In Chapter 9 of 19 in his 2011 Capture Your Flag interview, community builder and entrepreneur Fabian Pfortmüller shares how he is learning to define success and failure. He finds failure is about delivering mediocre results or doing something irrelevant or mismatched to what someone wants. This frames his view of success, which is less about quantifiable success and more about surrounding yourself with those you love. Pfortmüller is co-founder of Sandbox Network (www.sandbox-network.com). He also co-founded an innovation think tank, Incubaker (www.incubaker.com), and is part of the group's first spin-off, Holstee (www.holstee.com), an apparel brand for people who would like to wear their passion. Pfortmüller graduated from Columbia University and its School of General Studies.
Erik Michielsen: How do you define and measure success in what you do?
Fabian Pfortmüller: I really believe that as I get older I start to better understand what success really means to me. Success used to be very easy quantifiable in terms of numbers, you know? And that was the first measurement of success but as I start to gain a little bit of experience step by step I would say I get a better grasp of what success means and success obviously has to do with motivation, what really motivates you in the end and for me, right now it is really about being my own boss, being able to shape my own environment.
Being able to say ‘Okay, I designed my life and how I run my life’ and then be surrounded and be with the people I really love that’s really what counts and if what you create actually is valuable and it’s being used and [laughs] and is in that way successful that is great, but right now that for me is even secondary.
Already having that environment and living like that is worthwhile in itself and I believe when it comes to success on a project level there’s two things which I can say what is failure for me, maybe that kind of as the contrast to success is delivering something that is mediocre and delivering something that people don’t want and don’t need. And as a consequence success is delivering something that people really need and want and not just doing a good product but doing really the coolest product and the best product out there, whatever it is, I believe that’s success.