Think Like a Boss // Recovering from a Work Mistake

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Hand on a mousepad and mouse

Welcome back to Think Like a Boss, the series where our very favorite online businesswomen share their insights on success, failure, and being a woman in business. I have LOVED hearing your take on some of our previous posts, so be sure to check them out if you missed any. Today we’re talking about something that might make you squirm a little, but it’s something I’m sure we’ve all dealt with. Have you ever made a big, ugly, uncomfortable mistake at work? I definitely have. I think we all have. But it seems to be the consensus among our experts that it’s all in how you recover. So let’s ask these wonderful women:


Joy Cho, Founder + Creative Director of Oh, Joy!
Back when Oh Joy! was just me, I took this freelance design job that was a topic and type of client that I would have never normally taken. But we had just moved cross-country to a new city and were totally broke that I needed to take anything and everything that I could. The problem was that my heart wasn’t into it, and it showed in my work. The client wasn’t happy, and it was the first and only time I had ever been fired from a project!

Erin Loechner, Founder of Design for Mankind + Other Goose
A thousand! I once sent a potential publisher an email with the signature, “Big jugs, xo erin.” (I meant “Big hugs,” but obv didn’t get the book deal, ha!)

Brittany Jepsen, Founder of The House that Lars Built + Author of Craft the Rainbow
TOTALLY. All the time. And it seems like the more I navigate life both professionally and personally, the more I have them. I wouldn’t say that I’m necessarily better at solving problems, because they seem to get trickier the more life goes on, but they don’t bother me as much. I have a tough time sitting on uncomfortable situations so I typically try to solve them ASAP, but I’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes you just can’t please everyone all the time. It gets tough when personal feelings are involved and for that reason I don’t believe the phrase, “it’s not personal, it’s just business” because of course, it’s personal feelings at stake and it has everything to do with your well-being. At the same time, I think people, especially women, confuse critical feedback with attacks. Or at least I have in the past. I’ve certainly developed a thicker skin.

Amber Kemp-Gerstel, Founder of Damask Love + Finalist on NBC’s Making It Season 1
I’m very sure that my entire life is a poorly orchestrated symphony of “oops.” Like the time in college where I was talking smack about someone…only to find out she was sitting right behind me. Or the rainbow tie-dyed jumpsuit I wore as a teenager – surely that qualifies as a fashion faux pas. In my more recent professional life, I’ve learned that faux pas or “oops” are part of the job. I like to call them “tuition.” Mistakes are the tuition of doing business and every year I pay tuition – sometimes in the form of time spent on a project that fell flat or in actual dollars spent on an idea that wasn’t well thought out. In 2017, I spent a big sum of money on developing and producing a series of videos for the Damask Love channels. I spent way more money and time that I should have on this venture and in the end, I didn’t get much of a return on that investment. I’d love to have that money back – but really I think the lesson learned was more valuable. Today, we continue to invest in video content, but in a much more smart and efficient way.

Chelsea Foy (That’s Me!), Founder + Creative Director of Lovely Indeed
One recent flub comes to mind: we sent out a newsletter to our list of thousands of subscribers that still had all of the draft content on it. So it was a bunch of nonsense words and gibberish. We decided to let it sit and send a correction email later in the day. I added a quote about making mistakes in the correction email to hopefully remind people (and myself!) that we’re all human. I think that’s the key — admit that you’re at fault, give yourself grace for being human, and don’t ever let that mistake happen again.


And we want to hear from YOU — have you ever had a cringe-worthy work mistake that you bounced back from? Share your story in the comments, and always leave us a note if there’s a topic you’d love to see covered in the future. xoxo

P.S. See all the posts in the Think Like a Boss series right here.

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