Can You Recover From A Kendall? Making A Comeback in Your Career Path

Failure is part of everyone's career path. Get up and move on.

Failure is part of everyone's career path. Get up and move on.

Unless for some reason you missed the Pepsi debacle and the role Kendall Jennerplayed in the major marketing mishap recently, let’s just say if you ever pull a Kendall in your career, you can recover.

The Wall Street Journal called it the “Crisis of The Week,” and while super model and Kardashian sister Kendall did not create the massive failure that pretty much declared that a can of Pepsi will solve all racial violence globally, she was the face of the ad.

Failure is part of everyone’s career path. Get up and move on. #CareerAdvice

“In the advertisement, titled ‘Live For Now Moments Anthem,’ Jenner ditches a photo shoot to join protesters in the street. The ad culminates with Jenner handing a Pepsi can to a police officer, who pops the top, takes a swig, and is met with inexplicable roars of approval from the marchers,” writes Char Adams in People.

“Pepsi has apologized for the ad that many have called ‘tone deaf,’ and even offered an apology.  However, many have criticized the move, noting that Jenner was a willing participant in the commercial.”

If along your career path you become part of something—a project, company, event, organization or campaign—that nosedives in a major way, there are strategies to regain your credibility, be gracious and come back to the career path you want. You might be the butt of jokes for a bit, but take it all in stride. The key is your own resilience.

1. Resilience is essential.

“Talking about personal failures isn’t enjoyable,” writes Sara Whitlock in Scientific American. “No one wants to relive the ego-crushing bruises of a poor test score or a rejection from a coveted job or graduate program or summer internship. But we need to keep talking about our failures so that they’ll know their own similar failures aren’t career-crushers.”

You should make efforts not avoiding mistakes, but embracing the opportunity to learn from mistakes and recover quickly.

Embrace the opportunity to learn from mistakes and recover quickly. #WomenLeaders

2. Fail gracefully.

“Jodi Goldstein, managing director of the Harvard Innovation Labs, said that one of the most important lessons she can teach her students is how to fail gracefully,” writes Karina Fabian in Business News Daily.

“If they want to be entrepreneurs, they have to learn [how to fail], quickly. We encourage them to fail early and often, so they learn the necessary lessons to innovate,” Goldstein said.

3. Everyone fails sometime.

Realizing that most everyone fails big sometimes might also assuage some of the humiliation. Extremely successful and qualified people fail or make mistakes– even large, public, humiliating mistakes. Your career path has not reached a dead end.

Recently, public relations superstar “Rachel Whetstone, who left Google two years ago to replace David Plouffe as policy and communications vice-president at Uber, announced she will be leaving the company,” according to The Guardian.

Her departure followed  “scandals and controversies, including allegations of sexual harassment… a legal battle with Google over the alleged theft of driverless car technology… and allegations that the company had another program called ‘Hell’ designed to spy on its arch-rival Lyft,” reports the Guardian.

 4. Exit with class.

Part of being resilient is also exiting gracefully and not bad mouthing the company or individuals responsible for the fail that has your name on it, too.

“I joined Uber because I love the product,” Whetson said in a statement, “and that love is as strong today as it was when I booked my very first ride six years ago,” The Guardian reported.

What failure cannot do to a resilient woman is keep her down.

What failure cannot do to a #ResilientWoman is keep her down.

5. Get back up.

“I loathe admitting this, but it’s true: Women take rejection harder than men,” Vivia Chen writes in American Lawyer.  Rather than bouncing back from a botched job interview or a less-than-stellar review, women are more apt to lick their wounds and think twice about placing themselves in the firing line next time.

6. Learn from your mistakes.

In her new book, “Extreme You: Step Up. Stand Out. Kick Ass. Repeat,” Fly Wheel CEO Sarah Robb O’Hagan interviews 23 people on their successes and failures.

She told NBC, “Yeah, so in my 20s, I got fired once and laid off once, back to back. So I fondly call it my ‘canyon of career despair.’ It’s the time when most of us in our careers are really getting going, you know? And it just all went pear-shaped for me. It went all backwards,” O’Hagan said.

But she discovered in her own life and from interviewing so many other big successes, that “I think probably the worst advice has always been from those people who’ve said that move is too risky, that idea is too risky, don’t do it, because ultimately, even if they’re right, for me, the act of making those decisions, screwing up ended up being a good thing anyway because I learned from it. I learned years forward that those wrong moves helped me really hone where I was not good so that I could learn to surround myself with people with complementary skills,” O’Hagan said.

And just so we all remember that everyone has failures to delete from their resumes, a Museum of Failure is opening in Sweden. “It’s OK to fail small scale, when nobody dies and it doesn’t cost a billion dollars,” Museum creator Samuel West told CNN. “If you can accept those small failures, then you can hopefully avoid the huge catastrophic ones.”

So yes, it may take more than a can of soda to solve all your problems, but understand that resilience, transparency, grace and confidence will allow you to get up and keep going on the career path you intend. It’s the Kendall Challenge.

About the Author

Michele Weldon is editorial director of Take The Lead, an award-winning author, journalist, emerita faculty in journalism at Northwestern University and a senior leader with The OpEd Project. @micheleweldon