Episode 4 - Museum of Failure - Transcript

PROLOGUE

[MUSIC: Of Montreal – She’s a Rejecter]

MARIA: Hello again, and welcome back to Rejected. I am your host, Maria, and I’m really excited to share this episode with you. Because you’ll finally get to hear my interview with Samuel West, the founder of the Museum of Failure.

Here’s the thing: failure and how we respond to it have always fascinated me. Why are we so afraid to fail, and why do we let that fear stop us from achieving our goals? And why do we so often let our failures define us, and hang heavier than our successes?

Last month I went to Sweden with a much longer list of questions. The Museum of Failure is located in the little town of Helsingborg, on the Southern-Eastern coast of Sweden. It’s a big blue room, filled with famous innovations that didn’t make it. Some bad, some ugly, some weird, some simply ahead of their time, they’ve all been rejected by consumers for very different reasons.

I met with Samuel a little after 6 o’clock, just as the museum was closing. For the better part of an hour, we discussed personal failures, the museum, unnecessary innovations, Trump and the worst alcohol in the world, which you can hear me do a shot of right at the end of the show.

Welcome to episode four of Rejected.

 

INTERVIEW

MARIA: What the hell is this? It looks like a big turd.

SAMUEL W: It looks like a big turd! I’m glad you see that as well. It’s an IKEA snail hat.

MARIA: What the fuck.

SAMUEL W: So IKEA, you know, global huge brand, Swedish.

MARIA: Fun, great design, things that don’t look like shit…

SAMUEL W: They’ve been innovative for 50 years, at least. Not only for furniture, but in their manufacturing, food service. Everything. So yeah, I contacted IKEA early on in this museum project and asked. They’re a very big employer here in Helsingborg and I’ve done work for them. SO I contacted them saying ‘hey, I’m doing this museum and I have a whole list of IKEA failures’.

MARIA: There’s a whole list?

SAMUEL W: Yeah, yeah, I found a whole lot of IKEA failures. And I asked them ‘hey, can I collaborate with you, can I borrow some of the failures? I’m sure you have them somewhere’.

MARIA: In a den, hidden.

SAMUEL W: Yeah, I mean, most companies save their prototypes even. And IKEA refuses to collaborate.

MARIA: But they’re such a playful company.

SAMUEL W: This is a story that repeats itself, no matter who I contact. So they refused. So my intern found this turd poop hat.

MARIA: It’s horrible.

SAMUEL W: It’s supposed to look like a snail, but it looks like a dog did something on the sidewalk.

MARIA: Yeah, and it stood in the sun for a bit too long. It solidified.

SAMUEL W: Yeah. My point with displaying the IKEA turd hat is to show that IKEA is the only company in the world that’s been innovative for so long and never fucks up. But I’m having a laugh at them, embarrassing IKEA because they don’t wanna collaborate.

MARIA: Ah, I wish they’d collaborate. It would be so much fun if they opened up, you could have the Museum of Failure in every company.

SAMUEL W: Yeah. And not to laugh at them. But to say that ‘hey, even IKEA makes mistakes, so let’s learn from them’.

MARIA: I think that’s the most important thing about the Museum of Failure. It doesn’t point and laugh. It educates about failure. It starts conversations. And if you do laugh, it’s only because you suddenly feel the relief of being in a space where failure is okay. I guess that’s why so many people who visit feel compelled to share their personal stories, no matter how embarrassing. They write them and stick them up on the wall by the Failure Confession Booth. Right there, where everyone can see and read them. Because, suddenly, failure is something to be proud of.

MARIA: There’s something quite sexy in rejection and in failure. I feel like when you announced the museum it just blew up, it went viral.  And people find that very sexy. And I don’t know what it is. What is it that people are just so…

SAMUEL W: Okay. I’m also surprised with the enormous amount of media attention.

SAMUEL W: This is just my take now, on it. Call it failure, or rejection, there’s something in the museum’s message that resonates with individuals. I knew that this would be popular in the innovation field. I knew that. But I had no idea it would be so popular outside. Like, for people, everyone. And it resonates with people because I think it’s not only me that’s tired of success stories. Other people are tired as well. I mean, look at these brands, these famous brands on display. They work so hard to manage the perfect manufactured image of these brands. And it dehumanises them. So people like to see behind the scenes. The Coca-Cola fuck-up. Interesting. Apple messed up as well.

