Turns Out that Failure Pairs Nicely with Innovation


Today, I’ll be taking a page from the “Will it Blend” company playbook (you likely remember the company that showcased the strength of its blenders by shooting Youtube videos of iPhones being blended?).

Let’s admit it. … It’s kind of fun to break stuff. And today, I get to absolutely crush something.

The thing I get to crush is more powerful than urban legend, able to take down even the strongest of us and, apparently, is a complete farce. …

What is it?

The belief that failure is a bad thing.

As an entrepreneur or a business owner (or an athlete, or a son or daughter, or an employee, or a student, the list goes on and on) this is pretty much the best news ever and here’s why.

So many of us are held back by the fear of failing. Often, our definition of failure isn’t even something we “own.” It can be handed down from our parents, offered up to us by coaches we had as kids or thrown down by teachers who in retrospect, seem to have done more harm than good.

Fear of failure is at the root of so many limiting beliefs (if not all of them). And fear of failure limits business innovation and creativity. As entrepreneurs, that’s literally ALL we have!

So, right here, right now, let’s spin the belief that failure is bad into a positive.

I had the absolute privilege of interviewing Hap Klopp, one of the founders of The North Face, in Friday’s (2-19-16) Intrepid Entrepreneur podcast.

If you’re a founder in the active outdoor lifestyle markets (and you very likely are, or are going to be one soon if you’re reading this), Hap is a huge deal – not that he’d ever act that way.

Hap is one of the founders of the outdoor industry. He was the CEO at TNF for 25 years and also, Canterbury of New Zealand. He lectures at major graduate business schools and is a Stanford graduate (undergrad and MBA). Hap’s always involved in entrepreneurial business ventures – it’s his passion. He’s also authored two business books. The newest book, titled “Almost,” is the subject of our time together this week on the podcast.

Almost explores Hap’s time in the trenches in a recent Silicon Valley start-up. In the year he was in it, he was able to learn about the culture of innovation of The Valley firsthand. The main takeaway (and there are many), in Almost, is that Silicon Valley start-ups actually prefer building teams comprising people who have failed.


Here’s Hap’s take on it from Almost:

When people experience failure and can actually figure out what went wrong, they have an incredible foundation for future decision-making.”

Leave it to someone who has a long history of living the outdoor lifestyle to connect failure to innovation and success. How many first ascents are the result of multiple expeditions and attempts failing forward?

You’ll feel a weight lifted off of you when you embrace the FACT that failure is not only okay, it’s the gateway to innovation. It’s actually healthy to fail!

We all need support with mindset around this. I’m only an email away (you can even just reply to this one if you are in need of some help or direction on this topic). Know this: You’re so not alone!

And, let’s embrace this. We can start by just gunning for it in our content – when you’re afraid, it truly shows up in your written content and in your videos. You’ve seen it in others! Trust your vision and kick the fear of failing or looking like an A** to the curb, please! Your audience will thank you! Remember, the world needs ALL that you’re here to offer – don’t let failure put a shade on that light folks!

Thank you so much for reading this today – I believe Hap’s message is a SUPER important one and ties into the Intrepid mission: To support outdoor market founders to build remarkable and profitable businesses.


1 – Last week, I interviewed the iconic entrepreneur Brad Steward, the founder of Bonfire Outerwear and most recently, Caravan Outpost. Brad’s newest venture is a travel experience that’s so new and so focused around a super specific avatar (target customer), that it’s almost tough to describe. But for those who know – well, they’ll know! Now that I’ve interviewed Hap right after Brad, I can see the similarities between these two founders. Brad’s all about having faith in your vision and Hap is all about being okay (in fact, encouraged to) fail. Brad’s podcast is a must-listen. Download, rate and review it in iTunes if you agree with me!

2 – The Intrepid Entrepreneur’s long-awaited membership site is JUST about to launch! I’ve deployed the “Teachable” platform, which is awesome, and I’ll be opening the doors to outdoor market/adventurous entrepreneurs within the next few weeks to join this great resource and community! You’ll have access to targeted forums and stellar course material for a monthly or annual fee. More to come in the next couple of weeks on this exciting front!

Until next time, GO BIG and don’t forget to FAIL forward!