Take a step back and see things from another point of view. I think it is difficult sometimes to see from your eyes how things may or may not workout. Go out there and get others’ opinions online, in person. Talk with people you know but more importantly talk with strangers. Those who don’t know you will more often give more honest insights.
The Fear of Failure is one of the most common restraints that holds people back from pursuing great ideas. Imagine if we could become totally free from the fear of failure. Imagine what we could then manifest and create. In this interview series, we are talking to leaders who can share stories and insights from their experience about “Becoming Free From the Fear of Failure.” As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Kanyarat Nuchangpuek.
Kanyarat Nuchangpuek is the co-founder of the tech startup Simya Solutions. Her company is the creator of Ling App, a gamified language learning app with over 10 million downloads, 60 languages and a growing blog with over 500k monthly views.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
Growing up in rural Thailand, I always had a dream to travel and experience the world. Finally, when I was a young adult, an opportunity presented itself where I could study abroad in Germany. At first this was a scary prospect, but I wasn’t going to let fear hold me back!
Going to Germany changed my life and the experiences and people I met there have led me to where I am today.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Probably not the most interesting thing, but definitely the most contentious thing I ever did was quit a very successful career. I worked for a large, well-respected IT consulting company in Germany. I loved my work, my colleagues, my home, everything in Germany. Truly, from most people’s point of view I had it all. Then I decided to let it all go. I jumped two feet into my entrepreneurial journey and never looked back!
The greatest take away from that is to say to you reading this, take the leap! You’ll never know what could have been if you don’t take that chance.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Working in today’s environment, effective communication is the key to success. Our business revolves around a mix of a hybrid and remote working model. With communication across time zones there isn’t always availability to provide immediate feedback, so initial communication must be as clear as possible.
At Simya Solutions we’ve created numerous standard operating procedure (SOP) documents that clearly define our specific needs for specific aspects of our business. We make sure to communicate in methods that speak to our team members’ different communication strengths. Our SOPs include visual models, videos, audio, and written step by step descriptions of what we expect. This eliminates the chance of errors and has been very effective and efficient.
We also make it a point to have an ‘open door’ policy. All team members are welcome to communicate with myself and our CEO and we often check in with them as well. We aim to be supportive and motivate employees to be their very best.
2. Accountability and responsibility
It’s so important to lead by example. When employees see how the leaders of Simya Solutions are dedicated to and responsible for the company goals, they are more likely to be responsible for their goals too.
That is one of the reasons why our company operates transparently. All company wide goals, or key performance indicators (KPIs), are publicly available and trackable to all under our wing. This allows us to share knowledge and ideas between departments to help each other achieve our aims.
3. Learning mindset
I never stop learning. The world is simply changing so fast, we always need to be up-to-date, especially on the latest Google and iOS updates and marketing strategies. We also expect our team members to have updated skill sets and so we consistently provide in-house professional development for each department.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the concept of becoming free from failure. Let’s zoom in a bit. From your experience, why exactly are people so afraid of failure? Why is failure so frightening to us?
In a word, fear is unfamiliar. It’s unknown. But it’s also exciting.
Let’s refer to the famous analogy of being asked to stand in front of three doors, but only being allowed to open and go through one. You don’t know what’s behind any of the doors but you can presume one will lead to an extremely positive outcome, the other a not unexpected outcome, and the third a downright horrible outcome.
There’s an element of hope, surprise, excitement, overwhelmed with fear. What if you choose the wrong door?
But … what if someone told you there is no wrong door?
Failure is so frightening because we’ve been told failure is bad. It’s a socially ingrained concept. And it’s false. All doors lead towards a better future.
What are the downsides of being afraid of failure? How can it limit people?
You cannot grow. Since you are afraid of failure you will not take action towards your future. By not performing any actions, how will you get feedback needed for your improvement?
In contrast, can you help articulate a few ways how becoming free from the free of failure can help improve our lives?
See failure as a learning opportunity. Fail fast, learn fast.
As we all know, fear is powerful. It can be both a powerful motivator and an equally powerful demotivator. The trick is to use fear to your advantage. Unfortunately, there is no way to become totally free from fear, or the fear of failure, but you can train yourself to harness its potential.
Personally, my journey with fear began when I left my birthplace, Thailand, and traveled completely alone overseas to study in Germany. Lots of negative thoughts churned through my head; what was I doing? You don’t know a single word of German — how will you communicate? Can I be apart from my family for that long?
It would have been easy to let fear set in. Instead, I used it as a motivator.
- What was I doing? Going on a once of a lifetime adventure that I would be crazy to miss
- How will I communicate? This is a great opportunity to learn a new language
- Can I be apart from my family for that long? It will be difficult, but it will force me to make many new friends
And you know what? My experience in Germany was an amazing success!
Rather than let negativity creep into your thoughts, change your thought process to produce positive, encouraging responses. Push the ‘No’ out with a ‘Yes.’
Doing so brought me to meet my co-founder of Simya Solutions, and now husband, the producer of Ling Ap, a gamified language learning app with over 10 million downloads that offer over 60 languages.
We would love to hear your story about your experience dealing with failure. Would you be able to share a story about that with us?
I don’t see any experiences as failures, but rather learning experiences where things didn’t turn out as expected. There was one time we developed an app for learning vocabulary called “Vocly”. We had great ideas and implemented them, however after much efforts, it didn’t get many downloads.
How did you rebound and recover after that? What did you learn from this whole episode? What advice would you give to others based on that story?
After we saw that the download numbers were low, we studied our marketing strategy, which to be honest was quite amateur and not very good. As a team, we discussed what we would do: Should we carry on and spend more money on marketing or should we shift our focus back to our main app “Ling?” After analyzing data and our market, we decided to shift our focus to our main app.
What I learned is that ideas may sound good to me but may not sound good to others. It’s vital to test your idea as fast as possible, validate your ideas often and pivot early if things do not work out.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that everyone can take to become free from the fear of failure”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Take a step back and see things from another point of view. I think it is difficult sometimes to see from your eyes how things may or may not workout. Go out there and get others’ opinions online, in person. Talk with people you know but more importantly talk with strangers. Those who don’t know you will more often give more honest insights.
- Accept a failure — say yes to failure! Whether it’s big or small, accept it. Embrace it. Learn from it. This is what we did when Vocly wasn’t a success. You go through sort of a grieving process, but you must allow yourself to come out the other side stronger and more informed.
- Evaluate and understand the failure. Discuss with your team or those close to you what are the options to move forward or potentially start over. Evaluate each and repeat step one. Adaptation and change are the keys to turning a failure into a success.
- Carry out the plan. After you’ve understood and learned from the failure, you’re ready to try again. Repeat steps two and three if need be, or move onto step five.
- Embrace your success. Nothing helps to become free of failure than celebrating your successes! Embrace and recognize every small success. Do so by reflecting and learning from the failure(s) and share that failure and your successes with others or on social media.
The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “It is possible to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way.” Based on your experience, have you found this quote to be true? What do you think Aristotle really meant?
I agree that failures can happen in many different ways but I also believe that success is possible through different ways also.
There is no cookbook of how to be successful, we just need to try and learn. There is no recipe for success.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
There is one thing I like to keep in mind is, “Just do it”. If you have a goal or something that you would like to try — just do it!. This can be a failure you can learn from or it can be a success that will change your life.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
Michelle Obama. She was, and remains, a remarkable inspiration.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You may find greatest work (so far) at www.ling-app.com
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.