Failure has taught me more than success ever could - Aniyia Williams, Black and Brown FoundersFeatured

What's your personal definition of career success? Has that evolved over time?I’m currently redefining what “success” means to me, but loosely, I’d say it’s the combination of doing meaningful work, getting paid what I’m worth, and working with people whom I admire that also respect me. An abundance of all three things is the holy grail of career success in my opinion, and it may appear simple, but having all of them at the same time can be incredibly challenging.Only recently have I started to understand what it means to pursue this professional success alongside personal success. They are connected. As a wife and mom, overall “success” for me has to consider all of life's essential pieces—work, play, health and love—and seek balance among them. Making progress toward success in each of these areas is hard. Trying to be successful at all four at once is even harder. It requires either going deep on one area while keeping the others in enough forward motion to prevent lost progress, or making slow, incremental improvements to multiple areas at the same time. I know myself well enough to say that neither option is one that I like, but I've seen the damage caused by trying to push hard on everything at once. I’m finally starting to accept that there are constraints, and that success in these areas is rarely an end-point, but rather a status in a moment of time.I also believe that one's relationship to failure plays a role here. I’m a type A, overachieving millennial. I live for the gold star, and I act like “impossible” is a relative term. This means that I struggle with the idea of walking instead of running. It also means that I’ve long held the failure-is-not-an-option kind of views. But today, I’d say I've experienced enough of life to say that failure is ALWAYS an option. And failure isn’t such a bad thing. Failure has taught me so much more than success ever could. Luckily, I fail at things all the time. What saves me is confidence in myself, which reminds me that failure is not always an indication of ability or potential. Often, failure is simply a way of learning how NOT to do something. Aniyia Williams is the Founder and CEO of tech jewelry startup Tinsel, their first product was an audio necklace with the full functionality of headphones integrated into it. She is also Founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit Black and Brown Founders which is aimed at providing Black and Latinx founders resources and networks for starting companies without relying on venture capital and she is one of the Co-Founders of Zebras Unite, a movement which calls for a more ethical and inclusive movement to counter existing startup and venture capital culture.
Hi Elphas – as a reminder – this is part of our public posts series sharing conversations with women across tech on the topic of #careergrowth. Aniyia, thank you for sharing with us!Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Hi Aniyia, I'm been following your work for a few years now and you're amazing. Being able to share that failure is not a terrible thing is huge and I think many people will benefit from hearing that. Personally, I think we as humans naturally are brought up to fear failure - from the school system pushing us to get straight "A's" or parents wanting to see the very best in their child. But at the end of the day, failure is how we learn. Failure is how we keep moving forward knowing what doors not to open because they won't lead us down the path we want to go on. Lastly, failure allows us to be aware and accept that your business actually won't work out because there's no market need and thankfully will allow you to move on. Without failing, we'll just keep harping on moments or situations or opportunities that won't get us very far. With failure, we can succeed and become our very best selves in the aspects of life most important to us. Thanks for your post, it was great to read this to start off my Monday.
Thank you! <3
I don't have questions, just wanted to add a positive comment thanking you for sharing your story. Thank you :D
Aniyia, just want to say, I've read your story and believe you are far from a failure. I've worked in tech over a decade and have witnessed so many people scraping by, faking their roles, but without the desire to learn the ropes. They want the easy way out to a title. You are a true success and an undeniable role model. The startup scene can use more humble people like you.
Thank you for the kind words, Farren! I'm feeling the love over here.
"Failure has taught me so much more than success ever could. Luckily, I fail at things all the time. What saves me is confidence in myself, which reminds me that failure is not always an indication of ability or potential."A complete mood. Thank you for sharing.
When i read your short bio i thought to myself, she is a total success how is it possible that she has ever failed? Thanks for sharing your thoughts, it means a lot to me to learn from great women!
Hi Aniyia,This has blown me away, the breath of honestly in every word pen above has moved me. The road to personal success is long and arduous. The light you share helps others to step out of the shadows. Thanks so much tell us your truth. Like you, but for a few additional circumstances, adversity/failure has come due to prejudice & sabotage. Through it all, I give thanks. The winning formula you put so aptly, it's all about mindset - "failure is simply a way of learning how NOT to do something." but has "has taught me so much more than success ever could". I've much about myself as well as dealing with others.Thank you so much for sharing. Keep being the advocate & tech champion that you are. All that you do and are doing (you are doing a lot, kudos & power to you!) fuels others to be active in furthering the change we wish to see in the world.
Thank you! <3