or as we were starting it I had so much fear of letting you down or failing and every time I would kind of express that you were just like “it’s a fact-finding mission. It’s going to be okay, let’s try it” and it’s like oh man. So I’ve learned to embrace failing so much just in working with you. Because guys it’s fun to fail. We fail together and we just have a laugh.

Nicole Booz: Yeah, and it’s really interesting because it’s like a science experiment right? Like we’re just like “okay we’re gonna try this and then we’re gonna see what happens.”

Marina Crouse: Yeah, full disclosure, this is the third time we’ve tried to record this episode because technology is hard.

Nicole Booz: Yeah, we kept having issues and as you probably heard at the beginning things did not go as smoothly as we would have hoped but it’s fine. We’re still kicking. We’re doing our best, you know?

Marina Crouse: It’s okay. And I think that’s something that is an important part of failing faster is letting go of this idea of perfect. So I’ve been trying to embrace that with with my Instagram.

I don’t proofread. So there’s gonna be typos. There’s gonna be weird paragraphs but because we have to produce so much content to be seen online, I’m going to cut corners in places where it’s okay to cut corners, which means I don’t proofread my instagram captions I went from being able to write one Instagram caption a day to being able to write 20 because I stopped nitpicking every single word and space and comma. So that’s important for my novel because it’s long longer lasting has more of an evergreen physical presence. But with Instagram I had to embrace the “done is better than perfect” because I don’t have enough time, I don’t have enough hours in the day, to do everything perfectly and it’s not interesting, we’re humans were not perfect. So flaws are good.

Nicole Booz: Yeah, we’re not machines. We’re not meant to be producing content 24/7 even though that’s what a lot of people will tell you to do for your business. It’s just exhausting. I can’t run my life or my business that way and I don’t think anyone else should either, personally.

So this whole idea of failing faster…I had written this line ages ago. I think I started writing this blog post in 2017 and it’s never been published so just know that on projects that have been years in the making I’m right there with you. But I said that perfectionism is a performance based toxicity that is motivated by the fear of failure and I think that perfect doesn’t exist and that’s something that we need to embrace. We talk a lot about a growth mindset, but the idea of perfect isn’t rooted in abundance, it comes from scarcity. It’s just the idea of one thing and there is no one perfect thing.

failing faster

Marina Crouse: Yeah, right, Perfect is an arbitrary word, kind of like enough, like “oh I’m not good enough.” What does enough mean? “oh this isn’t perfect.” What does perfect mean? I think if we learn to accept those definitions of perfect doesn’t exist then it’s easier to embrace failure because you’re just like “well it wasn’t going to be perfect anyway, here we go.”

Nicole Booz: Yeah, because perfect isn’t an end goal. It’s not something you’re trying to get to…it’s just that everything is a work in progress.” Everything is a learning experience and just I think something you learn, especially when you. I guess get to like a certain place in your career. You’re running your own business is that like the goal post is always moving and so whenever you think that you got into somewhere that you might have wanted to be before by the time you get there, you’re already thinking about the next place you’re gonna go.

Marina Crouse: Yeah, so I think in the process of failing we have to learn to slow down a little bit and look back at where we’ve come because it makes failing feel a little bit less painful. Because it’s like okay yeah, this business or this novel or this thing didn’t work. But look at all that I’ve done to get here. Think about a staircase…you have to get to the end of the step and rise up. If you picture it like when you finish your step you go up. It’s not that you go backwards. It’s just like oh this didn’t work out. We keep going up.

Nicole Booz: Exactly. It’s just an information gathering mission and I’m not sure when you’re going to hear this episode this season but we have a really exciting episode coming up with a woman named Karli. She’s a web designer and in that episode she talked about how she started her first business and when she said it she was like “yeah, that failed.”

Marina Crouse: I loved talking to her about that I was just like oh my gosh tell me more.

Nicole Booz: To just hear her openly was embracing like “yeah, it just failed,” which I mean I don’t want to put words in her mouth, but probably when you’re working on something you don’t want to admit that but when you kind of move forward in your life. It’s easier to see how it’s not. It’s just becoming a stepping zone.

Marina Crouse: Yeah, I have an example of that myself. I was running a food blog/website. There was many iterations of it but it was a food related website and I remember feeling really upset that I just had decided to close it.

