My Free Marketing Newsletter

If it’s uncomfortable, you’re growing.

The most frequent questions I get from people are,

1. Are you single?

2. How do I start a business?

3. How do I deal with failure?

In fact, a lot of Okdork readers ask me how I deal with my failures. Damn, you guys are some mean ass readers.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why people want to hear about my failure.

Bottom line, I’ve learned that…failure is good.

When you are failing, it means you pushed yourself to do something you thought you couldn’t do.

If it’s uncomfortable, you’re growing. (< click to Tweet )

So without further ado here’s one of the best speeches I’ve ever given:

I talk about all my major failures and how I specifically overcame them. (For example, sending an AppSumo email featuring Steve Jobs the day he died…FAIL).

You’ll learn how to… say no to requests; be honest; be grateful; deal with depression, and conquer your biggest fear.

It’s a 45 minute presentation that gave the whole audience and myself tingles. It’s worth it. Grab a green tea, headphones and listen fully.



P.s. Leave a comment about your latest failure.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

42 responses to “If it’s uncomfortable, you’re growing.”

Andrew McKillop
February 12, 2017 at 9:01 pm

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Samuel Beckett

August 5, 2016 at 8:17 pm

I don’t consider it as failures, but rather as life lessons that I need for growth as a person and knowledge. And as a result,it leads to something much more rewarding and meaningful! As they say, ‘Everything for a reason’!

April 23, 2016 at 4:17 pm

Vincit qui se vincit. He who conquers conquers self. Failing and just plain making mistakes debilitate me psychologically and pysiologically. I have played it safe my entire life simply out of fear. I saw this email after a flub up at work and a morning of beating myself up and it really encouraged me to shake it off and keep going. The more that “successful” people are honest about the journey, the more people like me will be willing to take a chance. Thanks.

March 26, 2016 at 6:18 am

Lost my integrity by making on big mistake..

I was not able to pay back a loan and did not respond on it honestly. I became my own victim and did not take control.
The situation did escalate and in 24hrs this person has phoned all my new contacts and investors to say I haven’t been honest.

Did lose my partnerships, my new friends and my startup. But most of all.. I lost nu integrity.

I did fail to step up, take control, explain the situation, taking responsibility. I was not able to counter the negative rumors, even when they were not even close to the truth.

Yes I am depressed now and finding a solution to get control of the situation again.

Be honest and make sure you keep your perspective! A clear mind makes clear decisions. Fight and flight is not the way! Make sure you are never alone.

October 2, 2015 at 11:36 pm

Far as I’m concerned, I’m failing every day I’m not working toward a better future for me and my family.

Charles Manuel
September 19, 2015 at 11:36 am

Tried to shoehorn a client into a website that he didn’t want because I knew it would be better…sometimes you just need to do what the client wants. Fortunately he’s an old family friend.

Steven Levinson
September 12, 2015 at 12:27 am

Are you single? … Do you think that’s funny? I’m struggling to get my business off the ground with a 9-7 job, and you’re throwing in my face some insinuation you get lots of girls. Yeah, thanks for that.

August 15, 2015 at 1:03 pm

I just wanted to thank you Noah for sharing this via your email list. It really helped me out with the problem what to do first: starting my own business or a long-term travel around south east asia. This made me nuts the whole week without even knowing why. So I’m really grateful for that. And I must admit that I usually don’t comment on any blogs, but this has been a really significant turning point for me today. So keep going with your awesome stuff!

Greetings from Germany,


Christen Gates
June 29, 2015 at 11:42 am

I have a long list of hilarious and embarrassing failures. Especially since I’m dyslexic so I miss type things everyday. Not enough time in the day to share them all. But, here is a good one…

Last year I was a freelance sales rep for a start-up company that sold cool safety devices for motorcycles. Keep in mind, I’m a typical girl. I don’t know much about motorcycles. I generally wear heals and lip stick to work. I wanted to test different sales tactics: cold walk-ins verse warm intros (e.g. I would send a hand written note a few days before I showed up). I previously had a lot of luck in my hometown selling through cold walk-ins. I’m guessing the success was from some local press or community buzz. I designed a road tip to visit 12 motorcycle dealerships in Cincinnati in 1 day. I walked in cold to some very scary looking dealerships generally located in a rough part of town. It was common to see a sign outside the shop, “No colors allowed.” Which I later found out refers to gang colors. The result of my trip was 100% failure, all no’s. Then, I had a 3 hour drive back home wallowing in rejection.

