Episode 15: Embracing the Value of Mistakes: A Conversation with Mark Graban

Welcome to the “Grow Your Damn Business” podcast, where today’s episode features an enlightening discussion with Mark Graban, an author, entrepreneur, consultant, and the mind behind the book “The Mistakes That Make Us.” Host Scott Goodrich delves into Mark’s journey from his beginnings in the auto industry to becoming a solopreneur and the invaluable lessons learned from embracing mistakes. Here’s a summary of their conversation.

Episode Highlights

[0:00] Intro

[1:24] A brief background on Mark and his career

[6:42] From employee to solopreneur

[7:42] Flexibility and variety in solopreneurship

[11:32] Ups and downs as a solopreneur

[14:06] From podcast idea to interviewing Kevin Harrington

[19:43] Psychological Safety: Owning your mistakes

[24:52] Toyota’s culture of learning from errors

[27:43] Cultivating a culture of learning from mistakes

[29:48] Challenging punitive culture and fostering psychological safety

[33:43] The power of admitting mistakes in healthcare

[34:58] What’s next for Mark

[36:53] Rapid-fire questions

[42:10] Where to find Mark’s book

[42:58] Outro

Mark Graban: From Industry to Insight

Mark’s journey is a testament to evolving career paths. Despite a family legacy in the auto industry, Mark’s career took several turns, from General Motors to consulting for Johnson & Johnson, and eventually to embracing solopreneurship. His pivot from seeking a traditional career path to stepping into the realm of consultancy and authorship was sparked by a realization at MIT about the world of entrepreneurship.

The Genesis of “The Mistakes That Make Us”

The idea for the book emerged during the pandemic in 2020 when Mark decided to start a podcast titled “My Favorite Mistake.” The podcast, which invites guests to discuss their most insightful mistakes, laid the foundation for the book. Mark shares how the willingness of people, including notable guests like Kevin Harrington, to be vulnerable about their mistakes, inspired the theme of the book: celebrating learning and growth from mistakes rather than shaming them.

Psychological Safety and Admitting Mistakes

Mark emphasizes the concept of psychological safety in organizations, where it’s crucial for people to feel safe to speak up, admit mistakes, and share ideas. He discusses how it’s the leaders’ responsibility to create an environment where people aren’t punished for speaking up but are encouraged to learn from their errors. This culture is starkly demonstrated through stories from Toyota, where systemic mistakes led to learning and improvements rather than punitive actions.

Variability and Coping with the Solopreneur Life

Mark shares the ups and downs of being a solopreneur. He stresses the importance of not reacting to short-term fluctuations and using quieter times for professional development and marketing activities like writing, blogging, and podcasting. He also touches on the importance of having a supportive environment and how his lifestyle offers the flexibility to move and adapt due to his wife’s corporate career.

Reflections on Leadership and Culture

The conversation highlights how leaders in various sectors, including healthcare and politics, handle mistakes. Mark recounts stories from the podcast where individuals from different backgrounds demonstrate the power of owning up to their errors. He also discusses how creating a culture where mistakes are seen as learning opportunities can significantly impact problem-solving and organizational growth.

Looking Ahead

While Mark is still promoting his current book and not rushing into the next project, he acknowledges that writing has become a pattern and possibly a problem for him. He continues to enjoy the variety and flexibility of his current roles and is focused on spreading the message of learning from mistakes.


Mark Graban’s journey and insights offer a fresh perspective on the value of embracing mistakes. Whether as an individual or an organization, the ability to own, learn from, and grow through errors is crucial. “The Mistakes That Make Us” is not just a book but a manifesto for a more understanding and productive approach to errors, one that encourages growth and continuous improvement.

Connect with Mark

For more insights and to purchase his book, visit mistakesbook.com. The book is also available on Amazon in various formats.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mgraban

Website: https://www.mistakesbook.com/

Website: https://www.markgraban.com/

Subscribe to the “Grow Your Damn Business” podcast for more inspiring conversations and expert advice on navigating the entrepreneurial journey.

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Meet our Host

Scott has an entrepreneurial spirit that’s been burning since his teenage years. Back then, he was mowing lawns, managing paper routes, and selling greeting cards door to door – always finding different ways to put some cash in his pocket! After graduating college, Scott had a successful career in sales and operations leadership, but his desire to be a business owner was never far from his heart. Seven years ago, he and his wife, Jenn, took the plunge and started their own business. Like many others, they spent all their time on the struggle bus – dealing with cash flow, payroll, and questioning whether their doors could even stay open. Ultimately, they persevered and learned some incredibly valuable lessons along the way.

Now, Scott is dedicated to helping others avoid the pitfalls he faced, fulfilling his purpose as a coach, and helping owners and teams achieve their dreams. When he’s not guiding businesses toward success, Scott can be found hitting the gym, on the golf course, or racking up miles on his Peloton.

As an EOS Implementer, Scott is passionate about helping business owners build a solid foundation and clear vision, empowering them to achieve growth, balance, and financial freedom – all while enjoying the ride.

Scott Goodrich