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Grand Rapids, Michigan


Jordan O’Neil has pulled together Brian DokterAustin Dean, and Jonathan Williams to form the team behind Failure:Lab. They’re all on a mission, “to eliminate the fear of failure and encourage intelligent risk taking.”
One of the first things they did as a team was bring in a camera and lights, sit down, and share deeply personal failures from their own lives.
“We were in that room by ourselves. Five people did it. It was the heaviest room I ever sat in,” Dokter said. “We said, that is the point. There was this gravity there.”
What resulted is an event is made up of performers, storytellers, and 90 seconds after each story for the audience to process and write down or tweet their lessons.
“The silence and the feedback is the magic ingredient. It gives people a chance to become part of the story. We don’t tell them what to think, we get to hear what they are thinking,” Williams said. “[There is no] justifying or blame-shifting. They get to internalize and think about their own lives and apply it to their own struggles.”
The format and content of the event is important to the team. It’s not your typical conference or motivational seminar.
“I always wanted to call them storytellers. They aren’t really speakers, they are charged with crafting this really personal tale,” O’Neil said of those featured in Failure:Lab. “There are no slides behind them, there is nothing for them to refer back to. It forces them to craft the story. It’s stripped down and really personal.”

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