Andrew Yang: 'What are you willing to fail for?'

Alum, former presidential candidate returns to Exeter stage.

Adam Loyd
January 19, 2024

The last time Andrew Yang ’92 was on the Assembly Hall stage, he was positioning himself for a long-shot run at the White House as the 2020 Democratic nominee — a pursuit that would end in defeat. Five years later, Yang returned to address assembly and explain how failure can ultimately lead to progress.

“I did not expect to be president … it wasn’t like I was delusional,” he said about his campaign. “I’m going to mainstream a set of policies that I think are going to be vital to help keep our country strong and whole. That will be my mission, and if I totally fall on my face and fail, then that’s okay.”

Yang cited a series of professional missteps that prepared him to be fearless in the face of the likely outcome in his bid for the presidency.

“One of the reasons why I could undertake that journey was because I failed when I was 25. I failed when I was 27, failed again when I was 29. This time I was 43 and said, OK, I can actually accept failing again. What I wouldn’t accept was just shrugging and letting the world head towards what I thought was disaster,” Yang said. “It’s that set of failures that ended up turning me into someone who could do something that might be meaningful and impactful.”

Standing on the front of the stage, under a projection of himself as a 17-year-old Exeter student, Yang praised the audience before challenging them.

“Some of the most talented people of your generation are in this room today,” he said. “What are you willing to fail for?”