We know that failure helps us grow as people, but today Emma and Brittany share personal stories about “failing forward.”
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Emma: Hi, Brittany.
Brittany: Hi, Emma.
Emma: Today I wanted to talk about something that is super important when we think about growth. We think about self-improvement, which I know are topics that Brittany and I love.
Brittany: Yes, we do.
Emma: And yes, we love talking about, you know, Jordan Peterson and some of the stuff that he talks about, and 12 Rules for Life and Connor’s book, how to Not Suck at Life. His, book of Tips for Teens. We talk about these ideas all the time, and I think one of the most important out of all of these sorts of self-improvement topics is dealing with failure. And I know that that’s something that we’ve talked about on this podcast before. There was a whole episode just about failure. So I thought it might be fun for Brittany and I to sort of go through, you know, hopefully, nothing too embarrassing, but we could talk about a few times that maybe we have failed and actually ended up improving ourselves because of it. And I think, you know, to kind of recap the past episode we’ve done on this, failure can be such a powerful tool. It can be such an awesome opportunity to grow and to improve yourself, but you can’t be afraid of failure if you’re gonna let that happen, whether it’s past failure, you know, recognizing what happened and learning from it. Sometimes that’s hard or future failure, you know, you can’t be so paralyzed by fear of failing that you fail to act. So I thought we could kind of talk about sometimes that we’ve dealt with, you know, things not going the way that we wanted them to. And maybe what we’ve learned from that. One that I always think of is when I was interviewing for my first internship ever, I was trying to get a job in DC I lived in Oregon. I really wanted to get out there and see what politics was all about. I missed those days when I was so young and idealistic and was a fun, awesome place to go. It was a fun time in my life, but I was applying everywhere. I was interviewing at a few places and one of the first interviews I did, I did not get the internship. And looking back, I’m actually glad I didn’t because I think it would’ve set me on a really different career path and I maybe wouldn’t see the world the way that I do right now with such a liberty perspective. But I did this interview and I didn’t really prepare for it. I’ve always been a quote unquote good interviewer. And I had a job and I, you know, my, my job I had before I actually competed with a lot of different applicants for, for my job at Dutch Bros. And it was a fun experience and I thought, well, I really nailed that. I’m gonna do the same thing at this next one and it’s gonna go great. But I didn’t prepare really at all for the interview. And I got caught totally flatfooted with a couple of the questions that they asked me about, you know, what I wanted with my, and I hadn’t really figured that out yet. And then they asked me if I had any questions for them, and I said, well, no, I don’t, I think I’m good. Like no questions right now. And that was a very silly mistake of me to make because it’s kind of like interview 101. If you are asked in an interview, if you have any questions, it’s good to show interest by asking specific questions about the organization or about the role. And so, you know, if, any of you are ever preparing for an interview, make sure you prepare some questions. And I, you know, I got off the phone and I thought that went so well. They really liked me, I can tell. They emailed me back a couple days later and said that they gave the role to someone else. And I thought, well, why would they do that? That’s, so silly. Like, we really got along and I hit it off with the interviewer. But looking back now, I realize that I should have asked questions. And I will say I had another interview a couple days later and I thought maybe I should ask that person a few questions. And so I prepared a little bit. I came up with some stuff that I wanted to learn about the organization, and fortunately I ended up getting that job and it took me out to DC and I got to go, you know, have the summer that I wanted to have and learn and meet people. So that’s kind of a professional one. But Brittany, do you have anything that comes to mind when you think about like a failure lesson that you’ve learned?
