Fail Early, Fail Often, Fail Well

Short Form


If failure is inevitable, why aren't we taught how to cope with it? In this talk I outline 10 types of failure to avoid and detail a framework for navigating recovery from failures large and small.


It happens. Things go south and it’s not even clear how. Your client and you can’t see eye to eye, or your enthusiastic new business partner has dropped off the radar. The project you’ve invested weeks, months, or years into may never see the light of day.

Failure comes in many forms and the increasing complexity of our projects and the world they operate in doesn’t help. Despite our best efforts, learning the hard way is often the only way. Perhaps this is why modern startup culture has rallied around the mantra: “Fail fast. Fail early. Fail often.” But I spent the better part of my career failing in freelance, agency, and startups, and the experience leads me to believe the common refrain to be lacking.

Like gymnasts who train to fall properly, I believe we must learn to fail well. In this talk, I draw from my experience learning the hard way, flagging the ten easiest and most insidious mistakes one can make. Because failure is inevitable, I will also be sharing a framework for recovery that includes managing yourself, your relationships, and your reputation.

Attendees will leave with a better sense of what NOT to do, an idea of how to cope with failure, and the knowledge that failure is inevitable and that’s OK.

Speaking experience

I've spoken at meetups, regional, and national conferences. This year is the first that I've been invited to keynote! I have given this talk a few times before, but it constantly evolves with my career... I was recently laid off by O'Reilly and managed to quickly fall into a new adventure at Google... suffice it to say, the presentation is ready for an update :-)


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