Failure is the Best Teacher

Everyone fails. It is part of life. Rather than pretend it won’t happen, you should count on it and know what you will do to recover from it.  Getting comfortable with failure is a key step in becoming a better risk–taker and successful leader. That is why we celebrate failure and persistence in the college. Today, we begin the eleventh installment of our Failure Competition. Entering our competition is simple:

Write an account of a failure you have experienced in the past. Your failure story has to focus on a time you stepped out of your comfort zone to experience something new: the farther the better. Tell us why this was such a stretch for you, the failure that resulted and what you learned from the experience that would be of interest to others.  It needs to be genuine, people can spot a fish story a mile way.

While the Failure Competition began with students in our capstone class, it is now open to any UCF student on campus: undergraduate, graduate or EMBA, business, education, engineering or whatever. The only requirement is that you currently be enrolled at UCF. About a year ago, we had a music student win the competition.

Need inspiration or guidance to tell your story? Search my blog. We have posted many stories about failure over the years.
Here are the ground rules, complete with important deadlines:

  1. To enter you must post your essay in response to this blog. If you are a capstone student this semester include your section number and name of your instructor. If you are not in this class, tell me your class standing ( e.g., freshman, senior, graduate student) and your field of study. You must complete this exercise by 5 pm on Friday March 24th.  Don’ Worry If You Don’t See it Right Away.  I Have to Accept It.
  2. Instructors from the Capstone Course will then choose a winner from their section and explain why they chose the essay they did. A panel of College staff will choose no more than five finalists for me to consider from the rest of campus. I need these by 5 pm on April 4th.
  3. Those winning entries are then sent to me. I will select three finalists by April 7th at 5 pm.
  4. The finalists will be asked to submit short videos based on their essays. Those videos must be sent to me by 5 pm on April 19th.
  5. I will then feature one video each day on my blog starting April 24th with a vote by everyone reading my blog taking place to determine the winner on Friday April 28th.
  6. The winner will get a letter of recommendation from me along with a $500 prize. Second place will get $300, third place $200. These monies are awarded through our financial aid office.

Good Luck


21 thoughts on “Failure is the Best Teacher

  1. Tim Hanewich
    Class Standing: Junior
    Field of Study: Accounting

    I was denied by my “dream” school. The school that I had invested four long years of one of the world’s most rigorous high school academic programs on.

    I was enrolled in the “International Baccalaureate” (IB) program in high school. The IB program is a world renowned academic and co-curricular track that challenges students with difficult coursework, heavy workloads, and mandatory community and extra-curricular involvement. From day one of high school I had already set my sights on the University of Florida – Florida’s “Flagship” school (or so I thought). With such a prestigious diploma in hand I was confident that I only deserved the best of what Florida has to offer. Brainwashed by my peers and the Administration of the IB Program, I believed UF was the pinnacle of education in the state and all other schools were simply inferior. I banked my hopes and dreams on UF for four years. My family and I made many trips to the school to tour and I began forming relationships with staff and students there who all said the same thing: I would have no problem getting admission to the University. My parents were so confident of this that they gifted me a UF pennant, key chain, and tervis several nights before the decision was released. How could I disappoint them?

    On February 13th, 2015 I logged onto the admissions website and received my letter of rejection. This truly came out of left field. I had been denied by the only school that I had applied to. Even worse, it seemed as if 90% of my colleagues and close friends had received acceptance and were planning the next 4 years of their lives with UF – including my girlfriend. While several of my colleagues were denied and offered the bridge school for two years and then the promise of a transfer to UF, I was not even granted this. I felt like I was being left behind and I was mortified.

    Two days later my family and I made a trip to UCF – an “up and coming school” that my father said had been on his radar for several years. I had never really heard much of it, let alone considered it. The pains of UF’s rejection stayed with me through the next month, but there was something about UCF that caught my attention. Every student I met and talked to just loved talking about how much they enjoy the school. The faculty and staff had a genuine concern for their students and yearned to see their success. Several weeks later, I made the decision to put my anger and morning behind me and set my sights on new horizons with UCF. This would mean stepping out of my comfort zone and attending a University where I knew almost nobody. I hit the ground running my first semester and the rest is history.

    Today, I’m fortunate enough to say that my experience at UCF has been life-changing. I have had opportunities that I would never have been able to imagine if enrolled in another University. I have had opportunities to be play an active role in the LEAD Scholars Academy, SGA, the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, SARC as a tutor for several Accounting classes, and the College of Businesses’ Office of Professional Development as a member of their Advising Team, just to name a few. Several days ago I even was offered an internship with a financial services company just by enrolling in UCF’s Externship program and informally talking with the Managing Partner for one day. The amount of opportunity at UCF as an up and coming university is astonishing and I’m glad to go along for the ride
    But this is only the beginning – I will keep striving to soar to new heights and am happy to serve as a testimony of what failure can do for you when looked at from different perspectives. Looking back, I consider myself very fortunate to have been denied by UF. I don’t think I would have enjoyed being a Gator too much. I’m a Knight for life and I am happy that I failed.

  2. Benjamin — this was a very bad decision on your part.. If you really are a UCF student.. let’s hope not, I’ll be following up with the College of Engineering asking for them to take appropriate action.

  3. Hello, my name is Jourdain Francis, and I am a senior Computer Engineering student. Instead of writing the standard essay, I decide to recant my fail as a story.

    Studying abroad is definitely an experience that requires one to embrace the unknown and take a leap out of one’s comfort zone – especially when the country is as far away from home as you can possibly get. Last spring, I spent a semester abroad in Australia. A new land with lots to do, great adventures, and a chance to make new friends. I knew no one and nothing going into this experience and I spent the first day pretending to be an adult: setting up a bank account, getting a phone number, calling the parents to confirm there isn’t a new Bermuda triangle forming in the Pacific Ocean. You’re probably asking yourself, “Jourdain, I don’t see anything to do with failure. Why are you wasting our time?” Now, now, what’s a story without some background information?

