We discussed the business best-seller rankings today, and specifically, how fast books move on and off these lists.
The book that I presented a synopsis of this morning, Barking Up the Wrong Tree (Harper One, 2017) by Eric Barker, is no longer on a published list. I first saw it on the Wall Street Journal list a few weeks ago.
Yet, its performance is very strong on one source, and that is the Amazon.com list. This one continually updates the status of book sales, and has become one of our favorite sources for determining the books that we will present at the First Friday Book Synopsis.
As of 3:15 p.m. today (7/7/2017), Barker’s book is in the top 25 in three Amazon.com sub-categories, and is in the top 100 in three major categories. You can review all of those categories by CLICKING HERE.
There are many sources for business best-seller lists, and we do not confine ourselves to any single list. However, the New York Times list, due to its monthly publication, is the one that we consider the most reliable. These sources publish best-seller lists, and we look at all of them:
Bloomberg Business Week
New York Times
Wall Street Journal
This morning, I presented a synopsis of Eric Barker‘s best-seller, Barking Up the Wrong Tree (Harper One, 2017). Last month, Dan Schwabel of Forbes.com interviewed Barker. I thought you might be interested in the content of that interview, and I have reproduced that below. You can find the exact URL at “click here.”
Eric Barker: Why He Believes Most Career Advice is False
By Dan Schwabel
Forbes.com – May 27, 2017 – CLICK HERE
Dan Schawbel: Why is most of the advice about success wrong and why did you set out to write this book in the first place?
Eric Barker: Most of the maxims about success we grew up with (“Nice guys finish last. Winners never quit and quitters never win. etc.”) have never been verified by research or experts. My own career has been quite unconventional and, first hand, I’ve seen a lot of exceptions to those “rules.” I wanted to look at the science and get real answers.
Schawbel: What can you tell us about what it takes to gain self-confidence from science?
Barker: California launched a state-wide initiative to raise the self-esteem of school kids, thinking this would improve grades, reduce drug use, etc. It didn’t achieve any of those goals. Turns out confidence is more of an effect than a cause. We all have a baseline level of confidence, but after that we usually become confident as our skill level increases. Confidence is a very tricky thing because it’s often delusional or contingent. Delusional because we all know people who are overconfident and cut off from reality. And contingent because we often peg our self-esteem to our achievements. Then when we stumble, we think we don’t deserve to feel good about ourselves anymore and that leads to an uncomfortable roller coaster of emotions where we constantly need to prove ourselves to stay happy.
Schawbel: Can you name a few pieces of advice that are commonly given but are actually proven untrue?
Barker: Adam Grant’s research at Wharton showed that nice guys do finish last… but they also finish first. “Givers” are disproportionately represented at the bottom and the top of success metrics. Some may say “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” but introverts are far more likely to be experts in their field. They get better grades, more PhD’s, and make up the majority of elite level athletes.
Schawbel: Do you think there is such a thing as work-life balance? Explain.
Barker: There absolutely is — but the line needs to be drawn by the individual now. The doors to the office don’t close at 5PM. Your phone is ringing and buzzing with emails 24/7. And you don’t need to wait until tomorrow morning to get those documents off your desk; they’re in the cloud. The world is not going to say “stop.” Everyone has to have their personal definition of success and draw a line for themselves. The work-life balance problem is caused by people thinking that it’s still like decades ago when the world would say, “You can stop. You’ve done enough for today.” That’s not going to happen. You need to make a decision for yourself and that’s uncomfortable because it often means sacrificing something.
Schawbel: What are your top three pieces of career advice?
You need to have a personal definition of success. It will change and evolve but if you don’t have an idea of what you want, you’re going to be on a nonstop treadmill towards “more” and that’s going to make you awfully busy but not necessarily happy.
You need to know yourself. Know your signature strengths — those things you are uniquely good at. What do you bring to the table? Doing what you’re good at not only makes you better at your job, research shows it also makes you happier and respected.
Pick the right pond. Find a place that rewards your signature strengths. A great company isn’t a great place for you if it’s not aligned with your talents and your goals. That’s also true for personality and ethics. If you’re a good person working at a place full of sketchy people, you’re not going to thrive.
