Melinda Gates: What I learned from a "spectacular failure"

Most professionals will experience failure at some point in their career—even award-winning philanthropists like Melinda Gates, Zameena Mejia writes for CNBC.

While she was a general manager at Microsoft, Melinda Gates led a project called Microsoft Bob, she recalls in a LinkedIn article. Now considered one of the world's worst inventions by Time Magazine, Gates' infamous project was a software program that turned your desktop computer into a virtual home, Mejia writes.

Unfortunately, Microsoft Bob demanded a more powerful computer than most people owned at the time, and it was also widely criticized for being overly cute, Gates adds. Although the project was a failure, the experience taught Gates an unforgettable lesson.

Related: Your step-by-step guide to learning from failure

When you take risks, failures—even "spectacular" ones—are part of the process, Gates says. Great leaders take failure as an opportunity to learn from their mistakes and forge a better path forward, she adds.

Embracing failure is a lesson both seasoned professionals and young students can benefit from, says Jennifer Sager, a mental health expert. College can be an ideal place for students to make their own mistakes and build resilience. Students who struggle or even fail will likely come away from the experience knowing more about themselves, Sager notes (Mejia, CNBC, 11/30; Gates, LinkedIn, 11/30).

Also see: How 3 universities bounced back from student success failures


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