MARIA: I saw that!

SAMUEL W: Yeah, they think that’s interesting. And it also liberates them as well to see that hey, if Google messes up when they try something new, maybe it’s okay for me.

MARIA: So it makes you feel better about yourself. Yeah.

SAMUEL W: That’s my sort of understanding of why I get people from all over the world come to little Helsingborg just to see the museum.

MARIA: I think it’s quite reassuring. For me, when I saw it, I was like…

BOTH: Finally!

SAMUEL W: Yeah, but you’re a rejection junkie, so…

MARIA: I may well be a rejection junkie, but I could tell that he wasn’t far from that either. However, none of the interviews I saw online really explored this side of the story. They all kind of focused on the products, but not the man who curated them. So before we even ventured into the museum, I decided to ask a few… personal questions. Like, who the hell is Samuel West.

MARIA: I saw online that you describe yourself as an innovation researcher. Is that what you used to do?

SAMUEL W: Yeah, that’s what I’ve done for the past 8 years.

MARIA: What is that?

SAMUEL W: What is that… well, I started even further back. I worked as a clinical psychologist for about 10 years. That’s background. And then I moved into organizational work about 10 years ago.

MARIA: He got his PhD in organisational psychology with a thesis on how a playful work environment facilitates creativity. All good so far.   

MARIA: So you did that. When did you get the idea for the museum?

SAMUEL W: Smoking weed. No no no.

MARIA: Tripping on acid.

SAMUEL W: No, that’s not true. Could’ve been, but… there’s 2 stories here. The short version, which is true as well, is that I was tired of all the success stories. So I’m genuinely sick of them. Because success stories always follow the same format, the same narrative. And we’re supposed to learn from it? I can understand that we get inspired from it. I get that. But when you’re forcefed success all the time…

MARIA: Sometimes it just feels unachievable.

SAMUEL W: And sometimes you’re just like ‘argh, come on, guys, get over it’. So that’s why. The longer version is that for the past 5 years I’ve been trying to find a different way to communicate research findings. The regular way would be articles, you know, books, seminars, talks, workshops… And I was just like, there has to be a different way, and hadn’t found it. And I kept looking. There’s unconferences, there’s different formats, but they’re still sort of the same thing. So it was a year ago, in Zagreb, on vacation. Exactly a year ago, in Croatia. They have a museum of broken relationships.

MARIA: Yes! I was gonna ask you about that. Is it good?

SAMUEL W: So good.

MARIA: I really wanna go.

SAMUEL W: It’s worth the trip just to go to that museum. And Zagreb is a beautiful city as well. So at that museum I just had this eureka moment. Seeing how… it’s not spectacular, the museum itself is not spectacular.

MARIA: It’s tiny objects, isn’t it?

SAMUEL W: Yeah, yeah. But the way they convey an abstract concept of broken relationships with items and stories, I was just blown away. And I had this eureka moment there and I was like ‘I’m gonna open a museum’.

MARIA: And he did. And, as you may know, as soon as he announced it, the idea went viral. The news of the museum’s opening travelled the world. Mashable, The Guardian, BBC, the New York Times… everyone was talking about it, months before it even opened.

MARIA: Someone asked if you see the irony in the fact that the museum is a success.

SAMUEL W: Of course. I’m not stupid! It’s funny. It’s funny that the Museum of Failure…

MARIA: Is a massive success!

SAMUEL W: I checked what the number one tourist destination in Sweden is. It’s the Vasa Ship Museum in Stockholm. It’s the top. The most visited. There’s an open air museum next to it, but that’s the top one. And three weeks before we opened I did a proper search and Museum of Failure was bigger than the Vasa Museum.

MARIA: Wow.      

SAMUEL W: And now it’s much bigger. The museum doesn’t even exist, it’s not open, and it’s already the biggest museum in Sweden, on the net.

MARIA: But here’s something you wouldn’t expect. Despite the incredibly positive reaction the world has had to the museum, most companies, companies like IKEA, aren’t very keen to collaborate.

SAMUEL W: They don’t want to be associated with the Museum of Failure.

MARIA: That’s sad.

