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Failure is a weird word

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By: Devin Santamaria


1. A lack of success
2. The omission of expected or required action

Failure is a strange concept. I had to look up the definition. My understanding of failure (and how I think it's used in commonplace conversation) was that it's an inability to meet a goal set out at the beginning of an endeavor. So when I posted a few days ago (on LinkedIn) that 3 of the 4 of my best investments that led to WEBPRISM were failures - that wasn't an accurate characterization of how I really view those experiences.


For some context - those three experiences were:

  • an event-management platform for managing attendees called "At The Door"
  • A two-year stint operating a vending machine business
  • A business installing smart home technology

Looking at each of these endeavors, none of them were successful from the perspective of the initial goals I set out. My assumptions about each were wrong, the implementations were missing a lot - but looking back now in the context of my life, each experience taught me something critical that enabled me to continue on the path that led me to today.

No - At The Door didn't "take off", monetize, get me out of my day job, and "succeed". It did teach me the full cycle of building and launching a multi-platform app.

No - the vending machines were not cash kings, nor was it a low-impact business - but I did set up my first LLC, learn a ton about accounting and inventory management, contracts, and sourcing.

No - installing smart home equipment didn't become my full-time gig, and it was may more time on a ladder than doing the configuration part that I enjoyed - but I learned to bid projects, invoice clients, run ads successfully (and unsuccessfully), and the limit of what I can reasonably do in a day.


Judging each of these experiences from the starting viewpoint, prior to doing any of the work, is ridiculous. Of course I didn't meet my own ill-conceived, inaccurately set expectations. My reasons for pursuing each were majorly flawed. And yet - each experience taught me something invaluable, that actively gets used today. Deciding whether or not something is a "success" or "failure" by only looking at the finite situation, without considering the lasting consequences doesn't make sense. You wouldn't call a game in the second quarter. Life is not a set of isolated experiences and incidents, it's a composition of the ripple effects of actions and choices, that we only get to see in the rearview mirror.

So keep going. ❤️🙏

Published: 11/23/2021

Last updated: 11/29/2021


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