Don’t worry, I didn’t give up. I tried again in St. Louis with warm intros. I closed over 50% of my deals on that trip. Ego recovered.

Ray Bowring
April 11, 2015 at 8:36 pm

Noah, Loved the content. I am still failing now I think. My first attempt at a kingsumo giveaway is tanking.

Timely that I received your email as it has picked me up, and I am off again.

Noah Thanks for being you.


December 13, 2014 at 11:20 am

I’ve been through a lot this year & it’s not over yet.
I’ve had my fair share of “things could have been better” moments.
I’ve not read the post, but safe to assume, it’s about how you handle your “failures”.
I see how times may be tough, circumstances unsavory & outcomes horrendous.
But never loose sight of what your trying to obtain.
When you label situations as “failures” you are doing yourself a great disservice, giving “negative” situations a weight & endurance they do not deserve.
What you need is to stop!
Stop viewing situations as “good” &/or “bad”.
Circumstances are neither, you will label them as such due to your own incapacity to handle these situations.
When they should just be viewed as “learned lessons”.
Standing middle ground & not categorizing events will help you keep a clear mind, seeing things as they really are.
Don’t cloud your judgments by getting angry when things are “bad”, rather see what can be learned from it, what opportunities can come from it, how can you use this to your advantage?
Do yourself a favor & forget labels.
Nothing is good & nothing is bad.
Neither optimistic nor pessimistic.
Oh, another thing.. Learn from others failures, see others situations & how they could have done things differently when they had the chance, but clouded by emotions did not see the solution when they needed it most. They were busy sulking, the worst use of time..

Maybe I’m delusional..

Kind Regards,

November 29, 2014 at 9:15 pm

Very interesting video, Noah.. Welldone… I learned from my failures that in life we always have to get things done and we should never take things for granted…

November 8, 2014 at 11:46 am

UPDATE: Within the hour 1 person just bought. Ok. Good. Was praying nI took the feedback in and built and priced this thing right. Jeesh.

November 8, 2014 at 11:43 am

I really resonated with your answer to the Q: Are you content – and is that a good thing?

I really resonated with your answer to the Q: Are you content – and is that a good thing?

This year I let go of business coaching. It’s just not me, not what I’m actually gifted at. I took all the content I had around it, bundled it and it’s now an info product. I just shared it to my list in soft launch yesterday based on the feedback I’ve gotten in the past about the course. Nobody bought. Not one buyer. And it’s the second cheapest thing I’ve ever offered my list.

This year I lost clients because they could tell business coaching wasn’t aligned faster than I could. And I’m now in the process of rebranding what I do so people can better understand it. The process is painstaking at times.

It doesn’t feel like I am failing fast on this one. Your 2012 feels like my 2014. Crying and cooking has definitely gone down.

One of the biggest lessons I learned in all of it has been this: It’s really f-ing hard to be grateful to receive money for doing something I hate, even if it’s really good money. And I’d rather do something I love that serves a lot of people well and be fulfilled than live any other way. That value crystallized.

Thanks for making the distinction around fulfillment and happiness. It felt like Truth to me.

This year I lost clients because they could tell business coaching wasn’t aligned faster than I could. And I’m now in the process of rebranding what I do so people can better understand it. The process is painstaking at times.

One of the biggest lessons I learned in all of it has been this: It’s really f-ing hard to be grateful to receive money for doing something I hate. And I’d rather do something I love that serves a lot of people well and be fulfilled than live any other way.

Thanks for making the distinction around fulfillment and happiness. It felt like Truth to me.

Myles Money
October 11, 2014 at 5:20 am

Great video. Thanks. I don’t know why the link only arrived in my in-box today (over a year after the post was published) but it was timely and gave me a boost. I can see progress with what I’m working on at the moment, but sometimes it feels like things are moving too slow and slow success can feel a lot like failure.

Jeremiah Boehner
August 18, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Great video!

June 28, 2014 at 1:17 pm

So many failures! Coming from a huge brand to a start-up, AND working in marketing for the first time (I’m a photo editor!) has been equal parts humbling, challenging, and exciting. The collective failures I’ve experienced have taught me not to take things personally. And to be trite: perseverance is everything. My timeline isn’t always their timeline, but instead of getting frustrated (so much frustration!) I’m trying to stay the course, be zen, keep working, eat some tacos. Not everything works out, but the ones that do make the failures so worth it.

