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Learning from Mistakes and Creating a Successful Future: Interview with Skip Prichard


Mistakes in life are unavoidable.  Most of us do our best to try to prevent them, run from them, or even pretend they never happened.  But what if responding to mistakes in this way created a greater possibility of failure?  Today, we share with you an interview with Skip Prichard who has written a book that offers amazing insights that may be life changing for yourself and business.

Mr. Prichard currently serves as President and CEO of OCLC and previously as President and CEO of Ingram Content Group, Inc. He is a growth-oriented business leader, turnaround specialist, and keynote speaker. He has written a Wall Street Journal bestselling book called The Book of Mistakes: 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future.  

After you’ve read the interview, be sure to follow Skip on Twitter.



Welcome to StartUp Mindset, Skip. We’re very excited to have you here.  For the readers who are not familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Thank you for inviting me.

My entire life has been an opportunity to learn about success and leadership. I grew up in a home where we took people in who were troubled, addicted, and in need of help. Some individuals would learn and grow and become successful and others would struggle and fail. I started observing this as a teenager. Many years later, I have run large global organizations and find myself applying the lessons I learned. In addition, I have interviewed over 1,000 of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, politicians, authors, musicians, and sports legends on my Leadership Insights website.


You have recently published an interesting book entitled The Book of Mistakes: 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future.  Could you tell us a little more about the book and why you decided to write it?

When I interview amazing people, I am often struck by their humility and how they talk about their mistakes rather than their success. For instance, Atlanta Braves legend John Smoltz talked about his failures. I’m thinking, “This is a mega-successful World Champion baseball player and Cy Young awarded winner and he is talking about failure!”

The greatest lessons we learn are often from failure and mistakes. And isn’t it much better to learn from others instead of making them ourselves?

There are nine mistakes that we often learn too late in life. Had we learned them earlier, our lives would be richer and our businesses more successful. The Book of Mistakes is a story designed to teach these lessons in a unique way.


I thought the book was excellent, Skip and I think many of our readers will gain a lot of insight from it.  One of the mistakes you point out in the book is the mistake of accepting excuses. Can you tell us more about why you feel this is such a big mistake?

Thank you for your compliments about the book. I am humbled that so many people are finding it motivational to help their own goals.

Excuses. When I interviewed Mr. Universe, Rich Gaspari, who is also the CEO of Gaspari Nutrition, I saw this one in a different light. I met him after he wrote a powerful book called “No Excuses.” Decades before he had appeared on the cover of a bodybuilding magazine and he decided to do it again. That “no-excuse” mindset applies to many of our goals in business.

We all fail. As a CEO, I am always fascinated to watch when someone experiences failure whether they accept responsibility or blame someone or something else. People who are accountable are far more likely to experience long-term success than those who make excuses.

Develop a no-excuse culture for your business. There is power in it.

It is also important to recognize what a healthy no-excuse culture is not. It is not a reason to demand unreasonable perfection from employees. It is not a “one try and you’re out” mentality. But it is a culture that is honest and that allows a higher-level motivation to experiment and try new things.



You’ve written and spoken many times on the topic of leadership.  What is one of the most important attributes a person should possess if they want to be a great leader?

Humility. It’s so important to realize that it isn’t about you. It’s about others. It’s about service.

When I was first given the title of President & CEO, I found that people reacted to me differently. They would laugh at jokes that weren’t funny. They would defer to my judgment too easily. They would credit me with more than I deserved. If you aren’t careful, leadership can quickly go to your head and make you believe your own press.

Great leaders realize this, guard against it, and surround themselves with people who will tell them the truth even if it is painful.


As CEO, I assume you have made your share of mistakes.  Could you give us an example of a mistake you’ve made in your career and how you turned it around? 

I have made many mistakes. I have hired the wrong person. I have paid too much for something. I could go on and on, yet these mistakes are all minor bumps in the road experienced by everyone in business.

When I think of your question, I think about a different mistake. Early in my professional career, I heard Jim Rohn give this powerful advice. He said, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.”

Like most great advice, I find that I have found that I follow it mostly and then later drift away from it. When I do — and find myself working only on my job and not myself — I am making a massive mistake.

Why? Working on your job is important but it doesn’t change your future. Working on yourself expands your capabilities and your skills. You literally stretch into a more vibrant, powerful version of yourself that expands your potential and possibilities.


You’re a believer that staying in one’s comfort zone is a major mistake that can hold a person back.  What advice would you give someone who wants to achieve more but is stuck in their comfort zone?

Growth comes when we push the boundaries of our comfort zone. By definition, that means it is uncomfortable. In the gym, that discomfort is when we feel our muscles burning. At work, we are learning new skills. Perhaps we find ourselves in front of the room giving a speech even though it once terrified us. That type of boldness and bravery keeps us growing.

If you are stuck, there are various ways to get out of a rut and it depends on what got you there and what is keeping you there. It may be that you need to surround yourself with people who will push you forward. It may be that a book will inspire you or a podcast or seminar. When we see a team reaching new heights, it is often the result of a talented coach. There are times we need a coach to do the same for us. The key is to keep searching and driving forward. It’s hard to be stuck when you’re on the move.

What mindset or trait do you think every entrepreneur must possess in order to become successful.

I think a learning mindset is the most crucial. We should never be too busy to be in learning mode.

That’s fairly easy for most entrepreneurs who are wearing multiple hats. Whether learning marketing or production or operations, there is always something else to master.

For me, a book is always within reaching distance. An inspiring podcast or video is queued up. StartUp Mindset is a perfect community to stay on track. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of it.

Skip Prichard currently serves as President and CEO of OCLC and previously as President and CEO of Ingram Content Group, Inc. He is a growth-oriented business leader, turnaround specialist, and keynote speaker. He has written a Wall Street Journal bestselling book called The Book of Mistakes: 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future. He is known for his track record of successfully repositioning companies and dramatically improving results while improving the corporate culture. His views have been featured in print and broadcast media including the BBC, The New York Times, CNN, NPR, The Daily Beast, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Writer’s Digest, Information Today, The Bookseller, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Forbes. He is also an Inc. Top 100 Leadership Speaker. For more information, please visit https://www.skipprichard.com and follow the author on Twitter.

StartUp Mindset

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