McDonough School of Business
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Global Social Enterprise Initiative Hosts Discussion on Meaningful Failure

If you are going to fail, fail forward and fail fast. That’s the advice of Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation and co-founder of AOL.

“Failure teaches, and it’s important to learn from it,” Case said, referencing the foundation’s “Be Fearless” campaign. The campaign, focused on the five principles of a fearless approach to social change, empowers leaders to be bold and embrace risk.

Case was one of four panelists at the Global Social Enterprise Initiative’s “Seeing Value in Failure” event on October 27 at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. The talk, part of the See Value Conversations series, featured Case; Patrick Fine, CEO of FHI 360; Jake Harriman, CEO of Nuru International; and Art Stevens, director of social innovation projects at PayPal. Ladan Manteghi, executive director of the Global Social Enterprise Initiative, moderated the discussion.

Panelists emphasized the importance of building a culture that tolerates risks and encourages innovation.

“You have to value initiative over just meeting job expectations,” Fine said. “If you are going to encourage people to do that then you also have to, as a leader, be willing to tolerate when things don’t meet their outcomes or when things don’t work out the way you want them to.”

The panelists shared stories of their own companies’ missteps and failed projects, including MicroPlace, eBay’s microfinance platform that launched in 2007.

Stevens was general manager of MicroPlace when the company decided to stop offering new investments in 2014 in favor of focusing attention on programs that would have a greater impact.

“Failure is not to stop something,” Stevens said. “Failure is to turn your energy toward something else.”

On Nov. 12, the initiative will host a discussion of the value in crisis with panelists Eric Dezenhall, author of “The Glass Jaw,” and Liz Sidoti, director of corporate communications, BP. For more information or to register, visit