June 6, 2014 at 8:41 pm

Oh man, the very first one that comes to my mind when I was trying to pick up girls for the first time.

The first girl that I approached, I fumbled and words didn’t come out well. She thought I was gay.

I literally gave myself a face palm. I was embarrassed.

From there on I found out I had lisp and fixed it…

Oh well, stuff happens. Moved on.

May 29, 2014 at 4:14 pm

I made my husband read this article. I think it is very imformative. He has been going through some “failures” with his work life and this brightened up his day.

May 22, 2014 at 4:44 am

Noah, I got myself fired by a billionaire yesterday, from the job I freshly started last Monday. What’s worse is I supposed to back China today for applying work visa, and I had to cancel my flight, telling family and friends haven’t seen for over five months that my trip postponed, and I have no close-enough friend here that I can borrow a shoulder to cry a minute, and my visa about to expire in three weeks..

So after get fired, first thing first, I had dinner after leaving my beloved office – in the same building with google, and went for cinema alone, The Amazing Spiderman 2. When Gwen’s voice played in the record ‘No matter how lost you feel, you must promise me to hold on to hope’ I feel i can literally eat these words. And I went home, re-read your ‘How I Lost 170 Million’ trying to comfort myself at lease I don’t have 170 million to loss.

Heartbroken for me is, I took every extra mile I can go for this job. I spent over 300 hours in library doing research online since the first interview, worked over 12 hours since I started, including the weekend. I was so passionate on the product we were building, and got my mind totally occupied by the marketing strategy, new features, project plan, and amazed by a sudden brilliant idea (which I think worth 1 million and could totally change the industry) at 2am and get up to record.

It’s not just a job, although it started just over a week, I had my own vision on our product. I wanne put all my effort to bring it a decent market share in 1.5 years, march it to China (the Saas startups are in crazy speed there), and after some achievement there, I quit to work on something for my own – some idea I already have, but not ripe yet.

I was hungry, ambitious, competitive, eager to bring the current mess into a structured system which I considered as groundwork. I did my teamleader’s job since he not work on that, I challenged him also for his friends’ performance – he hired three his friends to our team while people in our current team don’t know their tasks or even doesn’t have a clear position, and I was arguing with my boss for what’s most important this moment, and I knew I was right – he confirmed that also.

And I got myself fired..’you have skills, but due to cultural differences..’ which translated here is ‘office politics’. I have heard a lot (even on my first day work, my team leader asked me to manage the team and he will play politics with other team), and had zero interest on that, and never came across to my mind that it would get me fired. No one I know in life ever gets fired, always we choose to leave for personal pursuit.

A lot small things in between brought me to this aggressive motion finally get myself fired also. Like one my manager-level friend here told me I was doing my teamleader’s job. Another senior stuff in my team got a better offer about to leave soon, also commented a lot on her doubt of my tamleader’s capability. And I wanne impress my big boss too much, even dreaming in future he might will invest on my own project when I convinced him my capability.

Lesson taken:
1. Get fit in first. Learn about the office environment.
2. Take small step to test how far your boss like to change.
3. Never challenge your teamleader – even you doubt his leadership.
4. Don’t get naive or stubborn trying to bring the company to a system you believed even it’s right.
5. politics are unavoidable. Be alert.

For a long term, the company and me don’t fit. But I have to deal with the harsh fact that I have only three weeks to nail down a new job before my visa expires. And I still aim high, or higher even.

okey dokey, have to back to the fight, google ‘how to find a job in three weeks.’

Michael Hoy
January 16, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Last month we had a conversion rate of .05. Big fail.

It was the most traffic we’ve seen in any given month though…bittersweet. But we have a great idea now on what we can try to tweak.

Geoff Williams
January 9, 2014 at 9:04 am

I approached an insanely hot girl at the gym and got rejected in the middle of the free weights section. Talk about awkward.

September 7, 2013 at 10:55 am

Noah, this is a phrase that’s been going for quite a while in history and I think it became big when the founder of IBM, Thomas Watson, said that whenever you want something, you have to “fail your way to the top”.

I think that few people are comfortable with the idea. And most people are not comfortable with failure because of their ego and because of what others would think if they fail.

