© 2014 Kevin Longa Kevin Longa enjoying a coconut - #FoodEntrepreneur Friday: Fail Until You Succeed, Try Not to Go (Coco)Nuts

#FoodEntrepreneur Friday: Fail Until You Succeed, Try Not to Go (Coco)Nuts

The food: Fresh-picked coconuts

Where to find it: Lucbuan, Palawan Island, Philippines


Welcome to another edition of #FoodEntrepreneur Friday, where I serve up an order of international food with a side of insight for entrepreneurs.


It was as if mother nature tried to send me a sign: I should give up. My local Filipino guide and I had picked off a coconut from a seaside tree, and it would not crack. The sea wind spat in my face. And I hunched over the coconut like I was making a desperate plea to the fruit gods. “Oh, deity of Dole. Oh, creator of Chiquita, please help me open this coconut.” I felt just as frustrated as Tom Hanks in Cast Away when he tried to open a coconut. I tried hacking at it with a sturdy bamboo stick. I hurled it against trees and rocks. Brute force did nothing. It drove me crazy to the point that I literally yelled at the coconut. But I couldn’t give up, I knew how sweet it would be once I got the dang thing open.

Kevin Longa knocking a coconut against a tree - #FoodEntrepreneur Friday: Fail Until You Succeed, Try Not to Go (Coco)Nuts

Kevin Longa hitting a coconut with a bamboo stick - #FoodEntrepreneur Friday: Fail Until You Succeed, Try Not to Go (Coco)Nuts

When you reach the frustration point where you’re literally shouting at inanimate objects, then that’s a good sign you should reassess your strategy.

In the Silicon Valley, the entrepreneurial community celebrates failure. They believe that you must fail until you succeed. They believe that entrepreneurs and startup teams learn the most from their failures, which will help them get one more step closer to success. Each morning at Draper University for entrepreneurship, I pledged an oath that literally declared “I will fail and fail again until I succeed”. My classmates and I announced the oath with gusto and enthusiasm.

Food entrepreneur John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, retells the story of how his first food market, SaferWay, underwent Austin, Texas’ 1981 flood. The store had no insurance, and SaferWay experienced $400,000 in losses. This was the largest failure of Mackey’s early career as a food entrepreneur. But this devastation brought the local community together to rebuild the store. Mackey may have failed to secure insurance that would have covered all of his losses, but this community support brought greater customer loyalty to his stores.

Society tells us to avoid failure at all costs. But if Thomas Edison hadn’t made thousands of mistakes while perfecting the lightbulb, then would we end up benefiting from his invention?

So although many people greater and wiser than I have said it before, I’d like to add a small morsel of encouragement out there to the people who keep attempting to crack open that proverbial coconut: fail and fail again until you succeed.

It’s Friday. The end of the week. That goal you aimed for this week might not have come to fruition, but that doesn’t mean you should give up this weekend. Take the weekend to reassess your goal and next steps. Learn from your mistakes and step up to the challenge next week. Try to crack your goal before it cracks you.

The sweetest victory (and coconuts) come with its fair share of failures. After brute force techniques didn’t work, I quickly learned that I could fashion a makeshift knife from a sharp rock, cut into the coconut’s shell and, well, the rest was sweet success. Fail until you succeed.

Kevin Longa opening a coconut - #FoodEntrepreneur Friday: Fail Until You Succeed, Try Not to Go (Coco)Nuts

Kevin Longa drinking a coconut - #FoodEntrepreneur Friday: Fail Until You Succeed, Try Not to Go (Coco)Nuts

Kevin Longa enjoying a coconut - #FoodEntrepreneur Friday: Fail Until You Succeed, Try Not to Go (Coco)Nuts

Scroll to the bottom of this #FoodEntrepreneur Friday post to read the full Draper University oath.

Filipino coconuts add much more than flavor to Filipino cuisine. Read about from this past #FoodFriday post.

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  1. […] will be not-so-appealing. Just like the old inspirational adages that encourage leaders to fail again and again until they succeed, experimentation is a part of the entrepreneurial […]

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