Shopping Cart


Emily McDowell at WDS

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 really have. Now a multimillion-dollar stationery and gift brand, Em & Friends products are sold online at,, and in nearly 2,000 stores worldwide. In 2015, Emily’s Empathy Cards, designed to help people communicate more authentically around serious illness and loss, struck a nerve around the world. Her work has been featured by The New York Times, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, BBC News, and NPR's All Things Considered, among many others, and in 2015, she was named one of Slate's 10 Designers Who Are Changing the World. Emily's first book, There Is No Good Card For This: What To Say and Do When Life Gets Scary, Awful, and Unfair To People You Love, coauthored with empathy expert Dr. Kelsey Crowe, was released by HarperOne in 2017.

If you’re familiar with Emily’s work, you probably also know that audiences really connect with her down-to-earth, conversational communication style. As a speaker, her primary goal is to leave her audience with actionable information they can put into practice, while also entertaining them, making them laugh, and making them think.

A NOTE FROM EMILY IN THE FIRST PERSON: I really love speaking. However, my employees also really love having jobs, and since we don’t live in the future yet, there is only one of me. So I need to be very intentional about the opportunities I take, and because speaking takes me away from running my company and creating the products that keep the lights on, I am not a cheap date. That said, I absolutely welcome all inquiries, so if this reality hasn’t scared you off, please get in touch.



When I had cancer in 2000, the hardest part was the alienation and loneliness I felt when people disappeared from my life because they didn’t know what to say or do around a sick person. As a result of this experience, I created Empathy Cards, designed for people experiencing major illness or loss, as a tool to help facilitate connection and help start those hard conversations. This simple concept resonated around the world and became a global phenomenon, with news stories in 22 countries; it then led to a book, and has become the most successful and signature component of my product line. I’ll tell the story of how this happened, and discuss how our own personal, painful experiences give us a unique perspective that others don’t have-- and how this perspective helps us understand what problems are waiting to be solved.


Emily McDowell brought her charm and wit to our stage, but even more than that she came wildly prepared. She inspired our attendees to action with practical, specific examples. Everyone encounters situations where they want to help, but they don't know what to do when someone they love is grieving or suffering. Emily solved that for our people. Over and over throughout the weekend, we heard about how her insights and wisdom showed them how to care. They left knowing what to do when they meet the suffering of others. Such insight is a rare gift, and our community is better off because of Emily's investment in them.

Chris Guillebeau
Founder & Chief Troublemaker
World Domination Summit

Emily is a down-to-earth speaker and presenter, and has made it her life's mission to make a difference for millions of people. Her entrepreneurial spirit and unprecedented success in the business world set her apart as a role model for aspiring leaders as well. What’s more, she is engaging, personable, very real and received very high marks from our audience.

Matthew Zachary
Founder & CEO
Stupid Cancer

Emily McDowell’s energy and authenticity are contagious. She engaged our attendees with her wit and creativity from the moment she stepped onto the stage and left them inspired and empowered. Emily has that rare balance of being both a poised professional and a down-to-earth intelligent funny woman who is just as excited about connecting with her audience when she steps off the stage as she is when she steps on.

Nicole Stevenson
Founder, Craftcation Business + Makers Conference
and Patchwork Show Modern Makers Festival