I Have A Crazy Idea

Foard tells me that it has become standard in job interviews for positions that report directly to me to ask: “How comfortable are you working for someone who walks into your office and says— I have a crazy idea.” I admit that I do this regularly. Sometimes I talk myself out of it. Sometimes I convince others the idea is worth pursuing. Always I am asking my staff to do more work or to do something in a different way.

One of my obsessions is to think about how to shape the culture of the college in ways that promote the qualities I want to instill in our students: risk-taking, a willingness to get out of your comfort zone, collaborating with people from different backgrounds, and making high-quality decisions based on real-time data.

My latest crazy idea is that I want to celebrate failure in the college. Why? Because nothing great happens without it. Only through failure will our students find great success. So, in many ways, failure is the doorway to greatness, we just aren’t comfortable with that idea. All the iconic business stories have failure right in the middle of them. Yet we push our students hard to be uncomfortable with failure so that when it inevitably happens, it is devastating to them.

I want to turn this dynamic on its head by creating a college-wide competition that requires every student to stand up, explain a failure that they have had and what they have learned from it. The event would be an exercise in story-telling, getting out of your comfort zone to describe a real life journey and share important lessons that can benefit others. It would also emphasize the point that everyone fails, survives it and needs to learn from it. The winner would be the student who told the most compelling story with the best learning lessons for business professionals. I would be willing to put significant prize money behind this (e.g., a one year scholarship) and perhaps a speaker series where we would ask alums to come in and tell their stories of risk-taking, failure, lessons learned and eventual success. I am even considering a similar event with awards for faculty and staff.

Think about the mentors and influencers in your life. What are the stories that they tell you to help frame up your pursuits? How many of these conversations deal with overcoming something…coping with and persevering through failure? World changers embrace risk and that can only happen if they have developed a good comfort level with failure.

So in the spirit of Foard’s interview question: who wants to work with me on this crazy idea?


235 thoughts on “I Have A Crazy Idea

  1. Dr. Porter’s Summer Capstone Class
    SBU Manager – Sharon Sheridan Section 12

    Where I work I train new employees how to drive rafts that they will use daily once they are fully trained. The training involves 5 days where the new employee learns and perfects their raft driving. The raft is attached to the dock through a mooring line on the back and front of the raft. My trainee felt confident in her driving and asked for no assistance or guidance on her next trip to the next dock. I agreed since she had two previous days of driving. Her departure was perfect and as she approached the opposing dock she left the throttle area to attach the back mooring line to the back of the raft, however the problem was that she left the throttle in forward. With the raft still moving forward she needed superhuman strength to attach the mooring line to the raft. She didn’t realize her mistake, and went over to attach the line. As she went to grab the line she caught her thumb between the mooring line and the cleat on the raft, as the raft was moving forward. This act resulted in the ending of her training and her needing to receive surgery on her thumb.

    I reassessed the gravity of being a trainer. The trainee was my responsibility, and I failed because she was injured. I became numb to the severity of how difficult it is for my trainees to learn how to drive to rafts. I have trained numerous new employees, and I took for granted everything that I knew and assumed they could catch onto the concepts immediately. Since the incident, I have been a more cautious trainer, and ensure that I don’t forget the basic fundamentals when training new employees.

  2. Dr. Porter’s Summer Capstone Class
    SBU Manager: Regina Taylor Section D014

    The recent failure I would like to talk about is a test in my business law class. I did not fail that test because I received a bad grade, in fact I did not even receive a grade. I missed the test! I over estimated how long the test would be open in the computer lab. I waited till the last day to take the exam, but it did not cross my mind that the lab would be closed for a holiday. There was simply nothing I could do about it and it was completely my fault. Even though I received all A’s in the class, I still completed the course with a C. The clear lesson to this story is to not wait till the last moment. This disappointment taught me more then just that. I realized I need to be more organized and aware of my commitments/responsibilities. As the saying goes, “We are our own worst enemies.”

