Without Fail

Without Fail

www.gimletmedia.com/without-fail
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.


Michelle Phan: The Original Internet Influencer
Dec 9 • 42 min
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…
How Earlonne Woods Podcasted His Way to Freedom
Dec 2 • 42 min
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.
The 32 Seconds that Changed This Mayor’s Life
Nov 18 • 38 min
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…
Introducing How’s Work? with Esther Perel
Nov 11 • 57 min
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…
The Man Who Changed the Future of Florida Elections
Nov 4 • 39 min
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…
Ira Glass: The Man Who Launched a Thousand Podcasts (Rebroadcast)
Oct 21 • 54 min
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…
Nick Kroll Gets Out of Character
Oct 14 • 49 min
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…
The Cyclist Who Blew the Whistle on Doping
Oct 7 • 56 min
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…
How Coming Out Made Shane McAnally a Nashville Star
Sep 23 • 48 min
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…
Being an A$$hole: The Final Frontier for Women on the Screen
Sep 16 • 39 min
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…
From Hustling Dice to the Heights of Global Fashion: The Dapper Dan Story
Sep 9 • 51 min
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.…
How a Stay-At-Home Mom Started an Empire
Aug 19 • 30 min
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.
The Cost of Having a Conscience in the Senate
Jul 22 • 42 min
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…
The Woman Who Brought Politics to Teen Vogue
Jul 15 • 33 min
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 Scared Child Inside Every Leader
Jul 8 • 46 min
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…
A 90s Sitcom Star’s Fight for the Future of Black TV
Jun 17 • 47 min
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.…
Don’t Underestimate Gretchen Carlson
Jun 10 • 48 min
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…
How a Hollywood Newcomer Shook Up Prime Time
Jun 3 • 40 min
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…
Exiled from the Industry He Helped Create
May 13 • 47 min
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…
Showing Up at Your Dream Job Uninvited
May 6 • 47 min
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…
An Early Facebook Insider Reckons with What He Built
Apr 22 • 50 min
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…
How Anna Chlumsky Got a Second Act
Apr 15 • 41 min
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…
The Tragedy Expert
Apr 8 • 40 min
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…
Introducing The Cut on Tuesdays
Apr 1 • 31 min
Today, we bring you an episode of Gimlet’s new show launched in collaboration with The Cut from New York Magazine.
The Decades-Long Hunt for the Golden State Killer
Mar 25 • 46 min
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…
How to Fire People
Mar 18 • 40 min
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…
Black Sheep of Wall Street: Henry Blodget
Mar 11 • 41 min
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…
Bringing Brands Back to Life
Feb 25 • 46 min
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…
How a Revolution Turned into America’s Number One Radio Station
Feb 18 • 42 min
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…
The Secret Early Lives of Sam Esmail
Feb 11 • 42 min
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…
Ira Glass: The Man Who Launched a Thousand Podcasts
Dec 10, 2018 • 54 min
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…
How One Mom Tried to Reunite Migrant Families
Dec 3, 2018 • 35 min
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…
The Accidental Technologist: Caterina Fake
Nov 26, 2018 • 43 min
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…
The Man Behind the Iconic Apple Stores: Ron Johnson
Nov 19, 2018 • 50 min
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…
Smart Out Loud: How Janice Bryant Howroyd Learned to Own Her Brilliance
Nov 12, 2018 • 31 min
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…
Relentless: How One Guy Brought the Internet to America’s Schools
Nov 5, 2018 • 45 min
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…
Golden State Warrior Andre Iguodala
Oct 29, 2018 • 32 min
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…
Nina Jacobson: How to Make a Hit in Hollywood
Oct 22, 2018 • 46 min
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.…
Sophia Amoruso: From Nasty Gal to Girlboss
Oct 15, 2018 • 46 min
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…
Groupon’s Andrew Mason: Pt. 2, The Fall
Oct 8, 2018 • 38 min
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…
Groupon’s Andrew Mason: Pt. 1, The Rise
Oct 1, 2018 • 36 min
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…
Premiering October 1: Without Fail
Sep 26, 2018 • 3 min
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.