In a refreshing twist on the arguably cliched "failure breeds success" stories told at conferences around the country, at Failure: Lab events, entrepreneur presenters leave it up to the audience to make what it will of their failure stories.
An entrepreneur told a Detroit audience about how he had failed as a father, husband and businessman.
In the crowd sat a riveted Jordan O'Neil. At least until the speaker intoned in the inevitable "but," followed by his tale of second-chance success.
"He basically told a story that grabbed the full attention of the 800 people in the crowd because it was so different," O'Neil said. "What if he had dropped the mic and walked off the stage — just left it there?"
Thus was born the idea for Failure: Lab. He gathered three friends and developed what would become an event featuring six speakers sharing 10-minute failures — straight with no "lessons learned" chaser. The audience is left to glean the meaning and encouraged to share its thoughts on social media as well as notecards that are collected afterward.
It's working, at least in O'Neil's home state of Michigan. During the past year, Failure: Lab has come to theaters in Grand Rapids, East Lansing and Detroit, and its return Friday to Grand Rapids is sold out. Now, his team believes stumbling self-help for the 21st century can succeed beyond its comfy confines — they're planning shows in New Orleans, Mexico City, Brooklyn, New York, and possibly Baghdad."