SAMUEL W: Yeah, it’s sad. Because you think: modern Swedish innovative company, transparent etc. That they’d be cocky enough to say ‘yeah, we’re innovative, and we sometimes fuck up’.

MARIA: Because you said that 80 or 90% of innovations fail. That’s an insane percentage.

SAMUEL W: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s a general number and it’s not controversial. That’s the way it is.

MARIA: I didn’t believe it was so high.

SAMUEL W: Well, in certain domains it’s even more.

MARIA: Well, some people are just fuck-ups.

SAMUEL W: Yeah.

MARIA: It’s such a shame that they didn’t open up, because this is such a great opportunity, you’re promoting a good message…

SAMUEL W: Yeah, and I’m doing it with respect as well. I mean, some of the texts have a bit of humour in them, but the underlying tone is respectful. We fail, let’s learn from that, and all progress and innovation requires failure. It’s not that controversial.

MARIA: In fact, it’s a very simple idea. Which explains why all sorts of people fly from all over the world to visit the museum.

MARIA: You said you get loads of people here. Is there a type of person or…?

SAMUEL W: Yeah, I thought… no. We have old people, young people. Before you came there was an old man who is an inventor and he thinks it’s fascinating. What’s fun to see is how…I mean there’s nothing here for children. It’s not designed for kids. There’s nothing interesting here for them. Nothing was planned that way at least. It’s fun to see 12 year-olds reading about it, and they actually stand there and read the sign, the texts, and they get something out of it.

MARIA: It’s funny, they’d understand it, they get failure as well.

MARIA: And this is what I find most interesting about the museum. The variety of people who visit it, and what everyone takes away from it. How personal the experience is, even though we’re all standing in the same blue room, looking at the same thing. Samuel has a great story to illustrate this.

SAMUEL W: My teenage daughter is 16-17. And she was stealing these stickers from my work bag. You know, I have these stickers. And she’s like digging in my bag, stealing these stickers. I don’t care, because I have a thousand of them. And then I’m like ‘what’s going on here?’. I’m 43, I’m her dad, I’m the most uncool person on earth.

MARIA: Are you kidding me? You’ve got a museum, you’re in the news.

SAMUEL W: Yeah, but you never win. You’re always gonna be uncool.

MARIA: Even with this?!

SAMUEL W: Yeah, yeah, of course.

MARIA: Oh my god.

SAMUEL W: Come on, you don’t have teenage kids. 

MARIA: Well, no, that would be a bit of a stretch…

SAMUEL W: Yeah. So I was like ‘what’s going on here?’ and she explained that her and all her friends identify with failure and they take these stickers and they put them on their phones and their computers and stuff. And she explained it so well, that they’ve grown up in this world where everything is a projected image of perfection and they’re looking for something genuine. And the Museum of Failure represents that.

MARIA: So you basically won. You’re the coolest dad actually.

SAMUEL W: She will never admit it.

MARIA: But, come on! I thought she was setting them on fire, not actually pasting them all over the place.

SAMUEL W: I think it’s a cool story. And it illustrates why the Museum of Failure strikes a chord with people.

MARIA: Of all the people it strikes a chord with, it was its founder that I was most interested in.

 MARIA: I was curious – back to you, and your personal stories – if there’s anything in your life, like a personal story or something you’ve done or something you tried to come up with that would fit in the museum.

SAMUEL W: Yeah. The smaller versions of failure, like when I first got the idea of the museum I bought the domain museumoffailure dot com.

MARIA: Yeah?

SAMUEL W: And I was really excited, I couldn’t believe it was still available, you know?

MARIA: Yeah, actually.

SAMUEL W: And I was very happy about that until I got the invoice a couple of days later and it said: ‘Congratulations, you’ve bought Musum of Failure dot com’.

MARIA: A typo, no way!

SAMUEL W: So I couldn’t spell ‘museum’.

MARIA: Oh, you should’ve kept it, that’s amazing!

SAMUEL W: Yeah, I still have it. We’re thinking of making t-shirts out of it.

MARIA: Exactly!

SAMUEL W: So that’s one. But on another level, when I think about me and failure… And I had my own small business for 20 years or something, so it’s gonna be from that domain. I’m really good at sort of generating new ideas and implementing them. So crazy ideas that I like and I’m passionate about, you know? I’ll do that and I think they’re great, of course.

