Without Fail

Without Fail

By Gimlet

Candid conversations with entrepreneurs, artists, athletes, visionaries of all kinds—about their successes, and their failures, and what they learned from both. Hosted by Alex Blumberg, from Gimlet Media.

Episodes

How Megan Phelps-Roper Left the Westboro Baptist Church

As the granddaughter of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps, Megan Phelps-Roper was raised in a culture of hate. Her family was known for their hateful rhetoric and practice of picketing the funerals of gay people and soldiers. For more than 20 years, Megan didn't imagine a life outside the church—until she got a Twitter account.
20/04/201h 0m

What's Happening Around Gimlet: Every Little Thing - Essential Workers Call In

We’re taking a break from in-studio interviews to social distance. During this time, we’re going to share our favorite Gimlet episodes about Coronavirus. This week we’re bringing you 'Essential Workers Call In' from Every Little Thing. Host Flora Lichtman speaks with listeners who deliver packages, stock shelves and drive buses about how their lives have changed during the pandemic.
13/04/2046m 5s

What’s Happening Around Gimlet: Reply All - The Attic and Closet Show 2

We’re taking a break from in-studio interviews to social distance. During this time, we’re going to share our favorite Gimlet episodes about Coronavirus. This week we’re bringing you “The Attic and Closet Show 2” from Reply All. Reply All hosts Alex and PJ are recording in their respective attic and closet (hence the name) and breaking away from the normal, heavily reported show format to take calls from listeners and find out how everyone is doing
06/04/2048m 26s

What's Happening Around Gimlet: Science Vs - Will Chloroquine Save Us?

We're taking a break from in-studio interviews to social distance. During this time, we're going to share our favorite Gimlet episodes about Coronavirus. This week, we're bringing you "Will Chloroquine Save Us?" from Science Vs. Science Vs is a show that pits facts against fads and fiction. In this episode, they uncover if chloroquine, the anti-malarial drug works and whether or not it's dangerous by talking to doctors, scientists and academics.
30/03/2024m 9s

The Secret to Writing a Children’s Book

Everyone thinks they can write a children’s book, but very few people actually can. Abby Hanlon, the author and illustrator of the beloved Dory Fantasmagory series, describes her unusual creative process—it involves eavesdropping and bribery.
16/03/2042m 53s

The Church of John Green

For years, John Green made a comfortable living as a writer and YouTube host, nestled right where he wanted to be: between obscurity and celebrity. But then he published The Fault in Our Stars and catapulted to fame. And being famous proved harder than he could have ever imagined.
17/02/2047m 34s

Introducing Motherhacker

This week, we're sharing the first episode of Motherhacker. It's a fiction podcast about a mother who gets involved in an identity theft ring in order to support her family. The series stars Carrie Coon, Pedro Pascal, Alan Cumming, Lucas Hedges, Tavi Gevinson and Alex Goldman.
03/02/2014m 24s

The Secret Early Lives of Sam Esmail (Rebroadcast)

Director and screenwriter Sam Esmail’s TV series Mr. Robot was an immediate hit when it premiered in 2015, turning him into one of the most in-demand showrunners in Hollywood. But he didn’t have an easy path to that point. Sam was 38 by the time Mr. Robot launched. He’d worked all kinds of jobs -- including a stint as a startup founder -- and seen all kinds of setbacks. Sam tells Alex about the stuff that came before, and about why he couldn’t quit trying to make movies, even when success was a long way off.
20/01/2042m 16s

The Woman Who Took On Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics

For years, Larry Nassar, the team doctor for USA Women’s Gymnastics, sexually assaulted his patients under the guise of medical treatment. And that abuse might have continued had it not been for one woman: Rachael Denhollander.
16/12/1955m 13s

Michelle Phan: The Original Internet Influencer

Michelle Phan became a viral sensation when she began posting beauty tutorial videos in the early days of YouTube. As YouTube's popularity grew, Michelle kept pace, racking up millions of views — and millions of dollars. But then, at the peak of her fame and fortune, she disappeared without a word.
09/12/1942m 42s

How Earlonne Woods Podcasted His Way to Freedom

When Earlonne Woods was sent to prison in the late 1990s, there was a good chance he’d never walk free again. But then he made a visit to the media center at San Quentin State Prison. And that changed everything.
02/12/1942m 38s

