Keynote speaker
Talk: "Failure in Three Acts"


I’m an authority on creative leadership, social entrepreneurship and design-driven startups. My most recent speaking topics include: mindful leadership, scaling social impact businesses and why startups fail.


I believe that embracing failure, and quickly learning from it, is absolutely vital to building successful startups. I expanded on these thoughts during my keynote talk “Failure In Three Acts” at the 2016 HarvardxDesign conference which I delivered when I was the Executive Director of 30 Weeks, Google’s incubator for design entrepreneurs. I spoke about the taboo of failure, the variety of failures I’ve witnessed over the past 10 years of teaching entrepreneurship and coaching hundreds of startup founders. In addition to the keynote talk, I also designed an interactive workshop for the conference called “Ideation 101: Embracing Falling Fast as a Means to Success.” With the help of Marianne Aerni, the 30 Weeks Program Manager, we took participants through the process that was at the heart of 30 Weeks – need finding, continuous ideation, validation, and iteration. Through this workshop, we challenged attendees to quickly cycle through ideas for customer-centric products, giving people a taste of the hands-on process and establishing “failing fast” as a core principle of any successful learn-by-doing methodology.

You can read more about my thoughts on failure in my Core77 article, “Fail, Fail and F*cking Fail Again."


Shana’s leadership in developing the 30 Weeks program and workshops her team led at the Harvard Graduate School of Design bridged the gap between theory and practice. Their activities and program were excellent in integrating design thinking from the start and approaching venture design in a user center way. The community she brought together created an epicenter of design founders and furthered the multidisciplinary approach of integrating design, business, and tech in launching new ventures.
— Sergio Marrero, Tech Entrepreneur, Harvard Business School


  • 2018 - 2019 see the Workshops section and Future of Work programming

  • The Next Web 12/2017

  • Clinton Global Initiative University 10/2017

  • The Happy Startup School 9/2017

  • New Inc. Incubator Leadership Retreat 8/2017

  • UN Influx Global Action Campaign Hackathon 3/2017

  • Boston Design Week: Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Design + Tech Summit 3/2017

  • Disruptive Innovation Festival: 30 Weeks Design Founders 11/2016

  • Fast Company's Innovation Festival: Art Thinking with Amy Whitaker 11/2016

  • Core77 Conference: Design Founders - From Idea to Launch 9/2016

  • HarvardxDesign Conference: Embracing Failing Fast as a Means to Success 2/2016

  • 92Y Women inPower Finding the Leader in You 2/2016

  • A Better World By Design: The Importance of Cultural Sensitivity 9/2014