MARIA: Yeah, I’m the same.


SAMUEL W: But my problem is that I’m not as good at commercialising them. So I have loads of projects that I’ve done that have been really fun and great ideas, but they’re not sustainable economically.

MARIA: Is it because your interest kind of fizzles out?

SAMUEL W: Yeah, and that’s the risk with the museum. I think it’s really fun as long as I’m learning something. And as soon as it becomes routine, and administrating something that already exists, then I lose interest. And I promised myself with the museum that I’ll give it three years regardless of maybe next year I’ll be bored. But I’m still gonna do it.

MARIA: That’s a good amount. You can grow it.

SAMUEL W: Yeah, there’s so much to do. But that’s something that I’ve learned and I hope that I can correct now.

MARIA: That’s something I find many people struggle with, myself included. The amounts of projects I started and let die because they didn’t feel new and exciting anymore. Because so often it feels easier to start anew rather than improve something that already exists, doesn’t it? But anyway, after all this chat, it was time to explore the museum. And as soon as we started the tour, my eyes fell on Coke.

MARIA: Oh, the Coke! I never saw the Coke. I never head about it before, Coke II.

SAMUEL W: Yeah, it’s…

MARIA: It’s a great story. And I’m gonna try to keep it short. Back in the 80s, Pepsi wasn’t doing so well against Coke. So they ran the now famous advertising campaign called ‘Take the Pepsi Challenge’.

[Audio of ad]

MARIA: Basically, they ran TV ads where they showed people tasting Pepsi and then Coke. At the end, when they had to choose which one tasted better, people chose Pepsi. And suddenly, for the first time, Coke, who was by far the market leader, was starting to see Pepsi catching up. And they couldn’t believe it. So they ran their own research. And to their surprise, and mine, Coke found out that, indeed, people preferred Pepsi. But then they did the strangest thing. They changed the recipe,  they made Coke sweeter, so it would taste more like Pepsi. 

SAMUEL W: They changed the recipe and people called it ‘New Coke’. Coca-Cola didn’t like that either. So what happened was a huge backlash. People hated it. How dare you change the original recipe.

MARIA: In fact, I read that the backlash was so bad that Coke got over 400,000 letters of complaint from people. Ironically, that’s roughly the number of people living with type 1 diabetes in the UK. Anyway…

SAMUEL W: And Coke, quite quickly thereafter, relaunched their original recipe and they called it Coke Classic. So on the market you had Coke Classic and New Coke. This is just horrible.

MARIA: It’s such a fuck-up marketing-wise.

SAMUEL W: It’s a huge fuck-up. And it cost them a fortune. But the interesting detail of this story is that: with Pepsi and Coke, if you sip just a little bit, Pepsi is sweeter so you prefer that. But in the States you don’t drink soft drinks in small mugs, you drink them in huge containers.

MARIA: And they’re diluted anyway.

SAMUEL W: Yeah, so people actually preferred Coke if you’re gonna drink it, and Pepsi if you’re gonna taste it.

MARIA: Oh, I see, that’s interesting.

SAMUEL W: And more interesting, when people found out that the original recipe was changing, they started hampering the original Coke. So what actually happened is that the sales of Coke skyrocketed. And everybody was engaged and everyone had an opinion about this. So actually what happened was that Coke…

MARIA: Proved that it was the most loved brand!

SAMUEL W: Yeah! And they increased their sales. So now there’s a bunch of conspiracy theories.

MARIA: That they only did it as a campaign.

SAMUEL W: That it was only a marketing campaign. Coke denied it, they said ‘we’re not that smart’.

MARIA: They probably aren’t.

[Pepsi ad audio continued]

MARIA: If you could put one person here, like one live person…

SAMUEL W: Do you mean Donald Trump?

MARIA: Would you put Donald Trump?

SAMUEL W: Oh yeah, for sure.

MARIA: Is he your choice? Your number one choice.

SAMUEL W: He’s a big fucking failure. Everything he does turns to shit.

MARIA: I mean, I see his face over there, it’s just incredible.

SAMUEL W: And I’m not even politically motivated, although maybe a little bit.

MARIA: But just as a human being, he’s a failure.

