At GEO's The Learning Conference 2015 in Boston last month, attendees heard from five of their peers who shared lessons they learned in their careers. If that doesn't sound special, I'm not surprised. As a field (and as a country), we talk a lot about "lessons learned" and other euphemisms that shift blame and obscure our role in failures and missteps. That's exactly what we wanted to avoid at our Fail Fest this year.
So let me rephrase: At GEO's The Learning Conference 2015 last month, attendees heard from five of their peers who shared publicly some of the biggest mistakes they've made. Our five speakers told embarrassing stories frankly and forthrightly, and with no shame. In front of 300 others who work in philanthropy, these five people stood up and went into the specifics of how they failed — and how they will avoid doing it again.