It's Okay to Fail

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Laura Sherman: [00:00:00] All right. Hello everyone. I’m Laura Sherman and I’m here with an amazingly esteemed group of female colleagues.

Elizabeth Krystyn: [00:00:08] Why don’t we just cut the crap?

Laura Sherman: [00:00:09] What?


Elizabeth Krystyn: [00:00:10] That’s what we promised people. Let’s just get to it.

Laura Sherman: [00:00:14] Let’s do it.

Kelly Nash: [00:00:15] I’m Kelly Nash.

Laura Sherman: [00:00:17] I’m Laura Sherman.

Amy Ingram: [00:00:18] I’m Amy Ingram.

Elizabeth Krystyn: [00:00:19] I’m Elizabeth Krystyn.

Laura Sherman: [00:00:21] Let’s get started. All right. So let’s talk about building our team of supporters and the people that we can learn from, and start with kind of building your network or your tribe of people.

So I think that sometimes I’ll talk to people about what kind of network have you created? And they’ll say, “well, I’m an introvert, or I’m not a natural connector.” You know, or “I’m going to stay at this. Company, whatever it is until I retire.” But I think it’s really important for all professionals to build that natural tribe and to seek out those people.

Even if you do plan on staying at the firm until you retire, which is all wonderful, especially if you work here at BKS or BRP. But let– so let’s start with like– let’s talk about building your personal brand, because I think that’s really important. And I think a lot of people don’t think about that.

They’ll say, well, I’m not in marketing, or I’m not in sales, but every one of us have our own brand that we’re exuding right to the external world. So it’s everything from our social media profile, whether it’s LinkedIn or Instagram, or Facebook, to the way that we come across at the office, right? The way we speak, the way we are perceived as an expert in what we do.

How do you guys go about creating your personal brand.

Kelly Nash: [00:01:25] That’s a great question. I think for me it’s somewhat thinking through, if my friends somewhere to ask my friend, Amy, tell me about Kelly.

What would she say and what do I want her to say? And then acting that part and being sure that I am fulfilling the commitment of what I want the world to see.

And that is true to myself, but also how I want to be reflected. And I always like that the reflecting upon the question of if you were to ask somebody, what would they say about you? And that is the brand that you’re building. And it tells– you know, you get to write that story. You’re not the victim of what somebody else’s impression is.

You get to write that story. So if you want to be quite proactive in how you. approach it.

Laura Sherman: [00:02:05] I think that’s  fantastic. So it’s interesting. Lowry, our partner always says that we’re not in the people changing business, but I think as a function of our 20:20 process that we talk about where we’re constantly reevaluating and looking at what did we do well, what would we do better?

I find that almost inevitably every person that I come in contact with here at the firm grows over time. I mean, I think about even where we were 13 years ago when we started the firm, Elizabeth, to where we are today and how much both you and I both have evolved right? As through this process and. And to me, and it’s been a really great process by which I think all of us as professionals can continue to say, what are we doing well?

What are– what could we be doing better? And then learning from each of those moments.

Elizabeth Krystyn: [00:02:46] I feel like the person that has the most expertise in branding and creating your personal brand and maximizing your network is you Laura. So why don’t you tell us how you do it? Because. My– my feedback would be almost the opposite.

My mom told me when I was young that it was none of my business, what other people thought of me. So that whole, you know, I want to be what other people expect of me. I don’t know what that is, so I’m just trying to be a better version of myself and not let Tina takeover.

Kelly Nash: [00:03:19] Tina, she’s got to go.


Laura, I think it’s… I think it’s absolutely true, Laura, because you are by far one of the best branders and networkers I have ever met.

So what, what do you do and what do you think and what are your words of wisdom?

Laura Sherman: [00:03:32] I would say that, again, always trying to be better, like you were saying before. But becoming a deep expert on whatever I choose to be, right? So someone asked me to speak on a particular subject. I’m like, I’m not an expert today, but I will be by the time that we talk about it again.

