TU professor demonstrates value of failure as part of creative process

Tracy Suter, David and Leslie Lawson Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship, recently opened his applied creativity and innovation course with a quote by author and entrepreneur Robert Kiyosaki: “If you avoid failure, you also avoid success.”

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Landon pictured with Larry Wofford, Davis D. Bovaird Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies and chair of the Department of Management and Marketing (left), and Suter (right).

“Success and failure are often presented as dichotomous choices,” explained Suter. “However, in the realms of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, failure is part of the path to success.” He demonstrated the power of turning failure to success by presenting freshman Blake Landon with an unconventional distinction — the Fail Harder Award. As part of a class competition, Landon designed a logo that failed to move past the first round after being edged out by two other students. But when Suter asked the class to choose the best logo or brand mark among the 25 presented, the class identified Landon’s as its top pick.

The award presentation offered students a different take on what they would typically perceive as a negative experience. Suter’s overarching message: Failing does not make one a failure. “Quitting, giving up, or worse — not trying at all — are the truest markers of failure. Failing can be a great source of learning if persistence and tenacity follow,” he said.