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Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  11,447 ratings  ·  1,110 reviews
Much of the advice we’ve been told about achievement is logical, earnest…and downright wrong. In Barking Up the Wrong Tree, Eric Barker reveals the extraordinary science behind what actually determines success and most importantly, how anyone can achieve it. You’ll learn:

• Why valedictorians rarely become millionaires, and how your biggest weakness might actually be your g
ebook, 224 pages
Published May 16th 2017 by HarperOne
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Heather There were references to sex, generally in a positive way as in “by doing these things, you will have more time in your life for good relationships in…moreThere were references to sex, generally in a positive way as in “by doing these things, you will have more time in your life for good relationships including sex.” I didn’t feel comfortable listening to this in the car with my 5 and 6 yo because of this as well as some of the afore mentioned violent references, but it might be ok for age 15. (less)

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☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
Readable to the extreme. Loved the way the author stepped back from all the psychology popular stuff. He went to great length to show that all the 'go and become the hero', 'get it done' approach, 'don't say quits until you drop!' stuff can be counterproductive at times, though not always.
Also loved the author's way of thinking. He basically employs the recipe for dealing with most tasks where one-size-fits-all answers are unlikely to work.
Surprisingly memorable, with bright examples easing the
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Now, Rick recommended this one to me – and put it under the category of a ‘good business self-help book’ – which, well, it sort of is, but it sort of isn’t too. This is a bit more like a book that I might shelve under behavioural economics/psychology. There are things I didn’t particularly like about it, but we will get to that.

Much of what it has to say that might do you some good involves thinking about the stuff you say to yourself about yourself. And the really nice thing this book will give
Sonya Dutta Choudhury
Bad boys do well in life. Much better than the class toppers, says Eric Barker, in his primer for success. The best lessons in cooperation come from gang members, pirates and serial killers, continues Eric Barker in this how-to-strategize-and-be-successful guide. Sensational theories, but Barker, a former Hollywood screenwriter , uses stories, research studies and liberally quotes the gurus of productivity and psychology to buttress his analysis and advice .

The book has 6 chapters, all with cat
Jul 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Completely forgettable and totally unsurprising science behind everything I've already heard everywhere else. All the books in this genre should be called Kahneman and Tserversky lite. There's got to be some behavioral flaw to explain why I keep reading these books even though they tell me the same thing over and over again. ...more
Ravi Raman
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
[Abandanded 50% of the way through]

It's rare that I abandon a book. However, this book was enough of a struggle to get through that I decided to cut my losses. It is not that book isn't well written (it is). It's not that it isn't slightly funny (it is). I gave up on reading it because the style was just not for me. Each chapter seemed to hop, skip and jump all over the place. The book covered all aspects of personal development...from work/life balance to networking to what makes people "succe
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business, arc, wellness
We all have ideas of what we think makes people successful. And though author Eric Barker claims to "EXPLODE ALL THE MYTHS!!" in this book, his ideas aren't actually all that crazy--and certainly not so crazy that we've never heard them before. In fact, I recognized more than a few ideas summarized from other books I've read (like Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, Just Enough: Tools for Creating Success in Your ...more
Emma Sea
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong, Unless You've Read Any Other Productivity Book From this Century.

On the plus side, productivity classics like Cal Newport's Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, or Susan Cain's Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, are summarized in a single page each, so if you're new to this, the book works as a speed learning hack.
Ahn Mur
Jun 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Started off strong and then slowly lost steam. First half of the book contains a few gems, but by the second half, the reflection gets to be a bit fluffier and less definitive / more of the same from other books in the genre.
Still worth reading for the first half though!
My favourite take aways:
-Volunteering 2 hours a week is the sweet spot for maximum benefits to your overall happiness / likeliness to stay alive (/100hours per year)
-Work hard but draw attention to it, every Friday send an ema
Yaser Had
Sep 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
I honestly, can’t get my mind around those reviewers who never bring their opinions about the book they’ve read out loud. I mean those reviewers simply summarize the book and quote some of the book points or phrases without bringing their critical review of the book. What is the benefit of reading a book and never show your critical views about it? What I mean exactly are those reviewers who give these books “ Five Stars”!

I personally think that this book is not worth it and it’s unbelievably ov
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks, novels, 2017
I heard this audio book in my car whilst driving. It was a good companion. As Barker says he is not inventing the wheel here. What he did was remind me of the lessons I had learned in the past and gave me new examples or case histories. What holds through the book is the message:

Know thyself

Find balance

Be positive


A good voice and message to hear.

Fits into slot 20 of my book challenge - a book with career advice - here I had career and life advice aplenty.
May 25, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is like a crib sheet summary of many other books. So if you've read much about the science of happiness/success/effectiveness then this will not be "surprising" news. If you haven't read anything before and only want to read one book, then this might do the trick. The problem is that by skimming the surface of all these different studies, the author winds up sounding wishy-washy: extroversion, confidence, persistence are the secrets to a good life except when the exact opposites are better! ...more
Dave Lawrence
Apr 07, 2018 rated it did not like it
Chocked full of the narrative fallacy.

Some of the advice seemed good and to confirm my own opinions of success. However, upon further reflection, the book is loaded with the narrative fallacy—many of the success stories cannot be attributed to his principles but to luck.

He looks at the most successful people; from a learning standpoint this is actually bad because, to quote nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman (His comment on this other book, Built to Last, can equally apply here.):

"The basic mess
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
It did that thing where the answer is pretty much "it depends" to every question about what folks should do with their lives.

