I just got back from my book publicity swing through New York after appearing on Fox and Friends, CNBC's Squawk Box, Bloomberg News and more. It wasn't a good week to be in Manhattan. I'm saying it was cold. If you see something pink and frozen on the sidewalk in Midtown, that might be my ear.

Before I tell you my most embarrassing moment, I have to give you some background. Television hosts rarely have time to read a guest's book before an interview. So the publisher provides a handy summary to guide the interview questions in the right direction. Sometimes the summary gets misplaced, or the host prefers to wing it and go off script. That's when things get interesting because I only practice my answers for the main themes in the book.

Host Pimm Fox, for Bloomberg News, was interviewing me live on camera Wednesday and asked a question about a minor but interesting topic in the book that I wrote over a year ago. I suddenly realized, on live television, that I didn't remember part of my own book.


It was my last interview of the day, and those types of days have a 3 a.m. wake-up call, which my California body was still registering as midnight. This was the second day of that schedule. I have to tell you, time stands still when you're on live TV and you have no idea what should be coming out of your mouth.

I took "media training" years ago before my first book tour and they prepare you for that exact scenario. The trick to digging out of that hole comes from understanding that the audience doesn't care about the question itself - at least not for a book interview. They only care if the author says something interesting. So instead of answering the question as it has been asked, you respond as if a different question had been asked. The audience hardly notices.

But as I said, I was sleepy, so instead of smoothly changing the topic, I admitted on live TV that I couldn't remember part of my own book. I think I sprayed perspiration all over the newsroom like some sort of cartoon porcupine shooting its quills. It wasn't my finest moment.

But after the horrifying confession my media training kicked in and I babbled about something. I've heard that it doesn't look as awkward as it felt, but I have a hard time believing it.

On the plus side, I have the sort of job in which all bad news today is tomorrow's content for comics or blog posts or books. And after the initial flop sweat moment, I usually come to think of my embarrassments as highly entertaining in a strange way. I guess you could say I have a love-hate relationship with embarrassment. That's a lucky personality trait in my line of work because - if you haven't noticed - sometimes I fail in very public ways

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life.

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Dec 18, 2013
My favorite part
. I think I sprayed perspiration all over the newsroom like some sort of cartoon porcupine shooting its quills.
Dec 15, 2013
"I have to tell you, time stands still when you're on live TV and you have no idea what should be coming out of your mouth. "

Absolutely true. Appearing on live TV surely tends to freeze your brain.

There have been times when I've forgotten what exactly I wanted to say, mid-sentence.
At other times, I have said something like, "In this case there are three issues to consider" and then forgot what the third thing was whilst elaborating on the first two.

But as you rightly noticed, few viewers remember exactly what the question was, not even the interviewer. On TV, the manner counts more than the matter. I adapted by saying less and trying to speak in sound-bites. Give the TV channels something that is succinct and sounds good and they will re-run it a hundred times, never mind if it is complete nonsense.
Dec 14, 2013
Put it in a comic strip in some form once you are able to laugh it off. Have Dogbert interview the CEO on TV or whatever (dogbert needs a TV hairstyle toupee) and ask about something huge.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 14, 2013
Here's at least part of the interview, but I can't see where Scott gets dizzy as he says..

Dec 14, 2013
I don't think there's any real problem in your "goof." You were honest. Your book was written over a number of years and covers many topics. One of them, as you say a minor but interesting point, you couldn't recall at that moment. No big deal.

Althought it might raise an interesting point - it might be a good idea for the author to re-read his or her book in its entirety before going on the road to promote it. If I ever get to that point, I'll learn from your experience. Wish me luck.
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Dec 14, 2013
It always hurts.......painfully............but we all benefit from a lesson in humility every once in a while. We (all) don't recognize our talents until we are forced to be without them for just a moment.
Dec 13, 2013
Most embarrassing on-camera moment? How does that rate against being televised globally as you pretend to be a deaf-interpreter at one of the most historic moments of recent times?
Dec 13, 2013
I found the interview online. I think you handled the situation well. The interview was pretty fast-paced and full of other information that you in fact did remember, so it wasn't really obvious that you forgot a part of your book.
Dec 13, 2013
I was once part of an aspiring author's group. I often read books in draft form and helped my friends in the group with grammar, spelling, and continuity issues. The authors often forgot about side stories, characters, and even entire chapters -- particularly when the book took a long time to write. When I went through the latest revision of my biggest book, I was stunned at how much I had forgotten and how many balls I'd dropped.

I would guess that anybody who's been involved in writing would understand the situation.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 13, 2013
When will dilbert.com/fast be working again?
Dec 13, 2013
Mr. Adams, I have been coming to this site for around 5 years to read the daily comic and all the old ones that I have missed. Not too long after I started reading the old comics, I made made use of the entering the date in the link in the correct format to go to the desired date. Similarly, I also like to use shortcut keys in other programs because it feels faster than using the mouse (and to be completely honest, it makes me feel smart).

Well, I recently started reading your blog and I wanted to start at the beginning (as far as this site is concerned). I read the current ones each time, but then I pick up where I left off the time before. I have poked around and see that you have a calendar feature similar to the comics for navigating to a specific date, but I like having the full page of entries to read at once, so I just navigate to that page.

As far as I can tell, there isn't an efficient way to browse to a specific page besides clicking the arrows or page numbers which display ONLY three at a time in either direction. Currently, there are 94 pages, and I am on page 51, so it takes a little time to get there.

For some reason, JUST TODAY, I NOTICED THE PAGE NUMBER IS IN THE LINK! Sound familiar? I didn't think to use the trick for basically the exact same situation that I've been using for 5 years.

I thought it was amusing that this happened on a day you posted about embarrassment. Though this is not even close to the same scale (since no one knows about it), it was mighty embarrassing to my pride. I might share it with my wife so she can tease me. Just letting you know that someone else "feels your pain", ha. I hope this "coincidence" made you chuckle or at least shake your head.
Dec 13, 2013
So, what you are basically reaffirming for us is that you failed, perhaps miserably, but still succeeded. Either because you learned from this and can laugh at it now, or in reality it wasn't nearly as bad as you thought. Or both. You are one lucky bastard. Your system for success is truly spot on and remarkable, despite your vast and varied failures. :)
+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 13, 2013
I see no shame or horror in that. Of course it wasn't my arse in the spotlight, but I find that refreshing actually. Everyone's so pretty & polished, it's nice to see a flesh wound or two!

You could have yelled "the Hobbit is for weenies" on air and not lost a single sale.

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