You (the general individual) should know that it’s only up to you succeed in life. No one, besides you, will fight your battle. Deal with failure. It’s the only way to grow.

Sam Knutsson
July 27, 2013 at 5:43 am

My take on it:
Failure is just feedback. Put the emotions aside.

My failure:
When starting my own business: Asked my family for money. Invested in a product, and ordered a big shipment of it from China.
It arrived, we tested it (a supplement). And it produced side-effects.
Big burn! Couldn’t sell it.

Lessons learned:
Don’t ask for money, especially not from family.
Test small; minimize the risk. If the tests show promising results, accelerate and scale SLOWLY.

Great blog Noah! Please put up more Youtube videos. The short ones are really great. Even a 1-minute long video can leave a lasting impression that changes my perspective an entire day, even a week! (The 30-day series, for example)

Everyone doesn’t have access to the influences you have. Please share what you learn! Pass on the things you learn 🙂

Dana (Dottie)
July 19, 2013 at 9:48 am

Oh God, do I know about failure. It’s no big deal though. I can say that now, after picking myself up from the rubble of failure and loss, years later, and dusting myself off and going “hey, what should I do now?”
Failure is not the end of the world. Depression is not the end of the world. Having nothing is not the end of the world. All of these things serve to make you the best damn entrepreneur ever, if you just get up off your butt and quit dwelling on the negatives.
I can’t stand people who are immobilized by fear of failure. They bother me.

July 1, 2013 at 10:58 am

Remember that time when you were angry and ended up winning a fight? Or that time when you were so embarrassed with your achievement that you locked yourself up and worked away for the whole night?

It was all thanks to your Emotions.

Emotion of fear.

Emotion and fear of embarrassment.

Emotions give us amazing abilities. They are like superpowers that humans still have not fully understood or mastered.

If one masters the working emotions of its brain, there is no doubt that he can use it as a fuel to super charge his/her brain.

A good read.

June 28, 2013 at 1:58 pm

I live by the “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” mentality, so this was a particularly good read for me. Thanks for the link to the video, and being bold enough to share your failures with such a huge audience of people.

Dealing with my own failures is one thing, it has always been a lot harder for me to be able to own them and not be ashamed to let others know.

Hadass Eviatar
June 24, 2013 at 8:56 pm

First I heard you on Chris Brogan, then on Pat Flynn. Pretty amazing interviews both times. Thanks.

My life is full of university degrees but failure to make anything of them. This year I’m going to make something of my blog and learn about marketing (using direct sales of organic cosmetics as my vehicle for learning that). If I fail, I’ll learn more.

Going to try the coffee challenge soon .. got that Hey Pat page bookmarked ;-).

June 23, 2013 at 2:11 am

Hey Noah,

First of all thank you for being a person who takes action! All this talk with no action, kind of drives me crazy so thank you for being the opposite and also pushing others to follow you lead!:)

Then also thanks for the podcast with Pat Flynn! It was great and so honest and real! As well as funny! Also this speech you posted here is a really good one! Love the part with taking care of the words!! It is so true! Why say something you don’t mean, never thought of just so simple stuff also like I miss you. But it totally true, how can someone miss someone when they are talking to them!haha…really good! And also with the phrase “how are you”..! Why ask if you don’t really care!
Ah..there where so many good parts and I could reflect on so many of many them, but I will leave it with that and just thank you for posting this and sharing your energy and wisdom!

Have a great day! (and I mean it)
All the best, ( I mean that also:))

June 22, 2013 at 9:36 am

I am new to okdork, and am loving it. Great to find a real person like you talk about the real side to business and life. I first heard of you on Pat’s podcast this last week. Simply amazing. I have to say this last year for me has been a series of failures. After being laid off i went to buying into the online business hype and buying products that left me and my wallet empty. I have to say I have felt much like your “deal with depression” post. And have employed many of your list items,many times.
Thank you so much for bearing your soul, and being real. It is very inspiring to me, an entrepreneur at heart and trying to make a better world by being a happier and healthier person. and I have changed my focus from trying to make money online to doing something I love and building true friendships. I have learned the hard way that making money is not as fulfilling as making friends.
You have a new fan
If you are ever in San Diego again, breakfast at Swami’s is on me.
you got my email : D

Yael Grauer
June 21, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Some recent failures:

1. I spent over $100 on tickets to see Michael Pollan speak so I could bug him about an interview for the Performance Menu when he signed my book. And he told me he’d look for my name but when I emailed that same night his assistant told me he was too busy. #fail

2. I spent extra $$ to stay in this nice hotel instead of the shitty ghetto one down the street so i could walk to some places, but it stormed so i couldn’t walk. and there were loud screaming babies so i couldn’t sleep in. 4 hours of sleep 8 hour drive. boo. and the other reason i picked the nice hotel was to hang out in the hot tub but it wasn’t even hot. so much for spending more to be more comfortable.

