Failure: the Joy of Success. How to design for it to learn better?

“Ever Tried. Ever Failed. No Matter. Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better.” Samuel Beckett

Would you ever think of juxtaposing words with such contrasting meanings – Failure. Joy. Success? For most of us, Failure is not only shameful but it is also a major set back. We dread it as if it were the plague. We don’t welcome it into our lives and definitely never want to talk about it, unless it concerns someone else. 

We have been conditioned to view Failure and Mistakes as our enemies. Most of us, especially in Europe, view them as taboo and inadmissible. 

But what if we understood that mistakes are just temporary interruptions that are made to make us reflect back and think? How would it change our life? 

And what if we learned to embrace failure and use it to our advantage? What if we intentionally designed for failure so that we learn better? 

If we take a close look at successful people (like the ones in the video below) it becomes evident that they have recognised that failure is a necessary step to get to success. They fall, get themselves back up and do it again! Over and over and over again.


You may wonder why I would choose this subject? Somehow, and don’t ask me why, but Failure has been quite a fascinating topic for which I have very mixed feelings – a Love & Hate relationship. Intellectually I understand why it is a necessary step towards success and self-awareness but on an emotional level, I think it sucks! Why should I accept something that is so painful and detrimental?

So on a quest to find the answer to my question, I have sought out Experts and Taste Makers all over the world and asked them if they had ever failed. And as you can imagine the answer has always been YES! Failure is part of their daily life and they don’t even think about it because it would be counter productive. They all agree that when there is nothing to lose then everything becomes possible, as long as the lessons have been learned.

I didn’t want to stop my research at the video and decided to take it one step further by organizing an event where a panel consisting of industry leaders and experts would share their point of view, open our minds and hopefully teach us tools to fail smarter. I’m still amazed by the caliber and diversity of my panel including our talented Moderator! It could not have been any better than this.

One of our guests, Professor Manu Kapur happens to be researching Productive Failure at ETH Zurich! He is the reason why I started this video project to begin with. I simply couldn’t let the opportunity to pick the brain of an Academic doing research on failing smarter pass!

Because the evening ended up being such a success and so many people left feeling empowered, inspired and less alone, I decided to create an edit to show some of the highlights of the evening. There were so many key moments that I couldn’t include here but there will be more events!

But before you watch the video, “meet” our speakers:

Professor Manu Kapur

Chair of Learning Sciences and Higher Education at ETH Zurich,  A footballer-turned-engineer-turned-teacher-turned-learning scientist, Manu developed the concept of Productive Failure—how failure can be deliberately designed and bootstrapped for deep learning.

Mahima Lucille Klinge

Europe’s Nr. 1 Self Mastery Mentor and Leadership Trainer, International Bestselling Author and Award Winning Speaker.Mahima is the founder of “Love Silence” and “The Mahima Mindset” self-mastery platforms that empower business professionals to find clarity, increase passion, stay focused and work from being connected to evolved states of inner potential. 

Nicolas Müller

Nicolas is THE Swiss snowboarder best recognized and celebrated for his smooth riding style and his ability to read different terrains and adjusting his riding to the terrain. Müller’s distinguished career and ability has led many critics and riders to call him “the greatest snowboarders of all time”. He’s also an avid and outspoken environmentalist.

Paco Savio
Paco is the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Balboa Move, the hottest workout studio in Zurich. Paco is a multi-faceted and talented entrepreneur with a wide range of projects under his belt. But moreover he is a stage man 🙂

Moderator: Alessandro Tschabold

After many years of trial and error as an international entrepreneur and also working for large organizations Alessandro is currently a startup and innovation coach in Zurich where he has been guiding -intra and entrepreneurs to successfully complete their agile projects (Virtual and Augmented Reality, Machine Learning,..) where failure is part of the game. 

“You might be driven by a fear of failure and motivated by the desire for success. We’re not here to say that failure is fun but it is meant to strip you away from the inessential. Rock bottom can become the foundation on which to build our life. With nothing to lose, all is to be done and let the imagination flow.

The knowledge of emerging stronger and wiser from set backs means that you will always be secure in your ability to survive. You will truly never know yourself or the strength of your relationships until both have been tested by adversity. This is a true gift even if a painful one.” (J.K. Rowling)

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