We’ve ALL committed one- A FuckUp. Some publically monumental and terribly glorious. Others deeply private that are kept a buried secret. But this makes failure an experience we all share and have in common. Yet it is a topic often eagerly avoided. Enter…FuckUp Nights.
FuckUp Nights are like a collective therapy. Where disappointments, catastrophes, and fiascos are inverted from negatives into positives, reframed from burdens into catalysts for growth and put into some much needed perspective.
Three speakers bravely get on stage to share their calamity, reflect upon its impact in their lives and share the lessons learned with the audience.
Fuck Google! Yeah But Not Really
A half shaven David Tee recalled waking up one morning, after a hard night of partying in Budapest no less, to a 90% reduction in the sales of his online T-shirt printing business. These statistics were so shocking and unfathomable that he explained it as some sort of bug, or an anomaly. Until this moment, the T-shirt business was performing so well online that the retail locations were closed and all the marketing and sales were invested in a high online search ranking. Yet the drastic decline in sales proved to be no glitch. What happened? Google changed its PageRank algorithm bumping David’s site from the front page to one of all the other ones that no one ever visits. There was no recovery from this hangover and the fall in online visibility proved to be a death blow. Employees were laid off. Equipment was sold. The enterprise closed.
Fuck Google? Yeah but not really. David is not (too) bitter about Google’s alteration that bankrupted him. The real FuckUp was becoming too dependent on a single revenue strategy instead of diversifying into a scheme that could withstand individual shocks. The example highlights that success can be fragile and is susceptible to great forces outside our control. So it is important to be cautious and hedge your bets. And that an honest and clear understanding of life and work includes the possibility that even if you do things more or less right, the outcome might not be the one desired.
Define Your Own Success
Not all FuckUps can be reduced to a single event or even be empirically measured. In a polemic and personally revealing speech, Richard Lucas reflected on his upbringing in England and the influences on his worldview in early adulthood. Richard explained his FuckUp as a faulty mentality that defined his identity and goals through opposition, instead of advancement. As giving blame, instead of taking personal responsibility. As a preoccupation with what not to be, the approval and perception of others, along with the lack of self-discovery. That this can only lead to an inner friction and unhappiness that may last a lifetime.
Richard appealed to the audience to make the pivot from an ‘anti’ mentality into a ‘pro’ mentality. Where we as individuals define our own success and are our own most important judge of accomplishment. Freedom from the shackles of other people’s expectations will unleash an unprecedented energy toward growth, personal and otherwise. Liberate yourself into a mindset of self- realization. Richard warned that not making this inner transformation might be the biggest FuckUp of your life.
Plan Plan Plan
If Richard just inspired the audience to dream, Zbyszek Bakota was there to deliver a very healthy wake-up slap in the face. For he had a sobering case study.
Zbyszek made the pivot Richard described a few years back- He shifted from a glass and steel corporate tower to a serene grassy meadow next to an idyllic forest where he would ‘follow his dream’ and start a bed and breakfast business. Yet he became intoxicated by this dream and many pertinent details in its realization were overlooked. Many critical details were simply deemed unimportant at the time. In his eagerness, he took out a foolish loan. The rigorous demands of the business created unanticipated tension in his relationships. And a great many other unexpected difficulties arose that began turning the dream into a nightmare. The whole idea now looked like a FuckUp.
Zbyszek reminded the crowd of one of the most enduring and succinct commentaries and prophecies on failure:
If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.
Yes, follow your dream! But think about it long and hard. Unfortunately, a plan is by no means a guarantee of success. It is but a bare minimum to avoid certain failure. David Tee’s story reminds us that even a quality and working plan can be susceptible to collapse. So yes- Follow your dreams. Just plan for it. Really really thoroughly.
Need To Figure It Out Yourself
FuckUp speeches end in cliffhangers. The speakers leave us at low points in their lives as they struggle with the consequences of their errors and mistakes. David spent months living in a hostel and guiding pub crawls. Richard was working a failing street stall selling low-quality souvenirs. Zbyszek had a stack of bills and a full serving of despair. But alas, here they are as successful individuals. David is realizing a new project. Richard has a full portfolio of businesses and is a pillar of the community. Zbyszek teased the audience with a photo of a thriving hospitality complex. How did they get here?
Well, we don’t really know. But this is a good thing. Because as individuals, we will need to find our own way to recover and rebound from our FuckUp. It will likely require finding an unknown reservoir of strength, an epiphany that shifts our perspective and starting to create and manifest a new plan. The speakers are a testimony to FuckUp survival and that we can endure as well. There is life after FuckUp.
With its third edition, FuckUp Nights is establishing itself as one of the largest and highest quality events in the growing circuit of English speaking social happenings. With thoughtful commentary, smooth interludes and active engagement of the audience, cohosts Emilia Meres and Ana Timofei received a well-deserved rousing applause from a full house at Pauza In Garden. The community feels the value.
“Unexpectedly-eye-opening event that swiftly plants the seed of doubt in your head helping to jump-start the possible process of rethinking and re-evaluating your life. Amazing!” exclaimed Agnieszka Osuch.
“As a newcomer, I was pleasantly surprised and very touched by how vulnerable the three speakers allowed themselves to be in front of our big audience while sharing their stories!” added Binh Ho.
Keep an eye out for their next event by keeping up with the FuckUp Nights Krakow Facebook page.