HONY Visits Rutgers

This past Tuesday, Rutgers University was honored to have Brandon Stanton, the founder of Humans of New York, come to speak. Humans of New York is a blog that features stories of random people walking the streets Manhattan, whom Staton approaches and asks questions. Stanton’s blog shows the rawest forms of people, their loftiest aspirations, darkest pasts, and biggest fears. His blog has secured an impressive following of almost 16 million people.


As college students, we will soon jump over the abyss separating the student world from the workforce. Our number one question for Stanton was how he became such a huge success. To our surprise, Stanton attributed most of his success to failure. He told us that we need to become really good at failing; a wave of chuckles could be heard from the crowd as students recalled some of their exam grades from the past few weeks. Stanton went on to explain how his own failures lead to the creation of Humans of New York. If he had never been laid off from his job as a bond trader, he would have never started the blog.

The lesson he left with us is that when you become comfortable with failure, you’re willing to try a lot more. And if you’re willing to try a lot more, you’re going to succeed in a lot more too. If you avoid an opportunity because you fear that you will fail, you have already failed. You can never succeed at something you never try, and this fear of failure is often the reason people don’t try. You can never get the girl if you don’t approach her because she might reject you. You can never become a doctor if you’re too afraid you’ll fail organic chemistry to even take it. When a person is afraid of failure, they wait to act until they’re sure they’re going to succeed. Stanton encouraged us to move forward with our plans anyway, because nothing is ever absolutely certain. He wants us to take our great ideas and run with them, even if we’re not sure they’re going to work out. What if they do work out? As said by Suzy Kassem, “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” I hope Rutgers students remember Stanton’s words long after this week, and push forward through their fear of failure.