The 32 Seconds that Changed This Mayor’s Life

Normally, being the mayor of Dayton, Ohio, means paying attention to everyday issues, from garbage pickups to municipal budgets. But in the early morning hours of August 4, 2019, a gunman opened fire at a downtown bar in the city, and Nan Whaley’s role as mayor immediately shifted. She found herself thrust into the national spotlight as all eyes turned to Dayton. And it wasn't long before she was face-to-face with President Donald Trump.
18/11/1938m 5s

Introducing How’s Work? with Esther Perel

This week, we’re sharing the first episode of Esther Perel’s new show How’s Work? In it, the couples therapist behind the beloved show Where Should We Begin? sits down with coworkers, cofounders and colleagues, and brings her inimitable perspective to workplace relationships and conflicts.
11/11/1957m 54s

The Man Who Changed the Future of Florida Elections

When Desmond Meade got out of prison after serving time for a nonviolent felony, he was homeless and wrestling with addiction. A decade later, he started a campaign that very few people thought was winnable: amending the Florida constitution to restore voting rights to people with felony convictions. His unusual path to success on this politicized issue? Avoid politics, and appeal to principles.
04/11/1939m 45s

Ira Glass: The Man Who Launched a Thousand Podcasts (Rebroadcast)

In November 1995, Ira Glass quietly launched the first episode of This American Life. The rest, as they say, is history. Today his show is a colossal success and Ira Glass is a household name. But in the intervening two decades, Ira has left an indelible mark on the industry by helping to shape hundreds of podcasts as well as hundreds of podcasters — including Alex. On this episode, Alex sits down with his mentor and former boss to talk about the early days at This American Life, what Ira taught Alex, and how being a good boss means learning to set people free.
21/10/1954m 30s

Nick Kroll Gets Out of Character

Comedian Nick Kroll became a star by playing a cast of over-the-top characters like Bobby Bottleservice and Gil Faizon. But for years he was careful to keep his own story out of his comedy. Now, with his hit show Big Mouth, Nick is taking on his most challenging material yet: his adolescence.
14/10/1949m 20s

The Cyclist Who Blew the Whistle on Doping

Jonathan Vaughters was a member of the famed USPS pro cycling team when his teammate Lance Armstrong won the first of a record-breaking seven straight Tours de France. While fans were awed and inspired by the victories, Jonathan knew there was something else fueling those wins: performance enhancing drugs — something the entire team was using, including himself. The deception weighed heavy on his conscience, and Jonathan found himself at a crossroads: live with the lie or come clean and become a traitor to his friends, colleagues, and the most powerful man in cycling, Lance Armstrong.
07/10/1956m 25s

How Coming Out Made Shane McAnally a Nashville Star

Ever since he was young, Shane McAnally knew he wanted to be a country music star. But as a gay man, he didn’t fit the Nashville mold, and so he hid his true identity for years as he struggled to break through. Little did he know that coming out would prove the key to his success.  We created a playlist of Shane McAnally hits, from artists like Kenny Chesney and Kacey Musgraves. You can find it at https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0ixldv7V7QUegFLYo3k5RN?si=Slqyo5ypQO6LiRydT-PbTQ
23/09/1948m 38s

Being an A$$hole: The Final Frontier for Women on the Screen

Aline Brosh McKenna got her big break as the screenwriter of The Devil Wears Prada. But even after successful box office hits and many years in Hollywood, she found herself having to compromise her vision over and over again. So she took matters into her own hands.
16/09/1939m 57s

From Hustling Dice to the Heights of Global Fashion: The Dapper Dan Story

Dapper Dan made a name for himself as one of Harlem’s premier fashion designers in the 1980s, creating unique leather designs covered in counterfeit logos from brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton. But when the fashion houses found out, they shut him down. So how, 20 years later, did Dapper Dan make it to the top of the world that put him out of business?  We created a playlist of some of the songs that name-drop Dapper Dan, from artists like LL Cool J, Missy Elliott, and Pusha T... You can find it exclusively on Spotify, at open.spotify.com/playlist/6Gl7MBd1RvVT4ihFVrSaqF?si=H6XBdhYHTTW8aBzbUhLXaQ.
09/09/1951m 35s

