Embracing Sink Holes

It’s one thing when life gives you lemons, but what do you do when the ground literally opens up beneath you? Make it into a feature attraction.

A sink-hole hit the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, devouring eight of the vintage cars on display.

  • “Since the headline-making incident, museum visitations have been up 59 percent, and revenue is up 65 percent, according to Christy Thomas, CFO for the museum. ‘If the interest in the exhibit wanes, or if down the road we decided that we don’t want the hole any longer there is always an option to put the room back how it was,’ said Thomas.”


Omfattar Misslyckande

Colgate pizza


Museum Day today. A chance for aficionados to embrace their failure appreciation. At the Museum of Failure in Sweden – “Sweden’s Museum of Failure: A spectacular catalogue of the world’s worst innovations”:

  • The Museum of Failure celebrates the absurd and hilarious wrong turns that companies have taken in their product development—from Colgate’s unappetizing beef lasagna, to Harley Davidson’s leathery-scented perfume, to Bic’s sexist “for Her” lady’s pen…In Helsingborg, Sweden, the museum seeks to de-stigmatize personal and professional failure.”

The main “galleries” will include…

  • Brand Over-Extensions – eg. Harley-Davidson Eau de Toilette, Coffee-flavoured Coke
  • Design – N-Gage phone that had to be dissembled to play games, Twitter Peek for looking at Tweets but didn’t show 140 characters.
  • Symbolic – Not themselves failures but emblematic of a larger failure which doomed the company such as Blockbuster DVD and Kodak pursuit of photo printing.


Fire with Fire

What better adversary to the scourge of the deadly disease of cancer than another deadly disease…HIV.

What we’ve learned how to do is train the immune system to recognise and kill tumor cells” describes Dr. Carl H. June of the University of Pennsylvania. And that tutor is the HIV virus. Genetically modified so as not to infect the patient with HIV. Not too far of a mental leap from basic immunization which injects people with the disease it wishes to make you immune to only this procedure is about a thousand times more complex.

And, it is the also failure of treatment that is actually enabling these breakthrough innovations. As such an approach is so risky, that at this stage they can’t be justified for use on any patients who might have a higher chance of better outcomes with other therapies available.

  • Patients that we are treating in this clinical trial are patients who have absolutely no other options left for them. These are patients who are unfortunately destined to die of their disease and in a fairly short amount of time.”

Fortunately, for all of us but especially patients like Emma showcased in the video, these radical approaches have worked advancing our knowledge of how to refine them and progress them taking us ever closer to a cure for cancer.

(thanks Missy)


Tragedy Plus Time

“With humor, the equation is ‘tragedy plus time equals comedy.” – Tig Notaro

Tig Notaro turned the worst day of her life into a historic classic of performance comedy.

Opening the line “Good evening. Hello. I have cancer. How are you? Hi, how are you? Is everybody having a good time? I have cancer” (The clip above features the jaw-dropping first three minutes of her now infamous set. You can purchase the entire performance on iTunes). She goes on to explain:

  • I had this bacteria eating my digestive tract…Please bear with me. It’s so hard because right now in my life because right now when I have a show I don’t want to talk about how funny it is that a bee was taking the 405 freeway…because (everyone relax), my mother just died…Tragically too! She was 65, tripped, hit her head – died. A week after I got out of the hospital – ’m doing okay…So the timeline – I was in the hospital for a week with CDIF. Got out out. A week later my mother died. Then – I know it’s hilarious – then I went through a breakup. Right in the middle of it all. It’s tough times…you can’t stick around for that…All of it just turned into cancer.”

I’ve always said that there is a line to be drawn in embracing failure. There is failure and there is tragedy. I guess the difference is that the learning and dividends of “failures” outweigh the costs of the failures themselves. But with “tragedies”, the cost is so great, that no amount of growth can compensate for the loss. And yet, despite the extraordinary series of tragic events that Tig suffered, she still managed to turn it into one of the most inspired and inspiring comedic pieces in the history of stand-up.

This weekend starts off the “Race for Life” season where thousands of women face their own extreme physical challenges (especially with the introductions of “tough mudders” in the mix) to raise money to fight the scourge of cancer. As a friend of a recent cancer survivor, I am witness to the success this research is having to save lives. Especially to add “time” to the equation of those lives so more of that “tragedy” can become “comedy”.

Best Work

Gapingvoid - failure option

Happy 15th Birthday to Gapingvoid. I probably celebrate the anniversary of Hugh’s brainchild venture more than he does. But then, he is someone who celebrates embracing failure more than just about any blogger (except me, obviously). I’m taking this occasion to share a couple of my favourite gems. So many of my RSS feeds I once subscribed to have died or fallen by the wayside over that decade and a half since we would get together for coffee meetups and beer crawls in London (the latest casualty is Scott Adams who has fallen into a dark place of Trump apologia). But Hugh remains as fresh, dynamic and edgy as he was from the outset. Keep ‘em coming.

Gapingvoid - best work

How to Turn a Wound into a Wizard

Harry Potter mark

International Harry Potter Day that is also known as “The Anniversary of The Battle of Hogwarts”. One battle scarred fan deftly turned his wounds into a badge of honour. Buzzfeed article “A Mom Turned Her Self-Conscious Son’s Cut Into A Magical Lightning Bolt” reports:

  • “Ayden had an unfortunate fall last Tuesday night. He jumped on a pile of laundry and cut his forehead on the side of the bed frame. Ayden was so self-conscious about the cut the next day he didn’t want to leave the house, said Benesh. ‘I kept asking him if I could see it under the Band-Aid and he kept covering it,’ said Benesh. Then she got the idea to take advantage of Ayden’s love for dress up to help him embrace his cut. ‘I asked if he’d like to be Harry Potter,’ said Benesh. ‘And he said ‘Yeah!’’”

Failure embracing advocate JK Rowling would be proud.

Riffing off Mistakes

If you always sound good in the practice room, you’re probably not doing it right.” – Unknown

Jazz Day today is a time to celebrate the musical genre that more than any other celebrates failure. It’s spontaneity and invention means “Every mistake is an opportunity in jazz” according to Stefon Harris in his virtuoso TED talk “There are no mistakes on the bandstand”.