Real Leaders

A Failed Deal Was (Partially) Responsible for My Success

Yes, you read that headline correctly. A failed deal was, partially, responsible for my success.

When I launched Avant Global nearly 20 years ago, I was introduced to someone I thought would become a long-term partner. After months of collaborating and getting close to a deal (so I thought), I learned that he wasn’t entirely truthful throughout the process. After several key revelations came to light about his dishonesty, lack of integrity, and actual valuation of the company, the deal collapsed and, at the time, it was a major setback for my business and me.

After licking my wounds for a few weeks, I was able to get back to the hard work, and the company began to grow and flourish. To date, we’ve helped fuel more than $10 billion in added value for our clients, which include one of the wealthiest business magnates in Mexico, the founding family of a well-known retail giant, and one of the largest holding companies in the world.

Looking back years later on this failed deal, I realize that mistakes are part of the journey. If I’m not making mistakes – and learning from them – then I’m not expanding my knowledge and abilities. I’ve realized that what I thought of as a “failure” at the time was a pivotal moment that inspired me to work smarter.

The first action we took was to create a thorough and thoughtful due diligence list. This list has evolved into a standard document that we use internally before investing in a company. By having our own internal checklist, and crossing off many questions before the initial partner meeting, we’ve already taken a lot of the guess work out of the deal.

Next, we reevaluated how we structured the terms and timing of the deal. We approached the process more gradually, with a longer timetable, which gave us a chance to know our partners better. And we established milestones along the way, which required our partners to perform at frequent intervals and establish their credibility.

After this one failed deal, I was extremely upset. This lead to clouded judgment and morale issues amongst my team. But from this experience and with age, I learned to always react more mindfully. There is no mistake too big to fix – everything is a learning experience. By maintaining your cool under a stressful situation, you not only think more clearly but also show those working with you the best way to handle a situation.

Never lose your enthusiasm. I felt very skeptical about other deals moving forward – I wondered how many other dishonest people I may encounter. But if I lose my enthusiasm for my work it becomes just that – work. If I remember every deal is a new opportunity, and I recognize the value of learning from each one, I’m able to see the greater meaning in what I do, and it never feels like ‘work.’

The road to success isn’t always a straight line. Bumps, curves, and detours arise along the way. That’s the nature of taking calculated risks. But if we realize that our perceived setbacks are gifts for learning, we can move forward enthusiastically to create great value in this world.


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