Nicole Booz: To where you’re meant to go.

Marina Crouse: Yeah, Nicole, I think you were the one who said “well, it’s just not serving you anymore and you got everything out of it that you could get out of it” and that made it easier to close. But for a long time I wouldn’t talk about it because I felt like I failed and I couldn’t admit that it didn’t work. But now I’m like it’s okay, it didn’t work. Let’s try again.

Nicole Booz: Yeah, it’s just like an idea that you had that you were passionate about at the time that you started it but you know you evolved. You wanted to do different things, like now you’re doing writing coaching which isn’t related to that at all. So all that would be doing is taking away from what you want to be doing. And that can be a hard decision to make. It’s really hard to look at yourself almost objectively and be like okay what needs to go because you’re so close to it that you don’t necessarily want it to go but is it serving you? You know.

Marina Crouse: Yeah, is it serving you? ask yourself that every day. “is this serving me?”  “can I make changes” and like listen if Ross could work on the pivot with that couch and then still decide to cut it in half and take it back to the couch store, you can ask yourself “is this serving me?” and “can I pivot?”

Nicole Booz: Exactly exactly. So yeah I think we just need to stop thinking of failure and success as good and bad words, as in end goals, because  everything is a work in progress and it’s all just about learning. What we really hope that you take away from this is that failure is not a personality trait.

It’s not a stamp of who you are. You don’t get a big award because you won something. I remember when I first started GenTwenty way back in 2013 and over the next several years there were several people I knew who were put on these big 30 under 30 lists and all that kind of stuff and that was never a goal that I had for myself. After I got many, many emails that were offering me to buy myself, for thousands of dollars, a position on these lists! Yeah, people pay for that. Maybe not everyone but a lot of these lists are paid. Okay, to me that’s a scam. 

Marina Crouse: Oh the truth comes out. Yeah, right? because it’s just content.

Nicole Booz: It’s a scam. It doesn’t mean anything and after I started thinking about that kind of stuff I was just like “what!?” and none of this matters. Like good for you but what does that mean for me? Nothing.

Marina Crouse: Yeah, yeah, what? What are you doing in the thirty years of your life that you’ve crammed in there? Nicole and I’ve reached our thirties and I have done so much with my life but also nothing in the grand scheme of things…

Nicole Booz: Yeah, well, there’s so much looking forward. You know.

Marina Crouse: I have so much I’m hoping to do ahead of me that I don’t want to be recognized just for what I’ve done in the first 30 years of my life.  I failed a lot in my the first 30 years and look how far it got me. I’m doing great. 

Nicole Booz: Yeah, yeah, let’s look at each other for our potential and not what we haven’t haven’t done. You know.

Marina Crouse: It’s all about embracing the failure. Exactly and I think in some ways the perfectionism is just us getting in our own way and if you think about what your roadblocks are the chances chances are you are the roadblock.

Nicole Booz: Yeah, more likely than not I would say, it’s probably just a mental roadblock to be completely honest, but as we wrap this episode up, one thing that I really want to leave you with is a quote that I don’t really know where it came from. I might have invented it myself or combined it from other things, I’m not really sure. I don’t want to take credit for something that’s not fully mine:  but what am I compared to mountains?

That is a quote that I say to myself all the time because mountains have been on this planet for billions of years and they don’t give shit about you. They don’t care if you’re succeeding or failing like they’re still going to be there. To me that is just so reassuring because it’s like the world goes on, and life goes on, and your life will keep going on whether things are going good or bad in this moment. It’s just something that I say to myself a lot because it encourages me to take leaps when I might not otherwise and I hope that resonates with some of you.

Marina Crouse: Dang that was so good. We’re just going to end on that and Nicole, thanks so much for for enlightening with us. I guess I’ll sing us out: this has been another episode of the GenTwenty podcast. Thanks so much for listening. We hope you will leave us a rating and a review and we’ll see you next time, bye!

About the Author

Nicole Booz

Nicole Booz is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of GenTwenty, GenThirty, and The Capsule Collab. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and is the author of The Kidult Handbook (Simon & Schuster May 2018). She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably hiking, eating brunch, or planning her next great adventure.