Failure Succeeds in 26th Great American Think-Off

Failure Succeeds in 26th Great American Think-Off

Stanford, Yale Alumnus is 2018 America’s Greatest Thinker

The Cultural Center in New York Mills announces Anthony Berryhill, of Austin, TX, as the winner of the 2018 Great American Think-Off.  He came out on top of the debate among four armchair philosophers in New York Mills, MN, during the 26th annual Think-Off on June 9, 2018.

During the debate, the four finalists argued their side of the question, “Which plays a larger role in shaping one’s life: success or failure?” and Obama Foundation Fellow, Ashley Hanson, moderated those arguments and fielded questions from the Think-Off committee and the live audience.

After three rounds of sometimes intense but always civil debate, the audience voted to select Berryhill as this year’s Think-Off winner and to uphold his proposition that failure plays a larger role in shaping one’s life. Berryhill defeated Mark Bland of Virginia Beach in the final round.

Bland out-argued Rudy San Miguel, of New Orleans, in Round 1, where both contestants were arguing on the side of success. Berryhill defeated Tonya Abari, of Nashville, in Round 2, where both were arguing on the side of failure.

Said Berryhill, in the Final Round, “We want to run away from failure, but I would hope that we don’t. We can’t make ourselves unique without recognizing how failure can shape us. The freedom to choose where failure directs you is how we define our lives. We see our accomplishments but not only that. We see what got us there–the failures we encountered.” This message resonated with the audience and they cast their votes to award Berryhill the gold medal and the title of America’s Greatest Thinker for 2018.

Berryhill is a Learning and Development Manager for GLG, a learning platform which helps investment and corporate institutions with their research needs. He is an alumnus of Breakthrough New Orleans, Isidore Newman High School, Stanford University and Yale’s Doctoral Program in political theory. Berryhill has 17 years of experience coaching nationally competitive debaters who discuss applied philosophy topics throughout the year. His scholarship and work experience focuses on strategies for promoting the inclusion of underserved groups in business and government.

For more information about the Think-Off or this year’s debate, please call the Cultural Center at (218) 385-3339 or visit


About the Great American Think-Off: 

Now in its 26th year, the Great American Think-Off is an exhibition of civil disagreement between powerful ideas being explored by everyday people. Designed to bring philosophy down from the ivory towers of academia and make it accessible for all, the contest has received national acclaim including coverage by C-SPAN, the New York Times, and The Today Show.

The Cultural Center, located in the rural farm and manufacturing town of New York Mills, Minnesota, sponsors this annual philosophy contest and encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to participate. The Cultural Center is a rural hub for creativity, community vitality, and lifelong learning in the arts. Since our incorporation in 1990, we have been passionate about connecting people to artists and rich cultural experiences in rural Minnesota, celebrating the local and being a window to the world.

To get a better sense of the Think-Off, find details, historical information, and a list of the past 25 years of questions and winners on the event website:

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