I call it the CEO voice.
How was your weekend?
I dislocated a toe, slipped, then cut off a finger. It sucked spending the weekend in the hospital.
It was great! I had a new experience, got to meet some excellent doctors, and saw the inside of a state-of-the-art hospital too! I think we can do some cross promotional revshare with them. Just think about it -- every time you get sick, the hospital gives you a virtual item! We'll call it the Get Sick For Pixels campaign.
Every interaction isn't required to be happy, bubbly, and falsely sincere. Sometimes you can be honest and show a little humanity. (Blame it on thoughts like http://twitter.com/foundersatwork/status/22661724100)
Honestly, wtf are MBA schools teaching these days, how to use the most generic, overused to the point of meaningless language to inaccurately express your thoughts in the interest of expediency and/or buzzword compliance, even after you finish writing your resume? They should assign some Melville and Hemingway in their marketing and leadership courses.
this is interesting, if we leave out the company/marketing context - for an individual seems like a very optimistic way to look at undesired events that come by in everyone's life.
You just switched on a eureka bulb in me. Thank you!. I am going to do this at every 'opportunity' I face.
'Self-conciousness' is the enemy of 'interestingness'
(Yeah, I'm aware that Gladwell uses a lot of anecdotal evidence, still in this case I believe it's correct and exactly what the op says)
I always talk about how Xobni Analytics failed, for example. Recently I've been talking a lot to others about my own weaknesses.
But by necessity most of the stories about Xobni involve other people, and the stories often involve internal conflict among some of the people on the team, and to tell those stories properly would require being honest about others' weaknesses as well. There's not a culture of doing that in public settings, and I don't expect that to change.
EDIT: the two exceptions that prove the rule are High Stakes No Prisoners by Charles Furgeson, and some of Steve Blank's recent blog posts, even though Steve doesn't name names. AFAIK, both of these guys are basically retired from the valley.
However, given the old adage of "praise others in public, and only criticize them in private" (it assumes you're talking to the person you're criticizing in private), I've often avoided saying anything, not to mention it'd sound like I was bashing the other person, when in fact, not all puzzle pieces fit each other, with no completely fault to each piece.
The only ways I've seen is to talk about it after some time, and to not name names. But with time, accuracy comes into question, and if it's too recent, it's too easy to infer and deduce the names.
When you have a private conversation with someone, you get a lot more of the shading and subtlety of their experiences.
In a public forum, people are most likely to share things that are safe. In private, people are more likely to share their opinions, impressions, and half formed ideas; all of which can change, but all of which give you the necessary context to form your own opinions.
If you shared everything publicly, I'm pretty sure you'd come off as some sort of a crank, flake, misanthrope or worse... Especially given the unforgiving nature of Internet memory.
On the other hand, they have little to gain by telling the whole truth to a new breed of entrepreneurs. What will they gain, a little appreciation?
I really doubt that admitting that they have made mistakes in the past would really be appreciated by employees, customers or investors.
Risks vs rewards dictates that they would continue to hide some of their past.
The absolute best startup conversations I've EVER had are small group dinners with peers. Most of the really useful insights I've learned have been through those smaller gatherings where there is no agenda, no structure. I think of it as a support group for startup founders constructed on an ad-hoc basis.