When Everything Is Working And A Business Still Fails by Dr. Stephen Dansiger

Watch the video here


And it seemed really odd to all of us,(especially the CEO) why it wasn’t working because we had really good tech people and really good clinical people.


Check out Dr. Steve’s book — CLINICAL DHARMA — A Path for Healers and Helpers

Dr. Stephen Dansiger: The other story of ‘startup land’ that I’ve been in (and actually I think there is a couple more) but the real sort…the one that “broke my heart” and I still don’t know how it ends. Maybe that’s what it is. It ended, but I don’t know how it ends…is I got hooked up with some folks who wanted to do a wearable for therapeutic purposes. Kind of like a Fitbit. There is one out there now (I don’t know if it’s a wearable) but it’s like a Fitbit for my emotions. Anyway, we’re working on this project and I was working with some amazing people like a former CEO of a major company and people at Idealab, one of the older…oh…I forgot the word, sorry! Where startups go to startup. Anyway, it will come back to me someday. So I’m working with all these people and then as soon as the watch came out, the wearable market kind of tanked, right? That’s why I understand it because I haven’t been following it as much like Fitbit’s prices, you know, the stock went way down, etcetera, etcetera. And everybody was trying to do it. So then what we were doing, we pivoted and we were like ‘Okay, we will just do the app part of it.’ And apps are ubiquitous. It’s like there is a gazillion of them. And we had a good thing and we actually went out and we were doing an ask and nobody was putting down the money. And it just seemed really odd to all of us, especially to the CEO, why it wasn’t working. Because we had really good tech people and really good clinical people, and it was really solid. And we also knew that there were some competing projects out there, as there often are (competition). And I don’t know. We tried to resurrect it like three, four times and it doesn’t exist. The company doesn’t exist anymore. So that one threw me for a loop and I think it was because it was pretty much around the time that the clinic that I was at before Refuge blew up. So everything was blowing up. Everything went ‘kapooey’ kind of all at once.

I did do a little bit of a controlling sort of a thing. Like I fold into a past life. I’ve had many past lives and not like I was Catherine the Great (nothing like that). But I had this past life where I went to NYU Film School for a bit. And I wrote this screenplay and I gave it to my friend who was playing tennis with an agent. The agent was like “Oh my God! This is great!” Like the first person I gave it to. Completely not the usual story. And I’ve got this meeting with one of the biggest agencies at the time. This is in the early 90’s. And I go there and I get the royal treatment. The way that this agency worked was it was kind of small and they would have a weekly meeting and there’d be one script that they’d be talking about for that week. So they only looked at 52 things a year (essentially). And I was the script of the week and they said “No.” A lot of what it had to do with the fact that my agent was more of the theatre person in New York and they were on the phone with everyone in Beverly Hills and they were like “We’re Beverly Hills. Were not…” And she couldn’t defend me properly (I know, right?).

See the video on Youtube here

The moral of the story was that she really believed in it but she said “If this team doesn’t go for it, it’s just not going to go anywhere.” But both of us were like “But we’re going to barrel through.” So she just tried to keep giving it to smaller producers, things like that. And it went on for like a year and a half. It never got sold to anybody. And everyone’s response was “Well, why did the agency take it?” We know who you are (the agent) and we know how you work. So what’s wrong with this thing?

Anyway, I don’t know if…it could have worked out. I suppose it was one of those things coulda, woulda, shoulda have been done the way it was done. In other words if I had tried and I had got to have my script read by really cool people and not made that’s the story. In the entertainment world, in my entertainment career, I’ve got endless disappointments. I’ve had some successes but I’ve had some really significant disappointments like on the cusp of…I’ve got a couple of friends, one friend Dave Smith, he’s a Buddhist teacher and he’s like “Oh, man. Are you okay?” and he said [laughing] “Yeah, your stories are awful.”

So it really is all about just…it’s not brushing yourself off and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, it’s like just experiencing the whole messy, messiness of it and then seeing what’s next.

What company’s failure really surprised you?




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