How To Fail With Elizabeth Day
S8, Ep5 How to Fail: Julia Samuel

S8, Ep5 How to Fail: Julia Samuel

July 1, 2020

Today's guest is someone I fell in platonic love with by reading her work. Julia Samuel is one of the country's leading psychotherapists but she is also well-known as an author. Her first book, Grief Works, was a Sunday Times bestseller and is routinely cited as one of the most helpful and compassionate books on bereavement you will ever read. Her second book, This Too Shall Pass, Stories of Change, Crisis and Hopeful Beginnings, was published just before lockdown and could not have been a more insightful guide to the uncertain times we all found ourselves in. Adwoa Aboah called it 'one of the most valuable books I've ever read', while my hero Esther Perel, said it was 'a remarkable portrayal of how we need to understand ourselves to truly heal'.

She joins me to talk about failing exams, failed jobs, her self-perceived failures as a mother and the impossibility of putting our emotions through a logical system. We also touch on imposter syndrome, quitting things you aren't good at, being a twin (she is one!), her close friendship with the late Princess Diana (plus what kind of godmother she is to Prince George) as well as the discomfort she feels talking about herself, rather than being the one to ask questions of a client. 

I am so honoured to have Julia on the podcast. Her integrity and intelligence, forged through 30 years as a working therapist, shine through absolutely everything she does. Her work has been crucially important to me personally and I'm sure it will be to you too.

As Julia says: 'We are brought up thinking life is an upward journey, a stairway to a better place, each step higher than the last. but the reality is far less certain: there are ups and downs, and the only certainty that exists is that there will be change.' 

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Julia's latest book, This Too Shall Pass, is out now and available to order here.

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I've written a new book! Failosophy: A Handbook For When Things Go Wrong is out in October. It's a practical, inspirational and reassuring guide to the seven principles of failure I've developed since doing this podcast. Packed full of contributions from loads of former guests, as well as listener stories, it is also beautifully illustrated by Paul Blow and I would love it if you wanted to pre-order a signed copy here.

 

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How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you! To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Julia Samuel @juliasamuelmbe

How To Fail @howtofailpod 

 

 

 

 

 

S8, Ep4 How to Fail: Scarlett Moffatt

S8, Ep4 How to Fail: Scarlett Moffatt

June 24, 2020

Scarlett Moffatt was working at the checkout in Asda when she and he family got the chance to be on Channel 4's Gogglebox. She rapidly became the show's break-out star with her brilliant one-liners. Television fame followed - she co-presented with Ant and Dec, won 2016's I'm A Celebrity and now hosts the official podcast for Rupaul’s Drag Race UK. But with her overnight celebrity also came increased scrutiny and criticism.

She joins me to talk about becoming an accidental famous person and dealing with online abuse (she will now reply to trolls with the phone number for the Samaritans). Scarlett also discusses her shifting relationship with body image and her own struggles with anxiety and low self-worth.

This is a woman who has worked hard all her life - from her first job at 14, putting sweets into Pic n' Mix to being employed in sales at the Carphone Warehouse. When she went on I'm A Celebrity, she had only just managed to clear her student overdraft. With the fee she was given from that show, Scarlett paid off the mortgage on her parents' house. She talks to me about the value of hard graft, being bullied at school, a bicycle accident that left her with Bell's Palsy and using humour as a defence mechanism. This episode also contains what is quite possibly the greatest Tom Hardy anecdote you will ever hear.

Thank you Scarlett, you are an absolute gem. Those school bullies were wrong about you. They always are.

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I've written a new book! Failosophy: A Handbook For When Things Go Wrong is out in October. It's a practical, inspirational and reassuring guide to the seven principles of failure I've developed since doing this podcast. Packed full of contributions from loads of former guests, as well as listener stories, it is also beautifully illustrated by Paul Blow and I would love it if you wanted to pre-order a signed copy here.

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You can listen to Scarlett hosting Rupaul's Drag Race UK: The Podcast here.

