My Resume of Failures

Some of life's failures are worse than gum on the bottom of your shoe

On Wednesday, J. Money over at Budgets are Sexy shared something interesting. Last year, a profession shared a resume of failures – things that he had attempted, but failed at. He was considered an expert in his field, yet for all his successes, he had a fair number of failures as well.

Even those who may seem like ‘overnight successes’ have had to put in countless hours. Many that are regarded as leaders in their field have had more failures than successes.

Even Elon Musk – arguably one of the most successful individuals advocating for the survival and advancement of our entire species – has had his fair share of failures, as J so nicely rounded up:

• 1995: Unsuccessfully applied for a job at Netscape*
• 1996: Ousted as CEO of his own company, Zip2.
• 1999: First Paypal product (which he co-founded) was voted one of the top 10 worst business ideas
• 1999: Crashed his brand new $1 million McLaren F1
• 2000: Ousted from Paypal while on his honeymoon
• 2000: Almost died from “cerebral malaria”
• 2006: Launched 1st rocket and it exploded
• 2007: Launched 2nd rocket and it exploded
• 2008: Launched 3rd rocket and it also had a critical failure
• 2008: Both Tesla and SpaceX on brink of bankruptcy

J went on to share his own, and encouraged other bloggers to do the same.

Without further ado, here’s my list.

  • 2005: Didn’t get accepted into my school of choice, nor my second school.
  • 2005: My Call of Duty fan site could have probably earned about $8k/month in retrospect. Instead I got forced out because I didn’t reply to an email and was out of town visiting a college in Phoenix. The site has since shut down due to mismanagement. This honestly is the most heartbreaking of all my failures not because of the money but because of how it ended.
  • 2006: I tried to start a web hosting company. I started to rent a server, set up a web site, but never marketed it. Stopped after a month.
  • 2007: My one and only late payment on a credit card – a store card, at that.
  • 2007: Was studying abroad in Fall 2007. Credit cards maxed, about $10 to my name and another week before I came home. Had to call home to beg my mom for money. Funny story – my dad runs the finances, but I knew my mom wouldn’t be able to say no to me.
  • 2008: Booked a trip to Vegas. Paid for flights for friends. When they reimbursed me, I didn’t pay my cards off. I also didn’t go on the trip.
  • 2010: Graduated with ~10k in credit card debt.
  • 2010: Started a video game related company with my friend. Stopped doing anything with it after a month.
  • 2010: Bought a car with something like a 13-14% interest rate, and a 72 month loan. (I later refinanced, and then paid it off early).
  • 2016: When I left my corporate job for a start-up, I walked away from a pretty significant amount of stock. I will write a post on this in the future. This is TBD on if I really consider it a failure.
  • 2017: Got laid off from my job without enough money saved for both our wedding and our house.
  • 2017: Launched this blog with zero plan. Still have only a little bit of a plan. Not sure where I want to take this.
  • 2018: Failed some New Year’s Goals – post incoming on Monday.

Plus a handful of job interviews that haven’t resulted in offers, or even calls back.

And yet, I’m happy and in a great spot.

Failure is inevitable. We all will fail at something.

You aren’t remembered for your failures.

You are remembered for your successes.

So put in 100% in everything you do, because even though it might fail, it’ll teach you something. Each of my failures brings with it a lesson that has shaped and molded my life. Failure is necessary for success.

Don’t fear failure.

Embrace it.


What would you consider some of your failures?

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  1. Great failures, indeed! I think we get so used to hearing the success stories that we don’t see the little failures along the way.

    I think my biggest failures were:
    1. Taking out a crazy car loan. I was paying $450/mo for a HONDA. Ugh.
    2. Spending $200 on a rabbit that I returned to its previous home (long story)
    3. Getting a tattoo. It was expensive, and as it turns out, I’m allergic to the ink they used.

    1. For sure! Sometimes you come up with a great idea but don’t have the expertise to execute it, or there’s no market there. All those failures though help the next endeavor!

  2. Too bad on that Call of Duty site. That’s the thing with digital and lone businesses – there’s no turning off or not being there. You have to be ready to respond to the digital world at all times. As someone who like to go on trips in the wilderness with no gadgets on me and no cell service, that’s probably going to pose a problem.

  3. Hey Dave,

    I admire you for posting this. I think it’s important to realize that we all fail at some point, but the best thing to do is to learn from those failures. That’s how we get better from experience.

    I’ve failed to get into my fair share of schools, and have made more blogging mistakes than I can count. I just try to learn from them. And I’m still kicking myself for not looking into Bitcoin when I first heard of it (years ago) 🙂

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