Skip to content

Failing Is Not Failure: A Lesson From The Slutty Vegan

Failing Is Not Failure

Sometimes you hear a story that is so powerful that it must be shared. That’s the case with Pinky Cole and her plant-based fast food chain with the provocative name!

You can watch this segment from CBS Sunday Morning as I unpack several key takeaways that can positively impact the medical practice.

“Purple Cow” branding and a lucky break

It’s a crowded world out there when it comes to fast-casual dining. Entrepreneur Pinky Cole broke through the clutter in part to a concept with catchy (albeit head-turning) names for the restaurant as well as the menu items including the signature “menage a trois” burger. She understands the role of customer experience while “merging the two most pleasurable experiences in life…food and sex” as part of her strategy to differentiate from countless other fast-food offerings.

Appealing to basic human instinct is a brilliant strategy. This can absolutely translate to the world of elective medicine, where the goal is to help people see better, feel better (about themselves), look better, smile better, and ultimately live better lives! Each of these benefits has the potential to resonate when it taps into a core human emotion or basic instinct.

Marketing Author Seth Godin calls this approach a “purple cow,” meaning the marketing is designed into the product. Her lucky break came when rapper Snoop Dogg posted on social media…which I interpret as having more to do with the next two takeaways rather than the food itself.

Clarity on her mission — a very strong “why”

Pinky Cole explains that she wants to change the way people view vegan food and that it can taste great. Her mission is tied to wanting to help save the planet by reducing the impact of meat consumption on animals, carbon footprint, and the human diet. This mission allows us to go beyond the provocative nature of marketing and get closer to what this woman is all about. It reminds me of Breaking Bad’s main character Walter White, whose mission to protect his family transcended the unfathomable role as a chemistry teacher turned drug dealer.

Pinky Cole’s “why” is to see vegan food go mainstream. It’s important to see the purpose behind all the glitz. For a medical practice, the “why” is just as critical and begins with the question, What Business Are You In?

Answering this in an aspirational manner is the key that opens the door to a patient-experience-driven practice. That answer is what creates the trajectory of success for the practice in the long term. Pinky Cole is about much more than selling food; your practice can be about much more than providing medical services.

What failing is truly about: finding aspiration in losses

Lastly, here’s the real reason for featuring The Slutty Vegan. The woman who created this dining concept overcame incredible odds to achieve success. Her childhood was anything but romantic. On the day she was born, her father was sentenced to 30 years in prison. She said matter-of-factly to CBS, “By society’s standards, I’m not supposed to be here.”

Her entire life has been filled with setbacks…followed by progress and victories. She is living proof that failing is not the same as failure. She coined an acronym: Finding Aspiration In Losses. These four words sum up how all of us need to think about the setbacks we experience in life. They are part of the deal.

She’s got a new book that codifies her philosophy titled I Hope You Fail and is investing time and energy to inspire others to become leaders and entrepreneurs — no matter what their circumstances.  

The lessons about failing apply directly to everything you attempt in terms of improving patient experience. Some things will work well while others will not. It’s about being willing to take the time and take a chance…which ultimately will lead to success when grounded in a strong reason (your “why”) for doing so. 

I find Pinky’s story inspiring and motivating to take risks and try out new ideas in the practice I now have responsibility for in terms of the patient experience and its future growth. I hope you do as well and that you are enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday weekend!

Leave a Reply