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How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you! To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Scarlett Moffatt @scarlettmoffatt

How To Fail @howtofailpod 

 

 

 

 

S8, Ep3 How to Fail: Matthew Syed

S8, Ep3 How to Fail: Matthew Syed

June 17, 2020

Matthew Syed is an acclaimed author, newspaper columnist and broadcaster. He is also, in many ways, is the father of failure. I mean that as a compliment, obviously. Through his seminal, bestselling books - Bounce, Black Box Thinking and his latest, Rebel Ideas - he has shown again and again that failure can actually be the richest seam of data acquisition. 

His interest in making mistakes in order to evolve started, incongruously, with table tennis. He was the British number one in 1995 but later choked in spectacular fashion at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. The experience triggered a fascination with what it means to fall apart under pressure and why it happens.

Syed joins me to talk about all this, as well as leaving school at 15, his childhood experiences of racism, the horror of cold-calling when he ran a marketing agency, the 'terrible' early newspaper columns he wrote, the necessity for diversity of thinking, fatherhood and why we don't need to be scared of airplane turbulence (thank goodness, quite frankly, because I'm terrified of it). It was a joy meeting Matthew, and I also liked his exceptionally polite way of saying 'thank you' when I ask a question.

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I've written a new book! Failosophy: A Handbook For When Things Go Wrong is out in October. It's a practical, inspirational and reassuring guide to the seven principles of failure I've developed since doing this podcast. Packed full of contributions from loads of former guests, as well as listener stories, it is also beautifully illustrated by Paul Blow and I would love it if you wanted to pre-order a signed copy here.

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Matthew Syed's lates book, Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking is available to order here.

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How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you! To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Matthew Syed @matthewsyed

How To Fail @howtofailpod 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

S8, Ep2 How to Fail: Samantha Irby

S8, Ep2 How to Fail: Samantha Irby

June 10, 2020

*This episode was recorded before recent tragic events in America. There are links to useful Black Lives Matter resources and ways to help below*

You know when you read someone's work and feel like you'd be friends in real life, and you become basically a little obsessed and Google them to inhale all the online content that is out there about this person and their work and THEN you get to to meet them and despite thinking they couldn't possibly live up to all your overhyped expectation, they actually do? Well, ok, so that's what happened to me with Samantha Irby.

Not only is she a brilliant, hilarious and perspicacious essayist (she has published three collections, the latest of which, Wow, No Thank You, entered the New York Times bestseller list at number one) but she's a wonderful, generous and warm human being. Samantha joins me to talk about failure to complete college, her failed relationships, failing at drama class, being her mother's carer, growing up poor, using humour as a defence mechanism and the BRILLIANT theory she has developed of 'Detachment Parenting' which she deploys on her wife's children. Oh, and we talk about The Real Housewives too, because we're both huge fans (in fact, we went on about it for so long that I had to edit some of it out in case we bored everyone else). My other favourite thing about this interview is that producer Naomi nonchalantly informed me that Samantha would be dialling in from Kathmandu, Nepal. It turns out that she had misheard and actually meant Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Samantha, I heart you. Please can we be friends for real? CALL ME!

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I've written a new book! Failosophy: A Handbook For When Things Go Wrong is out in October. It's a practical, inspirational and reassuring guide to the seven principles of failure I've developed since doing this podcast. Packed full of contributions from loads of former guests, as well as listener stories, it is also beautifully hand-illustrated by Paul Blow and I would love it if you wanted to pre-order a signed copy here.

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Samantha Irby's latest book, Wow, No Thank You is out now and available to order here. Her extraordinary essay, My Mother, My Daughter is available to read for free online here.

