Strategies for Growing Through Failure, From a Veteran of the Dot-Com Crash

Strategies for Growing Through Failure, From a Veteran of the Dot-Com Crash

By Justin Biel, trends editor at Grow Wire


In short:

  • Silicon Valley executive and entrepreneur Narinder Singh fell from a career high to an all-time low in a matter of months during the 2001 dot-com crash. 

  • He viewed the failure through an unconventional lens that allowed him to continue growing his career when others might’ve wavered.

  • Singh’s strategies can apply to business leaders who’re looking to grow from failure in a range of industries. 



Narinder Singh is a Silicon Valley veteran known for holding senior roles at big-name companies and co-founding one of his own. Now, he’s working on ways to continue making waves by using artificial intelligence to improve healthcare.

It may sound like Singh’s career has always been charmed, but that’s far from the truth.

Singh got his start at WebMethods, an enterprise software company in the early days of the internet that grew quickly before busting spectacularly in the dot-com crash. Singh successfully rebounded from this setback partly because he viewed it as a learning opportunity rather than a cause for despair.

He detailed his career on a recent episode of “The Grow Wire Podcast.” Launch this video to hear his thoughts in full, and read takeaways from the talk below.


From dot-com boom …  

Singh scored his role at WebMethods after seeking out the company founder at a conference to secure an interview. He was one of the first 40 employees.

“The company was a rocket ship," said Singh. 

As WebMethods grew, Singh took on more responsibility. By age 25, he was managing a team of 70 people. He went on to create a product called Trading Networks, which became one of the most successful in the company's history.

WebMethods eventually went public and scored the highest opening of the year. At its peak, shares of its stock sold for $336 apiece, and employees found their stakes worth millions.

... to bust 

Seven months later, the same shares traded for $6.

The fall of WebMethods was difficult for Singh. However, he mustered the gusto to continue his career by viewing the failure through an unconventional lens.

Singh’s 3 strategies for growing from failure

As he transitioned away from WebMethods, Singh employed three strategies that can help other business leaders push through failure and onward into more growth.
 

1. Since business is unpredictable, grow your passion.

In the dot-com crash, Singh learned how quickly a market or industry can change. He was able to stay engaged throughout the crash because he genuinely believed in his company and thus wanted to learn why it suffered, he said. 

“Instead of being bitter…I wanted to understand what happened,” Singh said (15:59 in the video above).

Singh believed in the products his team was developing at WebMethods. This passion allowed him to pursue answers and learn from the company’s mistakes.


 

2. Take something away from every experience.

WebMethods’ stock price never recovered, but Singh looked past the numbers and found value in other areas of his time there. Experience running a large team and the business contacts he made at WebMethods provided stepping stones in his career.

"I look at my time at WebMethods as some of the best years of my career," said Singh. "The friends, the people I met--in retrospect, it was an incredible experience" (16:30). 

In fact, Singh co-founded software company Appirio in 2006 with his former WebMethods colleagues. The relationships he built there eventually led to his most significant success.

 


3. Own your decisions.

When Singh's WebMethods shares dropped from $336 to $6, he didn't go looking for someone to blame. Instead, he admitted the failure and saw the experience as a chance to recover ownership of his career trajectory.

He enrolled in Wharton's Executive MBA Program and got a job in SAP’s corporate strategy group. His degrees and resume positioned him as a seasoned, in-demand candidate across the technology sector.


Failure has a negative connotation in most aspects of life, but high achievers like Singh view it differently. They know that if you’re passionate about your work, choose to learn from every experience and take ownership of your decisions, failure becomes one of your best teachers.

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