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Raising the Bar: Integrity and Passion in Life and Business: The Story of Clif Bar Inc.

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  440 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
In April of 2000, Gary Erickson turned down a $120 million offer to buy his thriving company. Today, instead of taking it easy for the rest of his life and enjoying a luxurious retirement, he's working harder than ever. Why would any sane person pass up the financial opportunity of a lifetime? Raising the Bar tells the amazing story of Clif Bar's Gary Erickson and shows th ...more
Paperback, 356 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Jossey-Bass (first published August 20th 2004)
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Amy Moritz
Dec 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is the story of Gary Erickson and his journey with Clif Bar. It starts with Gary walking away from selling the company for a lot of money and turns into a hodgepodge story (perhaps eclectic is a better word) of business, bike riding, climbing and personal integrity. While he does talk about the negative, about how his company (and he) lost its way, it's not an in-depth read. And he repeats himself. A lot. Perhaps by design because it drives home the central message of the book -- that it's ...more
MsSmartiePants the candy...
Had a nice time at the Clif Family Harvest Festival in St. Helena. In response to the nice event, which was attended by "Mr. Clif" (Gary Erickson), I am now reading his book entitled Raising The Bar. (on my Kindle)

Rating Synopsys:

4 of 5 stars because the content bogs down in the last quarter of the book, relying heavily on semi-interesting Clif programs and stats.

Great great beginning! Told in honest and direct language describing how Clif came about, supported by interesting stories of hiking a
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Entered this book with a bit of negative bias simply because it looked to be "a pat on his own back" by Erickson. Finished it pleasantly surprised on several notes: While he's not shy about telling of his own accomplishments, he avoids self-adulation, just tells his story. He made his case well for maintaining the private ownership status of Clif Bar Inc., the pros and cons of venture capitalists, and a strong case for corporate responsibility to its products, its people, its community and the p ...more
Andrew Lee
An uneven read. Some moments of great insight, some issues with book organization. Love the red road/white road analogy and the five aspirations.
John Abassian
Nov 02, 2011 rated it really liked it


“Raising the Bar” is an excellent demonstration of the importance of upholding your values, doing what you love, and enjoying life the right way. In this book, the founder the Clif Bar company talks about how
he turned down an offer that would have made him a millionaire, to uphold his values and as a result

continued to work hard instead of easily retiring.

Gary Erickson tells the story of how he started the Clif Bar Company to offer people an energy bar that doesn
Nov 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
I read this for work! My boss must love me, because I actually complete homework assignments. I'm such an unbelievable nerd.

Anyway, this is an actually interesting business book, if you can believe it. The owner walked away from selling his company at the last minute, to continue on as a private business, even though everyone told him he would fail. A large part of this book is about entrepreneurship, which reading about always makes me feel like I have no self esteem or confidence. Which I don
Jun 01, 2008 rated it did not like it
The company that Gary Erickson has built and maintained is amazing. I think I'd like to work there. Gary and Clif Bar Inc. have an incredible attitude about work, sports, the planet, and life.

The book that Gary Erickson has written is not very good at all. I only survived because of the company it portrays. This book is repetitive. It kills all the best anecdotes by putting any sense of mystery into these weird red subheads. Sometimes it tries too hard to make analogies. Then it repeats some mor
Mar 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Great perspective on how to run a business and specific tactics and ways of thinking. As a small business owner myself this book gave great guidance since Clif is also concerned with social responsibility and quality of life and those are things we are taking into account as we grow our own photography studio. As we've grown Orange Photography we've come across some similar challenges like venture capitalists and other investors interested in the company but have always resisted. We're growing o ...more
Rob Bloom
Aug 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
this is just a pretty interesting read for those familiar with clif bars especially. just an authentic story of guy starting in his mom's kitchen to building a small but might company that fervently sticks to its belief in the sustainability of the employees, the customers, the suppliers, and the environment...even resisting the temptation of a lucrative sell out to a major conglomerate. Just an inspiring 'business' story...if you think an outdoorsy, organic, rock climbing CEO will appeal to you ...more
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book describing the story of the creation and principles guiding the creation of Clif Bar. It's amazing to see where Gary Erickson had came from living in a garage (I kid you not) to the influence that Clif has today. It shows you that it is possible to create something out of the blue and make a difference. I really like the five aspirations for the Clif Bar company as well and they measure toward those goals. If you are interested in creating a better life, this is a great roadmap.
May 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Other than the obvious "Berkeley" cultural influence/paradox, Mr. Erickson seems to be a genuine entrepreneur. I applaud his ability to see what's important to him, and how he infuses his influences into his business. Two many Harvard Business School types have been driven by bottom-line-shareholder-value in their corporate management. There is value in having the right staff and uniting them with a unique vision. Only time will tell where Mr. Erickson is correct in his vision. I like the white ...more
Jun 14, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading the story of the company CLIF Bar. The stories of the bicycle trip through Europe motivated me to get through the book. I also liked reading about the culture of CLIF Bar. The way the book is written is in the style of a management book. As a result, it actually feels a bit dumbed down and simplistic, in addition to being repetitive-you read the same catch phrases numerous times. Overall, easy to read, but you may lose interest as you progress due to the "recap" nature of the w ...more
Jan 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am quite impressed with Clif Bar & Co. after reading this book. The passion with which Gary Erickson lives his life and runs his company, helps to make this a creatively constructed story. He seamlessly intertwines his love of sports with his business and management philosophies. How many people can say they walked away from selling their company and making $60 million? The book is worth reading for that story alone, but of course there are many other great tales that make this an entertai ...more
Mar 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Fascinating. Gary Erickson and his values based organization are the polar opposites of the Gordon Gecko "Greed is Good" generation that has brought upon us today's financial turmoil.

