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Seun Oyewole Headshot

Speak Softly & Carry a Big Stick: Fail Forward, Quickly.

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The notion of success emanates positivity, progression, and accomplishment. And as we all know, success's evil twin brother has quite the derogatory connotation encumbered with negativity, regression, and defeat. Yet, I believe it is time that we flip the definition of success's evil twin brother and view failure in a more optimistic light. As opposed to shunning and marginalizing our failed experiences, we should take the opportunity to reflect on the unprosperous episodes and recognize their potential lessons.

Milennials have come to fear failure like a dead phone battery, and tend to stray away from bold circumstances worrying that our missteps may discredit our prior accolades. In fact, these failures have an abundance of potential to impact our professional trajectory simply because of the acquired experience. Between my sophomore and senior years at Georgetown, I worked towards building a mobile application start-up with a close friend of mine. We drafted and printed multiple copies of our 20+ page business plan, found ourselves presenting our investor deck to corporate bigwigs, and accumulated a supporting network of friends, professors, mentors and alumni. Long story short, our development team hit a brick wall, which sadly resulted in the end of our venture. Some people may be ashamed to share such a story, but I differ in that regard. By simply taking the time to consider the amount of effort we put into launching our business and the contacts we were able to make, I came to understand that the experiences and lessons we were able to gain were priceless. Instead of hiding the fact that I co-founded a failed business, I embrace the reality that I have coveted skills in building business plans, drafting financial models, making a pitch, and analyzing competitive landscapes (I just have to work on the execution part!). Such a skillset may not be impressive to some, but by and large, it has gotten me through many doors.

As young gunners, milennials have to understand that they have a lifetime ahead of themselves to explore, build, succeed/fail, and repeat. You should jump into the vast ocean of opportunities and acquire as much knowledge as possible. In the strong case that these opportunities conclude in failure, challenge yourself to reflect on what may have went well and what may have led to your project's downfall. Once you are able to recognize the faults, you will be better equipped to overcome the adversity in your next attempt. With that being said, let us strive to flip the framework in which we view failure. As opposed to sustaining the bland notion of failure, we should revamp the word into an action phrase of failing forward. This new concept incorporates the reflection aspect that propels us forward with newly attained insight and confidence.