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In life, failure is inevitable. It is a part of the human experience, and it is through failure that we learn, grow, and ultimately succeed. Successful serial entrepreneur Issa Rae knows this all too well. This past week, in front of a packed crowd at Black Tech Week, Issa took center stage with Lightship Foundation‘s Founder and CEO Candice Matthews Brackeen. They delivered an inspiring message about embracing failure and perseverance.

Throughout her career, Issa has faced numerous challenges and setbacks, but she has never let them define her. Instead, she has embraced failure as a stepping stone to greatness and a catalyst for personal and professional growth.

“I don’t believe in failure unless you give up. But there have definitely been times when I made mistakes and when things didn’t go the way that I wanted them to or didn’t go the way that I planned,” Issa Rae shared with Candice Matthews Brackeen on the main stage at Black Tech Week. She added, “I’ve definitely had so many of those moments where I’m like: ‘Oh, I f-cked this up’.”

Issa Rae Embraces Failure, Perseverance at Black Tech Week
Candice Matthews Brackeen moderates Q&A Session with Issa Rae Thursday, July 20, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio | Courtesy of Lightship Foundation

Acknowledging Mistakes and Learning from Them

One of the core beliefs that has seemingly guided Issa throughout her life is the notion that failure is not a final destination unless one gives up. She firmly believes that as long as you keep pushing forward and remain resilient, failure is merely a temporary setback. Issa shares a time when she collaborated with heavyweight writer and producer Shonda Rhimes on an ABC pilot that, in the end, did not get picked up.

Issa Rae states that finding investors who believe in your talent and vision, and recognizing that spending your own money is the quickest route to an empty bank account, are the most important lessons she has learned.

“Never invest your own money in the venture. And I tried not to, I tried to get investors initially,” sharing a time that she invested a large sum of her personal money into a project that never got picked up. “We made all three pilots; it cost me everything I had.”

Issa never lets failure define her future

For Issa Rae, failure is not a label that defines one’s worth or capabilities. It is a stepping stone on the path to success.

“Every person that we did end up investing in all of them went on to and became successful. One is producer on Abbott Elementary,” the award-winning writer and producer said. Adding, “It shows we had an eye for talent, and I’m still very proud of what we were able to do at the time, but don’t invest your own money.”

She then kindly reminded the Black Tech Week spectators to not “invest your own money.”

Issa Rae Embraces Failure, Perseverance at Black Tech Week
Black Tech Week Issa Rae and Candice Matthews Brackeen Q&A on Thursday, July 20, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio | Courtesy of Lightship Foundation

Issa Rae’s journey is a testament to the power of embracing failure and turning it into a catalyst for growth and success. Throughout her career, she has faced challenges, made mistakes, and experienced setbacks, but she has never let them hold her back. Instead, she has used these experiences to shape her perspective, learn valuable lessons, and fuel her determination to keep moving forward.

From writing, producing, and starring in the critically acclaimed HBO show “Insecure” to just being nominated for an Emmy Award for her performance in it, Issa Rae has quickly become one of Hollywood’s most dynamic stars.

Issa Rae’s journey is a reminder that setbacks are inevitable, but it can also be an opportunity in disguise. While she may have faced some difficult times on her path to success, ultimately, she found a way to make the best of them. It’s no surprise that she has risen this far in her career – not only does she work hard, but she also leads with courage and resilience every step of the way.

Nehemiah D. Frank is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Black Wall Street Times and a descendant of two families that survived the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Although his publication’s store and newsroom...

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