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Tanguy Leborgne: Learning from Failure and Embracing the Unknown

April 4, 2022

Tanguy Leborgne: Learning from Failure and Embracing the Unknown

Tanguy Leborgne: Learning from Failure and Embracing the Unknown

Sometimes, failure shows up on the doorstep when we least expect it. It’s often an unwelcome guest, but if you take a step back and look at your situation, an opportunity may just present itself. 

Tanguy Leborgne has learned a few lessons the hard way over the course of his ever-evolving career, some of them from failing big. But the thing that sets him apart from so many others is his ability to see the greater meaning behind those failures. In fact, Tanguy has made it his life’s work to help others understand their failures and turn them into opportunities. 

Tanguy Leborgne, The Product Sherpa

Tanguy Leborgne is the founder and fearless leader of The Product Sherpa. He helps business leaders, specifically product development leaders, achieve excellence in product development, product management, and strategy. 

By drawing on Tanguy’s own past experiences and failures, The Product Sherpa is about accompanying business leaders on their path to success, showing them along the way which pitfalls to avoid and exposing the potential traps they could fall into. 

In an interview with Pinchforth, Tanguy described how he went from working in high-tech corporate America to leading business owners through the trenches of product development. Early in his career working for major tech development companies, Tanguy found himself faced with the failure of a product he was in charge of.

This misstep hit hard, but it also made him take a step back and think about what the failure really meant. Tanguy began studying and deconstructing ways he could help his own teams avoid the mistakes he made. He began thinking differently about success and this eventually gave birth to The Product Sherpa.

Looking at Customers and Data

One of the central principles of Tanguy’s approach is to become more customer-centric. He realized that great product development is really centered around getting to know your customer, understanding their problems and goals, and developing products to fix them. 

To do this, Tanguy says you’ve got to do qualitative research. Talk to people, listen to what they have to say influence them. It’s more than just statistics and analytics.

Data is critical, but it doesn’t help you understand what’s on your consumers’ minds and why they think a certain way. It won’t help you create a better product for them. But it will, occasionally, get some hits on social media. Tanguy suggested that tools like tracking and analytics allow marketers to understand what’s happening and target customers more effectively, giving mediums like social media a more tailored approach to marketing. 

There’s an old saying in marketing and advertising, coined by John Wanamaker:

“Half my advertisement is wasted, I just don’t know which half.”

Finally, data can explain which half is working and which one isn’t. 

Even with this being the case, there is no certain recipe for success. No single media platform is better than the others, no specific strategy will do the trick every time. Tanguy suggests that if he’s learned one lesson over the past several years, it’s that you can’t apply one recipe to every situation and think it's going to be consistently successful. You need first to deeply understand what’s going on in your customers’ minds first and do your best to solve their top challenges.

Optimism and the Unknown

When it comes to overcoming adversity, like what we’ve faced during the pandemic, Tanguy believes that mindset has a lot to do with your outcome. The businesses that look at their challenge, take a step back, and think differently, are most likely to succeed. 

Tanguy calls this selective optimistic exponential thinking. Instead of trying to influence things they can’t control, business leaders with exponential thinking simply focus on the things they can influence. They look for opportunities in the fallout and use past struggles (or failures) to plan for the future.

We asked Tanguy to share some advice for fellow marketers and business leaders, and he was ready. “It’s about embracing the unknown,” he said, “there are just so many things in this world that are not known, and if you try to have a perfect plan, you’ll never succeed.”

By embracing the unknown, Tanguy told us, you can unlock your potential and unlock whatever is inside of you that can make an impact in the world. Jump into things you don’t know yet, and greater things will happen.

“Embrace the unknown, accept potential failure and learn from it.”

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