5 Takeaways: Tim Walsh

As a professional speaker, author, game designer and filmmaker, Tim Walsh is out to prove that “play” is not a four-letter word, and neither is “fail.” The former is a means through which we can super-charge creativity and connect with others; the latter can lead to success, if we’re not afraid to embrace it.

In his presentation “It’s OK to Fail” – also titled “Take a Chance: Go Directly to Fail,” Walsh offered the following:

  1. Societal schadenfreude – laughing at others’ failure – may be why we’re afraid to fail. Being fearful of making mistakes leads to perfection paralysis.
  2. Failure is a lack of success, not the opposite of success. We must define what failure or success means to us individually; otherwise, we allow others to tell us what success means.
  3. Lean into failure and embrace it, as the founders of Wham-O did in 1948. Their failed attempts to sell falcons turned the production of a slingshot into the most successful outdoor toy company in the world (think Hula Hoop, SuperBall, Slip ‘n’ Slide, Frisbee and Hacky Sack).
  4. Failing a lot means you’re trying a lot, as Wham-O discovered with a litany of failed products (Mr. Hootie Rake, Patio Bomb Shelter, Instant Fish, among many others).
  5. “Atomic Habits” by James Clear emphasizes the importance of tracking your habits to make small, incremental daily changes. Often, we avoid failure by not measuring it and not finding the honest truth ourselves.