Brittany: It’s more like, how do I pick the failure to talk about? But we have 10 to 15 minutes to get it all in. So, first one is similar to you, Emma, where I was a, what the, expression is I was a big fish in a little pond in Utah. And so I was able to get a lot of opportunities there. And then when I moved to DC I was like, well, they’re just gonna hand me jobs. Like, I’m gonna be beating off jobs with this because I’m gonna have so many offers, I’m not gonna know what to do with them. And that did not happen. And I got rejected over and over again. And for the first little bit, every time I got rejected it was so bad. I mean, like, I would be crying for days and it made it really hard to get up there and try again. So that was something I had to learn. It was not a pleasant, not a pleasant experience, but I’ve gotten so much tougher. It’s so funny to me when I look back at that, I’ve gotten so much tougher. It’s still like rejection still hurts, don’t get me wrong. But you get, it’s like when you lift weights, you get stronger and stronger each time. And so that’s one thing I learned. So similar with you Emma, but I mean more recently. So I do standup comedy three times a week. And a lot of comedy is finding out if your jokes are funny and sometimes they’re not, right? And so this is actually something, it’s a, I’ve always wanted do comedy anyway, but it’s also a good, it’s made me a tougher person because imagine getting up in front of people and telling a joke and no one laughs guys, it’s, yeah, really rough. But here’s the cool thing about that. And this is the whole point of doing comedy and maybe bombing as they call it. You go home and you think, okay, why wasn’t that joke funny? How can I make this joke funnier? Or, okay, all my other jokes worked but this one didn’t. So I’m gonna keep this joke out of my other, you know, out of my comedy set. Because now I know it doesn’t work. So it’s actually helpful for me to have that audience feedback cuz they tell me with their laughs whether or not this is a good joke. And again, it’s hard at first cuz you’re like, oh dear, literally no one is laughing. Yeah, I’m not funny. But then again, you try again and you get laughs the next time or maybe you don’t. So that’s something that has been really rewarding actually. As much as I don’t like it in the moment, every time I get off stage, I’m like, you did it. You handled, you know, one or two jokes, not resonating. So that’s been a really fun experience for me. It’s kinda crazy how much I’ve enjoyed it. Failing on stage. So that’s something that, yeah, like I, actually recommend you all like, try going in front of, people and failing sometimes. Cause it’s actually a good lesson.
Emma: Totally. Gosh, yeah. That would be really scary. I have so much respect for standup comedians. Like, I, actually love going to comedy shows and especially an open mic night because I never go up. I do not consider myself a comedian in any way, but I have so much respect for people who are brave enough to do that. And even sometimes if stuff isn’t super funny to me, I’m guilty of like the pity laugh because I’m just like.
Brittany: Oh, I pity laugh, you’re doing it.
Emma: You’re so much more brave than you. I’m like, wow, you really tried
Brittany: This? But it’s funny, it’s almost like a market. This is what I struggle with. Cuz I laugh at my friends who are also amateur comedians and you’re like, all right. Not laughing is good because it’s, it would be like buying a product Yes. That, you know, is good. But it’s also like the reason I buy lemonade from Kids on the Corner. The lemonade. Sorry, kids. Yeah. The lemonade is not always my favorite lemonade, but I love that you’re out there selling it and I love the entrepreneurial spirit, so I will spend money on that lemonade.
Emma: Exactly. Gosh, I have a bit of a follow up question for you that I, that I think people will be able to glean stuff from. Have you ever, like, thought of in terms of your career and like the rest of your life, other than comedy, have you found that you’ve learned things through comedy that apply to you at work?
Brittany: Yes. And that’s the failure thing. So I am very risk averse and what that means is, I don’t like taking risks at work. I don’t like being wrong. I don’t think anybody likes being wrong and I don’t like failing, right? So there’s a lot of projects that I don’t take on because I’m scared, like, oh, I’m not even gonna suggest that I do that project cuz maybe I’ll fail or I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna ruffle any feathers, so I’m not gonna do this thing at work. And it’s gotten, I’ve gotten so much more confident just since doing comedy every week because now I’m like, you know what, if I can get on stage and fail, I can do anything. Like, I can literally do anything if I can do that and be fine. So I’m taking more risks at work and risks as we’ve talked about with entrepreneurial pursuits, risks are a good thing, maybe not crazy risks, but you know, like there’s good risks. So it’s helped me and everything. It’s helped me in my personal life that maybe if I’ve been scared to say something, if I’ve been scared to speak up, I’m now not so scared. Because again, if you bomb on stage, if you can do that, you can literally do anything, so.
