An entrepreneur’s new business fails.  A 7th grader receives the “most valuable player” award for basketball.  A recovering addict fails to abstain.  A singer auditions for and wins a role on Broadway.  Everyone experiences some successes and failures in life, but which has the greater effect on a life? 

Some people bounce back from failure, some don’t.  Some people are so successful it seems like they’ve never experienced failure and vice versa.  How humans respond to success and failure is the question put forth by the 2018 Great American Think-Off:

Which plays a larger role in shaping one’s life: success or failure?

This is the 26th annual Think-Off question–a classic philosophical quandary meant to inspire thinkers from all walks of life. Did winning push you harder to be your best? Or did losing motivate continued growth to overcome?

People of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to submit an essay of no more than 750 words for a chance to win one of four $500 cash prizes and a weekend in New York Mills to participate in the live debate to ultimately answer the question, determined by audience vote. There is no fee to enter.

Essays are due April 1, 2018 and can be submitted in 3 simple ways:

  • Online at
  • Email to
  • Mail to Think-Off, c/o Cultural Center, P.O. Box 246, New York Mills, MN 56567

All are welcome to attend the great debate on Saturday, June 9, 2018, and cast your vote to answer this year’s question and determine the 2018 America’s Greatest Thinker. To purchase tickets, click here:, or call the Cultural Center at 218-385-3339.