Saul Carlin, MBA ’14: Test Hypotheses About Life

When they apply business concepts while braving the imperfect, people can use failures to move forward.

February 01, 2014

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Saul Carlin, MBA ’14 | ToniBird Photography

This series features our students’ reflections on their aspirations, learnings, challenges, and joys. Here, Saul explains how creating the right circumstances and having the right attitude allows him to succeed and fail intelligently.

“Test and iterate” is as much a life mantra as it is a methodology for product design and business model innovation. Framing choices and interactions as discrete, testable hypotheses maximizes learning while reducing the costs of failures to the point that they’re sufficiently exceeded by the value of the lessons they produce.

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My momentum will be driven by experimental risk-taking and my ability to identify and incorporate lessons from both successes and failures.

Too often, the fear of failure and the desire for perfection holds us back from taking key risks that might otherwise drive us forward in life. By seeking out or constructing controlled environments that permit imperfections and calculated risks, we can enable ourselves to fail more, and thus grow more.

Stanford GSB is very much one of those environments. I’ve realized here that I’ll always be testing and iterating, that I’ll never be a finished product, that I’ll always be in motion, and that my momentum will be driven by experimental risk-taking and my ability to identify and incorporate lessons from both successes and failures. It’s in this way that I’ve learned how to give myself the gift of feedback.

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