Don’t let failure stop you… again

A couple of days ago I purchased and started reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs on my Kindle Touch (which I am LOVING!).

I just read something that took my breath away… a story how the fear of failing again robbed Rob Wayne of $2.6 billion and incredible prestige!

Wayne was a friend who proved helpful in persuading Job’s partner and lead computer designer Steve Wozniak to leave HP and bring his designs with him to the newly formed Apple Corporation.

There was a meeting in which a partnership agreement was written up between the three of them, and that’s where we pick up the story…

…the division of shares and profits was clear—45%-45%-10%—and it was stipulated that any expenditures of more than $100 would require agreement of at least two of the partners. Also, the responsibilities were spelled out. “Wozniak shall assume both general and major responsibility for the conduct of Electrical Engineering; Jobs shall assume general responsibility for Electrical Engineering and Marketing, and Wayne shall assume major responsibility for Mechanical Engineering and Documentation.” Jobs signed in lowercase script, Wozniak in careful cursive, and Wayne in an illegible squiggle.

Wayne then got cold feet. As Jobs started planning to borrow and spend more money, he recalled the failure of his own company. He didn’t want to go through that again. Jobs and Wozniak had no personal assets, but Wayne (who worried about a global financial Armageddon) kept gold coins hidden in his mattress. Because they had structured Apple as a simple partnership rather than a corporation, the partners would be personally liable for the debts, and Wayne was afraid potential creditors would go after him. So he returned to the Santa Clara County office just eleven days later with a “statement of withdrawal” and an amendment to the partnership agreement.

“By virtue of a re-assessment of understandings by and between all parties,” it began, “Wayne shall hereinafter cease to function in the status of ‘Partner.’” It noted that in payment for his 10% of the company, he received $800, and shortly afterward $1,500 more. Had he stayed on and kept his 10% stake, at the end of 2010 it would have been worth approximately $2.6 billion. Instead he was then living alone in a small home in Pahrump, Nevada, where he played the penny slot machines and lived off his social security check. He later claimed he had no regrets. “I made the best decision for me at the time. Both of them were real whirlwinds, and I knew my stomach and it wasn’t ready for such a ride.”

He could have had $2.6 billion. Instead he lives alone in a small home in Nevada playing slot machines and living off of a social security check!


Because he was scared to fail again.

Please! Listen! If you’ve failed once… failed big… be careful that you don’t allow your fear of failing again to keep you from the biggest breakthrough of your life!

One thought on “Don’t let failure stop you… again

  1. “I made the best decision for me at the time. Both of them were real whirlwinds, and I knew my stomach and it wasn’t ready for such a ride.”

    Hindsight is always 20/20. Self-awareness might be the driving influence for his decision over the fear of failure. Who is to say he is not completely satisfied where he is in life at this moment… Who is to say had he “stayed with Jobs” he would not have developed a bleeding ulcer or worse and not survived to see the 2.6 billion? Discernment might trump “fear of failure” — One person’s definition of “winning” might be another’s definition of failure …and vice versa.

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