Episode 231 — Why I Fail at Everything


Episode 231 — Why I Fail at Everything

Welcome to Episode 231! I want to talk about why I fail at everything. I also want to talk about the mindset around this — that leads to success. This is one I’ve been wanting to do for a long time: I’ve been looking at a lot emails and DMs — and they often address the same problem. I want to keep hit hard on the issue with all have with failure: We all want to be experts the minute we start; or we assume that people who have success don’t have the issues that we have. It’s important to realize that whether it’s a strength or a weakness, we all are the same. We’re all capable of great success. We’re all able to be lazy as well.

I hope you find this Podcast valuable and listen to it more than once. I hope you share this with other people as well. I’m thankful to you for doing that!

So: Let’s dive in!


[00:47] Have you ever sent in your reel and wondered why you didn’t get the callback or what the reason was you didn’t get the job? Over the past 20 years of working for studios like ILM, Blur Studio, Ubisoft, I’ve built hundreds of teams and hired hundreds of artists — and reviewed thousands of reels! That’s why I decided to write The Ultimate Demo Reel Guide from the perspective of someone who actually does the hiring. You can get this book for free right now at www.allanmckay.com/myreel!

[13:13] One of the biggest problems we face as artists is figuring out how much we’re worth. I’ve put together a website. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com! This is a chance for you to put in your level of experience, your discipline, your location — and it will give you an accurate idea what you and everyone else in your discipline should be charging. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com!


[03:41] To all of those delusional people that want instant success, zero fails and rockstar status without zero effort:


I’ve received thousands of emails and I’ve been speaking at multiple events; and I hear the same thing: “I’m not getting any success in my career!” “I’m not good at anything!” If you want to be good — you’ve got to be prepared to fail!


[04:01] So, how frustrated are you that you aren’t getting the wins that you want, be in your career or your life, your dating, your social media? We tell ourselves that we’re a failure and we lower our self-esteem and get frustrated at life. Guess, what? It’s life! Get used to it! It’s reality! This is precisely why you aren’t where you want to be. But that’s okay! We’re going to change that right now.

[04:31] I had a meeting with my team a while back and I mentioned that I wanted to do live streams for 30 days. I thought it would be a great way to interact directly with my audience and find out what everyone’s pain points were. I thought it would be a fun experiment to do and to see what happens. But as I mentioned this, my team freaked out. “Great! Allan is doing yet another thing while we already have so much on our plate!” But the key thing was it was going to be a fun experiment, although in the beginning it might suck. One of my team members asked why it would suck. I explained to them that it was part of the process: In the beginning, things might be terrible but if you stick with it, it will get better and better. If I’m going in and expecting everything to be great right off the bat, I’m probably going to quit right away. But if I expect that I may fumble in the beginning, I will get better the next day and the next. [05:38] Having unrealistic expectations of yourself — that everything is going to be flawless and you’re just going to win — is the easiest way to derail yourself and see yourself as being a failure. It’s these micro wins that we should be celebrating.

[05:56] Most of us expect to be instant experts. We don’t realize that failure is part of the process and that no one starts out as an expert. Experts are people who saw something through and didn’t give up. How many times do we give up on something because we didn’t get traction in the first place? With that mindset, we’re more likely to set ourselves up to fail. We are all a work in progress. With other people, we see the wins but we don’t see the fails that got them there. We think that the win was instant. But the thing is we weren’t paying attention before they got there.


[06:35] It’s all about perseverance. The ones that have success are the ones that didn’t give up. They kept at it and looked at failure as part of the process. The more we see wins and losses as just data, the more we can analyze them to get better results. You need to cut your losses and double down on what works. Experience is just learning from your mistakes. This is why experience is everything. No one starts as an expert. No one! But we beat ourselves up. We don’t see the 10,000 hours that it took to get there. But it all starts by showing up and seeing things through; but seeing each failed attempt as a step forward. You’ve got to be in it to win it, right? So giving up means that you will never fail again. But it also means that you will never win either.

[07:38] What if you won? What if you did achieve that goal? What would that mean to you? And with each failure, what’s the worst thing that could happen? Does having that failure outweigh having your entire life change? That’s something to think about: Will the benefit outweigh the bad? Or will the bad outweigh the good? I remember seeing a student at this big job fair in Paris and I asked him if he was passing his reel around. He said he wasn’t because he was afraid that people would laugh at him or reject him. I said to him, “What if they said yes? And what if they offered you the job that started your entire career?” Would them saying no outweigh that chance of them saying yes? Probably not! The fear is not even rational in the first place. And I’ve definitely had those experiences in my life: What if I said no to a chance that changed things for me? These are the things I look back on, all the time!

[09:33] You’ve got to be in it — to win it! You’re going to make yourself available. You may fall on your face a couple of times but ultimately, you will have more wins, in the end. The only person holding you back — is you! We put so much pressure on ourselves to be great, that when we miss our mark, we crash and burn. If you thought of this as a video game, just because you miss a mark, you don’t call yourself a loser. You just simply adjust your aim and you fire again and again until you hit your target. It’s as simple as that!

[10:19] I love watching videos online in which AI is learning to do something for the first time. At the end of the video, the AI is flawless. An expert! It does it all at an accelerated amount of time. But as humans, we have to take our time but we’re learning the same way as AI. AI learns through failure. It fails multiple times, over and over — but you can see it getting better and better, as it does. The main thing is that it lacks emotions so it wins eventually. It probably fails a lot worse than humans, but it doesn’t beat itself up. It processes all information as data and it learns from it.

[11:22] So take emotion out of it! That’s just your inner bitch voice telling you that you suck! In terms of evolution, we are all wired to resist change. Change is bad. Success means having higher expectations of ourselves. If you want to be successful, you need to get out of your comfort zone and just become like that AI. Look at what other are doing and model what works. If this video resonated with you — share it with others. Aim high and realize that your first attempts at something are probably going to suck. But take those failed attempts to help guid you and use them to guide you where you need to lean in more.

[12:27] Thanks for watching! Now go turn those failures into wins!

Thanks for listening!

– Next week, I will be back with the Founder of the Artery Vico Sharabani.
– The following Episode will be with Matti Haapoja.

Please share this Episode with others. I appreciate your doing that!

Until next week —

Rock on!


Click here to listen on iTunes!

Get on the VIP insiders list!

Upload The Productive Artist e-book.

Allan McKay’s Facebook Fanpage.

Allan McKay’s YouTube Channel.

Allan McKay’s Instagram.



Let's Connect

View my profile on