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Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure
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Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  151 ratings  ·  27 reviews
“Failure is an inevitable part of the human journey,” says award-winning television and radio broadcaster and New York Times best-selling author Tavis Smiley. Smiley steps from behind the curtain of success to share intimate stories of his missteps, misdeeds, and often highly publicized miscalculations in Fail Up: 20 Lessons On Building Success From Failure. These instance ...more
Hardcover, 278 pages
Published May 1st 2011 by SmileyBooks (first published March 30th 2011)
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DNF @20%

This book was not doing what the title purported.

There were no failures. There were just bloody moral lessons: be humble, don't cheat et al.

*sigh* and because I paid attention only to the title and not to the author...that author, BET Tavis, ugh, if I had known...I was not prepared for all the preaching. Just loads of Christian crap and lots of pontificating about being Black in America.

At least I borrowed this from the library.
Sarah Evan
couldn't have said it better than my dear friend Lauren who read this book and I saw her reccomendation on here: "Tavis Smiley is a force to be reckoned with, and a triple threat - author, public broadcaster, and television commentator. After a grant disaster, his book reminded me of how success is built from failure, as well as the socioeconomic and racial forces that can impact success. The book is composed of a series of anecdotes and excellent quotes for lessons featured in each title, like, ...more
Tavis Smiley is a force to be reckoned with, and a triple threat - author, public broadcaster, and television commentator. After a grant disaster, his book reminded me of how success is built from failure, as well as the socioeconomic and racial forces that can impact success. The book is composed of a series of anecdotes and excellent quotes for lessons featured in each title, like, "Even when you're justified, remain dignified." Fail up I will!
Teri Bryant
It was OK. I have definitely thought about it in the weeks since finishing the book, so actually I guess it was pretty good. Despite Smiley's humble childhood, it seemed like many of his lessons came from a weird perspective of wealth and privilege, which is odd considering his social activism. This isn't necessarily bad, it just made it difficult to relate to the lessons learned while enjoying his enormous success.
This book is an interesting mixture of personal stories, pertinent history, and honest reflection. Before checking this book out of the library, I'd never heard of Tavis Smiley before, so my attention to the first few lessons were dulled by trying to figure out exactly who he was. (I didn't want to look him up, because I was afraid of spoilers.) Smiley offers his readers the benefit of his experiences with failure. I could see this book being an appropriate present for college graduation. While ...more
This is a keeper book. Lots of lessons will need to read several times to digest it.
So far, I am not liking this book as much as his other books I've read in the past. He speaks early on about "staying humble or stumble" and will see how this book helps one rise to the occasion from our failures to success.

"...when you reach a certain level of success, the favors are never equal" (page 37).
"Everybody needs somebody, and every somebody should help someone who's less fortunate and less connected" (page 39).

He adds that everyone wants a hook up (which I call freebies) and the eas
Raychelle Muhammad
Fail Up really drives the message home that failure is one of the most important parts of the journey to success. Being persistent, learning from your mistakes, being reflective, and staying true to yourself at any costs are all critical to making progress. Tavis shares poignant and honest anecdotes about his life that we can all relate to. There were times as I read this book that I cringed at some of his "teachable moments". But, I learned how valuable those moments can be if you work to redee ...more
Meredith Allard
I watch Tavis every night on PBS. I think he is intelligent, thoughtful, and insightful. I bought his book based on the title alone, quite frankly. Now that I'm in a place where I am putting myself out there, so to speak, the fear of failure is never far. What if I don't do something right? What if I make bad choices? What if everything just goes wrong? Tavis is someone I respect, and he's certainly been successful. Reading about his rights, and his wrongs, helps someone like me think, "You kno ...more
Travis Smiley addresses simmillar of feelings I have had once as a wayward youth.

A great deal of insight in relating to people, behaviors that limit our success and thoughts that inevitable lead use to failure!

I do not have my notes with me so I cannot give you a direct qoute from the book however I can share with you something I took away from reading "Fail Up".This applies directly to myself and current circumstance, "Dont quit before the miracle happens" and because I might be forced to go in
I don't read much self-improvement. This wasn't as cheesy as a lot of them. I do find it motivational in that I can now say "Well Tavis screwed things up a lot worse than I ever have and managed to do something with his life". Also, I don't understand why they chose the weird half-book binding? To make it appear longer?
Marcus Williams
a good combination of life lessons, anecdotes and inherent wisdom from colleagues that follows the career of one over 20 years.
The oft cited exhortation, "learn from your mistakes" is taken to heart by Tavis Smiley in this small tome brimming with big nuggets of wisdom. He takes 20 examples of times when he used seeming failures in his life to get to the next level. Any one can learn from each and every one of them - and it was a pleasure getting to know more about Tavis and his journey to being one of the top broadcasters/political/social figures in the business today.
Loved this book! I had never heard of Tavis Smiley before. Although I have learned that some of life's most important lessons are learned as a result of mistakes or failures, Smiley uses his own failures to teach important life lessons in a systematic way. His writing is engaging and provocative. This book is well worth the time to read.
Tameeka Mo'Nique C'Mor Kitt'e
If you read another book before reading this don't ask the question of why am I stagnated and can't catch up....This book is more than inspirational, motivational and factually it's something WE ALL can learn from and FAIL ^...By the time you finish this book you have moved 10 steps ahead of your mess and onto your success
I love Tavis’s radio show, and I liked his autobiography, but unfortunately this book repeats a lot of it. Describes 20 ways Tavis has failed and made the best of it. Preachy and a little self-aggrandizing, though he often says how modest and humble he is.
No matter what your dream is, use this book as one that teaches that success can come from failure. Recognizing those teachable moments in our lives can help us become better at what we want to do. Recommend for those who want to give up on their dream.
have always enjoyed listening to his show..we tend to learn more from the times we mess up and so, Tavis Smiley lists the 20 biggest failures that he's learned from...some really great and humbling examples of both failure and redemption..
Toryono Green
I wasn't a strong Tavis Smiley fan until I read this book. You learn so much about others (and yourself) when viewed in the light of mistakes made. Great read.
So far so good. There are many lessons and quotes to live by, one of the most important is about giving second chances especially to young people.
Jun 02, 2011 Sarah marked it as to-read
Recommended to Sarah by: NPR
Heard the author interviewed on NPR May 4, 2011. Maybe I have more to hope for after all.
Eric J.  Ford
It is an inspiring book that showcases his mistakes and how he propagated success.
Tiffiney Gambill
Cannot wait to read it again - I need to build off his lessons learned!
An Inspirational book that's well worth the time checking out...
Missy Hancock
...really, really encouraging. A lot of great insight.
Church Johnson
Great Book!!!!!!!
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Tavis Smiley is a talk show host, author, political commentator, entrepreneur, advocate and philanthropist. Smiley grew up in Kokomo, Indiana. After attending Indiana University, he worked during the late 1980s as an aide to Tom Bradley, the mayor of Los Angeles. Smiley became a radio commentator in 1991, and starting in 1996 he hosted the talk show BET Talk (later renamed BET Tonight) on BET. Con ...more
More about Tavis Smiley...
The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Final Year Covenant with Black America What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America My Journey with Maya

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