A quick story about why you should never give up…

Everybody has a dream in life, but dreams are not easy to achieve – you’re going to face many obstacles along the way, and in the end most people find the obstacles overwhelming and come to the conclusion that the dream will never happen for them. With that mindset it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Let me tell you a short story about some guys who had a dream and along the way got knock-backs and obstacles a-plenty, and then I’ll tell you whether they made it. The answer might surprise you.

On New Year’s Eve in 1961 a group of four young guys, barely adults, drove to London to audition for a record label the next day. This came after their manager had approached multiple record labels over a long period and was rejected every single time. On the way down to London they got lost – there was no sat-nav in those days – and the journey took them ten hours, hardly the best preparation for an audition.

The next morning, 11am on January 1, 1962, they spent just under an hour playing fifteen songs for the label, most of which were covers. They also played some of their own compositions. At the end of the audition the label executives told them they would let them know their thoughts in a few weeks.

Eventually the label got back to the young men with a rejection, saying “guitar groups are on the way out” and that the band had “no future in showbusiness”.

What do you think – did those four young men take the advice of the record label executives and give up on their dream of a life making music? Some of you probably guessed already that they didn't.

The name of that band was The Beatles. You may have heard of them. They went on to become the best-selling band of all time and have sold an estimated 800 million physical and digital albums worldwide. They’ve had more number one albums on the British charts and sold more singles in Britain than any other act. They’re also the best-selling music artists in the USA. Their impact on music and modern culture is immeasurable.

If this is the real story of the biggest band in history's path to success, you can be damn sure that it is the rule rather than the exception. If you want to achieve anything in life, you’re going to face obstacles. You will encounter people who genuinely believe you will not succeed, and some who simply don’t want you to succeed. In those moments you need to ask yourself some tough questions and decide whether you want to sacrifice everything to achieve that goal. If so, ignore the naysayers and keep grinding away. And be prepared, because it will be a grind.

Would love to know your thoughts on this – tweet us @fail_succeed, or DM us on Instagram @fail_succeed and we’ll share your thoughts.

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What football management tells us about failure and success

There’s a lot of bollocks being spoken about José Mourinho’s future as manager of Manchester United and Unai Emery’s failure to take any points in his first two Premier League games.  These are two managers with impressive records – Mourinho has won 25 trophies, Emery 10 – so are people right to be questioning their skills?

Basically no.  Of course, people are entitled to an opinion on whether a football manager is good or not, and let's be honest, it's a better topic of conversation than Brexit.  But the trophy counts suggest that they are both amongst the elite of global football managers.  However, the very fact that this discussion is being had at all tells us a few things about the way failure and success is viewed in elite sport.  It also tells us that some tv pundits are embarrassingly parochial in their football knowledge.

Let’s look at the two managers that are tipped to be battling for the Premier League this season, Guardiola and Klopp.  In Guardiola’s first season at Manchester City it was often heard that the English game had “found him out” and that he had no plan B.  At the end of last season many of the same people who had criticised him were saying that Manchester City were the best team the Premier League had ever seen.  Neither of these assertions are entirely accurate, with the truth lying somewhere in the middle.

Equally, Klopp came in for a lot of criticism last season, with Garth Crooks even suggesting Liverpool should fire him and hire Carlo Ancelotti whilst they had the chance.  This suggests Mr Crooks hadn’t seen much of Bayern in the Ancelotti era.

Many fans will tell you that the true test of a manager’s success is their trophy count.  Perhaps there is merit in this approach, but let’s consider that Klopp could have been the Bayern manager and would almost certainly have been guaranteed more Bundesliga titles, but instead chose to take a harder job at Liverpool.  If he wins the title at Liverpool that is surely a greater achievement in a more competitive league, but if he doesn’t, does it then follow that he is a bad manager?