SAMUEL W: He’s a failure on so many levels, and I do think it’s interesting with Trump. Everything he does turns to shit. He’s a bad businessman, Trump University was a scam.

MARIA: I didn’t know he had a university.

SAMUEL W: Yeah, I have some audiocourses from Trump University coming in. It was a scam to scam low income people, Americans.

MARIA: Of course that’s what he would do.

SAMUEL W: It was horrible.

MARIA: It really was. Over 6 thousand people enrolled at Trump University, which wasn’t even accredited. Three lawsuits were filed against him, and he eventually settled in court last year for no less than $25 million, some of which luckily went back to the victims of his scam. What’s funny is that in the settlement, Trump didn’t admit to any wrongdoing. Even worse, in a tweet from November 2016 he literally said ‘The ONLY bad thing about winning the Presidency is that I don’t have the time to go through a long but winning trial on Trump University’. Classic Donald. And his failures don’t stop there.

SAMUEL W: Trump Steaks, he had a line of frozen beef steaks.

MARIA: Of course he had.

SAMUEL W: And he sold these steaks in these stores in the States called Sharper Image. They sold nose hair trimmers and remote control cars. They’re like gadget stores. And massage chairs and stuff like that. And Trump frozen steaks.

MARIA: What a combination. It’s like Colgate trying to make lasagne.

SAMUEL W: The steaks were on the market for two months.

MARIA: Because they sold out.

SAMUEL W: Nooo! Because they were a flop.

MARIA: I know, I know.

SAMUEL W: Okay, so back to Trump. The guy is a gigantic fuck-up. But the interesting thing is that, regardless of what you think of Trump as a president, all his failures are not held against him.

MARIA: That’s what I was going to say! He’s president!

SAMUEL W: He’s fucked up every single way, in big ways.

MARIA: And people are still choosing him.

SAMUEL W: Still, he’s president.

MARIA: How do you explain that?

SAMUEL W: We overestimate the negative effects of our own failures. So doing something, trying something and failing is not as horrible, as long as nobody dies or gets hurt, is not that horrible. And you won’t have to suffer for the rest of your life. There’s a great quote and unfortunately I can’t remember the person who deserves credit.

MARIA: It was probably me.

SAMUEL W: No, it was me!

MARIA: It was Trump, come on.

SAMUEL W: Yeah, the best quote ever.

MARIA: Exactly.

SAMUEL W: I know quotes. I’ve got words.

MARIA: I know all of them.

MARIA: If you were wondering, the quote belongs to American poet Jon Sinclair.

SAMUEL W: So the quote is ‘failure is a bruise, not a tattoo’. I love that quote because it hurts. Failure, rejection, they hurt. But there’s no way around that. But the bruise leaves, it disappears. Instead of dealing with it as a tattoo that you can’t get rid of… I think that’s a great quote.

MARIA: After all this Trump talk, I wanted to find out about more embarrassing failures. Like…

SAMUEL W: This one, I love this one. Twitter Peek. You said stupid products…

MARIA: I don’t remember this one.

SAMUEL W: No, you don’t. Because it was a flop. So there’s this San Francisco company, it was successful, Peek. This is 2009. So earlier 2008 they launched a phone that you can only use for email.

MARIA: Only email? You can’t call?

SAMUEL W: Nope. Only email. But that one was a success. Because for people who don’t wanna use a smartphone, you buy the email phone Peek and you pay much less for it and it’s dedicated for email. That one was a success. So then they said ‘hey, let’s do a Twitter phone’. So this is when people already had smartphones.

MARIA: Yeah.

SAMUEL W: So they launched this device.

MARIA: It’s pretty, it looks great.

SAMUEL W: It looks good, doesn’t it?

MARIA: Love the colour, it’s teal.

SAMUEL W: Yeah. Nice little keyboard on it. It’s a quality product. The problem with it is that it’s a single use device.

MARIA: Just Twitter.

SAMUEL W: Nothing else. And the problem was that it doesn’t tweet very well. The screen is slow, you can’t read a tweet, you have to scroll…

MARIA: It looks like emails.

SAMUEL W: So a Tweet is what, only 140 characters? So to read a tweet, you have to scroll and the screen is slow and you couldn’t download more than 50 tweets at a time…

MARIA: Why…

SAMUEL W: It was all kinds of things. And it doesn’t tweet very well at all. And the question is: if you’re a high user of Twitter, you’re gonna have a smartphone! So the Twitter Peek, as far as stupid things, that’s… Here’s another stupid one. This is a Cue Cat.

