The 10 Minute Mentor

Learning from Failure Part I: Non-Traditional Investments and M&A

August 15, 2017

The 10 Minute Mentor Podcast
Our ongoing series on leadership in the age of disruption.

Episode 6: Learning from Failure Part I: Non-Traditional Investments and M&A

Guest: Phil Gross, Executive Mentor, Merryck & Co Americas (Former VP & GM, GE Plastics, and SVP, Warner-Lambert Company)
Host: David Reimer, CEO, Merryck & Co Americas



Phil Gross has had many successes over the course of his career as a Fortune 50 executive, but in this special 2-part edition of the 10 Minute Mentor, Phil Gross reflects on learning from failure while at General Electric and the Warner-Lambert Company. In this episode, Phil provides his retrospective insights on both a failed investment and a failed merger and acquisition during his time at General Electric. Phil provides lessons for leaders as they navigate failure, perhaps a more common risk than ever before during this age of disruption.  

Is failure avoidable? What role should a leader take when an initiative fails? How does a leader not only personally recover, but also carry their team forward? Are there steps a leader can take to mitigate the damage of failure?

In Phil’s conversation with host David Reimer, he argues that while retrospect is 20-20, in the face of failure it is important that leaders keep emotions at arm’s length, do not get blind-sided, and always have an alternate plan.


Key Takeaways:

04:36: For one thing, you can't know everything. But in thinking about it, the biggest lesson here is that there are going to be some projects that you ought to decide that you shouldn't do them unless you can absorb a major loss.

08:01: Even though I had been running businesses now for probably 10 years, more than 10 years, I was just thunderstruck by this. I couldn't believe it was happening, and I have to admit that even though I wasn't a deer in the headlights, I was very close to one because this is sort of like your whole world, your whole game plan has been taken away from you.

08:43: You have to have an alternate plan, even if you don't talk about it but just because it's strategically a good thing doesn't mean it's going to happen, and managers sometimes have to be more flexible and, I have to admit, more detached.

Click here to download the full transcript. 

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