    During my time abroad, I met this guy Chris. Chris is a Hong Kong native who has been studying in London and was now studying abroad in Australia. After a few months of hanging out constantly, he offered that I come visit his place in Hong Kong for the Easter Break. How could I not? I grabbed the essentials: wallet, phone, passport, laptop, my favorite hoodie, and a touristy attitude. I spent the first few days sightseeing, failing at picking up the language, and trying actual Chinese food. Then it happened, I woke up back at my friends place groggy and confused. “Ok, what happened?” I sat on the bed and mulled through the events of the day before. Mountain sightseeing? Check. Wax museum? Check. Loud music in a local club? Ok…then nothing. Everything after 2am is a blank slate. I talked to Chris and more or less got caught up. A lot had happened between my unceremonial departure from rational thought and arriving back at the house at 5am; none of which I’m necessarily proud of. I woke up in a foreign country, having to go back to a now less foreign country, missing my phone, wallet, and my hoodie. Miraculously, my passport survived the night, safely snug in my cargo shorts pocket, but now I had absolutely no money, no phone, no memories. My mom’s going to kill me.

    I flipped open my laptop and nonchalantly pulled up my mom on Facebook messenger and told her the news. She was furious, but there’s not much one can do from 10,000 miles away. I failed. I failed at being responsible. I let the freedom and the rush of adventure blind me, and this mistake cost me literally hundreds of dollars. I came to the sudden realization that the slim chance that I managed to save my passport is the only thing that allowed me to go back to my apartment in Australia. My parents had to internationally ship me an old phone and a reprint of my ID as I spent the next few weeks after the event borrowing friends’ old phones and explaining to the bank why my cards were missing.

    Nearly a year has passed since that time, and I think it’s safe to say everything turned out alright. But what did I learn? I live my life believing that every mistake is worth it if a lesson can be learned from it. The most prominent thing to me was how a strong support group can make even the worst situations bearable. There was not a single moment in which my friends or family didn’t try to help me, albeit with a healthy dosage of “I told you so” and “you should’ve known better.” I also took the opportunity to take an introspective look at myself. There are limits for everything, and I took the time to figure out where those limits lie. Whether it’d be in a social setting or time management, one needs to be able to handle themselves wisely to avoid taking anything too far. I think that my fail in Hong Kong, as well as the countless before and to come, help shape me to be a better version of myself.

  4. I entered UCF’s College of Business in 2015 to use it as my entrepreneurial playground. As an artist, I needed the business tools to market and profit from my own designs. I craved a diverse culture and spaces such as the CEL to cultivate creativity. That same year, I pitched a design to Vans. I spent sleepless nights designing a pair of shoes while running on coffee and, admittedly, almost drinking from the paint water. How could I not make this my career?
    2015 was 2 years ago. Since then, I have only finished small projects with no significant financials to show for that work. 2 years of immobility. 2 years of being stagnant. A pitch from 2015 has become the height of my career because I have failed in doing anything else. Although I have since gained momentum and will be releasing a major project this May, I have most certainly lost time. Art was my reason for enrolling in the College of Business and 2 years of forfeiting that passion has been my greatest failure.

    Marketing Major – Capstone section 0034

  5. Junior. Major-Integrated Business

    I am no stranger to failure. It has encompassed my life and has become something that I regularly encounter, like an ex-girlfriend that works with you. I will specifically mention a failure that I have recently encountered.

    Imagine trying your hardest at advertising, setting up, and planning your ideal event. No that you have your event in mind, imagine no one coming. For me, this is exactly what happened. I am the point of contact, organizer and marketing agent, not exactly the ideal role for a full time student with debt bigger than a killer whale. Plus having less than two weeks to acquire vendors to sell their items at your now, still happening, market. Sleep was not an option at this point and coffee became my new love. I worked tirelessly everyday and contacted all the vendors, got talent, and even a Santa Claus, which I did not know was the real Santa at that time who still didn’t give me my Batman action figure.

    Anyways, I had made all the arrangements, contacted everyone about the event, sent out an email blast with an awesome door-prize, a hug from me and a box of chocolates, and arranged for the arrival of the big Claus. The market started at 9 and, like Monday mornings, I knew it was not going to be a good day. From 9-12, the arrival of 10 people brought a little joy, the same feeling you get when grandma gives you $10 dollars to go to the grocery store, but you can keep the change. Needless to say, I already had restless vendors. I went to assure them that it would increase later on in the day, they remained faithful, as I did, but luck was not on our side.

    The faithful and warm-hearted Santa Claus arrive! It felt like Christmas, but more of a Christmas spent with second cousins from Europe that don’t quite understand why there are balls full of rum, instead of rum. With him arrived…drum roll please… 6 more people. At this point we thought we had to shut it down because it was so packed. After the departure of old St. Nick no one else came in. I felt so terrible for making them drive all the way out to Orlando and then not being able to make sales. But it was even worse having to go up to every vendor that arrived and apologize for the lack of attendance.

    Vendors already make little money as is and with my failure of a market, I knew I was not going to get welcomed faces. Each and every vendors I spoke to told me how much of a failure it was. Hearing that you failed not once, but 38 times puts you in a mood that not even going to Disney could fix. No to mention the fact that the company lost money on my behalf. Believe me when I say that the Monday meeting was exactly what Mondays feel like, dreadful.

    Since my first market, I have learned so much. Learning to operate an event, communicating to clients, and I have since then improved my marketing tactics. There has been little improvement in the market and has been cancelled, but that does not mean I did not learn the importance of failure. Even when I heard it another 50 times, I was and still am determined to run an event that is beyond successful. For me, failure gave me strength and determination to do, learn, and achieve greater things than I could have imagined.

