Interview with Bryant Haskins: Learning from Failure

Interview with Bryant Haskins: Learning from Failure

By Vitiello Communications Group

We sat down with one of our own team members – Bryant Haskins – to get a behind-the-scenes look at the popular blog series that he piloted for a leading pharmaceutical company. The series was more than a success; it was one of the most read and commented on in the history of the company.

Q: What was the strategy behind the blog series, and what were you hoping to achieve?

A: The strategy behind the blog series was simple – to contribute to creating a culture where people learn how to recover from their mistakes rather than not trying for fear of failure. We focused on “teachable moments” that have had a significant impact on the way executives do their jobs. We wanted to show the personal side of leaders and demonstrate – through their own stories – that challenges can have positive outcomes. The key is resilience – maintaining a good attitude and being willing to learn from the experience.

Q: Was it difficult to get people to open up and share their stories?

A: Surprisingly, most of the executives we contacted were willing to talk about personal failures during their careers, and what they learned from them. They understand and support what we’re trying to do. The first blogs in the series got the momentum started. We were lucky that the first two executives we chose for the series had dramatic stories to tell and weren’t afraid to share them. Employees loved their stories – and their candor. Reader response was tremendous. With overwhelming support from employees, we were able to enlist other bloggers to share their own experiences about overcoming mistakes.

Q: Why do you believe the blog series has been so successful?

A: I think there are several reasons – the blogs are:

  • Unique—No one else talks about failure, at least not in a corporate setting. The focus is always on success. We talk about success, too, but it’s all about what you learn from career disappointments that ultimately makes you successful.
  • Honest—The executives have been open about problems they’ve experienced in their careers, how they’ve addressed them, and what they’ve learned.
  • Authentic—The blogs are written in simple, straightforward and conversational language that avoids “corporate speak.” Because of this, readers are better able to relate to what we’re saying.
  • Concise—Each of the blogs can be read in a few minutes. Plus, they’re easy to read. We know people are busy and want to be respectful of their time.

Overall, the series talks about topics that employees are interested in – everyone is at least a little afraid of failing in their career or personal life. To hear top-level executives talk about how they’ve fallen short of their goals, and what they’ve done to overcome those challenges, is both reassuring and educational.

Q: How has this experience shaped how you feel about failure?

A: I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t failed at least once. I’ve missed the mark on a number of occasions. Writing about the experiences of highly successful people who haven’t always made the right decisions has made me realize that no one – no matter how far up the food chain – is perfect. Sometimes we just have to give it our best shot and learn when we don’t succeed. Or, as one of the executives I interviewed said, “We all fail at some point in our lives. It’s what we gain from the experience that’s most important.”

Subscribe to Speaking Of, our monthly e-newsletter for leaders who are passionate about communicating to drive results.

Your privacy is important to us. VTLO will never sell, rent or share your personal information with others. Read our privacy policy for more information.