No Shame No Blame — Mark’s First Blog Post

Mark Rampolla — January 21, 2022


Like many fam­i­lies, we decid­ed to hun­ker down at home this hol­i­day sea­son. That gave me some much need­ed time to reflect on ’21 and recent years, both per­son­al­ly and pro­fes­sion­al­ly. I usu­al­ly do this before I dive into my annu­al rit­u­al of dream­ing and plan­ning for the year to come and beyond.

Part of my dream­ing and plan­ning includes cre­at­ing more con­tent for entre­pre­neurs in a way that is fun and easy. So here we go. This is my first post of many to come. I am work­ing out my cadence and notic­ing that I like to write casu­al­ly, as if we’re hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion. It feels like less pres­sure. For the blog, I like to write like I talk. So, let’s have a chat.

Last year, 2021, was as odd a year as I have ever seen in busi­ness. There was a lot to cel­e­brate. There were some big wins per­son­al­ly and for Pow­er­Plant and also some fail­ures. Some com­pa­nies are get­ting fund­ed, scal­ing fast, and get­ting big out­comes. Oth­ers strug­gled or out­right failed. I had a cou­ple in this last cat­e­go­ry in ’21: two per­son­al invest­ments and one with Pow­er­plant.

I start­ed invest­ing after sell­ing ZICO in 2013. I was very eager. I co-found­ed Pow­er­Plant in 2015 and made 40 invest­ments across the first fund and per­son­al­ly. Across all three Pow­er­Plant funds now, this is 70+ invest­ments per­son­al­ly and pro­fes­sion­al­ly! There were a few big wins ear­ly on with some uni­corns and an IPO. And of course, some losers. Right when I start­ed to feel some­what con­fi­dent, things also got very nut­ty for me because I start­ed to real­ly think hard about how I process suc­cess vs. fail­ure, and the mean­ing I give to each.

Investors like to talk about win­ners. Same for most entre­pre­neurs. Few if any talk about chal­lenges, mis­takes, or fail­ures. And very few cel­e­brate their wins. I didn’t want to talk about any of this either. Entre­pre­neurs feel like shar­ing wins is for cor­po­ra­tions. Or we’re told. Entre­pre­neurs don’t share wins. It’s not in our DNA. Either we’re too busy or just don’t want to share.

What are we afraid of? Let’s own it! Let’s look at our suc­cess­es and fail­ures. In fact, let’s go all the way and share them. They’re just expe­ri­ences. Sad at times? For sure. Painful? Cost­ly? All of the above. But, they’re all just expe­ri­ences. What do we do with them? What mean­ing do we give them? That’s what is on my mind late­ly.

I asked my daugh­ters to help me cre­ate a lit­tle ceme­tery on our prop­er­ty. I did this to acknowl­edge and remem­ber the dead. Some com­pa­nies died. Some are zom­bies. But if I’m on the field, I’m going to lose part of the time. Right? Right! That’s part of being on the field.

Am I now on the blog field? Yes I am. Does it feel weird? Absolute­ly. Is this post or video going to be a fail­ure? Per­haps. But I’m on the field and ready for the expe­ri­ence.

The Pow­er­Plant team may tell me this first blog is too long so here is a punch­list for you to take­away. I learned how to cre­ate a lis­ti­cle from Buz­zfeed. I hope you like it. I don’t even know if this is a lis­ti­cle. I am going to ask one of our Asso­ciates.

1. Get com­fort­able with loss. Loss is a part of busi­ness, like life.

>Every cul­ture mourns its dead (some in fas­ci­nat­ing ways). Why not do so in busi­ness?

>Five stages of grief: Apply fail­ures with your employ­ees and part­ners and work through the emo­tion­al process.

2. See fail­ure as part of the path to suc­cess:

>Ray Dalio exam­ines this in his book which I high­ly rec­om­mend.

>What didn’t work? What didn’t go the way you want­ed?

3. Intel­lec­tu­al AND emo­tion­al analy­sis is key:

>What was the the­sis? What was the fan­ta­sy?

>Where were you emo­tion­al­ly? What was going on in your life? What were you afraid of or excit­ed about?

4. Cre­ate a con­scious cul­ture:

>Sup­port lead­ers and their teams to build trust.

>Take respon­si­bil­i­ty, com­mit to curios­i­ty, and acknowl­edge feel­ings.

Every­one process­es suc­cess and fail­ure dif­fer­ent­ly but near­ly all entre­pre­neurs have true curios­i­ty and the risk appetite to explore both. Suc­cess­es and fail­ures are just expe­ri­ences. Live it out loud with no shame and no blame. There are always more rocks.

You May Also Be Interested In