Startup Stereo Episode #05 – Culture of Failure – With Dirk Schart and Julian Leitloff

Written by German Accelerator

Today’s guests are German Accelerator Alumni Dirk Schart, CMO & President U.S. of RE’FLEKT, and Julian Leitloff, Founder & CEO of Fractal.

In our conversation we address the topic of culture of failure from many different angles: the international one – looking at Dirk and Julian’s perception of the culture around failure in Silicon Valley, New York, and Singapore. The company culture angle – looking at the role founders and leaders in organizations play as role models by sharing when something didn’t go as expected. And we tackle it from a personal angle – looking at Dirk and Julian’s learnings from the year 2020.

Wishing you lots of aha-moments whilst listening to our conversation about failure or as Julian says: “Failure is only failure if you stop doing it, before that it’s learning!”

In this episode, we talk about:

  • How Dirk and Julian define failure or rather learning
  • Dirk and Julian’s experience with the culture of failure in Silicon Valley, New York, and Singapore
  • How talking about failure and vulnerabilities is one of the best ways to get people to join you in your cause
  • The intention behind Julian’s book “Keinhorn – was es wirklich heißt, ein Startup zu gründen” to show the realistic everyday life of startups beyond the glorious successes
  • How it takes guts to open up about failure and the importance of doing so as founders to show they are not alone with their struggles
  • How leadership is important when creating a strong failure culture and how leaders must act as role models by sharing things that didn’t work out
  • Diversity: the more diverse your team is, the easier it is to experience a culture of failure and how Dirk sees it as one of the success factors of Silicon Valley
  • The role of founders in creating a cultural frame for a failure culture and the people in the team to fill this frame with life
  • The importance of dedicated formats to share failures like fuck-up nights, flopcasts, relaxed Friday afternoon sessions with guest speakers sharing about their learnings, or even team book club discussions
  • Risks: without a potential failure you don’t have the potential opportunity
  • Normalizing and talking about risk to get rid of the fear, and how to get things from the “failure department” to “this is what the rich and smart people do: they talk about and engage with risk”
  • The personal learnings from 2020 such as how to use unexpected events as an opportunity á la “what’s in it for me?”

About German Accelerator’s Startup Stereo:

German Accelerator’s “Startup Stereo” is a podcast with and for founders, innovators, and change-makers. Plug into the stories, experiences, and best practices around startups, expansion, leadership, new work, company culture, and more. Stay tuned for more episodes in the near future!