  6. Many people say their biggest fear is death or public speaking. Mine has always been failure. I have had this fear of disappointing my parents and being a failure in the eyes of the people who believe in me. I have felt this way since I was a child and it went to the extent of me hiding my report cards when I would get anything lower than an A in grade school. When I entered high school, I found my stride and was able to find the perfect balance between school, extracurriculars and a personal life. I was the editor in chief of the yearbook and had leadership positions in each honor society that I was in. Once I was nearing graduation, I had acceptance letters from UF, USF, UCF and FSU wanted to give me a scholarship to be part of their journalism program.
    I chose UCF to stay close to my family and because I knew there was more opportunity for me in the Orlando area. I was at UCF for a tour with my father and we stumbled into a club fair where the Lead Scholars Academy had a table. My father didn’t even let the professor finish her presentation before he signed me up for the organization. I was not opposed to this since I wanted a group to be a part of at UCF. In a student body of 64,000 people, it’s easy to get lost unless you have a group of students you can call a family. That is why joining student organizations is so important and Lead was the perfect fit for me. I spent my freshman year as a marketing major with straight A’s, a high GPA and a leadership position in Lead Scholars Academy. I was able to say college was simple at this point but this feeling of ease wouldn’t last.
    During my sophomore year of college, my grandmother passed away. All those accomplishments I just mentioned suddenly meant nothing. While she was in the hospital I stopped going to class and stayed with her. I remember being in the testing center taking my .microeconomics final at the same time my parents were putting her ashes in the ocean. Not being there is one of my biggest regrets till date. At the end of the semester, I failed two classes and my GPA plummeted. I had applied to be the promotions director for the Lead Scholars Academy but my GPA was too low to keep the position and I had not even started yet. I made my case to the directors and they let me keep my position and gave me one semester to get my GPA up high enough. I knew that I would have to get straight As to make the cut and I was in extremely hard math classes for the college of business which made this seem like an impossible task.
    As the semester progressed, I was very well aware that I would not be able to officially keep my position in the organization but I kept working as hard as I could and editing the online newsletter. I ended up getting C’s in a few classes and I was told to step down and find a replacement. I had already put so much work into the newsletter that I told them I would continue working on it with my staff but give up my title and not go to team meetings. At this point in my college career, I was at my lowest. My GPA wasn’t budging and I was no longer in the executive board of Lead. I also learned that I could not be a marketing major anymore due to my GPA.
    Once summer came around, I realized I needed a change of scenery since I was starting to be harder and harder on myself to the point where it was getting unhealthy. After all that I had been through, I no longer had the drive I once had. I lost my love for learning and leading.
    I went to India to work for my aunt’s non profit organization named Sharana as a photographer for their social media marketing. I spent my time going to slums and villages and taking pictures of children. I started off just being a photographer and looking at all the situations from the outside. As the days progressed, I started joining the other volunteers and teaching the kids subjects like the alphabet, numbers and hygiene. There was such joy in their eyes when they would answer something correctly or when they would get supplies for school.
    I was humbled by this experience because I was only there for a summer and I was coming home to a beautiful university with endless opportunity whereas this was their daily life. This was as good as it was going to get for them. While I was working at a village art class one day, one of the social workers came up to me and started asking me questions about college in the states and what I was doing at UCF. She continued to tell me that her daughter is in school and that she wants to send her to college in America and that she is saving up. It was heartbreaking solely because I knew that this was a dream that was a bit too close to impossible. I knew that the social worker will fight as hard as she can to make it happen but her salary would never be enough. I knew that the possibility of her daughter making it to higher education was slim because she most probably would be married off when she hit the right age. When I came back to UCF, I felt like I had a purpose again. I realized how blessed I was and decided to stop feeling sorry for myself.
    I realized my goal is to graduate, work and start a non-profit that would provide the poor children and young adults in India the preparation they need to go to college. Most non-profits in India provide food, money and school supplies but I wanted to provide friendship, mentorship and a way for young adults to know where to go when they were lost. Many people get on a dangerous path when they do not have guidance. I want to prevent that for those who do not have a strong support or financial system. When I got back that fall, I had a new sense of purpose. I had a few road blocks I had to maneuver around. My GPA was too low to stay as a marketing major so with research, I found Integrated Business. I found a major that valued team work, public speaking and soft skills over the ability to memorize and take tests in a silent computer lab. I started to fall in love with learning again. I felt less like a robot and more like a human as I started interacting with students once again after years of being in lecture halls filled with hundreds of people. I decided I needed to join a club again and find another family at UCF. I ended up joining Sangam, The Indian Student Association at UCF and became their marketing director. The organization was a great way for me to showcase my Indian culture and I was able to make Sharna our philanthropy and host school supply drives throughout the year. I was once again able to combine my love for learning with leadership and my non profit.
    I am now a senior at UCF and I am going to graduate in December as a Integrated Business major with a Journalism Minor. I was the promotions director for the Lead Scholars Academy, the marketing director for Sangam and I worked with two non profits during my years here. I am currently interning for an advertising agency in downtown called Social Sky Media and I am looking at graduate schools so I can get my MBA. I can safely say I faced my greatest fear; failure. I needed to fall. I needed to cry on the ground outside BA1 after failing my finals. I needed to be told I lost my title in my organization. I needed to be told to change my major or leave the college. I needed to run away to India to cope with my self loathing. Without these situations where I was falling, I would have never learned to fly.

    • Hello Priyanka: You have been selected as a finalist in our failure competition! Congrats. Now I need you to video tape your story and to send me a link to the video by Wednesday, April 19th at 5 pm. Good Luck!

  7. Dylan D’Orazio
    Capstone Section: 31
    Instructor: Troy Pounds

    For the longest time, I have run from failure. My past belief was that failure was not an option in life and that successful individuals did not have any failures in their vocabulary. With that said, I never knew how to prepare for a failure until it happened. Below is my brief, yet meaningful failure.