SAMUEL W: Cue Cat is a scanner. Tech sites called it the worst flop of the century.

                  MARIA: Here’s how it works.     

SAMUEL W: This is 2001. So you had big computers like that. They’re not sexy little MacBook Airs. So you are a sophisticated person so you read Wired and Business Week and Forbes and all those prestigious magazine, of course.

MARIA: Of course, that’s what I was doing in 2001.

SAMUEL W: So then what you do, of course, is that you don’t wanna read it on your couch. You wanna sit in front of your ugly big computer, at your uncomfortable desk, with this scanner. It’s a huge cable. Anyway, so then you’re reading Wired, which was the coolest magazine at the time. You got this for free with your subscription.

MARIA: Oh, did you?

SAMUEL W: And then you read Wired and you see an advertisement for Rolex, and you’re like ‘hm, I would like to learn more about Rolex’.

MARIA: Oh, it’s like clicking.

SAMUEL W: Then, you just scan. There’s a little code on the advertisement. You scan it, and this device opens up the Rolex website.

MARIA: So it’s like early QR codes.

SAMUEL W: Yeah.

MARIA: But with cables.

SAMUEL W: So the only function it had was to save you the effort of typing in rolex.com. and you had to use an entire device.

MARIA: Oh my god.

SAMUEL W: On top of it, it sent information to marketers who gathered data about your preferences. So integrity issues, privacy issues…

MARIA: That’s why they gave it away for free.

SAMUEL W: It was a huge flop. They lost millions and millions of dollars. It’s voted number one worst invention of the decade.

[MUSIC: Pornophonique – Sad Robot]    

MARIA: Is there anyone of these that shouldn’t have failed, but failed?

SAMUEL W: A lot. This one here…This is the Apple Newton.

MARIA: Oh yeah.

SAMUEL W: So, Apple’s sort of prestige product from 1993. That’s when it was launched. The Apple Newton was a personal digital assistant.

         MARIA: It was revolutionary.

SAMUEL W: They key characteristic, or function of it, is that it doesn’t have a keyboard. So you use a stylus, a little pen, and you write in handwriting, and it recognises your handwriting.

MARIA: Clever!

SAMUEL W: Genius!

MARIA: Back in the 90s, hell yeah.

SAMUEL W: This is kick-ass. And you can dock it and sync it with your computer.

MARIA: It doesn’t look too clunky.

SAMUEL W: No, it’s beautifully designed. You have to appreciate it’s from ’93.

MARIA: Exactly.

SAMUEL W: So Apple failed because the handwriting recognition, the key feature, didn’t work.

MARIA: Why did they launch it?

SAMUEL W: Exactly! They launch it, and it was expensive…

MARIA: Did people buy it?

SAMUEL W: People bought it because this is awesome. And then they found out it doesn’t work. So if you were gonna write in ‘meeting down at the office at 4 o’clock’. You would write that and it would create ‘don’t ride the scooter at night’.

MARIA: That’s useful, that’s great advice. Maybe it was onto something.

SAMUEL W: The Newton was mocked by popular culture, the Simpsons made fun of it, it was made fun of by everybody, because it was synonymous with technology that doesn’t work.

MARIA: What did Apple say about it?

SAMUEL W: It was a complete failure. They updated it about a year later.

MARIA: That’s quick!

SAMUEL W: No it’s not. Because during the launch people bought it, it doesn’t work, so even if the Newton worked later on, people judged it as being a failure.

MARIA: So no one bought it anymore. Shame.

SAMUEL W: Big flop.

[MUSIC: Pornophonique – Sad Robot]    

MARIA: I just wanna live here. I could have a place in this.

SAMUEL W: You can sleep in the conference room.

MARIA: I’ll just have a bed here and you can put a plaque next to me. Failed in so many things in life.

SAMUEL W: We’ve had so many people who say ‘Oh, I should be in the Museum of Failure, here’s a picture of me’.

MARIA: Do people actually say that?

SAMUEL W: Yeah, yeah.

MARIA: People see themselves as failures…That’s…

SAMUEL W: It’s funny. It’s not sad, it’s funny.

