Lia Patricia Hernández, who is Panamanian, believes that before being successful, you first have to fail and try over and over again.
To replicate this message countless times, Hernández organizes since December 2014 a monthly space in Panama for entrepreneurs to share in 10 minutes what obstacles they have found on their way to moving their business forward.
This space is called FuckUp Nights, an initiative that has been held more than 25 times in Panama, which is no more than “a night to learn from failure,” Hernández, who is a lawyer and founder of the Panamanian Institute of Law and New Technologies, explains. This organization supports FuckUp Nights in the country with a cooperation agreement with the National Secretariat of Science, Technology, and Innovation (SENACYT) to promote a culture of entrepreneurship in Panama.
FuckUp Nights is a worldwide movement that was born five years ago in Mexico City. “A group of friends was meeting in the backyard of a house talking about negative experiences they’d had in their different activities, whether professional, entrepreneurial, or personal, and that is where the idea was born to hold discussions in which people could talk about the failures, mistakes, and screw ups they had in their businesses to tell them to other people and break that barrier or taboo that people have about failure, since in many events we talk about good and positive things but we never talk about the negative side and the problems that we’ve had to face to become successful people.”
Since then, FuckUp Nights is held in all five continents, 56 countries and 209 cities. FuckUp Nights is even being held in 35 languages. “FuckUp Nights tends to be an event that is not large scale or where crowds of people attend because people are not used to talking about their failures in public. Panamanian society is very conservative regarding this. Therefore, we try to make the event small for the person to be able to open up and talk without any type of embarrassment, shame, or shyness about their experiences so that the public can also ask questions. We try to make it a very interactive session between the speakers and the audience, and promote networking among participants.
FuckUp Nights has a talk show format, similar to other initiatives such as TED Talks and PechaKucha. According to the international FuckUp Nights manual, every presentation must last 7 minutes, but in the Panamanian format it has been proposed that they take 10 minutes each, based on a presentation with 10 slides. Three entrepreneurs are invited to share their experiences, and after each presentation there will be a break for the participants to drink something and talk among themselves.
How would you describe the FuckUp Nights Panama experience?
“I’ve had a lot of fuckups, even as an organizer. I’ve had fuckups like not being able to find a place to hold the event. In Panama there are not many places with spaces adapted for an event with 100 participants, and if there are, they are not in an accessible location.