3. I sent shitty emails this morning to people i REALLY want to work with because i was hung over, sleep-deprived and kinda overwhelmed. 🙁 #fail

June 20, 2013 at 10:37 pm

to convinve my parents that I can take care of myself 🙂

June 20, 2013 at 8:53 pm

My latest failure…hmm.. well I’m certainly not succeeding in getting many likes on my fb page but I think that’s due to me not executing my goal for the page very well. The goal is to help raise awareness about different anxiety disorders and to serve as a page for my blog, which I’m also having trouble with. So I guess if I fix the trouble I’m having with my blog, it should help with my fb page.

June 20, 2013 at 10:52 am

My latest failure is I tried to help an acquaintance out with promoting her course, using my facebook, email and twitter accounts as a favor to a good friend of mine. Apparently, I don’t know squat about how to do that. Not only did no one join her class from my work, but I lost 41 twitter followers that day! I’m still alive. 🙂

June 20, 2013 at 10:52 am

My latest failure is I tried to help an acquaintance out with promoting her course, using my facebook, email and twitter accounts. Apparently, I don’t know squat about how to so that. Not only did no one join her class from my work, but I lost 41 twitter followers that day! I’m still alive.

June 20, 2013 at 8:22 am

Excited to listen and your podcast with Pat was GOD SENT, dealing with major depression right now due to a huge failure in one of my businesses and still have back log of worth which has been huge head ache, I also just moved to brand new state and it is a bit lonely and has me questioning everything and worse questioning my passions, seems life should be a little simpler and not so ambitious. I think people want to hear about failures so they know they are not alone when they doubt themselves. thanks for being so real and super excited about you being on Creative Live.

Noah Kagan
June 20, 2013 at 9:37 am

Sorry to hear you’re having some shitty times. Just keep focusing on you and make some friends 🙂

June 20, 2013 at 7:41 am

I think we are conditioned from early on to have an aversion to failure because success is what is recognized. It is definitely a growth process to get expand my comfort zone to embrace my failures. I am working on launching my website and it seems that I am continually “failing” to find the right path to get the development complete. One win from it is that I am getting better at recognizing when the path I am on is not leading towards my goals. So, I am getting faster at moving on to the next step to try and find that right developer to bring it to fruition.

I listened to you on the SPI podcast yesterday and I think the coffee challenge is a great way to help expand my comfort zone to include failure!

Noah Kagan
June 20, 2013 at 9:36 am

You sure it’s the developer? Have you validated people want what you’re making?

Nice on coffee challenge. Post how it goes!

June 20, 2013 at 5:12 am

Love this post. It was timely, I recently got passed over for a job and saw my peer become my boss. I’ve been having nagging ‘why not me’ questions ever since and everything in life seems so much harder, waking up, smiling, finding the little moments in life. Yesterday I sat down and talked to a mentor/friend and she gave me some great perspective. You don’t always get what you want, but you have to appreciate what you have! Thanks again, D

Noah Kagan
June 21, 2013 at 3:57 am

Thanks for sharing Darl.

I can feel how that bothered you.

Definitely something to learn from and have a more kick ass future.

Tal ...Ur Jewish brother from another mother
June 19, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Great Job Noah,,, I am a global stock market trader, we traders fail ALL the time… in a year it is one or two trades that make up the year and they can cluster in few weeks, the rest of the year just taking small losses after losses… I have been taking losses for twenty years straight…there is no moving forward without learning to take losses, to be wrong and cut losses and not get emotional about it,, it is simply part of truly living life,, you are doing great service keep it up !!

Free Weekly
Marketing Newsletter

Join 100k+ subscribers to the Free Weekly Marketing Newsletter for insider tips, cutting-edge strategies, and personal tool recommendations.
Arrow right
Arrow down
All tactics. No fluff. Action Takers Only 🚀