How to Fail (with gusto) OR Tell Your Inner Critic to Take a Hike

I sat down this morning at an ungodly hour to fix whatever the hell was going on with the RSS feed over on the Ask an Adult Podcast website. Fueled by coffee and a 20-minute run in a Chicago downpour, I was beating myself up in a way that might get me a casting call on WWE’s Total Divas. Between emails with my developer last night and a pile of web searching and knowledge base (which could be called ignoramous bases because they’re anything but knowledgeable), I wasn’t making a lick of headway.

But then, in the middle of my second cup of coffee and mid-vape because it was that kind of morning, I seemed to have clicked enough things that I’d gotten the feed working.

I wasn’t even happy about it. I felt like a failure because it took me that long to get it figured out — and to this moment, I don’t even know exactly what I did. Which makes me feel even more like a failure.

See, today, my co-host and I are delighted terrified scared picking every little detail apart and drinking heavily (ok, that might have happened last night) finally releasing the first episode of The Ask An Adult Podcast.

And y’know what? It’s fair. On a scale of category 5 hurricane to bright, sunny summer days, we’re solid in the camp of partly cloudy with tempertures rising mid-day. Chance of sunshine in the afternoon, highs in the mid-70s. 20% chance of showers late afternoon.

See? I can’t even give an optimistic fake weather forecast without designing in some “chance of showers.”

A few years ago, I would have called all of this a complete failure.

Today, it’s an epic win.

Because we’re closer.

Lemme give you a look at what’s gone on in the past month getting this thing — whatever this thing is — off the ground.

  • Call co-host. Have great converation.
  • Introduce co-host to 2nd co-host
  • First co-host can’t commit to project.
  • First day of drinking heavily.
  • Conversations with new co-host. Format. Not nearly enough alcohol.
  • <insert 16 conversations we should have been recording but didn’t because we’re both riffers and don’t know when to shut up>
  • Decide on WordPress theme for new site and start building it out.
  • Decide you don’t like WordPress theme and spend three hours looking for a new one because you naturally don’t have anything else to do.
  • Wait — you both have days jobs, rehearsals, open mics, performances, dogs/cats/crazy people and have to schedule everything around LIFE and see also FUCK YOU, LIFE.
  • Send out invitations to folks to be Guest Adults on the show.
  • Pour extra dry martini (see also: vodka) because you’re now dealing with not just TWO schedules, but eight since you’re scheduling the first six guests.
  • Walk dogs, do laundry, try to figure out if your 15-year-old cat is dying.
  • Martini #17.
  • Record a whole podcast. Import file into Audition and realize the entire sound file is blank.
  • Martinis 18, 19.
  • Employ the assistance of one digitally-savvy Man Snack, therein rescuing said file-thought-to-be-blank (as it was the wrong file).
  • Thank said Man Snack with gusto. This might also be the part where my period decides to show up about 5 days early  (see also: murder scene).
  • Day drinking.
  • Re-recording the first episode. Better. Great? Fuck it. Files under “work in progress.”
  • Acquire licensed music from a private artist because all that stock music shit sounds like shit. Pay more than you probably should have. But James Peel is talented and why? Because money and he deserves it. Click “buy.”
  • Sit down to edit first episode of podcast in Audition. Realize you know nothing about Audition.
  • Tumor on cat’s back is still a mystery. Now, it’s evolved into a $500 mystery with an $800-$1000 potential add-on for surgery to really figure it out. You’re feeling like an asshole because you love your cat an he has the softest paws in the world but he’s 15 and the wallet and the heart and ALL OF THE FEELINGS. *head desk*
  • Day drinking becomes evening scotch and gelato.
  • Fast forward through numerous Audition tutorial videos. Eye container of gelato on counter. You sexy beast.
  • After 2.5 hours, you have a respectable 58-minute podcast, complete with meta data, intro, outro, and relatively consistent volume. This is good, because you’re out of scotch.
  • Write first post. Embed podcast episode. Make website visible. You’re still using the old theme because ALL THE THINGS and no time and files new website theme under “weekend shit” which translates to “July.”
  • Tell the world you have a podcast. Brace of impending backhanded words of encouragement while artfully crafted daggers of “here’s what you should do” thrown at you like you’re a circus act from those who mean well but are shitty at giving advice in a tone that doesn’t sound condescending.
  • Leave therapist a voicemail. Contemplate day drinking, but it’s only 8:17am and since there’s no brunch, that gets filed under NOT GOOD.

