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Don't Ignore Your Failures. Talk About Them

Hayes Drumwright, founder and CEO of Trace3,a $300 million IT consulting company, says if you embrace failure you'll succeed.

Illustration by Jimmy Turrel

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"Only strong people are comfortable talking about their failures."--Hayes Drumwright

Every year, I write a playbook for employees that lays out the business plan and all my inner worries and concerns. I wrote the first one in 2006.

I talked about the failure of my first company and what it did to my marriage, and about the rules I set to make sure this one would be better. I said, "Here are the things I want for you and for your families."

We were at $23 million then. I said, "In three years, we will be at $100 million, and here's what we will do and how we will treat each other to accomplish that." I also gave them all this data explaining in detail how I started the company.

And I said, "If you don't agree with this, then you can take it and use it as a blueprint to start a competitor. And that is OK with me." I also give the playbooks to our partners and our clients. When

I speak in public, I usually tell a story in the first 10 minutes about something I failed at. And I'll talk about getting cancer when I was 20 and how that eliminated a lot of my fear. People connect with these things, because everyone has failed at something and been afraid and had health issues.

Only strong people are comfortable talking about their failures. I don't see a downside to it.

Hayes Drumwright is the founder and CEO of Trace3,a $300 million IT consulting company in Irvine, California.

From the June 2013 issue of Inc. magazine

LEIGH BUCHANAN | Staff Writer | Editor-at-large, Inc. Magazine

Leigh Buchanan is an editor-at-large for Inc. magazine. A former editor at Harvard Business Review and founding editor of WebMaster magazine, she writes regular columns on leadership and workplace culture.




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