That said, a pretty excellent book. Solid tips on figuring shit out.
Mart Roben
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever read a self-help book that gave you all the answers, only to find that real world is far too messy to make use of “simple truths”? Or, from the other side of the genre, have you read a self-help book preaching how everything is relative, leading to the inevitable conclusion that you should stop making choices and stop trying in life? “Barking Up the Wrong Tree” falls in the sweet-spot between the dumb templates and the blind acceptance.

The book explores research about life decision
Bjoern Rochel
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, eng-mgmt
Thoroughly enjoyed this one. It's balanced and full of interesting anecdotes to underline its arguments. The style reminded me of "Teams of teams", which I can also highly recommend ...more
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leadership, business
Started out strong, but about halfway through it just got bogged down with too much detail. Some good nuggets, but in need of some serious editing.
Edwin Setiadi
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, self-help
The funnest, the most out-of-the-box analysis, on the keys for success

This is the 1st book I've ever pre-ordered. I am a regular reader of the blog Barking Up The Wrong Tree, and I once thought would it be cool if Eric Barker can make a book out of these gems? And my God he did, and it did not disappoint one bit.

Like Dale Carnegie, Eric Barker uses so many stories, book references and great quotations to make his points accross. There are stories such as how a poor boy in Mexico can become a wor
Jami Lilo
May 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a thoughtful and entertaining book. This gem kept me engaged as I learned about pirates and prisons and valedictorians success rate right out of the gate. The author uses studies and facts to create arguments and then plays devils advocate to view a different side of the coin. The lessons are told in a conversational way and asks questions that you can think about yourself or talk to co-workers/ friends about. It's a great mix of science and psychology and applying the information in your e ...more
Feb 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
I picked this up not knowing much of what it was about, but from the title I expected it to be a kind of anti-success book, to explain reasons why some popular "success is as easy as x" books are wrong. But no, this IS a success is as easy as x book, more or less. I'm allergic to books like this and really didn't like it. I was familiar with most of the points he made, and after looking up who this guy is, I'm wondering why anyone should read or trust what this guy has to say. Yes, I should have ...more
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
The first thing that attracted my attention about this book was the title. Idioms are so much fun when turned on their head. The second thing is that science and common knowledge are so different in many ways. Remember your grandmother telling you not to sit in a draft, you will get sick. So this book was a must read.

Well it does cover some interesting things. Time management, leisure and work balance, working smarter not harder, are all covered. While the book is aimed more at executives, many
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
I cannot remember how this book ended up in my 'to read' list. I don't generally read self-help or motivational books. The title suggested a contrarian outlook. Perhaps, that is what interested me in reading it. Still, I am always skeptical about books that try to tell you that they have decoded the path to something that has eluded many others.

The standard wisdom on success practically includes everything from being a friendly, pleasant person to being a driven, singularly-focused individual.
Jacob Gubbrud
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Super interesting read, love the discussion and examples throughout the book, highly recommend!
Kan Bhalla
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Success doesn't necessarily mean being rich or famous. Each of us define success for ourselves. For most part, what matters are these four metrics:
1. Happiness - having pleasure or contentment
2. Achievement - achieving accomplishments
3. Significance - having a positive impact on people
4. Legacy - establishing values that help others find future success

To be truly successful, we need to spend our time on each of these week after week after week, and not put some of these on back burner for10 yea
Michele Feng
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was really intrigued by what was dictated by the "eulogy values" outlined in a section of this book. The final definition of success (legacy if you will) is in a person's eulogy. The values engraved as those expressed in eulogies are those that are personal stories that filter messiness of life, many of which bring meaning for life that consequently entail "cognitive reappraisal" for an optimistic life. In retrospect, I learned that to have "grit" is to just quit (not simply quit, yet strategi ...more
Jul 26, 2017 rated it liked it
I thought this book was about something else, but instead, it's one of those "everything you know is wrong" self-help books I've read 100 times before. I wouldn't have started it had I known that. After all, it did claim it was to discuss the "science" of success. However, what they meant was that they were going to use anecdotal stories to sing the same old song to people aiming to move up the corporate ladder. Don't get me wrong, i guess there's nothing wrong with that. I'm just tired of this ...more
Adam Garnsey
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read about how to be the most successful person you can be

This is a fantastic book full of wonderful advice from detailed research along with some great anecdotes unique to this book. Eric covers lots of ground over many topics and at times it feels like a best hits of legendary self development books which he summarises perfectly. I'd recommend this (and his blog) to anyone!
Rick Wilson
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
Eric does a good job aggregating modern self help/business success literature into one readable book. Read this and don’t bother with all the other crap out there
May 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: lost-interest
Abandoning this book! Usch! Citing Don Quixote on an argument about grit and success was too much!
Jul 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: waiting
There wasn't much surprising since I've read all book mentioned here last year. ...more
Aug 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Was going to give it two stars, but it really redeemed itself at the end when he talked about making choices. For the most part, the writing style was not so great. It felt very poppy - here's some advice, and here's a bunch of information distilled from scientific studies to back it up, so now you have to believe my advice. My issue was that a lot of the connections between the studies and his advice seemed strained, if not forced. He also went on long tangents and brought them back to his main ...more
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Eric Barker is the creator of the blog Barking Up the Wrong Tree , which presents science-based answers and expert insight on how to be awesome at life. His work has been mentioned in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, TIME magazine, The Week, and Business Insider. He is a former Hollywood screenwriter, having worked on projects for Walt Disney Pictures, Twentiet ...more

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