And so you’ll find, I mean, Elizabeth and I were talking about having our community service platform kind of grow and evolve with the firm. And so I think I’ve read about 30 to 40 articles. I’ve researched some of the best corporate philanthropy programs to say, what parts could we, you know, embrace and what parts are we not ready for?

And so I’ve tried to become an expert in it. So I would say dress for the job you want, right? So always making sure that your per– public persona matches your intention. Right? And I also think we’re going to talk a little bit later, but emotional intelligence is, I think just such a huge, amazing book that I read.

Emotional intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry. That has really helped me evolve because I think a lot of times our self awareness is not aligned with reality. And so the more that you can ask for feedback, it’s such a gift. So I always try to find at least one or two mentors. My recommendation is to have one within the organization that help you navigate the political landscape or your career path, the next job that you’re looking for, or to also help you bounce ideas if you have a tough situation.

Also, having someone outside of your firm, whether it’s in your industry or even outside is such a huge advantage to you so that they can kind of give you [an] unbiased opinion about your career path going forward. I also try to seek people who are significantly higher than me and smarter, better in every way, so that I can strive for that.

So I think mentors are such a huge– and I’ve been very blessed with amazing mentors, including Elizabeth and Kelly. Even every day in our walk, I feel like I leave so much better than I did when even just that 30 minutes before we started the walk.

Kelly Nash: [00:05:16] Agreed. Thank you.

Elizabeth Krystyn: [00:05:18] I do think related to mentorship, which I think is so important.

It would be a rather awkward conversation, “Will you? Will you be my mentor?” It’s like, “Will you go to the prom with me?” I mean, first of all, the person’s not going to say no, but no pressure. That’s a lot. That’s a lot going on. So I think. As people who want to continue to learn, grow and thrive as we all do, it’s… Mentors are found everywhere.

We need to look for mentors in all walks of life, age. I don’t understand. Reverse mentoring. Somehow the older person is wiser on all areas and as we grow and become more experienced, we know that the opposite is true, but from a technical standpoint, we really do need someone that’s got the benefit of having more years behind them than we do with me.

That becomes increasingly more difficult to find who can kind of put in perspective some of the things that, in our moments we’re thinking are rather disastrous, but two years from now, we wouldn’t even remember. And it’s nice to have that mentor that says “Pfft, that was nothing, blow it off.” And I think that I’m very fortunate to have a room full of mentors here.

Laura Sherman: [00:06:32] That’s a great point. I think finding that tribe of people that you can count on, right? So if you do have an issue or you also just want to bounce an idea off of, or you want to share fantastic news. Having three or four people that are in that intimate circle of trust is really important, and it can be someone that you worked with 20 years ago.

It can be one of your best friends from college. It can be, you know, someone you’ve met at a conference. So really trying to assimilate [those] people. I have a group of four women and we try to go away somewhere for a long weekend every year, and we’re all in the insurance industry. We all live in all four corners of the United States–

Elizabeth Krystyn: [00:07:04] why aren’t we doing this?

Laura Sherman: [00:07:05] And this year, we met in Napa and over wine–


but I think we should maybe do a podcast it sounds like at the spa and Napa.

Amy Ingram: [00:07:18] Well, I was thinking about when you were talking about mentors, having one outside the firm and potentially one inside the firm and how important that is. I think for me, I treasure the individuals that I have here that kind of have formed that network. I think we want to continue to achieve because we want to do well because we want to keep learning.

I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. And I had this phenomenal experience in an airplane once where I sat down next to this great woman who had worked in New York City and had raised two children and she was retired and they were coming down– she and her second husband were coming down to Florida to do like a mission trip and.

She said, “you know what really got me through being a working mom in New York and raising my two kids was friends and volunteering.” And I was like, “yeah, yeah, that would be really good. I really need friends. And I really do need to be volunteering.” Right?

