October 30th, 2017

Wabash Valley Highlights Fails at Fail Fest

The Wabash Valley Fail Fest was hosted on Oct. 25 in Terre Haute at the Indiana Theatre, a beautiful space with intricate designs, a grand stage, and that old-timey theatre feel. Attendees heard from speakers from all walks of life, telling their story about personal failure. Fail Fest is a learning experience. A chance to share how failing is not the end of the story.

The jam-packed schedule kept the audience engaged with several speakers and panel Q&A sessions accepting audience questions.

Here, we briefly recount some of the stories shared among the velvet theatre.

Hitting Rock Bottom

April Yvette was a single mom with a low-wage job when she decided to turn her life around. Yvette began to read and watch people who were successful, applying their personal success and inspirational stories to her life.

Her journey gave her personal challenges and goals, willing her to continue climbing the imaginary success ladder. At a high point, her product THINgloss earned her quite a bit of publicity, including a spot on the TV show Shark Tank. Yet, even with the publicity, the product did not have the backing to continue. Yvette found herself at a crossroads. Did she continue to try to raise funds or was it time to try something new? In a deeper reflection, she asked what is her real passion? Her purpose in life?

The junction became an identity crisis. She had tied the meaning of success to her goals and she didn’t make them. Her world seemed to crash around her. She had failed, and lost her drive and ambition in the fall.

After stripping away all her possessions and starting again at rock bottom, she began to build herself back up. In deep reflection, she moved from being ego-driven to soul-driven, saying “Never tie your identity to anything you can lose.”

Now, she’s evolved to become one of the inspirational speakers she originally sought advice from.


Working Daily to Be Better

Jackie Bledsoe lost his sales job when he fell short of his quota. Instead of wallowing in pity, Bledsoe saw this as an opportunity. He was going to change careers and start his own business in the relatively new social media marketing space. It was a great idea until he unveiled his brilliant new business idea to a mentor. The response? “You’re a nobody.”

Was this a setback? His mentor was right. Bledsoe was unknown in this new arena. He refocused and instead of letting the comment bother him, he took on the mentality: “Don’t be offended, but don’t be discouraged either.”

To become somebody, he wrote every day. It was the effort behind doing the work regardless of if anyone would read it. Through this daily exercise, he developed better writing skills, learned to curate and develop ideas in everyday life, and eventually, it got him noticed.

As his blogging mainly focused on personal experiences with marriage and family, the first person to reach out about his writing was another blogger. She wanted to coordinate blogs on the same topic but from different perspectives. It turned into a ripple effect. Others contacted him to write. He began freelance writing on various topics.

He could have been discouraged at the nobody comment. But instead, Bledsoe showed up daily to work on his goal and used the tools he had available, never using “I don’t have…” as an excuse. Today, he is a successful freelancer and author of The 7 Rings of Marriage.


Lessons Learned Early

Dr. Allison Barber’s failure story began at the age of 10, when she decided she wanted to buy a car. It was not that she wanted to buy a car at 10 or that she was not old enough to drive, but rather how she went about earning the money to purchase the car that became her failure story.

The best opportunity to earn cash seemed to be selling seeds door to door. Door after door, her pitch was turned down. After about the eighth no, she took a moment to reconsider her actions. She must not be selling to the right people.

At 10, it didn’t dawn on her she was trying to sell seeds in the wrong season to the wrong market. Ultimately, she sold her entire batch of seeds to an uncle, but decided selling seeds was not for her.

This flashback made for a cute story and it eventually taught her an unforeseen lesson about failure.

Failing can lead to success. In fact, failing faster can save time, money and lead to future success.

Dr. Barber sees failure in four stages:

  1. Rejection
  2. Review
  3. Regroup
  4. Re-engage

“If you don’t move through the stages,” said Dr. Barber, “you basically just fail.” She encourages people to see failures as the pathway to the next level of success, reiterating that failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.


Common Themes from Fail Fest

Through the many speakers and variety of experiences, common themes emerged: Failures will happen. Continue to learn, read, and grow from your experiences as well as the experience of others. Participate and share stories, as your failure experience can help others.

Every entrepreneur knows there will be ups and there will be downs. In between, there will be points of success and setbacks. At Fail Fest, we learn from our perceived failures and share that no one is alone in failure.

In fact, the Indiana Theatre has really turned around over the last few years. Kind of like the stories heard within its walls at the Wabash Valley Fail Fest.


Fail Fest

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