“You cannot avoid failure 100%. Even if you plan everything and have a stable job, failure is inevitable.”
This is what Mona Ismail, the founder of the World Day for Failure, said about failure on Oct. 13 at World Rechallenge Forum held in Korea.
Mona Ismail is the founder of World Day for Failure and the President of AaltoES. Founded 10 years ago, AaltoES is a non-profit organization run by students, providing practical help in establishing a startup foothold in Finland.
In fact, many companies started their startups through AaltoES. But, not all companies had the taste of sweet success. Some tasted the bitter taste of failure. AaltoES calls it graduate project. This is because through linkage with global investors and companies, it has a systematic system to support prospective founders with a funding program.
Ismail emphasized that it is most important to change the negative perception of failure. “People want success instead of failure. It’s so natural, but not everyone can be successful. In general, when people fail, they feel embarrassed and humiliated. We need to change this negative perception first. If we don’t try again because we’re afraid of failure, we’re bound to miss out on a lot of opportunities.”
She then said, “Failure can be found in acceptance and embrace. On the Day for Failure created by students, the government and corporate CEOs also gathered to share their failure stories. The actual failure cases of successful leaders provided comfort to students and became a driving force for challenges,” emphasizing the importance of changing the perception of failure.
After visiting Korea, Mona Ismail met with university students in Yonsei University and Korea University and took time for discussion. “It was a very short two hours. We felt the passion of Korean students for starting businesses. First, we need to inform the students who will be responsible for the future of the country with the mindset to embrace failure. Both the government and the companies should spare no active support for the students to start businesses.”
President Ismail said, “We made the Day for Failure in 2010. A few years later, a company called Supercell was created in Finland, and the famous game Clash of Clans was launched. Thanks to the popularity of the game, it has grown into a multi-billion-dollar company. One of the success factors is a unique organizational culture. Supercell congratulates employees who have failed with expensive champagne. But, to the employees who have succeeded, the company treats them with beer. In short, we are delivering positive message towards failure.”
Lastly, Ismail said, “We just need to learn a lesson from failure. That’s enough. If we all embrace failure, the next generation will not be afraid or ashamed of failure. Based on this, we will continue to be sustainable.”
Day for Failure, founded by AaltoES (Aalto Entrepreneurship Society) created by Aalto University students in 2010, was extended to World Day for Failure in 2012 with the participation of several countries including Germany, UK, and Canada.
This forum was broadcast live on Oct. 13 on the MOIS YouTube channel and the Fail Expo YouTube channel. The video (translated in Korean) can be viewed later on the MOIS YouTube channel.