Michael Litt – TEDxUW – Why You Have To Fail To Have A Great Career
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[Michael Litt – TEDxUW – Why You Have To Fail To Have A Great Career]
[Michael Litt] Source: LYBIO.net
Hi guys. I am here today to talk to you about the “F” word. You’ve all said it. You’ve probably said it earlier today, once or twice, for me maybe 20 times. You’ve probably said it to your friends. Your friends have said it to you. You’ll be surprised you said it to your parents. Your parents have said it to you. And this academic institution that we’re sitting in today has taught you to fear it. That word is in fact F-U-N, fun. That was a good one. I am glad you guys were interactive. So, in all honesty, today I am actually talking to you about failure. I was kind of giving in the preemptive.
Failure is a terrible thing. Everybody experiences it. You will experience it. You’ll experience it academically, career-wise. So I did what any good speaker who hasn’t really done much speaking would do and I googled the word and I was going to do a definition thing, but everybody hates those. And so I did something else. I found there was 543 million data points on the Internets about failure. That’s a lot of numbers. And Google found that for me in about 0.23 seconds. That’s a lot of information very fast. People obviously care about failure.
So I pretended that I was an alien, from outer space and I was coming to earth after a nuclear apocalypse and the only thing left was mother Google servers and I had to piece together humanity. And so I googled failure and I found this. [plane landing fail] It’s an epic fail. I found this. [George Walker Bush speaking on the phone] It’s an absolutely epic fail. This guy, [Olympic hurdles] yeah, it hurts. And finally the most epic fail of all. [bicycle trick gone wrong]. And so I thought about what this would mean to society. In all honesty that’s not what my talk is about. My talk is about the fact that you will fail to have a great career and this obviously pulls on a fantastic TEDxUW talk of past, from Larry Smith and his talk was deserves applause.
And his talk was: “You will fail to have a great career unless…” And in typical Larry fashioned, he left unless as his low-hanging fruit. It was dangling in front of you. All you had to do is reach out and grab it, but you really didn’t know what it was and he left it to you to make your own conclusions. I am an engineer and I want to make it easier for you to understand what that unless it is through my own experiences.
[Michael Litt] Source: LYBIO.net
So this is an optical illusion. You’ve all seen this optical illusion before and you know what to think about optical illusion. So, which line is longer? Yell it out, yell it out! The top one. Right, okay. So everybody is saying that it is the same. At least most people are saying it’s the same. You’re trained, okay – you’re trained to believe that these lines are actually the same and some of you are smart and should keep your mouth shut. I am just kidding. But you are taught to believe that they’re actually the same length. It’s an optical illusion. I must be tricking you. Therefore, they’re the same length because I asked you which line is longer. So those of you that yelled out the same, you’re actually wrong because I changed it.
The top line is longer and so those of you who were like “the same, the same”, you probably feel a little foolish, because the guy next to you, who thought it, but didn’t say it, is now just chillin’. And he is like – that’s right. And if you’re Malcolm you love it, because you got it right and you somehow can calculate distances with your brain. But that feeling you have inside of you right now is the feeling of failure. You shouldn’t have shouted it out, you shouldn’t have commented, you shouldn’t have made that step. You shouldn’t have followed your gut instinct and you will learn from that. And what I want to teach you is how to learn from that.
And so, story time. In second year University I started a company called Litt Energies. That is not a jar of my urine. That is a jar of biodiesel and my brother and I wanted to produce biodiesel in Gulf and sell it to companies all over the world, but mostly in Canada. Petrochemical companies had not committed to producing biodiesel yet and the Greater Transit Authority of the Greater Toronto Area, GTA squared was going to be buying biodiesel from small producers because the government wanted all fleets to run with biodiesel.
So I traveled all over Southwestern Ontario with this little jar of biodiesel, trying to sell it to these companies and we needed to sell 5 million liters of biodiesel, which will raise $5 million in cash to build this refinery in Gulf. It was a lofty goal. And there is one particular incident; and this is the actual jar. I kept it in my glove box and it was a very cold January day, and the fear around biodiesel, specifically in Canada, is that it freezes at a temperature that’s higher then regular diesel fuel. It’s a big issue in a cold climate. My car was old. It didn’t have a heating core. I was running it on 1% biodiesel to make a point. Could barely start it in the morning and I drove all the way to Toronto with this jar of biodiesel in the glove box. I was 10 minutes early. And this was a meeting with the Greater Transit Authority of the Greater Toronto Area, big meeting, 42nd floor.