I can wrap all of this stuff into one simple statement:

Erika, you suck and you should be ashamed of putting something out there that’s not spit-spot perfect YOU DUMB BITCH.

Sound familiar?

When we fail, we do things like I’m doing now — making lists of all the ways I suck. That you suck. That he, she, and they suck. In general, all of the things suck and collectively you could put Hoover out of business.

But instead, here’s a better list — and one that’s much kinder to the gal who made it through that torrential shit storm.

  • Discovered an awesome Audition tutorial series on, along with a series of free tutorials from Adobe itself. SWEET.
  • Holy shit, I edited a one-hour sound file!
  • I discovered batch processes whichh mean I can do in minutes what I took an hour to do. Epic. Fucking. Win.
  • Peter Cat seems to be back to his normal self, save this tumor thing on his back. I’m glad to see him happy. This means the surgery can wait a few weeks until the vet can get us in.
  • I now know more about iTunes, Soundcloud, and podcasting plugins for WordPress than I ever thought there was to know. Have a question? Ask me.
  • My co-host, Jonathan is amazing. So crazy smart, a way solid dude, and I owe him a serious high five for coming along this ride with me.
  • The Man Snack is turning out to be a pretty amazing dude as well. And for the first time in a long time, I didn’t turn a man down when he offered to help me with something.

I don’t suck. And neither do you.

We’re just pretty goddamn adept at giving our inner critics way too much stage time.

So, that’s how to fail. Spectacularly. And with gusto. Our inner critics (along with the ones who surround us each day, ready and waiting to beat down every incremental success we might find a moment to celebrate) are long overdue for an extended hike in a heavily wooded area teeming with wolves and frumious bandersnatches.

And all I have to do to remind myself that failing is a beautiful thing is remember that it took me two ex-husbands, an ex-fiancé, and losing a beautiful love like Jason to get to the point in my life where I could let a man help me with something.

It felt brilliant. And this podcast? It might not be brilliant yet, but we’re working on it. Click here to have a listen. Or not. Either way, we’re going to keep on keepin’ on. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be over here doing a little Snoopy Dance.

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Loved the post - and it came at just the right moment.  Perfectly in sync with the ittybiz article I read this morning.




Freakin' outstanding!

This line made me laugh out loud (full disclosure: in the public bathroom stall where I was reading it); "Erika, you suck and you should be ashamed of putting something out there that’s not spit-spot perfect YOU DUMB BITCH."

I totally identify: I always either feel like hot shit (full of pride) or a piece of shit (totally down on myself).

Your email connected huge! Thanks so much... esp. for just being honest.


Going to listen right now. If it is anything like your writing and your TedX presentation I am sure I will love it! Oh and right now I am choking the living daylights out of my inner mean girl - I am so DONE with her!


Dig. If the process of creation would just go faster. All the small friggin' details drive me nuts - I just want it DONE already! Totally relate :)


I SOOOO needed this.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  


Thank you for that. I tend to beat myself up, and I think a little list exercise might be in store for me soon. The revised version sure makes a lot more sense for long term mental health, doesn't it?

Annie Sisk
Annie Sisk

"This is good because you're out of Scotch." <- still. Howling. 


I cannot thank you enough for this. Not only do I do this myself, but I have apparently married someone who does it as well. But the worst part? Our genetic shitstorm hit our youngest, who is worse than both of us put together.

If he makes the slightest mistake, he feels like he's let down the world and beats the hell out of himself. We've tried to chill him out, but it rarely works. I'm going to like this on his FB wall because he, above all, needs to read it.


Brilliant. Best way to start my day, thank you! 
And for what it's worth, an audio editor is worth EVERY penny. Can't wait to listen to the first episode.

Thanks for all you do.