The word failure is the last word that comes to mind when you think of Kim Bode, Kayden Grinwis, and Kelly Rossman. These three individuals work at successful firms--Eight Thirty Four and Truscott Rossman. When we see these professionals the only thing we tend to focus on is their success. What many of us tend to overlook is all of the challenges and adversity they faced while working their way to the top. This was my first exposure to a Failure Lab and I hadn’t expected it to be such a moving experience. I had no idea it would be so difficult to listen to their stories, which brought many in the audience to tears.
Kim Bode of Eight Thirty Four Marketing and Design was the first courageous speaker to take the stage. With her red stool and liquid courage (butterscotch booze) in hand, she braved the stage ready to share with us some of the hardest times of her life. Kim’s failure story began when she was a young high school student lacking her parent’s support. “You’re never gonna graduate from college, no one’s gonna hire you, my parents kicked me out at 17,” said Bode as she talked about dealing with many struggles on her own, without the support of her family. She said, “I didn’t have anyone who believed in me, but I knew I could do more.” She worked hard and reached a point in life that seemed perfect and then everything came crashing down around her and she said, “I have no money, I can’t feed my dogs, what am I going to do?” After that, she set the microphone down and walked off the stage.
Everyone was silent, we were in complete awe of what we had just heard. We all wanted to know more, what was the comeback story? That is the beauty of Failure Lab, we all want to focus on the successes people have and more often than not we completely forget about all of the hard work it took to get there.
Following Kim Bode’s story, Kayden Grinwis took the stage with the same butterscotch booze that Kim had in tow. With a big swig he bravely began to share with us his failures. This being one of the first times he had shared his entire story Kayden said, “I didn’t want to just be the man in the relationship, but just be a man period.” Kayden then went on to tell us about the struggles of his abusive relationship, awful job, and how it all came crashing down in the parking lot of his apartment complex. Tears filled many eyes as we listened to Kayden’s heart wrenching story. As he took another swig of the butterscotch booze he said, “I think my biggest failure was that I was complacent, I didn’t try to be proactive.” Right before exiting the stage Kayden said, “within 3-4 days, I was in the process of getting a divorce, I had no house, and I had quit my job.” Then he left and once again, there was silence. Another successful public relations professional that we all admire had dealt with all of that and still made it.
Last, but certainly not least, the queen of public relations, Kelly Rossman took the stage. She told us, “failure made me feel very sad, but also empowered”. Rossman shared with us the details of her abusive relationship and young pregnancy. During her marriage the abuse got worse. Kelly ended her story by telling us what the psychologist she had been seeing told her, “you know what to do.” With that she left the stage and Failure Lab was over.
Seeing these three brave individuals publicly share their hardest trials was devastating, but also oddly inspiring. Knowing where these three are today despite all they had gone through left us all with a glimmer of hope. Overlooking failure and only seeing success is easy to do, but from Failure Lab I learned we must embrace our failures in order to find our success.