At the July 7 First Friday Book Synopsis at the Park City Club in Dallas, I will present a synopsis of Eric Barker‘s best-seller, Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know about Success is (Mostly) Wrong (New York: Harper One, 2017).
One of the first issues in the book is concerned with how safe someone ought to play in order to achieve the success that he or she desires. Should a person simply do what he or she is told?
The answer, according to Barker, is that there is no programmed, correct answer.
In the first chapter of the book, he says:
Know thyself and pick the right pond.
Identify your strengths and pick the right place to apply them.
“If you follow rules well, find an organization aligned with your signature strengths and go full steam ahead. Society clearly rewards those who can comply, and these people keep the world an orderly place. (p. 30).
“If you’re more of an unfiltered type, be ready to blaze your own path. It’s risky, but that’s what you were built for. Leverage the intensifiers that make you unique. You’re more likely to reach the heights of success – and happiness – if you embrace your ‘flaws’” (pp. 30-31).
In essence, self-knowledge allows someone to create value wherever that person chooses to apply it.
It is the choice of where that really matters.
Over the years, I have read several of Bart Ehrman‘s books. If you are not familiar with him, Ehrman is a New Testament scholar, and now holds the chair as the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has written 25 books, three of which are collegiate texts, and five of which became New York Times best-sellers. There are three topics he focuses upon in his writing: the Historical Jesus, the development of early Christianity, and textual authenticity of the Bible.
Ehrman is agnostic. He didn’t start that way. He went through seminary, but could not reconcile the contradictions and inconsistencies in translations of the Bible. However, that is not why he left the faith. He is an agnostic because he could not handle suffering. He could not answer how a loving God could allow evil and suffering. That became the subject of God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question – Why We Suffer (New York: Harper One, 2009). It is quite a book!
His newest is entitled How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee (New York: Harper One, 2014). From his own web site, Ehrman describes this book:
Ehrman sketches Jesus’s transformation from a human prophet to the Son of God exalted to divine status at his resurrection. Only when some of Jesus’s followers had visions of him after his death—alive again—did anyone come to think that he, the prophet from Galilee, had become God. And what they meant by that was not at all what people mean today.
As a historian—not a believer—Ehrman answers the questions: How did this transformation of Jesus occur? How did he move from being a Jewish prophet to being God? The dramatic shifts throughout history reveal not only why Jesus’s followers began to claim he was God, but also how they came to understand this claim in so many different ways.
Ehrman’s career as a writer is distinguished. You may be interested in this one if you believe that we got the Bible from divinely sent bolts of lightning carving words on rock or paper – Forged: Writing in the Name of God–Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are (New York: Harper One, 2011).
Others include Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them), and Misquoting Jesus. All of his books are still in print and readily available.
I am not an agnostic. I am a believer. So, why am I reading these books? Because I believe that you strengthen your faith by questioning it. Why do I want to read books that just reinforce what I already think? I grow, as you do, by reading books and exposing myself to presentations and information that differ from what I already believe or know. That is true of a lot of things in life. I read the conspiracy theories on the JFK assassination because they are different from what we know from the Warren Report, Case Closed, and other books. I read Marcus Buckingham’s views on “leaders are born” because that is different from experts who tell us that “leaders are made.” And, Ehrman’s books are different. These are not what most Sunday School leaflets and lessons contain. In fact, do you know that I have NEVER heard a sermon or sat through a lesson on how we got the Bible? It is the greatest secret that churches keep from their congregations. Even reflecting on his ministerial days, Randy Mayeux said he would never have touched it in a class or service. and he did not do so for his twenty-plus years of preaching.
I think our fuel is questions, not answers. For everyone who has it all figured out, I am very happy for you. But, by exposing yourself to contradictory information, you grow. I like to leave events with more questions than when I entered. That’s what inspired one of my keynote presentations: “When the Best Answer is the Next Question.”
It doesn’t matter what you think about these topics. And, you can enter them open-minded or closed-minded. But, why not read them. And these books will get you thinking. Ask questions. Leave with more questions. Learn. Grow.