Returning to Mourinho and Emery – we often say on the podcast that success is not a linear path.  Just because you have a period of success, it does not follow that everything you do henceforth will be equally successful.  We can also see from the Guardiola and Klopp examples that time can change perspectives.  In Emery’s case it’s also important to remember that his first two matches have been against the winners of the league in the last two seasons, so calls to abandon his philosophy are premature.  Mourinho is perhaps different.  He is an extremely successful manager, but it does look like he’s being left behind by an updated footballing approach.  This has happened to many successful managers before him, many of whom were considered to be the bright young thing, until they weren’t.

What does this tell us about failure and success?  Well, for one nobody can stay at the top forever – we see this in every industry, sport and art form.  When did the Rolling Stones last release a song as good as Gimme Shelter, for instance?  They’re still a great band though.

Would love to know your thoughts on this – tweet us @fail_succeed, or DM us on Instagram @fail_succeed and we’ll share your thoughts.

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Episode 7 - Dom Fendius talks to opera conductor, Stephen Barlow 07/08/2018

On episode 7 we talk to opera conductor, Stephen Barlow.  Stephen was a boy chorister at Canterbury Cathedral‚ Organ Scholar at Trinity College‚ Cambridge and studied at Guildhall School of Music and Drama.  During his 40 year career he has been resident conductor at English National Opera‚ and has worked with Scottish Opera‚ Dublin Grand Opera‚ Opera North and Royal Opera House and was Artistic Director of Opera Northern Ireland.


PART 1: Stephen tells us that his whole life has been one of competition and how he felt he had let everyone down when he failed an audition at seven years old (02m 00s)

PART 2: Stephen explains how it was only with a strong support network that he felt he could compete at the very top of the music business (08m 45s)

PART 3: Stephen talks about conducting top orchestras at the age of only 24 and how one small opportunity made that possible (17m 29s)

PART 4: We discuss how Stephen, and every artist, deals with adulation and criticism all the time, from other musicians, audiences and critics, and how depressing that can sometimes be (24m 56s)

PART 5: Stephen tells us how he fell out of love with conducting and took a few years out to re-find his love of music, and how that made him even more enthusiastic to conduct again (33m 17s)

PART 6: Stephen and I discuss how no man can do it alone (38m 21s)

PART 7: Stephen explains how age and experience has given him a new perspective on what he really wants to do with his time, and that striving to make millions is not the way to live your life (47m 12s)

Music credit URL: freemusicarchive.org/music/Tours/En…s_-_Enthusiast

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Episode 6 - Dom Fendius talks to Alex Hirst, CEO of The Hoxby Collective 19/07/2018

On episode 6 we talk to Alex Hirst, CEO of The Hoxby Collective, a start-up bringing a flexible new approach to the working world.  Alex tells us how his own experience of burn-out led to a realisation that there must be a better way of working, and ultimately the founding of Hoxby.  We talk about burn-out, gender equality in the workplace, family life, work/life balance and the future of work.




PART 1: Alex introduces himself and tells us a bit about the idea behind The Hoxby Collective and how the 200 year old established model of work is outdated (01m 06s)

PART 2: Alex explains how he burnt out by working too hard, and the impact that had on his home-life and his productivity at work, and how this led to the founding of The Hoxby Collective (06m 40s)

PART 3: Alex talks movingly about a family holiday where he realised he needed to make a fundamental change in his life (12m 42s)

PART 4: Alex tells us about starting The Hoxby Collective and the hurdles he encountered in the beginning (17m 48s)

PART 5: Alex explains how his young daughter is a big motivation to build a business that offers women the equality of choice in the workplace (29m 55s)

PART 6: Alex talks us through his plans for the future and tells us some of the clients Hoxby works with (30m 52s)

Music credit URL: freemusicarchive.org/music/Tours/En…s_-_Enthusiast

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Episode 5 - Dom Fendius talks to Nick Whitfield, founder of CityUnscripted.com 11/07/2018

On episode 5 we talk to Nick Whitfield, founder and CEO of CityUnscripted.com, an innovative new travel experience start-up.  Nick tells us about how after years working in finance he felt he needed to do something he really loved that gave him a purpose.  We discuss how tough Nick has found the process, how challenging it has been to leave behind the salary and comfortable lifestyle that his previous career provided, and the impact that has had on him and his family.



