The raw risk-taking reality of entrepreneurship

Calgary’s first Social Impact Failure Wake to focus on what hasn’t worked – and what can be learned

Dec. 3 at the St. James Corner pub, four brave souls will share their tribulations during the city’s first-ever Social Impact Failure Wake. The event is presented by Thrive and Calgary EATS, and will be emceed by Court Ellingson of Calgary Economic Development.

“I think this kind of gathering is particularly important in Calgary because it is so easy to take a 9-5 job and make lots of money,” says third-generation farmer, Calgary EATS representative and event co-organizer Renee MacKillop.

“By talking about risk and failure we can encourage and validate the desire and effort required to pursue our own kinds of meaningful work.”

Giving us the goods on past pursuits that petered out are Gena Rotstein founder of Place2Give, Kevin Hayes from Epic YYC, Lana Selbee with REAP and Carolyn Davis of Momentum.

“As an entrepreneur I’ve experienced risk and the huge reward and sense of pride in having my own business. And then I experienced the opposite, closing a business. It took time to recover from the guttural reaction and the void it created. Those experiences planted a seed that failure was possible, and also that possibility is just around the corner,” says Barb Davies, wake organizer and community economic development co-ordinator at Thrive.

The evening format includes 10-minute speeches by those closest to the dearly, and perhaps not so dearly departed projects. This is to be followed by any necessary keening, crying and laughter, and will finish with a raising of the glass to the dead body (of work).

There promises to be something for everyone’s favourite flavor of failure. From art galleries, to a youth entrepreneurship program. A sustainable clothing store, and even a few broad-scale attempts to shift the way businesses in Calgary procure labor, goods and professional services in the hopes of achieving dramatic collective impact.

“Calgary is increasingly placing an emphasis on building people and community in economic development. The initiatives that we’ll hear about all had good intent. This event is about learning and moving forward,” Ellingson says.

So, fear not.

You might find yourself so inspired by all this radical honesty that you, yourself, from the safety of a fluorescent lit office cubicle the very next day will put just one toe in the water of “what if?” The rest will be history. You, Samantha, Gary, Carrie, and Clive will go on to change the world*.

*Or at the very least consider sharing your epic fail with a light heart at next year’s Wake.

This blog was originally posted to Thrive and appears here with permission.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.