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My Favorite Mistake: Careers & Business, Growth & Lessons Learned From Mistakes

My Favorite Mistake: Careers & Business, Growth & Lessons Learned From Mistakes

By Mark Graban
Do you make mistakes at work and in business? Of course. We all do. But do we learn from them?

Listen and you'll hear executives, entrepreneurs, and other interesting people discuss their “favorite mistakes” and what they learned, including how to prevent making the same mistakes again. Or, how to turn apparent mistakes into positives.

We discuss how to create a culture where it's safe to talk about mistakes – this leads to continuous improvement, instead of blaming and shaming others or beating ourselves up.

Hosted by Mark Graban (author of "Lean Hospitals" and "Measures of Success").
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Slapped a Colleague on a Plane: Canadian Journalist & Author Mike Ulmer
Publisher, book coach, and more. Episode page with video, transcript, and more.  My guest for Episode #176 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is Mike Ulmer. While he specializes in helping business people write their books, he has written 13 books with a total of nearly $1 million in total sales revenue. His latest book (March 2022) is Show and Tell Writing: A Great Short Business Book About How To Write A Great Short Business Book. His other recent titles are Drop The Mic Marketing with Jason Hunt (2022), The 50-Year-Old Millennial: The Leadership Gap Exposed By Millennials And How To Close it with Marc Petitpas (2021) and The 40 Ways of The Fox (2021) with Ron Foxcroft. He worked as the in-house storyteller for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Raptors and TFC as the senior writer at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. He has written for The Toronto Star, National Post, Southam News Bureau as well as news organizations across Canada. Interesting fact — With 170,000 in sales, his book, M is for Maple is the bestselling alphabet book in Canadian publishing history. His website is In this episode, Mike tells his favorite mistake story about striking a journalist colleague while in flight on a plane. Why did his sense of “grandiosity and recklessness” lead to this moment that changed his life? Why was this a “favorite mistake”? How did this moment make Mike realize that he needed help so he could now lead a better life? We also talk about questions and topics including: As a cancer survivor, why is it a mistake to use the phrase “battle with cancer?” Why should people write a business book? You say in your book “everyone should” — why is that? Even if you’re not a writer? Credibility… Mistake to assume you can also speak? Mistake to write with the audience in mind? “Have to take a contrarian stance” Publishing mistakes? Predatory people in the publishing system? “When I see the term best seller… bullshit”
August 08, 2022
Marine LTC Janet Polach Lost Her Temper in a Corporate Meeting — It Was a Bad Fit
Episode page with video, transcript and more My guest for Episode #175 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is Janet L. Polach, Ph.D. She is a global leadership development partner and coach.  She has developed leaders in the U.S. and around the world. As a retired lieutenant colonel having spent 20 years in the Marines, Janet knows a thing or two about what it takes to be a great leader. After receiving her Ph.D. in organizational development and working with a global consulting firm in China, Janet launched her own consulting practice helping hundreds of companies across the globe including major brands and government contractors. Her no-nonsense but lighthearted approach is what separates her from the boys and creates transformational results for even the most struggling leaders. She’s also the author of the book The Seven Mistakes New Managers Make. Her website is: In this episode, Janet tells her favorite mistake story about losing her patience and losing her temper in front of others. She was working in the private sector and realized that a business partner hadn't held of their end of the bargain. But Janet agrees we need to “live and learn,” so she shared what she learned and how she adjusted from this encounter. We also talk about questions and topics including: Praise publicly, criticize privately? What was the culture in the Marines regarding criticism Look for red flags during the interviewing process… I think of Marines as being very serious, with a serious mission… why do you think it’s important to have a “lighthearted” approach? Why write a book about leadership mistakes? Is that more helpful than saying what TO do? “We don’t train brand new leaders” How to do an effective 1×1?? Mistakes that ORGANIZATIONS make — promoting the best individual contributor to a management role? Telling managers to basically just figure out how to manage? $166 billion is spent every year on leadership training but companies are still struggling due to a lack of leadership — WHY? How does the Marine Corps teach leadership? Classroom, behaviors modeled by senior leaders? Coaching? Mistakes in change management… what mistakes to leaders make and what should they do to full engage if not excite people about change? There are many mistakes we might make in giving feedback to somebody… what comes to mind and what do you recommend? Congrats again on the publication of your book… I understand there was/were Book(s) you attempted to write but didn’t finish?
August 01, 2022
Six Sigma Black Belt Jonathon Andell Gloated About Solving a Quality Problem
