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Debra Chen is the creator & host of The Great Fail podcast and recipient of Adweek’s Producer of the Year awards. The Great Fail explores the rise and falls of the most prolific and iconic businesses and delves into what led to their ultimate demise. The show has won Best Entrepreneurship Podcast for 2 years in a row.
This is Debra’s story. As an immigrant from Taiwan, and growing up in the United States, the idea of having “a voice” seemed foreign to me. Uprooted in a culture that placed such high esteem in listening rather than speaking, modesty over boldness, and obedience over assertiveness, served as a leitmotif in the backdrop during my most formative years. And then, above all, be grateful for what you have, stay silent and, don’t rock the boat.
Fortunately, I was not very good at all of that.
For decades I unknowingly, perhaps instinctively, rebelled against what I was taught, contending my limitations that were set forth, breaking my own mold as I found myself being one of the only women on the trading floors of New York City elbow-to-elbow with the biggest personalities, and then later when I went on to advise CEOs and C-suite executives and help tell their stories and market their companies in the investment world. And yet it took me years to realize that as I spent 2 decades honing in on other people’s voices, I was lacking in the conviction of my own.
And so when I decided to launch a business podcast 2 years ago, I didn’t just rock the boat, I capsized it. I sought out to create a show that fused my 2 passions - the suspense and drama of true crime, with that of my love for research in business case studies. There were so many business podcasts out there that were informative but I saw an opportunity to bridge the compelling aspects of two genres- true crime and education, to create a genre-bending, entertaining outlook on failed companies.
Initially, I was met with skeptics within the podcasting space, those who didn’t see a clear vision of what box or category such a show could fit into. Then those around me in my professional realm too, had strong opinions of their own- how can you be taken seriously as an adviser and a podcaster? But what was most profound was finally launching my show despite these doubts and dropping episode 2 right smack amid an unprecedented global pandemic. When the very expensive and prestigious podcast marketing team that I hired, strongly advised that I pull the plug on my show because of the state of uncertainty during the lockdown, I took a pause. They were, after all, experts within their field and their advice should probably have been heeded but instead, my proclivity in listening to my gut (which has never failed me) was what helped me determine the next step. I let go of that podcast marketing agency and continued pushing out episode after episode with no marketing partner. To think where I would be had I taken their advice and pulled myself back.
It was another reminder that in my own journey, principles that others may impose on you shouldn’t deter you from what you were meant to do, or say.
Two years later, as an indie podcaster, producer, researcher, writer and host, I continued doing what I love, and I am honored and humbled to have won awards for Producer of the Year and to see The Great Fail receive Best Entrepreneurship Podcast for the 2nd year in a row.
In doing this independently, having the courage to find a voice, to believe in my own creative vision, I gained trust within myself and within the amazing community of entrepreneurs and podcast fans who support the show. We’ve truly done this independently and organically. But we are just beginning and I know there are voices out there, seemingly subdued but meant to be heard. Each one with a unique story to tell. For those out there who were taught not to rock the boat, perhaps it’s time to put on your life vest and start making waves.
Debra Chen can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com. Season 2 of The Great Fail is set to launch on February 16th. Listen to her podcast HERE.
An informative podcast that puts an interesting spin on the whats and whys that I never knew about these businesses. Season two can’t come soon enough!
#### [Mason]( "firstname.lastname@example.org") -
I’m a huge fan of The Great Fail! It’s nice to see the face and hear the story behind it. Can’t wait for season 2!