  3. A recent failure that has helped me become a better person was at my current internship. Since I had started my internship with the company I had grew to love working there. My goal was to show that I was the ideal candidate to be hired. I could achieve this by getting my boss’s and fellow co-worker’s attention. However the problem lied in my misperception of how I should get my boss’s attention. I had thought that by overloading myself with tasks and responsibilities during my hours at the company that I was displaying my ability to be flexible and eager to take on more tasks. I figured if my boss saw that I was handling several different tasks at once, it would show that I was an expert. However, I did not grasp what an “expert” truly meant. When it came time for my progress report, I was disappointed to find out that my perception of being an “expert” was totally wrong. My boss wanted me to master each task so that I could give a detailed analysis of it rather than complete the task and move on to the next one. My boss explained that anybody can learn a quick task but it takes a real “expert” to master the material and give personal recommendations and ways to improve it. Therefore, I had learned from my failure of moving through tasks quickly without putting much time/effort into actually learning towards taking my time by analyzing each task so I could better improve the system.

  4. Dr. Porter’s Capstone Course
    SBU Manager- Mrs. Sharon Sheridan
    Section 12

    Nothing very recent comes to mind when I think of my life changing failures but there is one event that sticks out. Several years ago, I was working as a fire sprinkler designer for a local fire sprinkler and alarm company when we were contracted to install a sprinkler system in a warehouse addition Kissimmee, FL. I was given the task to drive out to the job site so that I could take measurements and pick up blue prints for the system I was to design. The facility was a bottling plant, so by health code and OSHA, I was required to wear ear plugs, a hairnet, my hard hat and safety goggles. I was used to wearing the hard hat but the other required safety gear was very annoying considering the majority of the time I was on the job site I was looking up. Nothing was staying in place. Due to the distraction of having to constantly keep my safety gear from falling off, I miss read my tape measure and a key measurement ended up being an inch off. One inch off was not normally a big deal because the field crew would normally be able to adjust the pipe length in the field. Unfortunately, this particular job was completely fabricated in our shop to cut time and costs with the installation crew causing my one inch mistake to make all of our horizontal piping intersect with the steel I-beams supporting the upper deck of the new structure. Since the field crew had no extra pipe, they had to leave the job, go to a store to pick up extra pipe and cut it to the proper length in the field. My mistake cost the job a full days labor on a four man crew and several hundred dollars in extra materials. After that failure to obtain the proper measurements, I made sure that all of my future measurements were one hundred percent accurate.

  5. Dr. Porters Summer Capstone Course MAN4720

    SBU Manager Regina Taylor Section D014

    I feel that I have had many failures through my college experience, I usually excel in my courses but I was not sure what I wanted to do without some trial and error. I started out as an Education major because I wanted to be a teacher and I let family members talk me out of that after spending a year of school working towards it. Next, I was convinced to work towards accounting because I was good at the classes but in the end, I did not enjoy the field. I also took my classes in an order that took me longer to complete. I am finally in my last semester, in a degree I truly enjoy, and couldn’t be happier. What I’ve learned from this experience is to let others help guide you in a direction that benefits you but not to let them make decisions that you should be choosing. I’ve also just recently met with an academic advisor and wish I had been throughout college, they were extremely helpful and I should have used the benefits I had at my disposal.

  6. I am Dr. Porter’s Summer Capstone Class and my SBU Manager is Mr. Leo.
    This experience didn’t happen to me directly but does affect me. About 2 years ago my brothers created a company that dealt with politics. After about a year they started to have disagreements causing them to dissolve their partnership. Since then my family has become the go between. I believe they were both wrong but unfortunately people in this world don’t want to admit they were wrong or made a mistake. To me this is a failure because they ruined the partnership that they had together and the friendship they had as brothers all over business. From this experience that is still ongoing I have learned that no matter the situation or the relationship, people always look out for themselves and won’t admit they are wrong even if the situation could be fixed.

