I nearly laughed myself sick when I saw this invitation. 

According to the organizers, FuckUp Nights is the fastest growing global movement of entrepreneurial people who come together to publicly share failure stories. Thousands of people attend FuckUp Nights each month in 200+ cities worldwide. Esquire Magazine says it’s “like TED talks with more booze and less pomp.”

When our bosses/companies/investors/society/insertyourowngrouphere ask us to be 100% successful all it does is to force us to stop taking risks and instead work to appear 100% successful. It’s unrealistic. It’s unhealthy. And it’s unproductive.

So I was tickled to see entrepreneurs come out of the closet and admit, hey, we screw up!

Why is f*cking up so important to innovation? We try more things. And we learn more.

Why Frito-Lay embraced failure

Leo Kiely, VP of Marketing at Frito-Lay in the ‘80s, used to walk around the office with a baseball bat late at night when we were all feverishly working away on our marketing projects.

He wasn’t there to beat us up. (We did that to ourselves, thank you very much.)

He was there to silently remind us that it was important to take a batting average mentality to our work. If we weren’t swinging and missing, we weren’t taking enough chances. As long as we learned from our mistakes and didn’t repeat them, we were good. To innovate, we needed to embrace mistakes as part of the process.

We celebrated our mistakes in public. When a marketer made Director, there was a mini ceremony where that person’s failures were paraded in front of the whole group for us to enjoy. The point was clear: you made Director in part because you took chances and occasionally fell flat on your face.

Frito-Lay was and is one of the most high-performance cultures in the US, and has consistently shown high financial returns – so they are doing something right.

More reading to inspire you to f*uck up

I’m going to the event in Seattle, and looking forward to making my next mistakes.

Look forward to your thoughts.

This post was originally published by the American Marketing Executive Circle.

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