PART 1: Dom introduces Nick, who tells us a bit about the idea behind CityUnscripted (01m 05s)

PART 2: Nick talks us through the process of getting the company up and running (05m 00s)

PART 3: Nick explains why he had to give up his comfortable life working in investment banking in the Middle East (11m 16s)

PART 4: Nick sheds some light on how those close to him reacted when he gave up his career to start CityUnscripted, and how much tougher start-up life is than expected (18m 25s)

PART 5: We discuss how difficult it is to avoid comparing yourself to others, and the importance of recognising one’s own achievements (28m 50s)

PART 6: Nick tells us how the cash-flow problems have caused challenges not only on a business level, but also in his personal life, and tells us there are always choices in life (32m 05s)

PART 7: Nick walks us through his plans for CityUnscripted in the coming year (39m 18s)

Music credit URL: freemusicarchive.org/music/Tours/En…s_-_Enthusiast

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Episode 4 - Dom Fendius talks to Max Niederhofer, venture capitalist and tech entrepreneur 17/05/2018

On episode 4 we talk to Max Niederhofer, general partner at Sunstone Capital, a European venture capital fund managing more than $500 million. Prior to Sunstone, Max founded and sold Myblog.de, Germany’s largest blogging platform and Qwerly, a kind of Cambridge Analytica 1.0. He’s invested in some of the best known European start-ups including Last.fm, Onefinestay, Skimlinks and Dubsmash. I really enjoyed talking with Max – on the face of it, his story is one of huge successes, but as is so often the case the truth is somewhat more complex. Max tells me about his biggest regret as an entrepreneur, how a dream job turned out to be a mistake, and how therapy helped him realise that he’d spent his 20’s chasing things that didn’t make him happy. We also discuss Max’s thoughts on the start-up scene in Europe, and the opportunities in the direct to consumer market. I’m thankful for Max in being so open – it makes for a great listen and will be inspirational to many people chasing their dreams.  Enjoy!

You can find Max’s thoughts at his blog and on Twitter


PART 1: Dom introduces Max, who tells him his journey hasn’t felt like the success it appears to be (02m 30s)

PART 2: Max tells the story of Myblog.de, Germany’s biggest blogging platform (03m 20s)

PART 3: Max reveals the advice he wished he got when deciding to call it quits with Myblog (10m 10s)

PART 4: Max tells us how a terrible car crash turned into one of his best successes to date…the true story behind his Last.fm investment.  But there’s also a cautionary tale of how that early success can ruin you (20m 35s)

PART 5: Max explains how that early success led to one of the most embarrassing moments of his career (26m 00s)

PART 6: We discuss Max’s next venture, Qwerly (Cambridge Analyica 1.0), and how it would turn out to be a financial failure (29m 33s)

PART 7: Max tells us about the lowest point in his professional life, and how seeing a therapist, and the realisations he came to regarding his life and career, were a new beginning – “the failures that preceded that are all opportunities for growth” (35m 20s)

PART 8: We talk about how Max’s current role came about, and his views on the pressures and benefits of working in London (44m 35s)

PART 9: We wrap things up with a quick overview of Max’s views on the opportunities for entrepreneurs in the direct to consumer space (52m 30s)


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Episode 3 - Dom Fendius talks to Segun Lawson, CEO of gold mining company Thor Explorations 11/05/2018

On episode 3 we talk to Segun Lawson, CEO of Thor Explorations, a mining company that specialises in gold mines in West Africa. Segun’s story is the classic entrepreneur’s tale…on steroids. I think Segun should sell the rights of his story as a film, it’s real Boys Own stuff. Give it a listen to hear stories of how Segun lived in the Nigerian jungle, how he had to find $250,000 in 30 days for a Senegalese businessman, and what happened when a tribal chief in Burkina Faso invited him for dinner, plus much more.  Enjoy!