    As a Junior at UCF, I had interned at the UCF Office of Research and Commercialization. My quest for a summer internship was coming to a resolution as I secured an interview at a leading research firm for a sales position. As my excitement increased, so did my confidence. As my confidence increased, my cockiness grew exponentially. The reason for this was that my first few interviews went exceedingly well. I was approaching my 3rd interview which was a role-playing exercise with multiple managers. Each interview prior had provided me with constructive feedback needed to improve myself for the next interview.

    The problem was that I had overlooked the feedback as a minor error at the time of the past interviews and thought that it would correct itself in my next interview. This misconception, accompanied by my conceited attitude had prevented me from taking time to correct my past mistakes. Thus, my 3rd interview had was not how I envisioned it. I plunged. Ultimately, the firm called me back and laid the bad news on me. I was devastated and my confidence level had drastically dropped. I had failed majorly.

    After researching the concept of failure, I discovered a quote from Winston Churchill, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.” This quote stuck to me and ingrained a new wave of confidence and optimism. I realized that one must learn from failures to improve the chance and rate of success. I worked on the errors I made during the past interview process and tried again at the same company as a Senior in my last semester of college. Triumphantly, I had successfully passed the multiple rigorous assessments and had received an offer letter!

    The reality is that failure is a natural, necessary, and inevitable part of life. Failure exists to promote improvement. Without them, society would not advance. Now, I seek failure because I know that success is on the other side.

    • – Resubmitted for updated version –

      Dylan D’Orazio
      Capstone Section: 31
      Instructor: Troy Pounds

      For the longest time, I have run from failure. My past belief was that failure is not an option and that successful individuals did not have failure in their vocabulary. Below is my brief, yet meaningful failure.

      As a Junior at UCF, I had begun my quest for a summer internship. I secured an interview at a leading research firm for a sales position. As my first few interviews went exceedingly well, my ego increased. I was approaching my third interview which was a role-playing exercise with multiple managers. Each interview prior had provided me with constructive feedback needed to improve myself for the next interview.

      I did not pay attention to the feedback or fix my errors in preparation for the third interview. Ultimately, the firm called me back and told me that I was not a good fit for the position. I was devastated and my confidence level dropped drastically.

      After researching the concept of failure, I discovered a quote from Winston Churchill, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.” This quote stuck to me and ingrained a new wave of confidence and optimism. I realized that one must learn from failures to improve the chance and rate of success. I worked on the errors I made during the past interview process and tried again at the same company as a Senior in my last semester of college. I had triumphantly passed the rigorous assessments and received an offer letter!

      The reality is that failure is a natural, and inevitable fact of life. Failure exists, and can be utilized to promote improvement. Accordingly, I no longer avoid failure, but strive to capitalize on intrinsic value as a tool for personal development.

  8. My name is Gina Kruse, I am a student in Capstone section 28 with Phyllis Harris. I look forward to some feedback on my experience with failure!

    The University of Central Florida was never on my radar while researching colleges as a junior in high school. My family is originally from California and even without living there, I had always been labeled a valley girl. My number one college choice for most of my life was UCLA, my parents were both alumni and their excitement while speaking about their time there always inspired me. My father joined the military before I was born and we moved from state to state, country to country, yet due to his military status, we were still California residents and I knew that made it easier to be accepted when I was to apply to UCLA. The outlook on our timing was perfect: his retirement would come as I was starting college, we would all move to California to continue residency and live close to the rest of our family.

    Right before my junior year of high school began, budget cuts for the military were released and my father was to retire almost immediately instead of staying in for an extra two years. He had no plans for a new job or how to sustain our current livelihood if forced to retire. He fought to stay in an extra year to allow himself time to prepare for retirement, but to do so we would have to move one more time. The terms were unexpected but there was no room to complain.

    We were moved to McGuire Air Force Base in south New Jersey. As a sixteen-year-old with an attitude, I was less than impressed with the area. Our neighbors were horses and cows, my new class size was barely 100 students, and it took a long time to find someone willing to let me intrude on their clique. In short, I was unhappy with my environment. The silver lining of the situation was the bond I formed with my family. I wanted to stay home and by doing so my parents always found ways to entertain me. My sister had always gotten on my nerves, but now she was my closest friend. As my father’s retirement came, he was offered his dream job at the base as a civilian. I soon watched my dreams of UCLA fade away as our residency was changed to New Jersey and most of our family was moving out of California due to the living expenses spikes. It was time to choose a new dream college.

    I spent months researching colleges. My mother bought me several of the giant books filled with information about every university imaginable. As I began my process, I cut out universities based on ridiculous guidelines. Less than 10,000 students sounded as small as my high school. Schools in the South were for the pretentious (mind you, I had never been to the South or even met anyone who grew up there). If the school’s website wasn’t pristine, it was out. After all of this, I applied to only three schools: one in-state and the rest out of state. My top choice was in Maryland, close to New Jersey and the campus was beautiful. I got into all of them.

    I chose the in-state school because I was afraid to leave my family. They had become my safety blanket in the past two years when everywhere else I felt alone. I chose a school in the exact place I hated living. 30 miles away does not put you in much of a different environment.

    I continued to be unhappy throughout my first year and a half of college until I learned about the Disney College Program in Orlando. I told my parents what a wonderful internship this would be to have on my resume, what a great company to start learning from. I would be paid and housing was provided: everyone saw me taking an opportunity that not many people try. I saw myself having a chance to experience something new, perhaps enjoy my college years as so many of my peers were.

    I moved 1053 miles away from my family. I was able to take my classes online and continued to do well academically, but I stayed in my apartment a lot of the time. I had made a couple friends, but when they invited me out I decided going home was the best option. I missed my family and hated being away from them. I saw no difference being in a different state. My five-month internship with Disney quickly was coming to an end the next month and I didn’t care. My roommates seemed very saddened at the thought of it, but I was ready to go home to my comfort zone.