Episode page - video, transcript, and more My guest for Episode #174 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is Jonathon Andell. He has been a quality professional since 1987, was one of the world’s first certified Six Sigma Black Belts in 1992, and has been a consultant since 1998, and a Fellow of the American Society for Quality since 2008. Among Jonathon’s global clients are leading firms in such diverse industries as: aerospace, automotive, construction, design, electronics, food, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, service, software, and telecommunications. He has published and presented extensively. Jonathon has a BS in Metallurgical Engineering from Purdue and MS in Metallurgy from Penn State. He is an avid amateur musician and a passionate community service volunteer. In this episode, Jonathon tells his favorite mistake story about “gloating a bit” when his younger self (a “hot shot”) solved a difficult quality problem at work. Why did that damage some relationships and how did he get helpful feedback about that? We also talk about questions and topics including: Solving problems – sometimes people don’t want to admit problems Data driven… people and emotions and empathy, not just data Six Sigma mistakes??  Expert driven – “elitist” 30 Rock mocking Six Sigma? Mistake to “rank and yank” ala Jack Welch? “Huge opponent of rank and yank” — at Amazon? Brian Joiner “Fourth Generation Management” book Creating a culture where it’s safe to talk about mistakes — what’s necessary for this? Training people but then not letting them use Six Sigma afterward Working on a book with John Thacker
July 25, 2022
Teresa de Grosbois: Her Failed Africa Charity Opened Unexpected Doors
Author of "Mass Influence" Episode page with episode, transcript, and more My guest for Episode #173 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is Teresa de Grosbois. She is the Founder of the Evolutionary Business Council, an International Speaker and the #1 International Bestselling author of Mass Influence: The Habits of the Highly Influential, which is now a best seller in seven countries. You can download a complimentary digital version of the book here. A 4X International Bestselling Author, Teresa teaches marketing courses around the globe to business leaders and entrepreneurs on how to create massively successful word of mouth campaigns. As the Chair of the Evolutionary Business Council, Teresa leads an International, Invitation-Only Council of Speakers and Influencers dedicated to teaching the principles of success. In this episode, Teresa tells her favorite mistake story about creating a non-profit organization in Sudan that failed. Why did she “quickly realize this wasn't right”? What did she learn from this and how did that experience in Africa lead to the unexpected opening of doors to better opportunities? We also talk about questions and topics including: How did you create 3 best sellers in 8 months? What if you’re reaching out to influencers and not getting a response? From the book the book –  habits and mistakes people make in trying to influence others Do aspiring influencers mistake self promotion and bragging? Should spend more time on building relationships with other influencers? Never talk about yourself vs. always talking about yourself? “Influencer” (like social media) vs true influence? A mistake to think you’re trying to reach “everyone”? Or is “all business leaders at all levels” even too broad to be effective? What’s the difference between “practicing at business” vs. being “aligned with your passion”? How common is the mistake of “focusing on how you make money” instead of “the service that you want to bring to others”? Big mistake — not choosing who you want to play with based on fully respecting that person? Tell me about the Evolutionary Business Council…
July 18, 2022
Jim McCann's Favorite Mistake in Buying the 1-800-FLOWERS Phone Number
Founder / Chairman of 1-800-FLOWERS Episode page with video, transcript, and more My guest for Episode #172 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is Jim McCann, the founder and chairman of 1-800-FLOWERS, one of the first companies to pioneer and popularize the use of both toll-free telephone numbers and Web sites to sell goods and services directly to consumers. Jim is a highly successful entrepreneur, public speaker and published author with titles including Talk is (Not!) Cheap: The Art of Conversation Leadership) — his passion is helping people deliver smiles. Jim’s belief in the universal need for social connections and interaction led to his founding of 1-800-FLOWERS, which he has grown into the world’s leading Florist and Gift Shop and, a leading website for expert party planning content and advice. In this episode, Jim shares his “favorite mistake” story that involves what was otherwise a very good decision — acquiring the 1-800-FLOWERS telephone number. But what was the mistake involved in buying the company that had the number assigned to it? Why couldn't he just buy the number? What mistake led to Jim taking on millions of dollars of debt from that company? How did Jim learn and apply the lesson that “being cheap” and not relying on experts can cause a lot of problems? We also talk about questions and topics including: Learning to not repeat that mistake around due diligence? Finding the balance between saying mistakes are OK without just wildly trying things What the FedEx founder, Fred Smith, said to Jim that turned out to be very incorrect about shipping flowers Is it a mistake to spend too much time reflecting on mistakes? Lessons from 10-step programs, remove the shame or embarrassment from mistakes You were approached to be one of the first companies or bosses featured “Undercover Boss” — Turned it down 3 times — was that a mistake? Learning about the business? Advice for other leaders about doing this without going undercover? “A lot of it comes down to culture and leade