‘You must prepare for failure, not success’ advises astronaut Chris Hadfield
Festival of Marketing 2015: Retired astronaut Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian to ever walk in space, has advised brands to prepare for failure and not success, citing the example of the near disaster of a liquid ammonia leak during one of his missions as a Commander of the International Space Station.
Speaking yesterday (11 November) on the headline stage, Hadfield, who has completed three space missions, recalled the near-death experience and explained how it provides lessons for brands and marketers.
“My Spanish colleague saw something bizarre on the space station, there were sparks coming out of the side,” he told delegates. “We called down to Houston and found out we were leaking liquid ammonia, which if it runs out would have meant we would have to abandon the ship completely.
“We knew we had to do a space walk and they can take eight days to prepare for and nearly always cause serious nerve damage – they are really nothing like Gravity and the bullshit of Sandra Bullock floating around with perfect hair.
“Houston gave us one day to prepare and the only reason we were able to fix the problem is we constantly visualised failure. There is a lesson there, don’t visualise or prepare for success, visualise and prepare for failure, as things will always go wrong and you have to know how to respond.”
Hadfield was awarded a Guinness World Record at the end of his speech for being the first person ever to record a music video in space after his rendition of Bowie’s Space Oddity. And, moving forward, he said big business must find a way to make space travel “as affordable as a luxury car.”
“The more people who can orbit the earth and truly realise that as humans we’re all beautifully vulnerable and one of the same – the better it is for humanity,” he added. “Even 10 people who do an orbit of the Earth can help to change humanity as the experience is that profound.”
When asked if billionaire Elon Musk was right in his vision of humans colonising Mars, Hadfield said it was an inevitability.
He concluded: “We will colonise the moon, certainly, it is an inevitability much like how humans have colonised the Antarctic. Mars is further away but it is certainly possible with the direction technology is moving.
‘But I don’t believe we’re all doomed on Earth as ultimately the dinosaurs went extinct as they didn’t have a space programme – we can do better than that and predict the inevitable.”