And, and I was putting all this pressure on myself, and then all of a sudden she said, “So, you know, what do you and your friends like to do? Or, you know, how do you spend all this time with your, with your great friends?” And I looked at her and she goes, “Oh my God, what am I saying? You have like little children now, right?” She goes, “Don’t worry. I didn’t have any friends then either.”

And it was like this huge weight got lifted off my shoulders because I think that we put a lot of pressure on ourselves because this is what it takes to be successful. Whatever that is, right? Have great mentors, and then you have to know that you have them instead of just having people you reach out to when you need help, write the label. Like, are they a mentor? Are they just a friend?

I think that if we know that we’re in an environment where we can reach out to people who we can trust, that we can be vulnerable in front of, whether that’s people we work with because we spend a lot of time here, or a prior boss or.

You know the lady who lives down the street, who sometimes I see on the weekends when I’m picking up my kids, I don’t think it necessarily have a label. As long as it’s a place where you’re safe and a place where you can learn or a person that you can feel safe with, that you can learn from.

Elizabeth Krystyn: [00:09:13] I think… I think there’s a good point when you… When you confide in people outside of your work group and the people that know all the players, they can help you cut the crap.

Because as you’re trying to explain the situation, you– we instinctively do the, “Yeah. But, yeah. But yeah. But–” and we make this whole narrative about all these obstacles that are imaginary. Right? And I can’t, I wish I could remember the book that said the three biggest mistakes. Of a leader, and I only remember the two of them is, is the limits that we put on ourselves and the limits we put on others, right?

So we’re explaining the story and we’re like, “but you don’t understand. You understand.” And an external person could say, “Cut the crap. What is the real problem?” And sometimes an intro person goes, “Yeah, yeah. I know that Elizabeth. Oh, totally. Get it.”

Laura Sherman: [00:10:02] Well, I loved the fact that you were saying even just, “Oh, when I was, when I had young kids, I didn’t have a lot of friends either.”

I think that sometimes you look at social media and you see these people who feel like they have it all, right? Like they’re like super mommy, and then you see their glamorous at an event, and then they’re doing volunteer work on the weekends and you’re just like, and then they’re working out and they’ve got this great, you know, and you’re just like,

“What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I do all those things?” And so I think that what happens is you do form an amazing bond of people with people with whom you work, right? And you spend more time at work than you do at home, awake– waking hours. So to me, I, a lot of times, like I might. Kelly and Elizabeth and Amy, they’re all my best friends, right?

Because we’re spending so much time together and you forget that. And we oftentimes all live, you know, at the four corners of, of Tampa Bay. And so we don’t get together maybe on the weekends, but you still have– share those moments and still have those deep bonds and those friendships. But you feel this obligation to be like, I’ve got my friends outside the work.

I’ve got this volunteer group that I’m doing, I’ve got– so it is, I think, overwhelming and I think we don’t, we can give ourselves some grace.

Amy Ingram: [00:11:03] I agree. Especially. I think my, one of the best pieces of advice that I ever got was this whole concept of what you were talking about. Like, you know, do it all.

You’ve got to– you’ve got gotta do it all every single day, and… You can’t, right? You can’t do it all every single day. Cause sometimes you have to wake up early and go to work and sometimes you have to miss something that your child is doing, even though it kills you. And then sometimes you are late getting on a conference call cause you drop your kid off at school because you can’t, you can’t do every thing every single day.

And so the piece of advice was don’t try to do it all every day. Try to do it all every week. That’s grace. So if you– if you don’t get home from Houston till 1130 the night before, then make sure that you don’t wake up and go to work the next day really early. Make sure you take your kids to school, or if you, you know, if you have to really, really power at work.

For a couple of days in a row. Then, you know, make sure that you can do something, leave early, come home for dinner, and make sure that you can take your kids on– do something special on the weekend with just, you know, I have three children, so you know, one individually, try to carve out time for each one individually.