  7. Dr. Porter’s Summer Capstone Class
    SBU Manager: Regina Taylor Section D014

    This last spring I was expecting to graduate from UCF. I went to the CBA advisors regularly, and thought I had all my i’s dotted and t’s crossed. It was not until a few weeks before fall classes ended, and enrollment opened that I realized, that was not the case. The summer before, I had switched the order of two classes I was planning to take; not thinking it would have an effect considering the last time I had spoken to my advisor, she did not mention making sure I kept my schedule as is. I went the whole fall not realizing there was going to be a problem, interviewing for jobs, and planning on a spring graduation. Once I found out I did not have a prerequisite finished for a class, I fought hard to be able to take both classes at the same time but to no avail. It taught me to not ever make assumptions, and to check and double check everything, even when I do not think there is a mistake. It was a hard lesson to learn, and lost me one of the few accounting jobs in my area, but it is one I will never forget.

  8. Dr. Porter’s Summer Capstone Class
    SBU Manager: Christopher Leo
    I always thought that I could easily do something without much preparation. I easily learned that this was unrealistic when I decided to do a half marathon. I woke up one week and decided to sign up and when the time came to start running next to what seemed to be running fanatics I suddenly started to rethink my decision. I just came out with some sneakers and shorts and the shirt they gave me to run in, while everyone else had their uniform running gear on. I started running and I was keeping up with the top 10% of the runners and thought that this wasn’t as bad as I thought. After the second mile I really thought I was going to die. I couldn’t even finish the race. This failure made me realize that much preparation is needed for not only running half marathons, but for everything. You can’t just open a business because you can without any preparation or research. I mean you can, but it will most likely turn into a failure just like me blindly entering a half marathon.

  9. Dr. Porter’s Summer Capstone Class
    SBU Manager: Matthew Griffith Section 16

    While it’s difficult to talk about failure, there are a lot of lessons that can be learned from it. I finished high school with 4.0 GPA. Going to college, I always thought I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I thought Pharmacy would be my career. I got my AA in Chemistry at community college. I could not get into pharmacy school after 2 years college. Entering UCF, I intended to get an B.A in chemistry, so that I could get a better chance. That summer after I got accepted to Ucf, I volunteered at a hospital, working in the pharmacy. I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I was struggling every night thinking whether I should keep going or change, thinking about what other things I could do, what career, what major…really… It was a difficult decision changing my major. Finally, I ended up in business school and major in accounting. The business world is much more interesting. I got to meet some very creative people. I made good return on my stock investment. I was able to apply everything I learned for my family business and make great profit from it. I failed picking my major in the first place, but I was willing to face my failure and learned from it.

  10. Dr. Porter’s Summer Capstone Class
    SBU Manager: Regina Taylor Section 15

    Failure is something that happens to everyone and forces the person to learn lessons that will help him or her later in life. Fortunately I have not experienced colossal failure that changed my life. Although in the moment I may have believed that I failed incredibly, looking back it was just a stepping-stone on the way to my goals. Last fall I had to experience the horror of applying to law school. I had about ten schools on my list, but back then only one school really mattered in my heart. After anxiously awaiting to hear back from schools for almost two months, I finally received the letter back from my “dream school”. I was rejected. In that moment I had felt like my world had shattered. Now looking back, this was one small incident that made me stronger and more ready to face the harder challenges in life. I was accepted to every other school I applied to. So now I had to look at things from the bright side. I had nine schools that eagerly wanted me to pick them and just one school that did not want me. Failure taught me to always look at things from a different perspective and it brought me to the realization that there will be many bumps in the road to success, but in order to reach my goals, I must make the best of every situation.

  11. Dr. Porter’s Summer Capstone Class
    SBU Manager: Matthew Griffith Section 21

    While it’s difficult to talk about failure, there are a lot of lessons that can be learned from it. I finished high school with 4.0 GPA. Going to college, I always thought I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I thought Pharmacy would be my career. I got my AA in Chemistry at community college. I could not get into pharmacy school after 2 years college. Entering UCF, I intended to get an B.A in chemistry, so that I could get a better chance. That summer after I got accepted to Ucf, I volunteered at a hospital, working in the pharmacy. I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I was struggling every night thinking whether I should keep going or change, thinking about what other things I could do, what career, what major…really… It was a difficult decision changing my major. Finally, I ended up in business school and major in accounting. The business world is much more interesting. I got to meet some very creative people. I made good return on my stock investment. I was able to apply everything I learned for my family business and make great profit from it. I failed picking my major in the first place, but I was willing to face my failure and learned from it.

