People of Groupon, After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I've decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding — I was fired today. If you’re wondering why … you haven’t been paying attention.
These were the first two sentences of Andrew Mason's letter to employees announcing that he had been fired as CEO of Groupon following a disappointing fourth-quarter earnings report. The letter goes on to explain some of his failures, as well as express his hope for the future of the company.
It was really refreshing to see Mason take this approach. This guy built an amazing company (I wrote about their growth a while back). And I give him a ton of credit for talking about his failures so publicly. This is so rare in public and private life.
When I interview job candidates I always ask them about the biggest mistakes and failures in their career. Candidates are so reluctant to talk about this topic. They often don't answer the question or talk about a failure where they didn't really fail. They're afraid that I'm going to view their failures as a bad thing.
But failure is a good thing, a great thing actually. Because it shows that you've tried things that are hard and have been through difficult times and persevered. And I want to work with people that have tried hard things and been through difficult times and persevered.
When you try to do great things you're going to fail. A lot. And failing is the best chance to learn. Personally, I learn much more when I fail than when I succeed.
When I interview someone and they can't think of a failure, there are three possible takeaways: 1.) the candidate isn't self aware 2.) the candidate is lying 3.) the candidate has never tried anything difficult. All of these are bad.
I hope we see more business leaders (and interviewees) become more open about their failures like Andrew Mason was last week.