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Many of you will have been as appalled as we are by the recent tragic news from America and the homicide of George Floyd. If you'd like to help there is a link to Black Lives Matter resources (including petitions to sign and places to donate) here

Belly Mujinga was a railway worker at London's Victoria station who was spat at by an assailant and who later died of Covid-19. You can donate to her family here

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How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you! To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Samantha Irby @wordscience

How To Fail @howtofailpod 

 

S8, Ep1 How to Fail: Jessie Ware

S8, Ep1 How to Fail: Jessie Ware

June 3, 2020

*This episode was recorded before recent tragic events in America. There are links to useful Black Lives Matter resources and ways to help below*

WE'RE BAAAAAACCCCKKKK just like Backstreet, The Mack, and the toilet roll that's now in stock again in Sainsbury's. And what a guest I have for you! It is the one, the only, Jessie Ware. Not only is she one of my favourite singer-songwriters (four Brit nominations to her name, three top-ten albums and a whopping 120 million streams on Spotify for one of her most famous songs, Say You Love Me...JUST SAYIN) but she's also one of my favourite podcasters, co-hosting the brilliant Table Manners with her mother, Lennie and interviewing an array of astonishing talent over a home-cooked dinner. Their eponymous cookbook is a Sunday Times bestseller.

Part of what makes Table Manners so special is Jessie's down-to-earth manner, whip-smart sense of humour and her ability to shortcut to the real stuff (it's also the affectionate bickering with Lennie, who says that they 'put the fun into dysfunctional'). All of these qualities also make her a wonderful interviewee. She joins me to talk about her failure to tidy up, her failure to be a journalist and her failure to live in the present. Along the way, we discuss imposter syndrome, body image, accidental success, life, love and almost everything in between. Basically all you need to know is that I loved her before we recorded this episode, but now I love her even more.

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I've written a new book! Failosophy: A Handbook For When Things Go Wrong is out in October. It's a practical, inspirational and reassuring guide to the seven principles of failure I've developed since doing this podcast. Packed full of contributions from loads of former guests, as well as listener stories, it is also beautifully hand-illustrated by Paul Blow and I would love it if you wanted to pre-order a signed copy here.

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Jessie Ware's latest album, What's Your Pleasure, is out on 19th June and available to preorder here.

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Many of you will have been as appalled as we are by the recent tragic news from America and the homicide of George Floyd. If you'd like to help there is a link to Black Lives Matter resources (including petitions to sign and places to donate) here

Belly Mujinga was a railway worker at London's Victoria station who was spat at by an assailant and who later died of Covid-19. You can donate to her family here

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How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you! To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Jessie Ware @jessieware

 

 

 

 

SPECIAL EPISODE! How to Fail: Daisy Edgar-Jones on being the star of Normal People, the lockdown television hit everyone is talking about

SPECIAL EPISODE! How to Fail: Daisy Edgar-Jones on being the star of Normal People, the lockdown television hit everyone is talking about

May 20, 2020

Ok, so I said I was done with the special lockdown episodes but, forgive me, I CHANGED MY MIND. The reason for this is that I watched Normal People and thought it was the most exceptional piece of television I've seen in...well...an absolute age, and I basically hunted down Daisy Edgar-Jones like the obsessive fan I was until she agreed to be interviewed by me.

And so here it is: Daisy Edgar-Jones, who gave the performance of a lifetime as Marianne in the BBC adaptation of Sally Rooney's acclaimed novel, Normal People, joins me for the most beautiful chat about failing to go to university, feeling the need for constant validation, wanting to do things for their own artistic sake but being hamstrung by other people's approval, body image, living with anxiety (which manifests as hypochondria), feeling lost in her late teens, dealing with rejection, the weirdness of overnight fame and Connell's silver chain (in-joke there for Normal People mega-fans). We also talk allllll about Normal People: how she approached the part of Marianne, her on-and-off-screen relationship with Connell (played brilliantly by Paul Mescal), how they filmed those extraordinary, respectful sex scenes and the story behind Marianne's fringe.

Daisy is 21 but speaks with the wisdom of someone three times her age. She is so open, so funny, so kind and so generous in this interview that I know it's going to be a great help to a great many people, especially as it's Mental Health Awareness Week and we need more people to talk like this. Thank you Daisy, you're insanely talented and a genuinely lovely person and I'm so grateful you replied to my Instagram DM.

