Mistakes Help You Learn: Blackstone's Schwarzman

A tombstone in Lucite, with a black, not white, background sits on the windowsill in Steven Schwarzman’s office to remind him of a multimillion-dollar mistake involving the purchase of a steel company.

“It was about the most humiliating experience,” Schwarzman, group chairman, CEO and co-founder of the private equity firm Blackstone Group , of a post-mortem meeting with disgruntled investors. His firm also lost 100 percent of its investment on the deal.

“I would sit there and apologize, and one of them actually said that I was the stupidest person he had ever dealt with, that we were irresponsible.”

Schwarzman said that lesson—and all situations when mistakes are made—are experiences for growth, even though it’s painful.

“Every time you fail or you make a mistake, there are really very important imbedded lessons,” he said. “So that when you see another situation, what you do is you apply those lessons. And it's totally critical to growing and success in our kind of business.”

Watch the next segments of the "My Worst Trades," featuring Boone Pickens, Friday October 22 on Squawk Box from 6-9 am ET and Power Lunch from 1-2 pm ET.