Many years ago, I worked with a man who viewed Gecko and that phrase as both his idol and aspiration. Needless to say, being around this guy made me sick to my stomach.

It is refreshing to read Gary's story. If only there were more companies and leaders like him...
Jun 22, 2008 rated it it was ok
I read this book because of what I had heard about the strategy of Cliff Bar & Co. I found Gary's adventures interesting and exciting, and I am glad to know more about the story of the company. However, the way they are put together is just silly. It would have been better as two articles - one about Gary, and one about the company. It's a quick read, though, and, as a result, I don't feel like it wasted too much time.

Feel free to skim!
Davey F
Jun 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Good read in the first half of the book with stories of the partnership and trying to get funded. Applicable knowledge for entrepreneurs. As the book went on I found that he made connections between life and Clif Bar Company a bit far-fetched (e.g. Jazz and his company..). The second half was more promotion of Clif Bar and what they are doing, as opposed to story telling, that is it got more Biographical.

Apr 10, 2011 rated it liked it
An interesting read about the founding of Clif Bar, the makers of energy bars and other running treats. It was an interesting story and I enjoyed it. His personal business philosophy is different than my own, but I still learned from his stories about taking the "white road" instead of the "red road". In other words he recommends taking the roads you ride on when you do long bike rides and not the highways where cars drive. I found it enjoyable, but a little slow at parts.
Carli Connally
Feb 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The first half of this book is excellent! (The second half was not that interesting to me.) He talks about how he made some very difficult decisions in his business and the philosophy that he has for business and life. It is not so common that you see people make decisions like this, and I really respect him and hope that others take courage from this book.

This was one of the few books that once I start it, it was hard to put down (until I got about 1/2 way through.)
Aug 15, 2014 rated it liked it
A story by a founder who took out a loan to buy out his co-founder and who believes that private ownership is the preferred approach to managing and growing his business. Pulled the plug on a $60mil buy-out from a conglomerate during the diligence process. And he lives in the Bay Area. Paradox City!
Cody Pumper
May 31, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Enterprenaurs
This book was very open about the path Clif Bar Inc. took to become the company it is. It was even more interesting to read since I often enjoy Clif Bars (Specifically Mojo Bars). If you have a passion towards what's right or building a company, then I cannot recommend this book higher to you. It opened up my past dream of being in business with a new life.
I really enjoyed listening to this on audio. I LOVE Clif bars and learned a lot about the company's principles that made me love them even more. The author could have turned the entire book into a "look at me" ego-fest, but it was quite the opposite. He gave kudos to everyone around him who helped to build the company into what it is today.
Jeff Wilson
Jan 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Hardback. Probably the best book that I have read on how to run a business. I enjoyed this book more than I can explain. Business, Cycling, human potential, mountaineering, risk taking, ethics, sustaining and building the human spirit, etc. etc...what more could you ask for in a book? Must read for any business owner.
Jim George
Mar 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
The biography and story of a privately owned company with quite a few progressive ideas. Even though it is an American success story, it is a bit too biased towards the authors ego; to the "look at me, look what I did, look at what I accomplished story." It was partly okay, but still a pretty slow read.
Mar 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Amazing business book. I've started eating Clif Bars because of this book just to support the company and what they've accomplished and what they stand for... plus they taste exceelent and are good for you. Get this book on CD and listen to it, it's great.
Feb 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs
Also another good business person to be inspired by. Some of his adventures are fun to read about. He reminds the reader about the moment that lead him to his business decision throughout the book. This repetition gets a little old.
Christina Owyang
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was an easy read for me. It made me think seriously about the companies that are out there now and what the end goal is for them. The people that work for this company are truly a lucky group to have found a place where they are one of the five aspirations of the company.
Rachel Maxwell
Jul 27, 2010 rated it liked it
This story of an entrepreneur is very hopeful. He has a great perspective on business and life and its connection with community and the earth. I recommend Clif bars after this read! Not wonderfully well written.
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book has some excellent advice especially about being responsible and committed to your employees and community. However, there are too many repetitive and verbose recaps. This book would have been well served to slash out about a hundred and fifty pages of what I would consider filler.
Jul 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
fascinating account from the man who started clif bar. he describes how his company went from nothing to on the brink of being sold for hundreds of millions of dollars, and ultimately the ethical/moral/spiritual reasons he chose to keep his company private and to run it as a way to do some good
May 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book on Gary Erickson's passion for Clif Bar, his business philosophy and how it relates to life. Follow the white roads and focus on the journey... NOT the destination! It's about creation and treating everything and everyone with gratitude and respect along the way.
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