Emma: Yeah. Yeah. That, yeah, I think it takes a lot of bravery to do that, so it makes sense. I would feel pretty invincible too if I had gone through, you know, bombing, bombing a joke too. That’s, that’s good. Another one that comes to mind for me personally, we don’t have a ton of time left, but I had a really interesting college experience where I basically started out and I thought, oh, I’m gonna go to this four year university, it’s gonna be great, and I’m gonna take out loans and then I’m just gonna graduate and get a job and just pay them off.
Brittany: Famous last words.
Emma: And I, yeah, fortunately my parents were very adamant that I not go into a bunch of student loan debt because they had their own struggle with that. And it was a long battle to pay them off. And I, was actually, you know, alive for a part of it and saw how miserable it was and they were really adamant that I not take out loans. And so one of their rules with college was they said, we’re gonna give you a little bit of money that you can spend on college. It wasn’t a ton, it was enough to where it definitely helped. Yeah. But it was not nearly enough. It wouldn’t have even paid for one year at most colleges. And they said, we’re not going to co-sign on loans for you. And a big part of getting loans, if FAFSA, if the federal government doesn’t offer you any, is that you go to basically a private lender and they will give you loans. But if you’re 18 years old, no one wants to let you take on debt if it’s a private company because they say, well, why would we take that risk on you? So I actually was not able to get loans to go to a four year university. And I ended up having to do community college for a while because my parents made enough to where fafsa, the federal government didn’t qualify me as needing a lot of money. They basically assumed that my parents were gonna pay for my school even though they didn’t. And to be clear, I do not resent my parents for this at all. It was a very important lesson. But because I was not able to get these huge student loans that a lot of people will take out, either through their parents co-signing or through the government giving it to them, I had to get really creative with how I paid for my college. And it ended up actually taking me to a totally different career path where I started at community college. I got a couple of years done first just sort of paying as I went at a part-time job, which, you know, that’s not possible for most of college. Yeah. You know, if a community college is one of the few ways you can still do that. And I learned a lot about work, I learned a lot of lessons about balancing my schedule and all of that. And then also it ended up, I did an online program for the rest of my college and I started at a pretty pretty nice school in Oregon. Oregon State University. It’s a pretty well recognized school. It’s a public college. It wasn’t hard to get into, but the degree program I was in was good. And I was excited and then I started to realize, hey, I’m not gonna be able to do this for very long unless I find a job that makes way more money. And I saw that as such a failure at the time where I was like, why can’t I figure this out? Why can’t I find a way to make this happen? I really just wanna graduate and just get it done. And I ended up switching to a degree program that was a lot more affordable, that let me pay in a flexible way without having to take out loans. And it ended up being one of the most challenging but important experiences of my life, learning how to pay for school without taking out those loans. And I’m so grateful now. I have so many friends that say, you’re so lucky you never took out loans. And I always laugh. Cause at the time when I was dealing with all of that, I did not feel lucky at all. I felt like a failure. I felt like, why is this happening to me? Yeah. this is miserable. But looking back, not only was I able to learn those lessons, but I also, I don’t have any college debt. And there are very few people in their early twenties with a degree that can say that. And I feel so, fortunate for that. And so I actually look back at that, you know, that quote unquote failure or that bad circumstance as one of the better things that’s happened to me because it taught me a super important lesson. So it’s, you know, we don’t have a ton of time. Brittany, if you have another one you wanna share, you’re more than welcome.
Brittany: Oh, I think I already, the comedy is honestly the biggest one. So I, that’s the real point I wanted to convey too many failures name.
Emma: Yes. That one is a really good one. So we will wrap it up here today. Guys, thank you so much for listening and we will talk to you all again soon. Talk
Brittany: Talk to you soon.