How a Stay-At-Home Mom Started an Empire

Jenny Doan and her husband, Ron, lost most of their savings in the 2008 financial crisis. Retirement was just around the corner, and they didn’t know how they would make it through. That’s when the family went all-in on an unlikely business—a quilt shop.
19/08/1930m 43s

The Cost of Having a Conscience in the Senate

As a Democrat from a red state, Senator Heidi Heitkamp built a reputation for her willingness to buck party pressure and reach across the aisle. But when Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court, she found herself facing a decision between her principles and her political fate.
22/07/1942m 16s

The Woman Who Brought Politics to Teen Vogue

When Elaine Welteroth was appointed editor in chief of Teen Vogue in 2015, she was the youngest and first black editor in the publication’s history. She set out to transform Teen Vogue into something more than just a fashion magazine...but Elaine had taken the helm of a publication in crisis.
15/07/1933m 40s

The Scared Child Inside Every Leader

Jerry Colonna was a high-flying venture capitalist in New York City at the height of the dot-com boom. He looked like the picture of success—but as time wore on, he felt more and more like a fraud. And when the boom went bust, it all began to unravel for him. Alex talks to Jerry about that struggle, and about how it led him to his current life as one of the most in-demand executive coaches—who just happens to be Alex’s own executive coach.  This episode discusses suicide and mental illness. If you’re feeling depressed or you just need to talk to someone, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The number is 1-800-273-8255.  The StartUp episode referenced in this conversation — the episode that includes one of Alex and Jerry’s sessions — is called “Shadowed Qualities.”
08/07/1946m 25s

A 90s Sitcom Star's Fight for the Future of Black TV

Actor Erika Alexander came of age at a moment when there were lots of Black TV shows airing in primetime. She got her break in the early ‘90s with a role on the Cosby Show, and found fame as fast-talking lawyer Maxine Shaw in the hit sitcom Living Single. But then the number of Black sitcoms airing on the major networks dwindled, and so did roles for Black actors. In this conversation with The Nod’s Eric Eddings, Erika talks about navigating Hollywood after that Black entertainment boom went bust.
17/06/1947m 36s

Don’t Underestimate Gretchen Carlson

Gretchen Carlson, the long-time co-host of Fox & Friends, set off shockwaves in 2016 when she filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment against Fox News chairman Roger Ailes. Just two weeks later, he was ousted from the network. But it had taken years of enduring abusive behavior before the former Miss America spoke out — and she's not done yet.
10/06/1948m 45s

How a Hollywood Newcomer Shook Up Prime Time

Steven Canals was a virtual unknown when he co-created the award-winning TV series Pose. Set in the 1980s ballroom scene of New York, the show is unlike any prime time television drama that had come before it — and that is in large part because Steven Canals is unlike most other show creators in Hollywood. But getting Pose to the screen meant more than breaking down barriers for Steven; it meant coming to understand that the story could not be told without him.
03/06/1940m 36s

Exiled from the Industry He Helped Create

Jeff Ullrich was a struggling business manager with a drinking problem and a waning sense of professional direction when, in 2010, he saw an opportunity: podcasting. It was a brand new medium, and no one had really tapped its potential. Together with comedian Scott Aukerman, Jeff founded Earwolf, one of the first podcast networks, and developed shows like How Did This Get Made? and Comedy Bang! Bang!. Jeff was one of the biggest names in the industry — and then he made a decision that got him erased from the history books.
13/05/1947m 58s

Showing Up at Your Dream Job Uninvited

When Edouardo Jordan’s Seattle restaurant JuneBaby won the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant last year, it was the first time that an African American chef had won that particular honor. Edouardo won for a restaurant that reclaims black southern food and proclaims its history. But he had spent years overlooking his culinary roots as he trained in high-end kitchens. It was a path he started down when, as a lowly cook in Tampa, Florida, he talked himself into a job at the famed restaurant The French Laundry.
06/05/1947m 30s

