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  • Writer's pictureRobert Stevenson

Double Your Failures

Robert Stevenson Blog - Amazon understands. risk can reap great rewards

No books have been written on surviving a pandemic of this magnitude. Many companies today are facing considerable difficulties, some even bankruptcy. I don’t want anyone to doubt their skills, talent, knowledge or leadership ability because of a disaster they didn’t cause. There will be a lot of lessons learned because of Covid-19, but there is also some good news coming the way for many people.

The good news comes from Napoleon Hill, author of the book Think and Grow Rich, which is among the top 10 best-selling self-help books of all time. After studying over 500 millionaires, including Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, and Charles M. Schwab he found that most of them achieved their greatest success after their greatest failure.

With all the difficulties we are facing right now, our attitude still needs to be that we have a great deal to look forward to. Regardless of what has caused the failure or setback … be it the pandemic, some bad decisions, poor timing, (the list can go on and on) just understand failure is a major component of any success formula. Tom Watson, Sr., the founder of IBM was asked by a young man, “How can I be successful.” Mr. Watson’s reply was, “Double your failures.” Jeff Bezos was the first person in modern history to accumulate a fortune of over $100 billion — and now, according to Bloomberg, he currently has a net worth of $178 billion. Mr. Bezos also believes failure is required if you want to obtain great success. The Amazon CEO has called the e-commerce giant, "the best place in the world to fail."

Bezos has instituted a culture in which failure is acceptable and even a necessary part of doing business. Amazon has had some spectacular failures over the years, resulting in billions of dollars in mistakes; even the Whole Foods purchase for $13.7 billion is being questioned, now. Here are a few of Amazon's more high-profile losing ventures through the years

A list of Amazon's losing ventures

That is quite a list of losing ventures. Amazon released its first smartphone, the Fire Phone, in July 2014, and the device was broadly called by the experts and consumers as a, “disaster”, “debacle”, “fiasco”, a “major disappointment.” By September 2015, Amazon stopped selling the Fire Phone. Mr. Bezos lost $170 million on the infamous Fire Phone. But he still feels it’s worth taking risks, as he stated … “The good news for shareowners is that a single big winning bet can more than cover the cost of MANY losers.”

Companies like Zappos, Ring, and Alexa are just a few of his winning bets. Mr. Bezos realizes failure is all part of the success process. He also realizes each mistake should teach us something … so ask and answer the question: “What did you learn”? If the failure has educated you … then it is not a failure. My favorite quote on the subject is: “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”


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