On the Radio, Talking About Mistakes and Entrepreneurship


I've recently been interviewed on a number of radio stations on the theme of “learning from mistakes,” as a way to promote my podcast series My Favorite Mistake.

I'm sharing two of them here, each of which had a slightly different focus.

KDKA Radio Pittsburgh Interview on Mistakes

This interview had less of an entrepreneurship focus, as it was about the podcast and what guests said about mistakes — and what we can learn from that.

My colleague Melissa Moore, from Value Capture, listened to the interview and kindly suggested writing a blog post with some highlights.

You can also find the audio and a full transcript of the 10-minute interview there.

KOGO Radio San Diego

I was also on the KOGO morning news show recently in an interview that was focused a bit more on mistakes and getting past the fear of starting a business. As with most things, I recommend “start small and test your ideas.”

I was on with hosts Ted Garcia and LaDona Harvey. You can listen using the player below and a transcript follows. I was also interviewed by them in 2019 about my book Measures of Success.


LaDona Harvey: Millions of people actually started businesses during the pandemic, so what's holding you back? Entrepreneurship has skyrocketed during the pandemic with business applications pouring in after more than doubling from April to July of 2020.

Ted Garcia: It almost seems like it would have been the opposite.

LaDona: Right, but not.

Ted: Joining us on the KOGO News Live Line, business consultant Mark Graban, host of the “My Favorite Mistake” podcast. Good morning, Mark.

Mark Graban: Good morning, Ted. Hi, LaDona.

Ted: Is fear of failure or making mistakes one of the biggest reasons that people just don't go for it if they have a business idea?

Mark: There is that fear, especially if people are choosing to leave a job to go start a business. I think one way to try to mitigate the risks that come with starting a business is to realize we are going to make mistakes.

When we have a business idea, go and test it. Learn from it. If we're getting some negative feedback or it seems like there's some mistake about what we want to go launch, it's better to learn from that and adjust, and then move forward in a better way.

LaDona: You see a lot about successful people who are like, “I learned more from failure than I did success.” Does it scare people to think, “Oh, my gosh, this is my nest egg right here. If I fail, I lose all of this and I don't know how to start over”?

Mark: That can be risky, but I've interviewed a lot of entrepreneurs who are incredibly successful. The reality is they make mistakes, but they recognize it. They're not stubborn or in denial about it. They learn from those mistakes in a way that means they don't prevent the mistake.

One lesson I've learned from my career is, look, if you make a lot of small mistakes, that helps prevent big mistakes that might be catastrophic to the business. Make small mistakes. Recognize it, accept it, learn from it. That's one of the keys to success.

Ted: But should you sink all of your money into a business idea?

Mark: That would be really risky. There are ideas for entrepreneurs about going and testing an idea. Can you start the business in a small way on the side before you quit your job?

I interviewed one entrepreneur CEO of a software company. He spent about two years working on the concept while he was still working full-time as an emergency room physician.

Then, you can get to the point where you feel more confident that, yes, I've got a good concept. It's going to be well received in the market. You can take that plunge, but you can do some work to make sure that it's not as risky as if you just dove right in.

LaDona: Ultimately, if you have a business idea, do you need to go out and do a lot of research before you take that plunge, because it could be that idea that you think is really great is not so great?

Ted: Also, building on that, you see people that open up nail salons and bakeries and things like that. You think they probably didn't do a lot of research on that. There are so many different businesses, but her question is a good one. It's what do you do?

Mark: You could do research. Whether you're looking to start a company, or looking to write a book, or looking to start a podcast, you could survey people. That's one type of research. The risk is, if you talk to people you already know, they might not want to be negative. They might tell you what they think you want to hear.

Instead of doing surveys, I think one of the things that works best is finding a way to actually go test the idea. Will people actually pay for the thing that you want to do?

I have a friend of mine in Dallas who has a chain of very successful pizza restaurants. He started off with a mobile pizza oven trailer. He learned that, yes, people would pay him to cook pizza. They gave him feedback that it was good. That gave him the confidence to actually go then, make the bigger investment in a real full-blown restaurant.

Ted: Business consultant Mark Graban, host of the My Favorite Mistake podcast, good advice. Thank you, Mark.

Mark: Thank you.

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Check out my latest book, The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation:

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


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