Fail Early, Fail Often, Fail Well

Room: 
Room 1
Time Slot: 
3:50

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.

Josh gave this presentation at a WIMP meetup in January 2014. He has blogged on the topic and was recently interviewed by The Naked Freelancer about his experiences. Over 1,100 people have listened to the podcast and several people have expressed deep gratitude to hear an honest accounting of failure.