  12. Dr. Porter’s Summer Capstone Class
    SBU Manager: Leslie Connell

    Failure is something that is frowned upon by the majority of us. In high school, I didn’t take anything that seriously. The ACT’s and SAT’s were crucial tests in determining not only our general knowledge but getting admitted to the University of our choice. As time came closer to taking these “tests”, I didn’t try preparing and to be honest did not care at the time. Once the test results came back, my scores were directly influenced from the amount of effort I put into preparation. When applying for Universities graduating year, I didn’t get into any of the Universities of my choice. This impacted me in a negative way and I was upset. The only person that can change things and move in a positive direction is yourself I realized. As a result, I ended up going to Valencia Community College for 2 years prior to getting into a major University. I was able to obtain outstanding grades all the way till this day and am very determined in graduating. I look back at my if so, “mistake” which was actually a wake up call for myself. It has helped me out by always staying prepared and looking at the overall picture of my path.

  13. Dr. Porter’s Summer Capstone Class
    SBU Manager: Leslie Connell Section 019

    Thinking back to one of my biggest failures stems back to high school which I realized after graduating from high school and promised myself that I learn from this failure and capitalize from it at UCF. In high school, I was a very shy kid. Always leaning on the comfort of home and the love from my family. Granted, I am blessed to have all that I have and a very loving family that I did not feel the need to be “accepted” and “join the crew” unlike my fellow classmates. As the afternoon, school day is over bell rang, I jetted home; meanwhile, my classmates hung out after school developing meaningful relationships and being involved within organizations gaining leadership positions. Not knowing the importance of those relationships and developing leadership qualities, I had none as a high school graduate. Realizing that I was far behind but was going to be given one of the biggest opportunities in the United States of America to gain ground, a college education.
    College education is not only going through the motions of gaining knowledge, but also developing meaningful relationships as well as cultivating yourself personally and professionally. In my sophomore year at UCF, I joined a professional association, ALPFA. ALPFA is the largest professional association for Latino business leaders. This was my chance to redeem myself from the failure in high school, not getting involved. I attended the kickoff meeting, early September, and at the kickoff meeting there was a highly regarded professional in the Orlando area who gave his perspective on why a student should join ALPFA and he stated something that still has stuck with me since that join and really convinced me to join. The statement was as follows (paraphrased) Invest in yourself properly. The output of your experience in this organization, and a concept that applies to life, will be the input you put into this organization.
    I did not have to jump through hoops to join their family, I was instantly recognized into the family.
    At that very meeting, I made a promise to myself, that by my senior year, I will lead this organization and become President. During the next two years, I put in a lot of work in assisting the current board, attended every meeting, and became involved in community events hosted by the professional board, ALPFA Orlando. Throughout those years, I developed relationships with individuals who I can look up to for guidance and who treat my like family. Long story short, elections came around the Spring of my junior year and I was elected to lead the organization my senior year. Learning from my failure in high school helped my achieve success in college. Leading an organization is not the easiest task. Having a great team around you and developing a solid strategy enables for a successful year as a leader of a great organization.

  14. Dr. Porter’s Summer Capstone Class
    SBU Manager – Sharon Sheridan Section 11

    I am not sure if it qualifies as my biggest failure, but surely one of my most informative failures was my lack of scholastic achievement in high school. I barely studied, merely coasting. I never felt I could relate to the material and was wholly unmotivated. It was a tremendously juvenile attitude to take. I acted as if it was everyone else’s job to make me care. I was almost resentful of the necessity of choice and action. It was bad, I was bringing home D’s. I am not sure if this attitude arose from teenage arrogance, laziness, or perhaps fear from standing out from peers. In the end it doesn’t matter.
    I began to see that my academic apathy was hurting my family. No one in either side of my family had ever had the chance to go to college for a degree. They had high hopes that I would do so. They worked hard to save that I could do so. I realized I was doing a tremendous dishonor to my parents, two of the best people on this earth.
    I started studying. I learned that I would have to be self-motivated, and that the world didn’t owe me anything. It wasn’t an overnight change, but it was conscious, and successful. Luckily I started early enough to salvage my high school record. Now I am about to graduate from UCF, and I’m making my parents proud. And that motivates me. I’m much happier now than ever before, and it wouldn’t have been possible if not for my past failure.

