Australia flag falling stars


Happy Australia Day!

I have an been exploring national cultural differences in attitudes to risk (and by implication failure). Today is an apropos time to add another country…Australia. My source is a piece by Jessica Gardiner in the Australian Financial Review titled “Accepting failure on path to success

  • “Failure was not encouraged in Australia, as it was in Silicon Valley, he said. ‘A lot of it comes from the sense that ‘Life in Australia is pretty good so why be ambitious? Why try and take the risk of possibly failing?’”

A bit more research gleaned some further insights come from my professional alma mater, Microsoft and a BizSpark event highlighted in the Technology Spectator’s piece ‘Why tech start-ups don’t fear failure’.

  • “Having learnt a lot from past failures can be a big advantage later in life, according to start-up investor and adviser Alan Jones, who has been involved in the sector since 1995. Jones says that he often introduces himself to clients as their chief hindsight officer. ‘All the advice I give now is derived from mistakes I’ve made in the past,’ Jones says. However, Jones adds that Australia is a lot less forgiving of failure than our US counterparts. He says it’s because Australia is a tighter marketplace. While in the US there may be around five to eight super successful companies in the market, the Australian market usually only supports around two or three. A cursory glance of our telco and supermarket industry certainly reinforces that view.”

These assessments somewhat surprise me. Australia seems like a buoyant personality built on a heritage of new beginnings that would seem to have more in common with American risk taking and fault tolerance.