A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 08, 2013
“If you want to succeed, double your rate of failure”

Thomas J. Watson, Sr. (1874-1956), the chairman and CEO of IBM from 1914 to 1956, gave his formula for success—“double your rate of failure” (or “double your failure rate"). Watson believed that those who kept trying and learned from their failures were the most successful people.

“Double your failure rate” was credited to Watson in 1961, “double your failure” was credited to Watson in 1962, and “double your rate of failure” was credited to Watson in 1966. It’s not known exactly when Watson said this or in what form that he said it. In 1980, it was written that this was advice that Watson had given to a writer named Charles Westrill.


Wikiquote: Thomas J. Watson
Thomas John Watson, Sr. (February 17, 1874 – June 19, 1956) was the president of International Business Machines (IBM), who oversaw that company’s growth into an international force from the 1920s to the 1950s.

Quotes
If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.
. Attributed to Watson in: Ron van Oech (1982), A Whack on the Side of the Head and several other motivational books.
If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.
. Attributed to Watson in: Industrial participation (1987) Nr 594-603. p. 262.

Google Books
Field Notes
Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company
Volume 61
1961
Pg. 26:
ON THE FAR SIDE OF FAILURE!
On commenting on the failure of a writer to get several “efforts” accepted, Thomas J. Watson, Sr., former president of IBM gave this advice for success:

“Double your failure rate. It is a common mistake to think of failure as the enemy of success. Failure is a teacher—a harsh one, but the best. Pull your failures to pieces looking for the reason. Put failure to work for you.”

Google Books
The Supersalesmen
By Edwin Palmer Hoyt
Cleveland, OH: World Pub. Co.
1962
Pg. 192:
As he progressed through the National Cash Register sales force, to become a local manager and then company sales manager, Watson reduced his findings to axioms. “Double your failure,” he once told a young man, meaning that was the greatest teacher of all — if the one who failed took the trouble to analyze the reasons for the failure.

Google Books
Dental Industry News
Volume 49
1966
Pg. 18:
To Thomas J. Watson, the great builder of IBM, failure was not a thing to fear in selling, but to welcome. He always advised IBM men to “Double your rate of failure.” Then he would explain to them that, in selling, failure is the greatest of all teachers if vou will let it be. Suppose you make a presentation and fail. If you take the trouble to analyze what you did that caused you to fail, then correct it with the next prospect you talk to, you’ve made yourself a better salesman. But beware of failure and putting the blame on the prospect, as so many salesmen do. That’s not the way to make failure pay off.

Google Books
The Making of an Entrepreneur:
Keys to Your Success

By George C. Ballas and David Hollas
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall
1980
Pg. 188:
Charles Westrill tells the story of how he came to learn from failure. Westrill wanted to be a successful writer but he kept receiving rejection slips for his work. So he decided to see if he could obtain some help from someone who was successful. T.J. Watson, then president of IBM. Westrill told Watson of his failures and Watson said: ... would you like for me to give you a formula for writing success?...It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure ...

Google Books
The Reader’s Digest
Volume 128, Issues 765-769
1986
Pg. 162:
As IBM founder Thomas J. Watson once said, “The way to succeed is to double your failure rate.”

The High Calling
Sep 1, 2009
Double Your Rate of Failure
by Howard E. Butt, Jr.
Charles Westrill was a young, green, uninformed magazine writer when he invited T. J. Watson to a brown bag lunch—not knowing Watson was the president of IBM. Surprisingly, Watson accepted, but suggested dining at IBM headquarters. Once Charles got over the shock of his lunch date’s prominence, Watson gave him some life-changing advice.

“Would you like the formula for success?” Watson asked. “Double your rate of failure.” The common mistake, Watson said, is to make failure the enemy of success. Failure may be harsh, but it is the best teacher.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Sunday, December 08, 2013 • Permalink