Failure: The Secret to Success. When Everyone Else Zigs…Zag

Failure: The Secret to Success. When Everyone Else Zigs…Zag

This post is a contribution to Honda’s “Failure: The Secret to Success” thought leadership series. I was asked to provide a unique perspective on how failure has influenced my work and been the cause for motivation and success. During the first week of November 2010, five individuals from different walks of life provide their own thoughts on the subject. Details and links to what others are saying about “Failure: The Secret to Success” can be found at

The financial crisis of 2008 was a catastrophic failure. Americans lost their jobs, their savings, their homes, and in many cases, their financial security.

I wanted to help.

So that fall, when most Americans were hiding money underneath their mattresses, I took a leap of faith; I walked away from a promising career on Wall Street, gave up a Harvard Business School degree, and invested my personal savings to launch a company that would bring personal finance education to the masses. With the financial system in flux, I knew now more than ever, people needed a trusted place to learn about their finances.

Today that company is called LearnVest. We are a venture-backed, 25-person start-up situated in the heart of New York City. I am proud to say that we’ve been able to raise two rounds of funding (a seed round and a venture round), enroll an incredible group of people to be on the LearnVest team, and now provide financial guidance and advice to thousands of people every day.

As a country we are getting our financial footing back. First, we are saving more. Americans now on average put 6% of their disposable personal income into savings. That may not seem like much, but in 2008, when the recession hit hardest, Americans were putting away less than 3%.

And, thanks to the serious change in America’s economy, we’re all getting smarter about spending. 18% of consumers bought lower-priced brands in the past two years, and of those, 46% said they performed better than expected suggesting consumers will stick with these lower-priced brands.

But we have a long way to go. This year, more than a million women will declare bankruptcy—more women than will graduate from college. This needs to change.

At LearnVest we want to be that catalyst for change. To change however you have to be able to embrace the inevitable setbacks and failures along the way. However, we firmly believe that with the right tools and education, for every financial failure we encounter we’ll be better equipped to emerge from it in an even stronger financial position.


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