Spectacular Failures

Spectacular Failures

I’ve always been amazed that people only want to talk about their successes.

They never want to talk about their failures, but the places where we don’t succeed are the places where we learn the most. Mine were the places where I met some of the most creative people on the planet.

So I’ll never shy away from my spectacular failures – they’re only really failures if you don’t learn something from them.



In 2001, I set out to redesign a real estate development project in London. And I was unsuccessful.

We wanted to use old shipping containers and give them a second life in real estate projects all across the world. But in practice, it just didn’t work out.

As my good friend Mats Lederhausen said: “You were so far out in front of the parade that nobody knew you were in it.”

The bottom line. I was thinking too big. I was not focused enough. Our ideas and business venture concepts were too broad. We didn’t have a sustainable business model. It was too complicated for London and I let my ego get in the way. It was the first time I lost investors money and that did not feel great.

However, I did get the chance to have lunch with President Clinton. 

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2014 – 2015

This was an amazing idea, (see LinkedIn)  As well timing was just off and it was a big capital ask. The video says it all… One day my brother and I will bring it back to life.

Made some great creative friends in the process but put a lot of development money into an idea that never happened and lost it….

It seemed at the time to be a unique concept that revolved around an immersive consumer experience. We just could not raise the capital needed to get it off the ground. The business is currently in the shed. 



There have been a number of jobs I didn’t manage to land over the last 20 years including becoming the first CEO of the Google Foundation to the CEO of De Beers.  But the best one that I never got was becoming the Night Mayor of London.

I walked 40km through the city in one night, exploring the scenes and the night-time culture to understand the position and the opportunity ahead. It was a great way to get to know the city – even if it didn’t work out in the end.

I never regret the jobs I miss out on. Just like every other spectacular failure, it’s about what you learned and who you met. And every job I didn’t get was an important step towards the next opportunity on the horizon.