Learning from failures…and candor

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Yesterday (January 28th, 2008) we had a conference call with our accountants and somewhere in the conversations one of them said, 'you often learn more from your failures or mistakes than you do from successes.'

I hung up from the call and that saying just stuck in my mind like a snowflake on a Saskatoon sidewalk.

So while I'm not the most proficient blogger at VendAsta (see Brendan King's blog, Jeff Tomlin's blog, Jason Collin's blog, JF's blog), I wanted to share what this saying means to me - to us - in regards to clients, potential customers, potential partners, investors, potential investors, current employees, and potential employees...

You often learn more from your failures or mistakes than you do from successes

In connection with this simple - yet kind of complex - saying, I like what GE's Jack Welch speaks of in his book Winning. JW dedicated an entire chapter - Chapter 2 no less - to Candor. Do a synonym check for candor and you'll find these words: Frankness, Openness, Honesty, Truthfulness, Sincerity, Bluntness, Outspokenness, and Forthrightness.

No one likes to hear about words written in books but bear with me just a little... it says in chapter 2 that there are three main ways that Candor leads to winning.

1 - Candor gets more people in the conversation, and when you get more people in the conversation, to state the obvious, you get idea rich

2 - Candor generates speed

3 - Candor cuts costs - lots (this surprised me a little at first; I'd recommend you read the chapter if you're curious about this one like I was)

Well it's pretty simple... Candor leads to winning; candor leads to getting people involved and getting idea rich, and candor gives you speed and helps you watch your costs. Whether you're a current client, a potential customer, a potential partner, an investor, potential investors, a current employee, or a potential employee... it sounds like candor is a key ingredient to winning with VendAsta.

So let me go back and wrap these together; learning from failures or mistakes + candor.

If VendAsta wanted to fail then we would nix candor from our organization. We'd get rid of it; and with it; openness, honesty, truthfulness, bluntness and outspokenness would be discouraged.

Most people have seen the lack of these behaviours stifle success in previous career stops and for us at VendAsta, we are stoked about a world where candor - and winning - is rampant. We`re going to do some pretty open, blunt, and outspoken things... we are getting employees involved in how we treat employees, we are being extremely open with our customers, we are blunt with each other (very blunt sometimes), we are having very frank discussions with partners and potential partners, we are being sincere with investors, we're honest and open with potential investors, and we will be forthright with the truth to everyone.

And people think accountants are just numbers guys.

Ches Hagen


  • Omega

    Great, refreshing ideals – you’re all a cut above the rest.

    I know this first hand.

  • rbaldwin

    I think one of the really important things about Candor is it makes you more accountable to what you said you would do.

    If you’re having an open discussion with people, and you tell several people clearly and openly that “we’re going to try xyz”, then you better well try xyz cause there’s 10, 20, 50, 100 people that were in on that conversation and they’re going to expect results. It doesn’t even matter what the results are (huge success, massive failure, whatever) – the fact is it was stated and an attempt was made to deliver.

    I’ve always held candor up high – openness, honesty, and integrity are the 3 most important things I demand of myself. Sure, it can be difficult at times to be open about how you feel, honest about what you think, or maintaining your integrity when you’re on your 3rd triple gin at a keg restaurant and it’s late into the night, but it’s always something for the best.

    I’m happy to hear that VendAsta will also be promoting the principal of Candor and all that it entails.

    Rock on.