    My mom called me one day and as we were talking, she asked me what my favorite moment down here had been. I answered with the fact I had been honored at work for being very diligent at my job, selling tickets. She laughed and said she was proud, but what about my experiences with the friends I had made. It suddenly dawned on me: I couldn’t think of one.

    I moved 1053 miles away from my family, and I allowed myself the same experience I could have had up in New Jersey. I was given a very desired internship with one of the top 100 companies in the US, one that gave me a place to live and three fun roommates to adventure with, and I never branched out. The apartments we lived at didn’t have many rules and interns were known for becoming very close with each other, yet I still spent my time skyping in my room with friends from my past. I received free access to the parks and numerous discounts in the area surrounding it, but I used it sparingly. I let what may have been a life-changing experience pass me by, and I still cannot give a good enough reason why.

    I didn’t understand the feeling of failure due to my own actions. Yet in that moment I felt an incredible amount of sorrow as I knew I hadn’t tried. I had to say goodbye to my mother on the phone and I looked around my apartment. My roommates had all left to go to Magic Kingdom together about an hour before. I had been invited to go, but I knew my mom would probably call and I wanted to talk to her. I rolled my eyes as I realized I could have had the exact conversation with her on the phone while waiting in line for a ride.

    I spent the rest of the night going over every moment I refused to go out of my way to have fun. I went through my phone and saw how few photos I had taken over the past four months. I knew that I had moved out here to leave an environment that made me unhappy, but when I left the comfort of my family, I began making myself unhappy regardless of where I was. I hadn’t failed my parents, I hadn’t failed my classes, I hadn’t failed anyone else except for myself.

    I still use the motivation from that night to push myself in new situations today. I felt my muscles twitch as I became anxious to go do something with my time. My mind could not stop thinking of places to go, people to text to see if they wanted to hang out, how I was going to experience my last month in Florida. Within a couple hours, I had almost three weeks of activities laid out.

    Through the next month, I thrived. I connected on another level with so many of my peers and every time my roommates went out, I was right there with them. I went to a park almost every day after work. I still called my parents when I missed them, but I would end up cutting the conversations short as I would be distracted having a good time. I changed my entire outlook and I fell in love with my new environment.

    I realized that I had a new found outlook on my actions and experiences, and where I was at the moment was doing a strong job of fostering those thoughts. I decided that going home had a high chance of allowing me to slip back into my comfort zone and make the same mistake down the road. I chose to take a chance on myself instead and transferred to the University of Central Florida. I moved into an apartment near Disney and was offered a position to stay on as a cast member after my internship ended. I joined several clubs and met at least twenty times the number of people I knew when I was living in New Jersey. I allowed myself to accept new challenges and knew that I was the only person who could make myself unhappy. I never wanted to know that feeling again and in the three years since I truly have not.

    My biggest failure was due to my own tampering. I limited myself and due to that, instead of having five months of a once in a lifetime opportunity, in reality, I only had one. However, that one month still continues to change my life. I took what I learned and apply it to new, scary situations. I have yet to turn down a new opportunity since. I associate all of my successes due to this experience, and I have an abundance of successes because of it.

    I have been asked by numerous people about what it was like moving away from my family to a place I had never been to. I always respond truthfully: it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it made being who I am today easy. I have a unique outlook on my failures, my independence, and how to make the best of what opportunities I am given. That is much more valuable to me than any experience I would have allowed myself back home.

  9. Hello, my name is Myles Yates and I am a junior pursuing a Marketing degree. The failure that I had experienced came to me when I wasn’t chosen to represent my organization in a team setting.

    To give more background, I am part of the organization called Project SPIT (Student Poetry Initiating Thought). It is a UCF-affiliated organization that helps students find a home in their creativity with a focus on writing and poetry. It helped me become a better person and helped find a love in poetry. It is something that I use to relieve stress. An extraordinary thing that my organization does is compete in a national competition called the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational or CUPSI. They have competed two years so far and successfully become one of the top 20 schools with one year where they ranked in the top 5. I had the opportunity to go to one of the competitions, and it really inspired me to try and go for the team.

    When the time came to start preparing a team, I did my best to make sure that I would be considered. Individuals can be considered to be on the team through a competition where they showcase their poetry. I prepared myself by perfecting my craft in the weeks leading up to the event so I could succeed. I went to poets who had experience in competing and got their feedback. I delved into myself to create pieces that were both personal and showcased my poetic abilities. I also spent countless hours trying to make sure everything went right, both in the content of my pieces as well as my delivery of them. When the competition came, I did extremely well. I was ranked 6th out of 15 poets, which was considered to be an excellent placing amongst so many talented individuals. I was happy in what I was able to do. What my organization decided also to do was have everyone send in audition tapes so everyone has an equal chance. I sent mine and waited to hear back. It was my surprise to learn that I did not make the team. It also surprised everybody else because they all saw my passion to be on the team. I decided to ask the person in charge of deciding the team the reason I didn’t make it in. The reason was that in my videos they saw how tense and stressed I got in my performance, and he was worried that I would be too stressed with preparation to compete.

    I was very distraught when I learned that my failure was indirectly caused by this. I always believed that with hard work and perseverance, I could achieve anything. It came to the point where I almost thought about leaving the organization and quit poetry. Though after taking some time to think it through, I have a better understanding my weakness that caused this failure. I sometimes find myself overexerting myself to achieve something while not taking care of myself in the meantime. I realize now that if I had this mindset while in my career, this could really damage both my mind, body, and spirit. How I can do everything right, but at the same time, make myself miserable at the end

    After all this time, I realized that I really needed this failure. It helped me comprehend to not push myself too far past my limits. To make sure that I, as a person, do not damage myself while striving for something that I want. Failure can be a wake-up call and now I use it as a way to build myself.