So I think. You can’t do it all every day, but you probably can do it all every week. And that I think gives– you can take a deeper breath and, and, and live like that.

Laura Sherman: [00:12:19] I already feel more relaxed. Thank you.

Elizabeth Krystyn: [00:12:21] That’s great advice. We were talking about these overachieving women that, you know, they look great and they’re dressed beautifully and their children are well behaved. And I was sharing my-

Laura Sherman: [00:12:34] Are you talking about us?


Elizabeth Krystyn: [00:12:38] I was talking to Amy about someone that we both know and I just said, “you know, I just, I just, I just am intimidated to even be in her presence. I mean, the lipstick’s perfect in the eyebrows and the whole bit and her clothes are amazing.” And Amy says, “I’ll let you in on a secret. Her house is a mess.”


Laura Sherman: [00:12:54] So you are talking about me. Except for all the other parts, just the house is a mess part.


Elizabeth Krystyn: [00:13:00] That was like. Thank goodness. Right? That’s the genuine person in her.

Laura Sherman: [00:13:06] So Elizabeth, how do you try to be your number one supporter, your own cheerleader every day and doing it all?

Elizabeth Krystyn: [00:13:14] Well, it’s probably not a cheerleader in my own head. I’m a little bit more of a drill sergeant,


But I think that I got really comfortable early on taking chances. And I’ve, I’ve really never been in a role where it was kind of the same old, same old. So I’m used to doing things that I’ve never done before all the time and imagining success. And sometimes success just looks like nice, neat clothes and a good pair of shoes. And sometimes success is literally visualizing that, you know, crushing presentation that turns a prospective client into a client or managing a difficult conversation that takes a heated disagreement into a collaborative discussion to a win, win outcome.

And I think sort of being that you can do it and it’s okay to fail because failed attempts ar just a chance to get better. And we hear so much about that in social media. I wish that I had those same words of wisdom when I was growing up. But I feel very safe at this organization to try and fail. I think my biggest failure would be to not try at all. And so I take that, living that example, we want other people to do that. I take that very seriously. And for me it, it does kind of come naturally.

Laura Sherman: [00:14:46] How have you been able to translate that into creating a culture here at BKS where it’s safe to try something new or to take that risk and to fail and not feel like you’re judged to permanently.

Elizabeth Krystyn: [00:14:58] Um, that’s a good question, but it’s, it’s sort of a question for all of us because we all own the culture. But I think that creating a safe environment where it’s fine to… We celebrate the try as much as the achievement. And I was talking to one of our other leaders earlier today, and I said, “We have to make sure that safe isn’t safe because it’s the same. That safe is because there’s no punishment for failure.”

And I think that we praise the effort probably more so than the accomplishment and the BKS 20:20 really gets people thinking about what could they learn from this experience. And it’s something that you had talked before about having high EQ is that, what did I learn from this? And we joke in our office, we try to only make the same mistake half a dozen times.


I mean, it’s, it’s not fair to say we only do it once because… we’d be brilliant. And as probably the person who’s the least smartest in the room, it’s, it does take that repeat performance to realize, you know, stove is still hot, stove is still hot.

Amy Ingram: [00:16:08] What I liked that she just talked about is failure because I think in a failed attempt, there’s great learning to be had there. So what have I learned from failed attempts? So early in my career when I was first starting out, I had gotten the opportunity, right, to interview for people who are going to work for me.

And I soon realized that my yes’ were really good and my no’s were really good, but the maybes? I was not good at maybe. So you learned that once and that I actually did only take once. Um, I learned that once and then after that I never made a hiring decision alone. Now we don’t do that here, right?

We’re where we are super great about making sure that a group weighs in, because when you have a group of people do something, you end up with a better outcome. Well, I figured that out, not here. And I never again hired anyone without having more than one person interview because I learned really early that I wasn’t super good at the gray.

