I had the privilege of going to SXSW again for their 2012 Interactive technology festival. It was everything I expected: wicked. A more accurate word would be serendipitous, which was their theme for this year.

sxsw nike
Nike Fuel Campaign at SXSW 2012

One hot topic was the interview of Ben Silbermann (co-founder of Pinterest) conducted by Chris Dixon (Hunch). Silbermann shared his story and the reasons behind Pinterest. One interesting fact that I discovered was his determination to succeed (or embarrassment to fail).

Not Knowing When To Quit

Before Pinterest, Silbermann worked at Google. He left Google to launch this startup.

For the first nine-months, he only had 10,000 users, with a few of them active on a daily basis. Afraid that Google won’t give him a job again, he continued with this project.

Nielsen reported that Pinterest had 16.1 million unique visitors in January [2012] in the United States alone, double the number it had in November.
New York Times

There is no such thing as instant success. It takes hard work and perseverance. Angry Birds, for example, was the 74th attempt at a successful game; now it’s ubiquitous. Can you believe it? I might have quit after 73 attempts.

angry birds

Lisa Kudrow (commonly known as Phoebe in Friends), in another panel, talked about the many failed webisodes and television pitches in her industry.

They all talked about failing forward – learning from your past mistakes and using them as stepping stones. Ultimately, failure isn’t fatal.

So, whether you’re a full-time or part-time photographer, it’s not an easy gig nowadays. Learn from your own mistakes and those made by others. Be positive and keep moving forward.

What’s one lesson you learned from a mistake?


Lawrence Chan

P.S. Pinterest went through dozens of designs before settling on their white tiled look. Here are some screenshots from the past few years – 2010, 2011, 2012.

pinterest screenshot

P.P.S. At SXSW, I got to meet some really cool people!

Here’s me and Guy Kawasaki – be Enchanted.

sxsw guy kawasaki

Here’s Anthony Bourdain from No Reservations – one of my favorite shows!

sxsw anthony bourdain

And lastly, a panel of wickedly cool tech and VCs! From left to right: JR Johnson, Tim Ferriss, Chase Jarvis (CreativeLive), Gary Vaynerchuk and Tony Conrad.

sxsw panel