  10. Matt Richardson
    Capstone Section Number: 31
    Capstone Lab Instructor: Troy Pounds
    It takes a lot for someone to admit their failures, but perhaps it takes an even bigger person to see that these failures often turn into successes. Personally, it took a long time for me to get over my failure and for me to see the bright side because, in my situation, it was my life. I played professional baseball for five years and although that is something to be proud of, I still wish it could have been more. The biggest success and biggest failure in my life happened to be the same thing.
    My whole life, the only dream I had was to play professional baseball. To this day my parents still mention my childhood, and how unique I was by staring at the television for hours on end watching a baseball game, and they would tell me it just was not normal as a little boy, but I loved it. As time went on, it became apparent that I had a special gift, and it was obvious that I had a talent that escaped the grasp of most people. High school rolled around and it started to sink in that my dreams actually had a chance of becoming a reality. As a sophomore in high school I was ranked as a top 100 high school prospect and began to receive letters and calls from college coaches. I had narrowed my choice down to Louisville and the University of Central Florida. After much deliberation, I made my choice to attend UCF and I was excited for that chapter in my life. When that excitement faded, a new possibility arose. My senior year of high school I started receiving phone calls and letters from a slightly higher realm of competition, my childhood dream, professional baseball teams. After my final year of high school breezed by, I ended up being selected by the New York Yankees in the 15th round of the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft.
    So far this may seem like a success story, and as I mentioned before, my situation was fairly unique. I remember my professional career starting out so easy. After my first practice, I was on the phone with my dad and I remember telling him I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do this. Everything was simple and fun. As I started my first actual season, the second year after being drafted, I put up video game numbers. I had a 0.6 ERA in my first five starts and it looked like this could be something I had a real chance at making a career out of, however shortly after this, reality struck. Any baseball fan knows that this game is a game of failure, however until that point I had never experienced any. After those first five starts, I simply could not compete, and that was the first time I actual experienced failure. The game that seemed so fun and easy all of a sudden became scary. For a lack of a better word, I was flat out terrible at handling it. Eventually this failure got into my head and I put enormous pressure on myself to be perfect, and that is something you learn is not achievable.
    After that season my career was at a standstill. I came back for spring training hoping that the nerves would have subsided, however they were worse than ever. I ended up staying in Tampa that whole year attempting to figure out what exactly happened to me, and why I was so worried about something that came so easy for the prior 15 years. Many things crossed my mind as to why I was feeling the way I was, however the main thing I couldn’t shake was the fact that if baseball didn’t work out I would have to go back to school. After four years out of school that idea sounded awful and terrifying. Plus playing professional baseball was exactly what I wanted to do my whole life. It took a couple years of me struggling before I relayed these feelings to my agent. He made the suggestion of getting and MRI and just making sure everything physically was okay. Bad news for me, I needed surgery.
    The next two years were filled with painful rehab and the realization that I will probably never play at the level I once did. That sad day came in March 2013 when my career ended. The Yankees Vice President at the time, Pat Roessler, called me into a back room and sat me down quietly. He didn’t waste any time in telling me that they had to let me go. I held back the tears as he gave me a hug and shortly after, I packed my locker and headed home. At this point in time, I thought my life was over. This was the ultimate failure of my life. Everything I had worked so hard for was taken from me in an instant.
    The next couple months I moped around, I enrolled in college courses, and attempted to get my life back together. This new life style was very different, but not quite as scary as I anticipated. Over the next few years I came to the realization that, although my last three years as a professional were dreadful, they molded my way of thinking. I realized that failing all that time sculpted me to be the man I am now, and having a positive outlook on pretty much everything I come across. Here I am in my last semester of college, proud to be graduating, and the thing I dreaded so much while playing, could possibly be one of the best things that ever happened to me. I am excited to see what happens next, and I am thrilled I failed at my childhood dream.

  11. Brandy Ortiz
    Class Standing: Senior
    Field of Study: Accounting

    It all began 44 years ago in Irving, Texas. I was born to young parents who were both on their second marriages. My mother had three children from her previous marriage and my father had two children. They then had me totaling five girls and one boy. Without going into too much unnecessary detail, I will just say that throughout my childhood, I have clear lingering memories of undesirable events that occurred in our home. I believe these events occurred because my parents were financially overwhelmed having to care for such a large family. Due to this burden, they did not quite know how to handle their stress, so they would vent their frustrations out on us, the children.

    Now I know that everybody has a story to tell about how they came to be. I can certainly respect a person’s life experiences, as that is the recipe for why a person develops into who they are today. In fact, I find it intriguing. I will also say; however, I have certainly coped with my fair share of trepidation throughout my years. With that being said, I have made numerous bad choices in my life.

    I began working at the age of 12. My father was at the beginning of what came to be his first of many very successful entrepreneurial rides, owning 36 restaurants at the time. I worked for his company. I was taught early in life the true value of a dollar and just how vital work ethic is. I learned more than most about business, management, and the inner workings of business financials throughout my teenage years.

    During this time in my life I became rebellious. I was pissed off. My parents still had zero patience and they continued to take their frustrations out on us. Ultimately, I quit high school at the age of 15. I ran away numerous times. I recall one time when I had run away and I just knew I was not coming back. I lived anywhere that anyone would allow me to stay. This sense of freedom was short lived. My parents located me and sent me to live with my sister in Florida. We were living in Texas at the time, so to me, it was a major ordeal to be several states away. After just a few months of me living with my sister, I ended up moving back home with my parents, due to medical issues I was having at the time.