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I haven't taken sponsorship for any of the special lockdown episodes because it didn't feel right, but if you have enjoyed this interview or any of the others, I'd be so grateful if you'd consider donating to Samaritans. a truly incredible charity which helps people in crisis by being there, at the end of a phone line, 24/7, 365 days a year. Covid-19 has placed an unprecedented pressure on Samaritans volunteers at precisely the time that we need them the most. Any donation, however small, will help and I'd be so grateful if you felt able to make one. Here is the link to donate:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/howtofailwithelizabethday

 

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If you really can't get enough How To Fail content and are looking for something to read during lockdown, there is a book! How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong is out now and available to order here

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How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and recorded, edited and mixed by Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you! To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Daisy Edgar-Jones @daisyedgarjones

Connell's Chain @connellschain

 

 

SPECIAL EPISODE! How to Fail: Henry Holland on business failure in the time of Covid-19

SPECIAL EPISODE! How to Fail: Henry Holland on business failure in the time of Covid-19

April 22, 2020

In the last of four special episodes specifically designed to help you through lockdown and Covid-19 anxiety, I welcome the fashion designer Henry Holland onto the podcast. This week, How To Fail returns to its usual format of discussing three failures but I've chosen to make this a special episode because one of Henry's failures will speak directly to a lot of people right now. It is the failure of his business, House of Holland, a failure linked to the impact of Coronavirus and which has left Henry having to call in the administrators and let beloved members of staff go. It's a failure he is still coming to terms with and I'm so grateful to him for choosing to talk about it. 

We also discuss growing up in Ramsbottom, with childhood friend (and future supermodel) Agyness Deyn, and going to a school which stifled his individuality and where even the female teachers were called 'sir'. Later, Henry became a fashion journalist on teen magazines in London before he started making slogan t-shirts as a side-hustle. The t-shirts proved so popular they rapidly became a sought-after fashion item, and Henry's future in fashion was assured. It was a life that took him onto the world's catwalks and into some of the most glamorous parties (keep your ears tuned in for the Kanye West anecdote) but, last month, he was forced to acknowledge that his business was no longer financially sustainable.  'The emotional turmoil of closing a business was one that was heavy to bear,' he wrote recently in a piece for British Vogue. 'But now, on the other side, while unemployed in the craziest economic time we’ve experienced in a generation, I can’t help but feel a sense of relief. Relief I am no longer letting people down. Relief I am no longer pretending everything is perfect when in fact it’s not. And relief most of all that I have space and time to think about what it is I want from my working life.'

Thank you Henry. We'll be back in June for a brand new season with a truly fabulous line-up of guests. Until then, stay safe and I hope you all enjoy the episode. 

 

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If you really can't get enough How To Fail content and are looking for something to read during lockdown, there is a book! How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong is out now and available to order here

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How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and recorded, edited and mixed by Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you! To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Henry Holland @henryholland

 

SPECIAL EPISODE! How To Fail: Listeners share their Coronavirus stories

SPECIAL EPISODE! How To Fail: Listeners share their Coronavirus stories

April 15, 2020

For this extra-special listener episode, I asked you to get in touch with your stories. And you did not let me down. I received so many responses that when I printed them out they ran to over 100 pages of typed text. I wished I could read every single one of them out, but that would have taken quite a long time, so I did the best I could and picked a selection of the most moving, most eloquent, most reassuring, most funny, most inspiring, most heroic stories you are ever likely to hear. I burst into tears while reading your emails and messages, and I laughed a lot too. I adore you, you wonderful listeners. You are the most exceptional, thoughtful and brave audience.

In this special episode, you will hear from NHS doctors and nurses, from teachers, from vets, from struggling parents and from blended families and from those who desperately want to be parents but aren't, from those who have just broken up with lovers and from those in brand new relationships now in lockdown, from those who have tragically said goodbye to loved ones, from people who live with chronic illness and disordered eating, from those whose school and university terms were cut short without notice, from spoon-carvers and home-bakers and trashy-television-watchers. In every story, there will be a shimmering grain of humanity that I hope makes each and every one of us feel more connected.

Thank you for honouring me with your stories. Thank you for trusting me with your insights. Thank you for listening and connecting. Thank you for your acts of courage and quiet heroism. And thank you for giving me the chance to make this episode.

