How to Find Teaching Moments in Success and Failure - Slava Rubin

In Chapter 4 of 12 in his 2011 Capture Your Flag interview with host Erik Michielsen, IndieGoGo co-founder and entrepreneur Slava Rubin answers "What Makes Failures More Meaningful Learning Experiences Than Successes?" Rubin notes both failures and successes are learning experiences. He makes a point to celebrate, share, and understand successes with the team when they occur. He uses failures to help navigate the team toward successes, citing a Michael Jordan story as a way to put the entrepreneurial journey in context. Rubin is co-founder and CEO of, a crowdfunding startup whose platform helps individuals and groups finance their passions. Before IndieGoGo, Rubin worked in management consulting for Diamond Consulting, now a PWC company. Rubin founded and manages non-profit Music Against Myeloma to raise funds and awareness to fight cancer. He earned a BBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.


Erik:  Why are failures more meaningful learning experiences than successes?

Slava Rubin:  Well, I think both are important.  You really have to understand when you do something well and when there is a success and make sure to share it with everybody on the team and really understand how we got here and enjoy it.  

I think the failures just help us learn how to navigate towards the success.  There is a classic Michael Jordan commercial where it’s like black and white and he’s walking out of a tunnel and he says ‘I have shot – I have missed, you know, 97,000 free throws, I have missed 100,000 shots, and for all these misses, you know, that is why I have won six championships.’  It’s because he’s been out there and put it out on the line.  Like any entrepreneur, you know, with great risk it can come reward, and with risk comes some failures.

Erik Michielsen:  Is there one specific failure that you can point to in your development that’s really helped you get to where you are now?

Slava Rubin:  I would say that there have been some painful times whether it be like when my dad died of cancer when I was fifteen or even with IndieGoGo, you know, the market crashed in 2008, and it was pretty bleak times with my two co-founders, and I – and it was just about really focusing on what’s important in either one of those situations, and looking forward, and just taking one step at a time, and executing, and here we are.