We all make mistakes, and our instinct is to cover them up - hopefully learn from them - and then quickly move on. When we share our resumes or publish our websites and bios, we seldom dedicate a section to our failures. After all, the first impression is so valuable and you wouldn’t want to taint it with anything negative…right?
Well, it turns out that we are all human. And, when someone is looking to hire you - or work for you, they are likely curious about your weaknesses. Why? Because they want to know what they’ll need to deal with. It is a fair question, and increased transparency would only lead to better matches and collaborations.
Why does the process of finding one’s weaknesses need to be so difficult? The obvious answer is the shame associated with mistakes and imperfection. If we all acknowledged that everyone screws up sometimes and were willing to talk about our failures and lessons learned…well, we’d probably develop and perform better on the job.
Bessemer Venture Partners, one of the more respected Venture Capital firms of the world, took a unique approach to publicly acknowledging their failures when they launched their “Anti-Portfolio” on their main website. Open, for the world to see, they highlight each missed opportunity as well as the member of their team that made the fatal decision not to invest. It is definitely worth checking out (and is quite funny).
They have a great, candid description on their website that explains how their “long and storied history has afforded our firm an unparalleled number of opportunities to completely screw up.” They go on to say, “Whatever the reason, we would like to honor these companies — our “anti-portfolio” — whose phenomenal success inspires us in our ongoing endeavors to build growing businesses. Or, to put it another way: if we had invested in any of these companies, we might not still be working.”
An interesting example for how an honest appraisal of lessons learned can engage others and build trust.