And I think that’s one example. But I think in failure, if you recognize it and you’re brave enough to know, right, not sweep it under the rug, not say, “Oh, I, you know, like I knew.” But I wasn’t really good at that. And it’s okay to not be, no one expects you to be really good at everything. What you’re really good at, leverage the heck out of, but things that you’re not good at, figure out how to fix it.

And you don’t have to necessarily be the one that fixes it. You can get other people to help you fix it. Whether that’s the next person that you find on your team that can fill a hole that you know you have. Um, whether it be asking the HR manager to always interview the interview, the person who’s interviewing for a position on your team, whatever it is, you can… and if you recognize that failure and don’t sweep it under the rug and try to pretend that  you’re great at everything, you actually can be good at a lot more.

Laura Sherman: [00:18:01] I think that also really builds trust, right? Because if you act like you’re good at everything, by the way, the people around you know what you aren’t great at, right?

So by you telling them, it’s not like they’re going to go, “What? Amy, I didn’t know that!” Right? They’re going to say, “Oh, we already knew that about you. We’ve got you covered.” Right? And then that builds that credibility and that trust, and then the people want to help you. So I think that’s a great point that I definitely continue to learn more and more in my career

Amy Ingram: [00:18:23] And being honest about what you’re not great at with your team or with the people who are around you. I think you give that same freedom to them. There’s true power in that and leadership when you give the people who work for you the power to not be good at everything, I think that can have an exponential effect across the team.

Kelly Nash: [00:18:44] Going back to what Elizabeth said about, it’s not just how we build the culture, it’s also how you model the behavior. I remember very early on I had hired a woman here that didn’t work out and it was bad, and it was early on and I came in. I was almost in tears because this was such a reflection on me and my leadership so very early in the process. And I came to tell Elizabeth just so worried about how this failure would reflect upon me and Elizabeth’s like, “Pffft. Don’t even worry about it. You want me to tell you how I failed big time once? Sit down and let me tell you a story.”

Model the behavior for me of what is the culture that we are hoping to build. And now when we have something that happens on it, nothing is insurmountable. Everything can be fixed. Don’t freak out. It’s okay. Forgive yourself so that we can move on and that we can find a better solution.

Elizabeth Krystyn: [00:19:34] It reminds me, and this is… This is a random story, but years ago I was at an event at Tampa general and they were talking about children and house fires. And almost always it’s a child playing with matches. And we tell our kids don’t play with matches. Well now we don’t have matches, right? You’ve got the lighter for the grill. But what they do after they start the fires, they realize they’ve made a mistake and they hide. And they hide behind curtains or under a bed and it just makes it worse. And without that level of severity, I kind of apply that same thing when you make a mistake.

At BKS and BRP, you kind of want to run screaming from your office to tell everybody to help get a solution to help think about it a new way and to learn what you can from it and move on rather than hiding and hoping nobody discovers it. Because to Laura’s point, we already know what each other is really good at and you know, one good thing about being a leader in this organization is you get- you get very clear on our quote, “development opportunities” with that.

Laura Sherman: [00:20:38] I think that’s great because I think that I’ve learned so much from tales, from the trenches where we’re sharing the things where things didn’t go well, right?

And we’re sharing that so that to the benefit of others so that they don’t make the same mistakes. I’m often the one leading that. It’s amazing how many times you were like, “I remember you telling that the time that you accidentally did X, Y, Z.” And it’s helped others prevent those same mistakes. So there is safety in numbers, right? Sharing those experiences.

Elizabeth Krystyn: [00:21:04] Next time on the Cut the Crap podcast, we discuss strategies to quiet the doubt that comes along with that voice inside your head.

Amy Ingram: [00:21:10] “If you don’t think you belong, no one thinks you belong.”

Elizabeth Krystyn: [00:21:14] Thank you for listening to the Cut the Crap podcast. Please send your topic ideas to

Thanks, and we look forward to next time.


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