Courage to Fail by Dr. Richard Sudek

Courage to Fail by Dr. Richard Sudek


The “Courage to Fail” is a talk that was given by Dr. Richard Sudek. Dr. Sudek is the chairman of Tech Coast Angels and a Professor of Entrepreneurship at Chapman University, George L. ArgyrosSchool of Business and Economics. His research interest is in the fields of Entrepreneurial Finance, Team Leadership, and Entrepreneurial Leadership. The talk was given during a TEDxChapmanUConference that was held in Orange County, California in June 2010 and lasted 18minutes 16 seconds. It was his first talk in the TEDxChapmanUConference series.

Summary of Key Points

The TEDxChapmanU talk by Dr. Richard Sudek in general terms explains why as entrepreneurs, ordinary people, or individuals in various professions should have the courage and mettle to fail.The speaker states that as individuals facing various challenges, we can never discover or exploit our full potential without learning from our failures and mistakes.The talk tried to make people understand that failure is part and parcel of the process of succeeding in any business undertaking, and it serves as a learning experience. While the emotional part of failure plays a critical role in the difficulty to get back on one’s feet, it can be overcome.

Dr. Richard Sudekalso brought about the issue of embracing failure. The speaker, states that people should embrace failure so that they can succeed faster.He adds that when an individual launches into any business venture, he or she should have the mentality that failure equals learning and failure can be taken as the fuel that propels progress.

In the TEDxChapmanU conference, Dr. Richard explains that what holds down most people, especially entrepreneurs is how they perceiveand feel about failure and themselves in the face of failure. He states that businesses people ought to handle situations like geniuses, they should not mind what other people think, and they should not absorb failure as a part of them. He further adds that people should have the courage to fail, and should not let the outside environment control how one perceive things or let people control their feelings. This he concludes will result to the person’s success.The speaker advises the audience that they need to separate their failure from theiridentity, that way, they will be in a position to control their emotions and therefore, transit faster to the next experience. If a person stays too engrossed in their past mistakes, one will not have the courage and strength to design the next success.

Dr. Richard finally advises that people ought to make failure worthwhile by sharing their failures with other people. He states that most unsuccessful entrepreneurs fail to share what and where they went wrong and why they failed before jumping into another more successful venture. Most feel ashamed or afraid to appear weak. However, Dr. Richard advises that failures when shared appropriately can benefit someone else. Dr. Sudek affirms that in his experiences, he always endeavors to share his life failures, especially with his students. He contends that talking about failure has a more positive impact on them than discussing success.

Things Learned as an Entrepreneur

As an entrepreneur, one of the key lessons that I learned from the talk by Dr. Sudekwas the lesson on failing, the courage to accept failure, learn from it and move on. It made me understand that while and no matter how much I as an individual may be adept, skilled or an expert in a particular field, I can still fail. However, I learned that I should not let failure be the last nail in the coffin; rather, it should act as a stimuli that drives my aspiration and desire to succeed.

From the talk, I learned that perfection is not necessary.Fear of failure is what holds us back.  If we let failure put us down, we let go an opportunity to achieve more.I learned that as entrepreneurfailures are opportunities to sharpen one’s skills and they should not be a source of discouragement or for giving up. As Dr. Sudek puts it, I should not absorb failure and make it be part of myself. I should divorce it from my emotions and feelings, that way I will be able to learn from it, and move forward.

I learned that failures are opportunities to do better. While many of us as entrepreneurs fail very often in many of our business endeavors and ventures, we need not give up. As much as we more often than not simply want to move on and forget a bad experience, and others beat themselves up over how they could have done better.However, what most business entrepreneursoften forget is the importance of failure in both the learning process and the creative process. If as entrepreneurs we can push through our fear of failure, we can realize that the experience has much to offer. It made me realize that every encounter is a learning experience, successes, and failures.

Lastly, I learned that I need to share my failure experiences with others. I should not feel ashamed or afraid to appear weak to others. Sharing where and why I went wrong will go towards helping other people succeed and avoid some failures while preparing me for future challenges in future business enterprises.


In conclusion, while the TEDxChapmanU conference talk by Dr. Richard Sudek seemed too pessimistic, I thought it was encouraging that he could so completely accept his failures and learn from them. He gave plenty of examples of his failures and spoke about how he had learned from every failure he had experienced and moved ahead to teach other people based on his failures and shortcomings. I especially loved his joke about the “nearly deads” although it did not seem to go well with the audience. The lessonslearned from the TEDxChapmanU conference talk are indeed priceless.They make me as an entrepreneur accept that I need not have to beat up myself because of a little failure; rather I should view them as opportunities to learn and succeed and as Dr. Richard Sudek states a faster way to succeed.



Courage to Fail: Richard Sudek at TEDxChapmanU. (June 2012). Retrieved from


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