    Being 15 years old, I began questioning my life choices. I knew I was on the wrong track. Living on the streets and not going to school was not going to get me anywhere in life. I was a failure and felt like I was a burden to society. I remember thinking during that time, “Who in their right mind can become successful in their life living the way I am?” I decided to pour my time and energy into working. I knew at the very least this was something that I was good at. I encompassed work ethic and put it to good use. I also enrolled back into high school and was determined to graduate with my intended class. After much hard work, through my dedication and commitment to achieve my goal, I walked across the stage in 1991 to receive my high school diploma. I was beyond proud of what started out to be living a life with no direction, to where I picked myself back up off the floor and made a success out of it.

    This bad choice, failure, screw up, in my life was not the only one. Trust me, there is more where that came from. I then went on to have failed marriages. Yes, that is plural. I was not exactly sure how to function in a successful relationship. Hell, I did not even know what a successful relationship looked like, as that example was not set for me and my siblings.

    I also owned, and co-owned numerous businesses in various industries myself. Some were more successful than others. My education solely consisted of a high school diploma at that point in my life. I owned my first business at just 19 years old. My father and I often worked together in some business ventures. At times, we had separate business ventures that we were involved in as well. The work ethic I encompassed, combined with the knowledge I had gained about business, afforded me the opportunity to be self-employed at this young age.

    At 23, I decided to take my life experiences and give hope to the lost. Because I constantly battled with feeling inadequate as a child, I wanted to prevent other children from feeling the same. I adopted my two children from the foster care system in Texas. Raising two children ultimately by myself, who were drug babies, was no easy task. Talk about building character. I experienced situations I had not fathomed I would. For example, I was exposed to coping with cutting, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), Depression, ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder), etc. In addition, my son went through chemo and radiation treatment as a teenager after discovering an enormous mass was wrapped around his rib cage. I was grateful when his treatment was deemed to be a success.

    My former husband and I moved to Florida exclusively to buy an existing business with three car audio and security retail locations. We learned quickly what it was like to go through the SBA (Small Business Administration) to get funding for our business. We also purchased a beautiful waterfront home in Merritt Island on the Indian River. My kids were excelling at school, consistently making the honor roll, and would continuously bring home awards for their academics. Several years into operating the business, we added a window tinting business to two of our locations. The addition of the new business was quite lucrative. Life was running smoothly and going my way, or so I thought.

    The boom of the large retailers, one of them being Best Buy, created a major negative impact on our business. The fact was that we could not compete with their retail pricing. Our revenue plummeted. We quickly got to the point to where we were not even cash flowing. To make matters worse, just the year before, my family dealt with losing my only brother to a drug overdose when he was just 30 years old. This was just one more challenge I had to learn to cope with. Additionally, my first marriage of 12 years was in the process of failing. Talk about stress!

    While life was like an extreme roller coaster ride during that time, we realized that we had come to a cross roads with our business. My former husband and I gave the business not only all our time and energy, but all of our money as well. Even after receiving guidance from SCORE, who are counselors that provide free business mentoring services for entrepreneurs who get funding through the SBA, we were faced with a dilemma. It was too late. The well had run dry. We ran out of money to support the business.

    Sadly, we were forced to close the doors to all three retail locations. This was one of the toughest decisions I ever had to make. Twenty-four people were without jobs. These people were the bread winners for their families, so the mouths they had to feed at home suffered as well. The total number of people immediately impacted was 53. This business failure occurred due to my lack of knowledge and education on how to be a successful entrepreneur. When we had to close the doors to the business, I felt not only like I failed but was defeated. I felt worthless and shameful. I had begun this endeavor at the age of 25, so I had not pursued a formal education at that point, nor did I have a business plan in place. I ended up being reactive to putting out fires, versus proactive by forecasting potential issues in advance ensuring I was on track for positive cash flows.

    This failure, or feeling of being hopeless, inspires me daily to never go back to that place again. I have been using this failed experience compounded with my formal education, and as of 2016, am a Partner with Ortiz CPA & Company Complete Business Solutions. Robert, my incredible husband, and I made the decision to take his Corporate America experience, along with my entrepreneurial experience, and become business partners. My attitude this time is that I refuse to lose. I will put forth whatever time and energy it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. This time I am much more prepared. I have also used this attitude and applied it toward my education. I have received my Associate in Arts Degree, Financial Operations Specialist Certificate, and Financial Operations Certificate; all Summa Cum Laude.

    Let me tell you, I was scared as hell to put myself out there again with our business, especially knowing my dad ended his own life just a few years ago because his last attempt at operating a successful business failed. Recall that my father was at one point extremely successful. He actually ended up taking his own life because he allowed his last business failure to control him, consume him, beat him. This business failure brought him not only to his knees, but to the depths of depression causing him to pull the trigger, literally. In my opinion, it is not the failure that defines a person, it is picking yourself up off the floor and making a success out of it.

    My father’s suicide motivates me daily. I am now very involved in the community networking with many business professionals in the area. I maintain very high standards surrounding ethics, and value maintaining a professional, respectable reputation honoring integrity as the basis of my character. Robert and I are in business to help small to mid-sized businesses maximize their financial success. I love offering this service for the simple fact that I personally feel this is my way to give back to the entrepreneurs of today. This is my attempt to help others avoid falling in the same trap I did. More importantly, offering our services could possible prevent someone from following in my father’s footsteps.

    If I could motivate, inspire, and help lead any entrepreneur, or person actually, to be the best version of themselves they can be then my life is complete. I am excited to have been asked by Dr. Cameron Ford to speak at the upcoming WTF! (Ways To Fail) Confessionals at the StarterSpace. This opportunity will allow me to impact, or perhaps make a difference, in someone’s vision or thoughts about their own personal past failures, as they are the building blocks for tomorrow’s success. I will be divulging my failures on where I went wrong in my business decisions in honor of my father. The person that I am today is not due to my history of successes, rather my extensive failures. My failures have given me strength that I would otherwise not have. I would suggest to anyone that they embrace their life and their failures with a positive attitude. Look in the mirror and be proud of the person staring back. Each failure takes a person one step closer to success.

