Without Failure There is No Success
By Laurie Katz
Without failure there is no success.
Say that over and over and yet it just can’t resonate without the good old salty taste of actually experiencing failure. I have failed a lot. I have stressed a lot. Starting at my firm as the fourth employee and becoming a partner, means you have learned how to fail and stress a lot. It is how good I became at doing both that got me to where I am today.
What the heck do I mean by that? Well, I remember the first time I publicly failed, of all things in front of a male dominated trading desk! The joke lives on for twenty years; note: sometimes it is wise to switch jobs to gain distance between those embarrassing moments! I announced a trade had been “Decayed” to the entire desk; for those in the know the actual acronym is DK and it means your counterparty Doesn’t Know the trade. Reflecting on how I reacted, hiding in the bathroom, near vomiting, heart racing, putting myself down, tears bubbling over… that is exactly how you fail incorrectly.
Over the years, I would come to make many mistakes, much bigger than getting a trader’s cryptic language wrong. I would fumble in my presentations; I would miscalculate positions; overestimate a client’s willingness to do something. Yet, along each step of the way, I learned how to fail better.
What did I learn from each failure? How could I have prevented it? Guess what? Sometimes you just can’t! But many times you can prevent failure, by learning what went wrong the last time. Not just cowering in the woman’s room, but actually being OK with the failure and taking the time to dissect it.
Along with this ability to dissect failure for future success comes healthy stress. The panic and anxiety you experience as a novice failure is the exact opposite of healthy stress. And women historically have been exceptional at the wrong kind of stress. We have put ourselves down, embarrassed of our mistakes, we have put others down and too often not helped our sisterhood learn from our mistakes.
All of that will change when you learn how to fail happily and successfully. It did for me. I took the greatness inside of me and shared it. I mentor children. I mentor women. I am on the board of Women Rising where I fight to end domestic violence. I believe that together we rise and divided we fall.
The future is certain for me. I will fail. I will work hard to prevent it. I will learn a lot from it. But because of all of these things, I will succeed.
About the author: Laurie Katz is a Partner at GoldenTree Asset Management. She is responsible for sourcing and overseeing a large client base of pension funds, institutions, endowments, foundations, family offices and fund of funds. Ms. Katz is Co-Head of the firm’s Culture Committee. As one of GoldenTree’s first employees, hired in 2000 as part of the Trading Team, Ms. Katz has helped develop, staff and manage several of the key infrastructures within the firm including Operations and Client Service departments as the firm developed in its early years. Prior to joining GoldenTree, Ms. Katz was an Associate/ Assistant Trader at First Dominion, where she was responsible for the Operations of three collateralized debt obligations, including issues related to closing structured products, developing relationships with underwriters and portfolio valuations. Prior to First Dominion, Ms. Katz held a similar position within the Capital Markets division of CIBC. Ms. Katz is a graduate of New York University. Ms. Katz is actively involved in the hedge fund industry, and is a member of several organizations including AIMSE, 100 Women in Finance Angel Program & Leadership Circle, and High Water Women. Ms. Katz was recognized as a Rising Star by Institutional Investor in 2012. In 2013, Ms. Katz was chosen as a member of the UJA-Federation’s inaugural 40 Under 40 Industry Leaders Initiative. Ms. Katz currently serves on the Boards of Chick Mission and Women Rising.