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The Biggest Mistake...

By: Stephen Ekstrom | Fire Starter Brands Founder | July 18, 2016

Every once in a while it makes sense to look back upon the choices and decisions we've made, take stock of those that worked out well and acknowledge those that didn't.

I was recently invited to speak to a group of grad students about my experience in the travel industry, working with different cultures, organizational structures, personality types and marketing strategies. I had prepared for the typical questions - "What do you attribute your success to?" "What's the most important lesson we can take from this discussion?" "How did you get started in your industry?" etc. 

Of course, those questions came up, but there was one that I hadn't anticipated that made a world of difference, 

What's the biggest mistake you've made?

Typically, questions from students are self-serving and focus on how they can launch their careers, achieve their goals or make their mark faster and more efficiently. To hear a question about failure or missteps was a welcome surprise. My response...

The biggest mistake one can make is the one s/he doesn't learn from.

My dad once told me, "You're going to pay for your education one way or another. Save yourself and learn the first time." The same holds true in business. If you make a mistake, learn from it, grow from it, be better because of it and don't repeat it. 

I am fortunate enough to work in an industry where I am not making life & death decisions. I spend my days helping travel professionals create memorable new experiences for their guests by giving industry suppliers the tools, resources and connections they need to best showcase their offerings. If something goes wrong, it can be fixed. That fix may not be easy, comfortable or easily affordable, but it's a fix. 

If I fail to learn from my mistakes, I am solely to blame for the cost of picking up the pieces. So my advice to you, learn from your mistakes! 

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