An Early Facebook Insider Reckons with What He Built

Dave Morin’s love for the internet began when he was a geeky kid in Montana. By his early 20s, it had led him to Apple and then to Facebook, where he became employee number 29. He helped the company innovate, pursuing a deeply-held mission: letting people be themselves and share their lives on the internet. But when Facebook began to shift, deprioritizing user privacy, Dave left the company. And he tried to create his own social media utopia.
22/04/1950m 36s

How Anna Chlumsky Got a Second Act

Anna Chlumsky became famous virtually overnight at the age of 10, when she starred in the 1991 hit My Girl opposite Macaulay Culkin. And then, a few years later, she disappeared. She left acting completely and decided to become something else: an utterly normal college student, who set off on an utterly normal career. Anna tells Alex about that time in her life, about her eventual return to acting, and about playing Amy Brookheimer on the HBO show Veep. She’s earned five Emmy nominations in that role.
15/04/1941m 6s

The Tragedy Expert

In the days after September 11, 2001, Kenneth Feinberg took on an unenviable task. Congress had created the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, and it was his job to figure out who should receive money and how much they should get. But much of his time was spent doing something else: listening to people’s stories. Nearly two decades later, he’s still the person we turn to in the wake of our worst catastrophes.
08/04/1940m 39s

Introducing The Cut on Tuesdays

Today, we bring you an episode of Gimlet's new show launched in collaboration with The Cut from New York Magazine.
01/04/1931m 48s

The Decades-Long Hunt for the Golden State Killer

Paul Holes was starting out in the field of criminology when, one day in 1994, he spotted a filing cabinet in the library of the crime lab where he was working. He opened a drawer, pulled out some files, and discovered the cold case that he would spend his entire career trying to solve. He did it through a trial and error process that involved old-fashioned detective work, new technology, and countless wrong turns before he finally found himself at the Golden State Killer’s front door.
25/03/1946m 27s

How to Fire People

In 1998, Patty McCord joined a new company called Netflix. Her title was chief talent officer. And over the next ten years as Netflix grew (and grew), she and CEO Reed Hastings built a new kind of workplace. They threw out all the usual rules -- no more expense authorization forms or vacation requests -- and focused on creating a culture of excellence. But that culture of excellence didn’t come only through hiring the right people. Patty had to get good at firing, too.  See the original Netflix culture deck here: https://www.slideshare.net/reed2001/culture-1798664
18/03/1940m 1s

Black Sheep of Wall Street: Henry Blodget

During the dot-com bubble, Henry Blodget was making millions of dollars as a top analyst on Wall Street. But when that bubble burst, his fortunes changed. He became the public face of a Wall Street corruption investigation that ended with the SEC banning him from the securities industry — for life. Henry tells Alex about the supreme shame of that moment, and about how he eventually started over by founding a new venture, Business Insider.
11/03/1941m 45s

Bringing Brands Back to Life

For many businesses, it’s all about looking forward. New trends, new brands, new verticals. But Sharon Price John sees a different path: one that involves looking to the past. She has made a career of reinvigorating forgotten and failing brands, including Nerf, Stride Rite, and Barbie Fashions. But her career hasn’t been all success all the time. Alex talks to Sharon about a bet she made that went very wrong, and about her biggest turnaround yet, as the CEO and President of Build-a-Bear Workshop. Without Fail is hosted by Alex Blumberg. It is produced by Molly Messick and Sarah Platt and edited by Alex Blumberg and Devon Taylor.  Peter Leonard and Bobby Lord mixed the episode. Theme and ad music by Bobby Lord.
25/02/1946m 53s

How a Revolution Turned into America’s Number One Radio Station

Before 1970, the most popular radio stations in the U.S were run by white people. But that all changed when Percy Sutton helped to form Inner City Broadcasting with the mission of putting black programming in the hands of black people. Together he and his son Pierre—and later Pierre’s daughter, Keisha—built a radio empire. But it was about more than just entertaining listeners; together they changed the culture and radically influenced how radio stations and record labels treated black artists. Alex talks with Pierre and Keisha about the unlikely rise—and heartbreaking fall—of their family business.
18/02/1942m 24s