Get out of my car 10 minutes early, reach into the glove box and I find a biodiesel Popsicle. And you can imagine how difficult the sale was going to be; because you need to have a product like this that’s tangible for people to buy into it, especially when there is fear. So I pulled this Popsicle, which is now leaking on me, and I get into the elevator 42 floors, 2 1/2 minutes, it feels like 18 years and I rub this jar between my legs. This is the feeling of failure.
[Michael Litt] Source: LYBIO.net
So I get to the floor, I check in. My hands were shaking. I go to the bathroom. I opened the top and I hold that underneath the hand dryer. 2 1/2 minutes, it feels like 18 years and I start to see it slowly thawing. I go and sit in the waiting room. I find a vent on the floor. I put my bag on top of the vent and I am believing that this vent is going to melt the biodiesel and I am watching it, I am watching it and the lady behind the counter she has been looking to my bag and she is probably worried that I’ve got like a bomb or a weapon in there, meeting gets delayed probably because of that.
And I finally go in the room. And so everybody knew I had this jar, everybody wanted to see it. And what I would do is, like I poured it into a wine glass. People could touch it, feel it I wouldn’t touch this stuff myself. Some guys would drink it because they believe in the capabilities of this product. Have the meeting, where’s the biodiesel? We really want to see it, because we had produced this ourselves in our garage. I have it, but let’s talk about the environmental implications of the product for a little while longer. Where is the biodiesel? I want to see it. I have it, but let’s talk about being a clean feet, a green fleet for Canada.
Finally, I could no longer wait, and I looked into the bag and I saw this wonderfully clear, golden liquid and it had thawed and I reached in, pulled it out, up righted it and thunk – 80% ice. And that was the end of the meeting. And that feeling is the feeling of failure. And I remember instinctively thinking to myself, which is a comical thought that I was literally selling ice to Eskimos and it could not have been more true. We failed to build Litt Energies. It was not a success. Not only did we fail to build Litt Energies, but this is my second year at University. This is even before the two-third point. 2A wasn’t even to be or not 2B. I tried to build this business and I failed that term in school as well.
As you can imagine, you start a business, you’re crazy. Everybody thinks you’re insane and they all think that you’re going to fail. And then you fail your term in school and all the people they thought you’re going to fail. Now rub it in, because your friends were moving on in academia and you’ve got a year of your life with nothing to do, because your business failed, there is no way to sell this product. There is no money from investors and you really don’t have an academic career. So, I did what everybody else does, and I went and work to the big software company in town and I learned how to write code and I’d bettered myself with the process. But digging myself up from that wall, dusting myself off and moving forward was very, very difficult. Again my best friends in the world were no longer going to be going through an education with me, and I watched as they did. I learned from that.
[Michael Litt] Source: LYBIO.net
And so, I have another optical illusion, which line is longer? The difference is that everybody is a lot quieter, because I told you that you’ve failed the first time. And that’s the wrong lesson to learn. Even though you’re wrong, and I still hear people mumbling, it doesn’t even matter and I am not going to tell you what the answer and if you find me after, I can show you. But you should still be willing to shout something out, even if you’re wrong.
Who cares what the guy next to you thinks? Who cares what your friends think? Who cares what your parents think? You will fail to have a great career, unless you fail to have a great career. It’s an oxymoron, and its ridiculous, but it makes sense, right. So again, you will fail to have a great career, unless you fail to have a great career. Don’t listen to your friends. Don’t listen to your parents. Don’t listen to the academic institutions that make you fear the concept of failure. Failing that academic turn – term and failing at building Litt Energies was the best thing that ever happened to me. If you want to find a more about that I’ll stick around and talk to you about it. Remember, be somebody or be somebody’s fool. Thank you.
Michael Litt – TEDxUW – Why You Have To Fail To Have A Great Career. you should still be willing to shout something out, even if you’re wrong. Who cares what the guy next to you thinks? Who cares what your friends think? Who cares what your parents think? You will fail to have a great career, unless you fail to have a great career.Complete Full Transcript, Dialogue, Remarks, Saying, Quotes, Words And Text.