fbpx

Liz and Colin introduce a museum that features failed ideas and products and then talk about how failures often teach important lessons that can lead to success.

Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid. 

Voice 2    

And I’m Colin Lowther. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Click here to follow this program on YouTube.

Voice 1

Would you attach magnets to your head so you could wear glasses? 

Voice 2

Would you buy beef flavoured water for your dog?

 
Voice 1

Would you buy a golf club that you could use as a toilet? 

Voice 2

All of these are failed ideas. Someone thought of them, and someone else paid to make them. But they all failed. Many even seem like jokes. But these are the kinds of real products you will find at the Museum of Failure. 

Voice 1

The Museum of Failure takes its display of failed products from place to place. When you visit, you will see of some of the world’s most wonderful, and stupid, inventions ever sold. But the Museum of Failure is not only there so you can laugh at failed products. It also shows how very successful companies often fail – even companies like Apple, Amazon, and Twitter. And you can see how these companies learned from their mistakes. Today’s Spotlight is on the Museum of Failure.

Voice 2

Dr. Samuel West is a psychologist. He studies corporate behaviour – how and why large companies act the way that they do. He noticed that people do not like to talk about their failures. They cause us shame. But Dr. West believes that failures are important. Failure often leads to success. And, to make something new, it is often necessary to fail. Doctor West started the Museum of Failure so that people could talk about failure more openly. He spoke to the PBS News, about creating the Museum of Failure.

Voice 3

“If you explore new methods, new products, and technology, you will probably fail. In fact, ninety percent of new projects fail. This is the real obstacle to change. People are afraid of failing. I was thinking: “what can I do to communicate that we need to start accepting failure, rather than fear it?”

Voice 1

So, Dr. West began gathering failed products and telling their stories. At first, his collection was small. But soon, he gathered over 150 examples of failure. And he opened a museum in Sweden to display them.

Voice 2

Some products in the Museum of Failure are just funny. Take for example, the Rejuvenique. The Rejuvenique was a plastic face mask with electrodes inside it. When you put it on, the mask would send small electric shocks onto different parts of your face. Its inventors claimed that the shocks from the mask would make people look younger. But wearing the mask hurt. The mask looked very strange. And there was no evidence that it worked. The product failed soon after its release.

Voice 1

This product seems like a bad idea from the beginning. But it does show the importance of trying. Many people have better ideas than the Rejuvenique mask. But they do not act on them out of fear. The Rejuvinique mask shows that making something new is easier than you think. If someone can fail as badly as this, the risk you are taking does not seem as terrible.

Voice 2

Sometimes, though, these failures can have terrible consequences. One of the most important failures at the Museum of Failure is thalidomide. Thalidomide is a drug invented in the early nineteen fifties. Today, doctors use it to treat cancer and leprosy. But thalidomide has a dark history. When it was first released, its creators said it was a wonder drug. It helped people sleep. It treated anxiety and worry. It even helped with morning sickness, an illness that sometimes happens during pregnancy. Thalidomide was very popular, and it was supposed to be safe. In some countries, you could even get it without a note from a doctor.

Voice 1

But the makers of thalidomide did not test it well. Or they ignored their tests. Thalidomide was safe for adults. But if a pregnant woman took it, the drug hurt the baby. Thalidomide causes serious birth defects in early pregnancy. It can damage a baby’s brain, its eyes, and its arms and legs. Many thalidomide babies were born with very short arms and legs. Many died. Doctors no longer give thalidomide during pregnancy. But over 24,000 children were hurt after the drug was released.

Voice 2

Thalidomide was one of the greatest disasters in medical history. But its failure did have some positive effects. Before thalidomide, companies did not have to report the results from all of their tests. There were fewer rules for what they had to test. After the thalidomide disaster, countries forced drug makers to test in more ways. Thalidomide hurt many, many people. But it also made the drugs we take today safer.

Voice 1

Some of the products at the Museum of Failure show that failure can even be the secret to success. Teflon is a chemical used in many different products. It makes surfaces very slippery. Nothing gets stuck to Teflon. So, people use it in non-stick cooking pans. It does not let electricity pass through it. A lot of electronic devices have Teflon in them. People also use it in electrical  wiring. And it can also make fabric resistant to stains and water.

Voice 2

But the creation of Teflon was an accident. Roy Plunkett was the chemist who created Teflon. He worked for the American company DuPont. He was trying to mix different chemicals. One night, he left some of these chemicals in a very cold environment. But, when he came to work the next morning, the chemical had changed. Instead of being a liquid, it had turned into a white powder. And Plunkett had no idea what it was.

Voice 1

Plunkett could have ignored the material. He could have thrown it away. But, instead, he decided to test the material. He spent six months trying to understand what it was. And interest in the chemical began to grow. Soon, Du Pont was making millions of kilograms of Teflon each year. Plunkett had made a mistake. But he was able to turn his mistake into great success.

Voice 2

For Dr. West and the Museum of Failure, all of these failures are not just interesting stories. They teach us how to deal with our own failures. They can help us do better at our jobs. And they can make us better people. He writes about this on the Museum of Failure webpage:

Voice 3

“The museum’s goal is to say, “Hey, let us not forget these failures. Let’s put them on display. Let us shine a spotlight on these failures. Then, we can talk about them. Then, we can learn from them.”

Voice 1

Do you remember a time when you failed at something? What did you learn from it? You can leave a comment on our website at www.spotlightenglish.com. You can also find us on YouTubeFacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

 
Voice 2    

The writer of this program was Dan Christmann. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. This program is called: ‘The Museum of Failure’.

Voice 1

Visit our website to download our free official app for Android and Apple devices. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Do you remember a time when you failed at something? What did you learn from it?

Join the discussion

8 comments
    • Oh no, I am sure that you have the ability to work in another side, just you can try again and make yourself as if you are hero and you will be able to do anything better than what happened by the mercy of Allah. Be positive and thank you so much, sister.

  • I have been failed in my science test i amended the true answer so l learnd do not change true answer except i am sure

  • Failure show that failure can even be the secret to success Many attempts and insistence on what you want, whether an invention or an idea, leads to success. This is what I understood

  • These days I’m reading Louisa May Alcott’s novel, Little Women, where I found confirmation that failures are often not to blame, and no credit for successes, when they are due only to luck or to the qualities that have been donate. A few days ago I saw a video on YouTube that showed a man, with his rather elderly mother next to him, and the dog behind them. The dog indicated to the man, with explicit movements of the paw, that he had to feed his mother. The man pretended to feed his mother, but then ate the food himself that he should have given to his mother. The dog could not bear this situation, and showed all his displeasure, almost attacking his master. I believe that even human behaviors are often due to character and instinct, but I am afraid that my comment is not very relevant to the subject of the programme.

More from this show

Episode 4