  15. Dr. Porter’s summer Capstone class
    SBU manager’s name: Leslie Connell D18
    My interest in pageants was birthed from the moment I saw the option to perform a talent in front of an audience. As a singer the chance to share my passion across stages has always been my dream.
    I remember walking into the student Union and seeing a flyer for the Mrs. UCF scholarship pageant wanting to become involved in my school. I decided that taking the risk was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss.

    I signed up to compete in the Mrs. UCF scholarship pageant with the hopes of taking the title. I worked extremely hard learning the art of interviewing, presentation, fitness, and talent. On that night I believed that all of the hard work I put in would pay off. What I didn’t know was that the failure of not winning or even making the top 5 would prepare me and give me the confidence to be the professional singer I am today. As a singer I constantly face interviews, presentation, fitness, and talent. What I learned throughout the process was greater than any crown could fulfill.

  16. Dr. Porter’s Capstone Course
    SBU Manager- Mr. Matthew Griffith
    Section 16
    Failure is such an exaggerated word to use in most situations. I believe that throughout my life I have never failed in general. I’m not saying I’m perfect, no where near it. I’m saying that all the disappointments in my life have driven me to explore the next journey ahead. A major personal disappointment in my life in recent time was not fully preparing myself for a large certification. As a finance person it is imperative to differentiate yourself from your competition and this certification does that. Spring semester I overloaded myself with five classes and an internship. This took up all my time and drove me to be unprepared for this next step in my career. I wouldn’t say that this is a failure but it is definitely disappointing. I have learned from this experience to prioritize my goals better to what I want in the next phase of my life.

  17. Dr. Porter’s Summer Capstone Class
    SBU Manager: Matthew Griffith Section 16

    The failure I recently experienced is when I was hired for an internship and then lost it. I applied for an internship with a fertility clinic and after going in for an interview I was called back and was informed that they wanted me to intern for their company. I was very excited not only to have an internship but to be interning with a company that did such life-changing work. I received a call about a week later from someone who worked for the company informing me that they were unable to get a hold of my references. I told them that I would speak to my references but said I’m sure if they left a message my references would get back to them. I spoke to two of my reference and told them someone from the company would be calling. After a week, I received a call from the same person at the clinic saying they were still unable to get a hold of my references and informed me they would not be able to take me on. I was horribly upset and this failure is something I have definitely learned from.

  18. Dr. Porter’s Summer Capstone Class
    SBU Manager: Regina Taylor Section D014

    My biggest failure to date occurred during my college education. Upon entering college, right after high school, I believed it was my duty to follow in my father’s footsteps and become a doctor. Although medicine was not my passion, I thought the “right thing to do” was become a doctor because anything else may seem small in comparison to my dad’s goal. I was never pressured by my parents to pursue a career in the medical field, so the pressure I felt was all self-inflicted. After my first year of college I knew that medicine wasn’t the right path for me but I continued that path for 2 more years until I finally gained the courage to tell my parents that I did not want to pursue medicine. I then began a new major in business. I went through a depression period, feeling down about not graduating “on time.” I became lost, not really knowing what I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. I then began to just go through the motions of school, not really taking in the opportunity to really learn. Once again, the pain, agony, and guilt I felt from not graduating on time was self-inflicted. Here I am now, finally taking my final graduating class and receiving a diploma in August.

    The failure in my story is not what many can really see or maybe even understand…it was my self-inflicted doubt and pressure. My parents only ever wanted me to be happy and successful in whatever path I chose…but because I pressured myself, I felt that there was only one path that was acceptable. I learned though, that in this life, whatever path you take that makes you happiest is the ONLY acceptable path there is. Until college, I lived a life that was remarkably easy and full of accomplishments. Until my failure, did I really realize the importance of failure in discovering who you are.