MARIA: No, it’s funny. I think it’s just a lighthearted joke, they don’t really think of themselves as failures.

SAMUEL W: Yeah, and if you’re transparent about your failures or your stories of rejection or whatever makes you the person you are... I think it’s a sign of strength.

MARIA: Yeah, absolutely. So you think failure is a great thing?

SAMUEL W: No, I mean I think it’s good to give failure the attention it deserves. I don’t wanna glorify it and say ‘Fail!’.

MARIA: Fail, fail harder!

SAMUEL W: I don’t wanna glorify failure, not even celebrate failure. But I do want to lift failure up to the position it deserves. If you think about it, all life on this failure is because of genetic fuck-ups. Mutation is a genetic failure and we wouldn’t exist here today if it wasn’t for millions of years of failure.

MARIA: I haven’t thought about it that way.

SAMUEL W: Yeah.

MARIA: That’s the beauty of it. That’s actually beautiful.

SAMUEL W: It is, it is. I mean we always say ‘yeah, it’s thanks to the successful ancestors that we have’. And we don’t say that it’s also thanks to the millions of dead monkeys that didn’t make it.

          MARIA: And then, as our meeting was drawing to an end, Samuel asks me.

SAMUEL W: Do you wanna try the worst alcohol?

MARIA: I don’t know, do I?

SAMUEL W: Yes, you do, come on.

MARIA: Yes, I do.

SAMUEL W: So this is Jepssons, from Chicago. And apparently it’s one of those things that if you’re a tourist in Chicago the locals try to make you drink it because it’s horrible. Everybody thinks of it as the worst drink ever. They visited the old lady who own the trademark and said ‘We’re going to Sweden, to the Museum of Failure…’

MARIA: They said that to her? ‘We want your product’

SAMUEL W: And she’s like, ‘Oh, that’s perfect for my drink’, so she gave them two bottles, a T-shirt and a shot glass and said ‘Yes, of course this should be in the Museum of Failure’. Are you ready?

MARIA: You say it’s bad, but it’s almost empty.

SAMUEL W: Yeah, I’ve been forcing people to drink it. Okay, are you ready?

MARIA: No…

SAMUEL W: You can’t smell it, you have to drink it all.

MARIA: I smelled it already! Okay. Do I have to do it as a shot? Okay. I can do this.

[drinks shot]

MARIA: Oh my god, that’s horrible. (coughs) It tastes medicinal.

SAMUEL W: (laughs) Isn’t it horrible?

MARIA: Oh my god.

SAMUEL W: Isn’t that nasty?

MARIA: It’s horrible. Why did you do this to me? For a second, as I was drinking it, I thought ‘this isn’t too bad’.

SAMUEL W: And then you get the after-taste. It’s like ‘whoa’.

MARIA: That’s horrible.

SAMUEL W: It’s bad shit.        

MARIA: Thank you, Samuel West, for poisoning my taste buds and for being on the podcast and being so wonderful about it, too. It’s been an absolute pleasure to work on this episode, start to finish, and I hope you guys have enjoyed listening to it. Maybe learned something? If you’ve got your own stories of failure and wanna share them with me, please write to therejectedpodcast@outlook.com and I’ll get back to you with loads of questions and warm comforting hugs.  Also, I thoroughly recommend checking out the museum, even for the chance to meet Samuel. Helsingborg is a lovely city and it’s easily accessible from Copenhagen, the only place in the world where I’ve been charged more for a flat white that in London. I swear to God, four pounds for a coffee. Delicious, but four pounds nevertheless. 

[MUSIC: Pornophonique – Sad Robot]    

Before I go, I have tiny ask for you guys. No, mum, I’m not asking for money. But if you like this podcast, please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes for it. It takes about two minutes, unless you’re planning on writing an essay, and it will help other people discover it. Plus, it’ll make me feel a little better about myself and how I choose to spend most of my spare time.

Again, thank you for listening, and thank you to everyone who sent their questions ahead of this interview. It means so much to me that you guys are involved with this podcast. Until next time, be good, have fun and aaaah… who cares, it’s summer.

[outro]

 

Rejected 2017 www.therejectedpodcast.com
Tell your story: therejectedpodcast@outlook.com