PART 1: Segun introduces himself and his company (01m 27s)

PART 2: Segun tells us about the time he had to raise $250,000 in 30 days for a Senegalese businessman, and how on day 28 he still didn’t have a single cent of it (08m 10s)

PART 3: Segun explains how powerful a “what do I have to lose?” attitude is in business (14m 46s)

PART 4: Segun relives one of the sweetest moments in his entrepreneurial journey…and how short-lived it was (21m 28s)

PART 5: Segun talks about the differences in business culture in rural West Africa…and tells us the chicken in Burkina Faso story (32m 53s)

PART 6: We discuss how good things sometimes happen almost by accident (35m 22s)

PART 7: Segun tells us what the hardest thing in business is (41m 25s)

PART 8: We discuss who Segun turned to in the tough times (44m 08s)

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Episode 2 - Dom Fendius talks to Tom Edmunds, writer and film director 13/03/2018

On episode 2 we talk to Tom Edmunds, writer and film director, about how he made his first feature film Dead in a Week (Or Your Money Back). When Tom started out five years ago he had no money, no actors and no studio backing - all he had was a script, an idea and a dream of making it happen. It's an incredible story of the power of belief, determination and sheer force of will. We discuss assassins, suicide attempts, the importance of family and how Tom convinced Oscar-nominated superstars to take a chance on him and be part of his film.  Enjoy!


PART 1: Tom tells us a bit about his film (01m 50s)

PART 2: We discuss the first steps Tom took to give his project the best chance of getting off the ground and achieving "critical mass" (05m 12s)

PART 3: Tom tells us how an early breakthrough in the film industry turned into a waste of two years (11m 20s)

PART 4: Tom explains how some crucial stepping stones to his success came from that early experience of failure (16m 35s)

PART 5: We discuss how Tom convinced Oscar-nominated superstars to take a chance on him and his script (22m 14s)

PART 6: Tom tells us about the moments he thought his film would never happen and how he got through them with the help of his young family (30m 45s)

PART 7: We talk about how being ok with rejection is a key part of being successful (38m 17s)

PART 8: Tom tells us how great it felt to screen the finished film to a large audience and tells us what happens next (41m 01s)

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Episode 1 - Dom Fendius talks to Sébastien François, CEO of Induo 06/03/2018

On episode 1 we talk to Sébastien François about the struggles of starting and running his smart fabric business, Induo. It's an inspirational tale that will be familiar to every entrepreneur - massive highs, crashing lows, sleepless nights, tearful moments and incredible achievements. Sébastien talks about reaching the bottom and fighting his way back; how his wife and family helped him in dark times and how he applied a mindset he learnt in trail-running to overcome adversity.


PART 1: Sébastien introduces Induo with an amusing anecdote (00m 42s)

PART 2: Sébastien tells us how he first got Induo up and running (06m 15s)

PART 3: Sébastien explains how he overcame his first big challenge, and how important his wife and trail-running were during this time (11m 19s)

PART 4: Sébastien tells us how sometimes problems solve themselves (22m 20s)

PART 5: Sébastien talks about why working hard every day will have unintended consequences (24m 05s)

PART 6: Sébastien recounts the moment he thought he'd have to sack his whole team and shut the business down, and how he fought his way back (28m 33s)

PART 7: Sébastien says how contrary to everything you've been told, 90% of entrepreneurial life is managing crisis (35m 28s)

PART 8: Concluding thoughts and Sébasatien's advice to anyone considering starting their own business (40m 50s)

The books we mention: Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life's Work by Steven Pressfield

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight

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In the fail_succeed podcast, host Dom Fendius talks to people from a range of fields who have achieved extraordinary successes.  The interviews shine a light on the full story behind these achievements, exposing the fact that every successful person has experienced crashing lows and failures that have almost driven them to give up.  These are incredible stories that will move and inspire you.  If you're thinking of giving up on something, listen to an episode!

Dom Fendius is a serial tech start-up founder who previously worked in investment banking, real estate and publishing, and has experienced his own fair share of massive highs and extraordinary lows.  Contact him by email at dom@fail-succeed.com

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