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“Innovation is learning while doing.”: Emily McDowell at WDS

This past week we released the first round of tickets for WDS 2017, a week-long gathering of creative, remarkable people—taking place next summer in beautiful Portland, Oregon. There are a limited number of tickets left, so grab yours while you can!

For the past month, we’ve been rolling out a series of speaker videos from the 2016 event. Emily McDowell is a writer, illustrator, and entrepreneur who specializes in chronicling the human condition. In 2012, she left a successful career in advertising to launch her greeting card line, making cards for the relationships we actually have.

Now a multimillion-dollar stationery and gift company, Emily McDowell Studio products are sold online and in nearly 2,000 stores worldwide. In 2015, Emily’s Empathy Cards, designed to help people connect around serious illness and loss, struck a nerve around the world.

Check out the video below to hear her message about why sometimes, not everyone knows the best thing to say in difficult situations—but saying something anyways can make all the difference.


“When a terrible thing happens to you, some people get scared and disappear because they don’t know how to deal. This has nothing to do with how lovable you are.”

“Do no let not knowing how to do something stand in the way of not doing it. Innovation is learning while doing.”

“Here is a shitty irony: the times we’re at our lowest and loneliest—when we most need human connection—are also the times when people don’t know what to say.”

“Any time we can expand the definition of what ‘normal’ is, we are doing humanity a great service.”


Want to know more about WDS and how you can join us?

Every summer, thousands of people travel from all over the world to Portland, Oregon for this immersive experience in life, work, and travel. With main-stage keynote speakers, hundreds of attendee-led meetups, more than a dozen workshops known as “Academies,” two big parties, and a ridiculous number of new friends high-fiving you on street corners, it’s a truly engaging and life-changing experience.

Tickets are on sale NOW, and they always sell out far in advance of the actual event. If you’d like to come, don’t hesitate because we’re down to a limited number!

Find out more on the website, and join us next year in July for WDS 2017!

Stay tuned for more speaker videos!

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