How to Succeed at Failure: The Failure Formula (Part II)

What do former Metropolitan Museum social media executive, Sree Sreenivasan, and sexting ex-Congressman, Anthony Weiner, have in common?

About the same age, both were incredibly successful residents of New York:

  • Sree, a highly regarded Columbia School of Journalism professor,
  • Anthony, a seven-term winning politician.

Both were the first to occupy the posts that would make them public figures:

  • Weiner occupied a newly created seat on the New York City Council and
  • Sreenivasan was the first to hold title of Chief Digital Officer for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

That’s where the comparison ends.

  • Hailed as the executive that brought social media into the executive suite, the Met eliminated Sree’s role as a cost-cutting measure and
  • After making headlines as an up and coming political star, Anthony’s sexual indiscretions forced his resignation from congress.

When faced with failure, the sexter evaded and denied and the social media expert went public, told it all and told it fast. The Congressman didn’t listen, didn’t learn and repeated his mistake. Forever the professor, Sree asked the world for help and advice, offered to take any meeting, hear any ideas and consider all options.

The result?

Weiner has become a cautionary tale, while Sree faces the challenge of choosing amongst a growing list of options.

I am not – in any way—comparing someone’s job loss to the moral bankruptcy of a married sexter sending unwanted pelfies to young women. The issues are worlds apart.

Putting aside the moral and ethical gulf that separates these situations, there is a broader lesson to be learned – Is there a way to succeed at failure?

When faced with clear and present failure, follow the failure formula:

  • Don’t hide
  • Own the obvious
  • Shape the story
  • Listen and learn

Next week, we’ll meet a man that makes failure look good!

As always, I welcome your thoughts and insights directly at

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