How Nick Green Failed His Way to Success

Presented by Spartan Training®

Nick Green achieved a perfect score on the SAT. He stayed out of trouble, did everything by the book, and was accepted to Harvard. Yet when asked,  “How do we produce more kids like you?” his answer was: don’t.

“I had zero resiliency. I was good at working in the system. I was good at checking the boxes. I was a walking college application, but I didn’t know anything about life,” said Green. “I didn’t know how to deal with failure.”

It wasn’t until Green stumbled upon a business opportunity and became, in his words, an “accidental entrepreneur” that he learned the value of failure. Now, at the age of 34, all his trials have led him to his current job as the founder and CEO of Thrive Market, an online retailer selling organic and natural foods at affordable prices.

Spartan CEO Joe De Sena sat down with Green at his Malibu home on this week’s Spartan Up! Podcast. Here, Green tells us about the need for failure on the road to success.

On How Failing Successfully Is Not An Oxymoron

“Failure becomes attractive because you start to associate it with progress. You realize that the idea of failure leading to success is not an oxymoron. You fail your way to success. It’s like people in the physical world, too, people that run Spartan Races, any kind of endurance athlete, they learn to actually associate pleasure with the pain. And I think it’s the same thing at an emotional level as an entrepreneur. You realize if it’s really hard, if you’re really struggling, you’re probably on the right path and you embrace it.”

On How Life Is Like a Video Game

“An analogy I like to use is it's like we’re living in a video game where we have unlimited lives. You can keep failing and nothing happens. If you make one false step when you’re hunting saber-toothed tigers, shit goes bad quickly. And yet we’re wired to be afraid of things in the same way that we needed to be back in our evolutionary past. I think there’s an unlearning process and once you get used to it you realize that emotional pain ain’t so bad.”

On How Everyone Can Be An Entrepreneur

“There are some people who tend one way or the other, but everyone can be creative, everyone can be entrepreneurial. And you can train yourself to be resilient and to handle failure. It’s just like any other muscle, you can develop it. And it’s just like anything else, the more times you do it, the more used to it that you get. I had zero experience my first 18 years with failure of any type and I caught up for that over the next six years with my business and it’s the best thing that ever happened to me because it liberated me to do whatever I wanted afterward. Once you aren’t worried about failing, the world starts to open up.”

For more from Nick Green, listen to the Spartan Up! podcast in its entirety.

This episode of Spartan Up! is brought you by Luminox, the Official Timing Partner of Spartan Race. Luminox is the watch brand of choice when it comes to overcoming tough obstacles where every second counts. Visit and use code SPARTAN10 to get 10% off your next order.


0:00 Sefra Alexandra, Johnny Waite, Col. Nye & guest host Lonnie Mayne intro this episode

1:52 Luminox Break

2:15 Interview with Nick Green begins in the hills of Malibu

4:00 Environment of the family of an entrepreneur  

5:00 Accidental entrepreneurship

6:45 Failing your way to success

9:00 The emotional pain of the fear of failure

10:30 Unlearning the emotional pain

11:25 Luminox Break

11:40 Being a domesticated animal

13:30 Thrive Market= Costco meets Whole Foods

15:00 Gut level decisions

18:15 Customer acquisition & profitability

21:40 Panel discusses Nick Green’s advice


Producer – Marion Abrams, Madmotion, llc.

Hosts: Joe De Sena, Sefra Alexandra, Johnny Waite, Col. Nye & Guest Host Lonnie Mayne

Synopsis – Sefra Alexandra

Production Assistant - Andrea Hagarty

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