In this brilliant podcast from award-winning author and journalist, Elizabeth Day, prominent people explore what their failures taught them about success.

As the legendary martial artist, Morihei Ueshiba, said: “Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something.” Elizabeth Day has seized on this wisdom as the premise for her excellent new podcast.

Each week the award-winning author and journalist has a 45-minute conversation with a well-known guest – her illustrious friends and acquaintances – about what they’ve learned when things haven’t gone their way.

With Day’s elegantly posed questions, the podcast obstructs the pursuit of perfection and celebrates failure. She funded the first series of How To Fail with the money she made when she sold her wedding dress on Ebay following her divorce. Each episode is a pleasure to hear.

Revelatory gems include Sebastian Faulks on his sense of isolation at boarding school and not winning the Booker Prize; David Nicholls on having a thin skin and failing as an actor; Phoebe Waller-Bridge on the mistakes she has made in love; and Dolly Alderton on her various vulnerabilities.

Describing how she came up with the idea for the podcast, Day wrote (last July) in The Guardian: “The more I thought about it, the more I realised that the biggest, most transformative moments of my life came through crisis or failure. They came when I least expected them, when I felt ill-equipped to deal with the fallout. And yet each time, I had survived.

“The rise of social media means we now live in an age of positive curation, where Instagram feeds and Pinterest mood boards are designed to give the most glowing impression of our lives. In this context, failure doesn’t get much airplay.

“But, I thought, wouldn’t it be refreshing if we stripped back the carefully crafted layers of our supposedly perfect selves, and revealed ourselves to be vulnerable?”

It sure would. How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is honest, contemporary and fascinating. A second series is coming up soon. Listen in the bath. Listen on the bus. Just make sure you listen.

September 2018