The Secret Early Lives of Sam Esmail

Director and screenwriter Sam Esmail’s TV series Mr. Robot was an immediate hit when it premiered in 2015, turning him into one of the most in-demand showrunners in Hollywood. But he didn’t have an easy path to that point. Sam was 38 by the time Mr. Robot launched. He’d worked all kinds of jobs -- including a stint as a startup founder -- and seen all kinds of setbacks. Sam tells Alex about the stuff that came before, and about why he couldn’t quit trying to make movies, even when success was a long way off.
11/02/1942m 46s

Introducing Conviction — Part One: The Private Eye

The first episode of Gimlet’s latest release: Conviction. This investigative series explores the dark truths about the criminal justice system in America and the developing case of Pedro Hernandez. Pedro’s case has gained national attention as an egregious example of systemic police corruption and the failings of the American justice system. As the story unfolds, we are introduced to two complex men: private investigator Manny Gomez and NYPD Detective David Terrell, who are fighting each other in the courts and on the streets, all while claiming to be protecting the innocent and pursuing justice. All episodes available now for free, wherever you get your podcasts.
04/02/1936m 11s

Ira Glass: The Man Who Launched a Thousand Podcasts

In November 1995, Ira Glass quietly launched the first episode of This American Life. The rest, as they say, is history. Today his show is a colossal success and Ira Glass is a household name. But in the intervening two decades, Ira has left an indelible mark on the industry by helping to shape hundreds of podcasts and as well as hundreds of podcasters—including Alex. On this episode, Alex sits down with his mentor and former boss to talk about the early days at This American Life, what Ira taught Alex, and how being a good boss means learning to set people free. Without Fail is hosted by Alex Blumberg and produced by Molly Messick and Sarah Platt. Devon Taylor and Alex Blumberg edited this episode. The episode was mixed by Jarrett Floyd and Peter Leonard. Music by Bobby Lord. Thanks to our sponsor, Cole Haan. You can hear more of Alex and other Gimlet hosts in conversation at ExtraordinariesOnTheMic.com, produced in partnership with Cole Haan.
10/12/1854m 45s

How One Mom Tried to Reunite Migrant Families

When Julie Schwietert Collazo heard that migrant families were being separated at the U.S.-Mexico, she wanted to do something to help. But how could she, just one person, thousands of miles away from the border, actually make a difference? Julie tells Alex how she found one tiny way that she could help—and how doing that one tiny thing turned into something much larger than she ever could have imagined. To learn more about Julie and Immigrant Families Together, check out immigrantfamiliestogether.com Without Fail is hosted by Alex Blumberg and produced by Molly Messick and Sarah Platt. Devon Taylor and Alex Blumberg edited this episode. The episode was mixed by Jarrett Floyd, Catherine Anderson and Peter Leonard. Music by Bobby Lord. Thanks to our sponsor, Cole Haan. You can hear more of Alex and other Gimlet hosts in conversation at ExtraordinariesOnTheMic.com, produced in partnership with Cole Haan.
03/12/1835m 20s

The Accidental Technologist: Caterina Fake

Caterina Fake was on her way to life in academia as a Renaissance literature scholar when the tech world came knocking. She co-founded Flickr, the hugely popular photo-sharing site, and started a handful of other tech companies. These days she runs her own VC investment firm and is regarded as one of Silicon Valley's top visionaries. But spend five minutes with her and you'll realize she has not left behind her academic roots; instead, she brings that mindset to everything from predicting the next big tech movement to making the case that every business should be a family business. Caterina Fake is the co-founder of Flickr and Hunch.com. She is a partner at Yes VC. To learn more about Caterina's upcoming podcast check out ShouldThisExist.co Without Fail is hosted by Alex Blumberg. It is produced by Sarah Platt and edited by Alex Blumberg, Devon Taylor and Nazanin Rafsanjani. Jarret Floyd mixed the episode. Music by Bobby Lord.
26/11/1843m 11s

The Man Behind the Iconic Apple Stores: Ron Johnson

Twenty years ago, Steve Jobs had an idea: he wanted to build an Apple store. Something sleek and iconic and unlike anything else in retail. But he had no idea how to do it. So he called someone who might: retail genius Ron Johnson. Ron tells Alex the story of what it was like to work with Steve and help transform Apple into a household name. And Ron talks about life after Apple—which included a huge and humbling failure.
19/11/1850m 51s