We will find our feet again. This too shall pass. Sending love to all of you out there, and I’ll see you soon.

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If you really can't get enough How To Fail content and are looking for something to read during lockdown, there is a book! How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong is out now and available to order here

 

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How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and recorded, edited and mixed by Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you! To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

SPECIAL EPISODE! How To Fail: Alain De Botton on embracing vulnerability in the age of Coronavirus

SPECIAL EPISODE! How To Fail: Alain De Botton on embracing vulnerability in the age of Coronavirus

March 31, 2020

In the second of two special episodes, the renowned philosopher Alain de Botton, returns to How To Fail With Elizabeth Day to talk about how to be human and how to stay (relatively) sane in the grip of a global pandemic. We talk about the fact that, right now, it's rational to be a little demented and how we should all take lessons from our childhood and be less ashamed of bursting into tears when we really need to. He tells me about the merits of stoicism, the comfort that comes from admitting the situation we're in without sentimentalisation and what it means to find consolation in these unprecedented times.

Along the way, de Botton tackles how to deal with grief and dismantles the idea of any hierarchy of suffering - insisting that how we feel is a fact that must be taken seriously, even if there are people worse off than us. And he also tells me about the need 'to turn the light on in the room of your fears' so that the darkness no longer has the power to terrify us. This leads to the brilliant idea of having a pessimistic shopping list, where you write down all the things you're most afraid of.

In many ways, this interview is the perfect companion piece to Mo Gawdat's episode last week: de Botton tackles similar subjects but approaches them from a different angle, one that embraces darkness rather than choosing not to dwell on it. I found it so comforting talking to him, and it's a comfort that has sustained me for the days since doing the interview. I hope it does the same for you.

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If you really can't get enough How To Fail content and are looking for something to read during lockdown, there is a book! How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong is out now and available to order here

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Alain de Botton is the founder of The School of Life You can see a video of this podcast recording on their YouTube channel.

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and recorded, edited and mixed by Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you! To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Alain de Botton @alaindebotton

 

SPECIAL EPISODE! How to Fail: Mo Gawdat on how to cope with anxiety in a time of Coronavirus

SPECIAL EPISODE! How to Fail: Mo Gawdat on how to cope with anxiety in a time of Coronavirus

March 23, 2020

Hello. I hope you're all doing ok out there. Bit of a strange time isn't it? It can feel overwhelming to be living through a global pandemic, but there are things all of us can do - small things that can have big impact. We can stay at home and save lives. We can distance socially and help the heroic health carers working on the frontline of this disease. We can spread a little positivity. We can refuse to panic buy toilet roll. And I, at least, can make podcasts so that you can listen to them and hopefully feel a little less alone.

When I was thinking of who I most wanted to hear from about how to live through this unprecedented moment in our history, there was really only one answer. It was Mo Gawdat. I originally met Mo when I interviewed him in Season 4 of the podcast. You can listen to that episode here. He told me about how he had developed a seemingly simple algorithm that enables every single person to be happy, whatever the circumstances - you can read more about that in his book Solve For Happy. Meeting Mo had a huge impact on me. I know it also helped a great many of you - at every event I do now, at least one person will come up to me to say Mo has changed their life for the better.

I am so, so grateful to Mo for agreeing to come back onto the podcast to discuss how to live with anxiety and isolation in a time of Coronavirus. We talk about how to handle negative thoughts, how to practise gratitude and the concept of 'committed acceptance' which focuses on a) accepting the situation and b) within that acceptance, working out what you can actively do to make life better. He shares with us his own daily routine for self-isolation, the difference between the inevitability of pain and the choice of suffering, the wondrous abilities of the brain to come up with narratives which sometimes do not serve us and the importance of understanding the impact exercising our own free will have on others. Along the way, we argue about whether Love Actually is the best romcom of all time.

I hope you enjoy the episode and that it brings you some comfort as you go about your day. 

Sending love to you all.

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and recorded, edited and mixed by Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you! To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Mo Gawdat @mgawdat