    I learned how terrible self-inflicted pain can be and how it lead to failure and how important it is not to make things seem worse than they really are. Self-inflicted pain can lead to self fulfilling prophecies and it is up to be mentally and emotionally strong to fight it.

  19. Dr. Porter’s Summer Capstone Class
    SBU Manager: Ms. Regina Taylor Section D015

    My first and most prolific college failure was in my first fall semester at UCF. At the ripe age of 18 I could do no wrong and was never wrong in an argument. Little did I know that advice given to me by my friends and family was worth listening to. I had two 8:30 am classes and managed to easily miss half of them and be deducted an entire letter grade in both classes. This earned me a B- and C, not terrible in the grand scheme of things but when I factor in that had both those classes been A’s I may not be someone competing for a job right now, I would be one watching as people struggled behind me because I listened to the advice from my betters.

    Thank you,
    Donald George

  20. Dr. Porter’s summer capstone class.
    SBU manager’s name: Matthew Griffith

    For the past six years I have worked as an assistant controller for a division within a privately owned electrical supplies company. One of my primary responsibilities is to produce the division’s monthly financial statements within eight working days following the month-end close. Although I have always been able to close a month within the deadline, there have certainly been some big learning curves and even failures. I am a big believer in the idea that if you are not failing at your endeavor, you aren’t trying hard enough. I have been very fortunate to find a mentor in a colleague at work. He has been instrumental in providing invaluable career advice. One of the best pieces of advice that he has given me is to always try to get out ahead of the issue. Whatever field you work in upon graduating from UCF, issues will arise. But, when they do happen, be the person that calls attention to the issue, and be the person with the solution.

  21. Robert Porter Summer Capstone Class
    SBU Manager Michael Johnson Section 20
    Everyone dwels on failure and growing up we are taught to believe that we should stray from it at all times. But in fact, failure is such a wonderful thing becuase it is what we learn the most from. one of the biggest failures in my life has happened not too long ago and is a work in progress as we speak. I originally had bright futures coming out of high school and maintained it throughout the most part of my college career. I believed that i could do no wrong and got careless and unfortunately not only lost my bright futures, but it was at the wrong time for i had changed my major. So taking these new classes i lost my bright futures after failing a class and believing everything would be honkey dorey. What ive learned from this failure (now paying my own rent and classes out of pocket) is to not take a single thing for granted, and you have to keep working hard continuously at what you want, becuase you never know when it can be taken from you.

  22. Dr. Porter’s summer Capstone class
    SBU Manager – Michael Johnson

    I recently experienced what I consider failure. However, it will probably be beneficial for me in the long run. I recently applied for a new position in my company that would give me an opportunity to gain more experience and knowledge in the hospitality industry. From the beginning, I had mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I was excited about this potential promotion. On the other hand, I wasn’t sure that that was the direction I wanted to choose in my career. I had a very successful first interview with the department head. However, almost a month past before I finally had a group interview. I was already making different plans and considering new opportunities when I was notified about the group interview. I didn’t get the job. It was quite distressing. Nevertheless, I learned something from this failure. I realized that in order to achieve a new opportunity, I should never lose focus, and in order to determine my career path, I should be certain in my decision. Now that time passed, I feel relieved because I can explore more job opportunities and be happy with my ultimate choice.

  23. Dr. Porter’s Summer Capstone Class
    SBU Manager: Sharon Sheridan Section 12

    Since I have moved to orlando to study finance at the University of Central Florida I have been fortunate enough to be able to work, go to school, and still manage to experience college for what it really is; the best four years of your life, or in my case five. I recently hit a speed bump enjoying the last few months college. I failed my first class. At first I wanted to blame it on the professor and how he conducted the course, but as i was going through my grades I saw that if i had just gone to class my participation grade would of just passed me with a C. I was almost at the finish line and because of me just allowing myself to get comfortable I failed a class over stupidity. Not only did I fail a class, I failed a class that i had zero interest in. The second time around, I made sure to attend every class and to make an effort to understand the material, and again i found myself struggling in the class. I somehow passed with ease because I made the effort to attend every class. Because of this failure, I realized that if you pay attention to detail, the bigger picture will paint itself.

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