Smart Out Loud: How Janice Bryant Howroyd Learned to Own Her Brilliance

Janice Bryant Howroyd’s company started in the front of a rug shop with just a phone, a fax machine, and a lot of hustle. 40 years later, that company is a huge multinational serving some of the biggest Fortune 500 companies in the world. It earns over a billion dollars in revenue, making Janice the first African-American woman to start and run a billion dollar business. But her journey to CEO wasn’t an easy one. Janice talks with Alex about the people who encouraged her down that path, and her realization that being brilliant and owning your brilliance are two different things.
12/11/1831m 21s

Relentless: How One Guy Brought the Internet to America’s Schools

When you run a company, you hear two pieces of advice over and over again. One is that you must persevere at all costs. And the other is that you have to be ready to pivot on a dime. To persevere or pivot: it can be hard to tell which is right. But when Evan Marwell set out to tackle a huge national problem seven years ago, he didn’t really have to choose. Persistence is his default. Evan tells Alex the crazy story of how he helped to bring high speed Internet to American school children — thanks to a bit of luck and a lot of perseverance. Without Fail is hosted by Alex Blumberg. It is produced by Sarah Platt and edited by Alex Blumberg, Devon Taylor and Nazanin Rafsanjani. Jarrett Floyd mixed the episode. Theme and ad music by Bobby Lord. Additional music by Jupyter.
05/11/1845m 36s

Golden State Warrior Andre Iguodala

NBA player Andre Iguodala plays for one of the most dominant teams in the league, the Golden State Warriors. Before that, he was the number one option for the Philadelphia 76ers. Andre talks with Alex about playing for a team where everyone loves you...and what it’s like when they don’t. He says what he really thinks about teammate Steph Curry, and Andre answers an age-old question: are sports really a metaphor for life?
29/10/1832m 46s

Nina Jacobson: How to Make a Hit in Hollywood

Nina Jacobson is a force in Hollywood. She’s behind some of the biggest movies of the last 20 years: The Sixth Sense, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hunger Games, and most recently Crazy Rich Asians. She’s had a lot of success. But also some pretty big failures: a public firing, some box office flops. Nina walks Alex through her failure resume and talks about what it takes to make a hit.
22/10/1846m 42s

Sophia Amoruso: From Nasty Gal to Girlboss

When Sophia Amoruso started selling vintage clothing on eBay from her tiny San Francisco apartment, she had no idea that one day she would be at the helm of a fashion brand valued at 350 million dollars. And once venture capital came into play, it seemed the sky was the limit for Sophia and her company Nasty Gal. Find out how Sophia went from bankrolled to bankrupt—and what she's doing differently with her new company, Girlboss.
17/10/1846m 14s

Groupon's Andrew Mason: Pt. 2, The Fall

When we left off last episode, Groupon had gone from an idea to a worldwide phenomenon. It had thousands of employees, 100’s of millions in monthly revenue. And Andrew Mason had gone from a grad student to a world famous CEO. In the final part of this conversation, Andrew talks with Alex about when Google offered five billion dollars for his company and why he said no. Two years later, he was fired from Groupon.
17/10/1838m 36s

Groupon's Andrew Mason: Pt. 1, The Rise

When Andrew Mason started Groupon 10 years ago he was in his mid-20s, fresh out of grad school, and running a company for the first time ever. Within 2 years Groupon was called the fastest growing company in history.  And then just as rapidly and just as dramatically, its fortunes changed. This dream rise, the nightmare fall, all in this incredibly short time-span, it’s like a startup fable. But it actually happened. To a real guy! In part one of this two-part conversation, Andrew talks with Alex about Groupon’s rise. How it started as a website designed for something completely different, what it felt like when it finally caught on and started to grow, and Andrew’s own conflicted feelings about being a CEO.
17/10/1836m 44s

Premiering October 1: Without Fail

Any big success requires looking failure in the eye. Without Fail is the new show from Gimlet Media that asks people who have pursued incredible things: What worked? What didn't? And why? Without Fail premieres October 1.
17/10/183m 28s

Introducing Three New Gimlet Shows

New series premiering this October: Without Fail (October 1) The Cut on Tuesdays (October 16) The Horror of Dolores Roach (October 17)
17/10/182m 27s
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