Learning To Fail Image Credit: Entrepreneur
Learning To Fail Image Credit: Entrepreneur

Learning To Fail

What can adult founders learn from fearless teenagers? Plenty.

Stephanie Schomer

Koby Wheeler has launched and crashed three businesses. But he’s not embarrassed by any of it. “It gives me more confidence,” he says, “because I have those experiences. I know to ask better questions, I know to trust my gut, and I have a more long term way of thinking.”

It’s a good perspective to have at any age—and in Wheeler’s case, he’s starting young. He’s a freshman at the University of Texas at Dallas. His first three businesses failed while he was in high school. And he attributes his thick skin to a program he completed prior to graduation: It’s called Whatever It Takes (WIT), a San Diego–based program that helps high schoolers ideate and launch businesses for college credit, and it puts a heavy emphasis on learning to celebrate their failures.

WIT may be a youth program, but it serves as an example of something important: Risk tolerance can be taught. That’s why its founder, Sarah Hernholm, is now hired by companies across the country to give seminars to employees and encourage them to give WIT’s way of thinking a try. Imagine it—a roomful of adult professionals, running through a program originally designed for kids. And it’s just as useful to each generation.

To Hernholm, the starting line is simple: Most kids—and adults!—are taught that there’s a “right” answer to everything. But entrepreneurship is different. “T

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