  12. One afternoon during my junior year at UCF my roommate and I were out at lunch when a simple question changed the way we thought about business forever. At the restaurant, whose name I withhold for the sake of privacy, we noticed how much we liked all the signs they had adorning their walls. Signs that would fit perfectly into the theme of our college apartment. When we finished eating my roommate approached the manager, introduced himself and prompted his question. He was on his way to getting a BFA in Film at the time and when he mentioned this the manager replied by saying they needed some new promotional material for their website. The lightbulb went off, and as a film student who is always hungry for work, he didn’t hesitate to agree to the task.
    That day we left the store with two large Bud Light signs among a few various bar mats. Besides the physical items we had, we left the store with an idea and a team. We were ecstatic at the idea of making money doing promotions for small businesses, Rene does the filming and I’ll do the editing. A perfect balance of both of our backgrounds. We gathered some gear together and headed back to the restaurant that night to give them the first sample of our work.
    The first project we took on was a short in-restaurant promo showcasing their sporty atmosphere. They wanted to bring people in for the super bowl that was coming up the following weekend. We got some video that night and by the next day, I had a thirty-second commercial ready for them. Naive and excited we took the video straight to them in the store on an iPad. To our delight, they saw the potential we had and wanted to hire us for more material. Already at our first official business meeting, that day we agreed to do a photoshoot of their food and a longer catering video. Contingent along with some slight rebranding to the original video.
    The next week we came back to get pictures of their food. I had sent them a few revisions of the original ad and while they told us they liked it they never had enough time to run it as a campaign before the big game. We were never particularly upset about this because it’s what got our foot in the door. A plate of almost every item they had on the menu later, we had hundreds of photographs and angles of food.
    I spent the better half of the following week cropping and editing these pictures. All while eating the same exact stuff I was staring at out of our fridge since they let us take the leftovers home instead of throwing them away. The pictures came out great and they had them up on their website as soon as I sent them. The date of the catering event was still a ways out. We were hopeful that our check would come when we turned in that finished package. Two weeks went by without any communication from either party.
    The day of the catering event was now upon us and we did what we could to get the best footage possible. Knowing this was our big delivery, I was extra diligent about making sure the final product came out perfect. Nearly a month passed of constant revisions and additions. Rene and I were constantly calculating the hours we were putting into this and drafted a proposal to bring to them with the finished video. When we had a copy we were pleased with we took it by them in the same style as before albeit this time with a piece of paper in hand. This draft signified how much time we spent working on their various projects and what we believed to be a reasonable compensation for our work. We showed them the video and dropped off the paper to the manager who was uncannily busy that day. He said he would get back to us shortly and we were on our way.
    That statement was now two weeks stale without another word from them. We had to make a move or else our deal was going to be lost. We went back to the store where we approached them about our video. This time they were now trying to renegotiate into shifting our compensation into something that wasn’t monetary. Something that we didn’t make a priority to end up empty handed. They weren’t going to pay us. We weren’t going to give them the last video until that happened.
    We thought we failed. We worked for months with the only fruits of our labor being something that’s on the wall of our apartment and a free meal. There was a lesson in making sure expectations are understood on both sides of the deal before doing the work. Then, have that in writing. It was never clear what they expected for their videos in any sort of timeframe and it was never clear how we wanted to be compensated. Mistakes we are never likely to make again as professionals.
    It taught us how opportunity sits around every corner if you just look. Work can be found in the most unexpecting places if you possess complementary skills somebody else lacks. Those first videos we made were worth more than any sandwich because we used those as examples of professional work to secure other jobs. Rene graduated the following year and secured a position doing video production and marketing for a mega church in Dallas. I found an internship doing editing for a podcast that gave me a hundred bucks per video. Now, I am interning with UCF athletics doing live video production for sporting events and in my personal time, I have expanded into the rapidly growing field of drone video production. My videos have been viewed thousands of times online and the sky is truly the limit.

    Wade Smith
    Business Management Major
    Capstone Section 0022 with Ms. Stephanie Leonard

  13. Class Standing: Senior
    Field of Study: Integrated Business

    When you aspire to become an entrepreneur, an inventor, a risk-taker, you face failure every single day. Hearing success stories of fellow classmates starting their own venture’s, inventing new products, and changing the world makes me wonder why I keep failing myself. We never take the time to stop and think how many failures these individuals have gone through to finally get where they are today. Picture all the sleepless nights, and failed recipes Jesse Wolfe went through before finally getting it right. Yet he still pushed forward, overcoming his failures and became a successful entrepreneur.

    Before starting my college career I had a rough time towards the end of high school, this is where my failure begins. With an extreme case of “senioritis” grades started to slip and attendance was borderline of receiving a court date. To my amazement, I graduated and was planning on walking down the stage until my second failure occurred. I was arrested, with two misdemeanor charges, only days before graduation. This was the tipping point when I started to realize my mistakes over the past year and how I needed to make drastic changes before beginning college. I finally understood that I was ruining my life and not only failing myself but failing my mother and not growing up to be the son she deserves.

    During that summer after graduation and before starting college I spent months fulfilling the punishments for my crimes. While doing so I looked back on my actions and wondered how I ended up in this situation. At the time it seemed like a logical question to ask myself but looking back at it now it almost seems childish to say. The moral of me telling this story is that this was my new beginning, a second chance. The months to follow I enrolled into a community college, worked five days a week and met a beautiful girl whom I’m still in contact with today. Now, this makes it sound like a happy ending but on the contrary. Even today, after all these mishaps, I’m still failing myself and those around me. Not in such an obvious way but enough that it impacts my life. Hopefully, with time and the right opportunity presenting itself, I won’t have this sense of failure anymore and I can finally achieve my goal of being a successful entrepreneur.

    Thank you for this opportunity and allowing me to share my story,

    Jonathon Gilbert

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