Tag Archives: Eric Barker

Where Barker’s Best-Seller Ranks Today on Major Lists

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

USA Today

Wall Street Journal


Recent Interview with Eric Barker

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.

Barker’s Advice on Playing it Safe

BarkingUpWrongTreeCoverAt the July 7 First Friday Book Synopsis at the Park City Club in Dallas, I Eric Barker Picturewill 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.



Insights from Eric Barker’s “Barking Up The Wrong Tree”


Eric Barker PictureOn July 7, at the First Friday Book Synopsis at the Park City Club in Dallas, I will present the essence of Eric Barkers best-seller, Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong (Harper One, 2017).

BarkingUpWrongTreeCoverAs a preview for my synopsis, here are a few key quotes from the book that will interest you:

“If you want to do well in school and you’re passionate about math, you need to stop working on it to make sure you get an A in history too. This generalist approach doesn’t lead to expertise. Yet eventually we almost all go on to careers in which one skill is highly rewarded and other skills aren’t that important.”

“But as any mathematician knows, averages can be deceptive. Andrew Robinson, CEO of famed advertising agency BBDO, once said, “When your head is in a refrigerator and your feet on a burner, the average temperature is okay. I am always cautious about averages.”
“This leads us to the strengths of being less than confident. Confidence makes it very hard for us to learn and improve. When we think we know all the answers, we stop looking for them. Marshall Goldsmith says, “Although our self-confident delusions can help us achieve, they can make it difficult for us to change.”
“Research shows that you don’t actually need to know more to be seen as a leader. Merely by speaking first and speaking often—very extroverted behavior—people come to be seen as El Jefe.” 
“The hard-charging Silicon Valley entrepreneur has become a respected, admired icon in the modern age. Do these descriptors match the stereotype? A ball of energy. Little need for sleep. A risk taker. Doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Confident and charismatic, bordering on hubristic. Boundlessly ambitious. Driven and restless. Absolutely. They’re also the traits associated with a clinical condition called hypomania. Johns Hopkins psychologist John Gartner has done work showing that’s not a coincidence. Full-blown mania renders people unable to function in normal society. But hypomania produces a relentless, euphoric, impulsive machine that explodes toward its goals while staying connected (even if only loosely) with reality.”
“Anyone who knows baseball knows Ted Williams. He played professionally from 1939 to 1960 and is one of the undisputed greatest hitters of all time, right up there with Babe Ruth. But whether you’re familiar with him or not, I have news for you: Ted Williams never played baseball. Nope, he never did. The problem there is the verb: Williams wasn’t playing. To him, hitting a baseball wasn’t a game. He always took it very, very seriously. In a 1988 interview he said as a child he literally wished on a falling star that he would become the greatest hitter to ever live. But he didn’t sit around and wait for the dream to come true. His obsessive, perfectionist work ethic would bring him more success than any descending celestial body would. Williams said, “I . . . insist that regardless of physical assets, I would never have gained a headline for hitting if I [had not] kept everlastingly at it and thought of nothing else the year round . . . I only lived for my next time at bat.” Ten thousand hours to achieve expertise? Williams probably did that a few times over. He was obsessed. After school, he’d go to a local field and practice hitting until nine P.M., only stopping because that’s when they turned the lights out. Then he’d go home and practice in the backyard until his parents made him go to bed. He’d get to school early so he could fit in more swings before classes started. He’d bring his bat to class. He picked courses that had less homework, not because he was lazy but so he’d have more time for hitting. “

Best-Seller Will Get You Up the Right Tree

BarkingUpWrongTreeCoverEric Barker‘s new book, Barking Up the Wrong Tree:  The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know about Success is (Mostly) Wrong,” debuted at # 2 on the Wall Street Journal business best-selling list today (May 27-28, 2017, p. C16).  The book is published by HarperOne, and was distributed just a week ago.

As of this writing, it is # 302 in overall book sales, and is in the top 50 in three sub-categories.  It is an almost certain selection for us in a future month for the First Friday Book Synopsis.

Here is what Barker’s biography says about him on Amazon.com:  Eric Barker’sEric Barker Picture humorous, practical blog, “Barking Up the Wrong Tree”, presents science-based answers and expert insight on how to be awesome at life. Over 290,000 people subscribe to his weekly newsletter and his content is syndicated by Time Magazine, The Week, and Business Insider. He has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, and the Financial Times. Eric is also a sought-after speaker and interview subject, and has been invited to speak at MIT, Yale, West Point, the University of Pennsylvania, NPR affiliates, and on morning television.

This is a summary of the book from the same source:

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 greatest strength
• Whether nice guys finish last and why the best lessons about cooperation come from gang members, pirates, and serial killers

• Why trying to increase confidence fails and how Buddhist philosophy holds a superior solution
• The secret ingredient to “grit” that Navy SEALs and disaster survivors leverage to keep going
• How to find work-life balance using the strategy of Genghis Khan, the errors of Albert Einstein, and a little lesson from Spider-Man

By looking at what separates the extremely successful from the rest of us, we learn what we can do to be more like them—and find out in some cases why it’s good that we aren’t. Barking Up the Wrong Tree draws on startling statistics and surprising anecdotes to help you understand what works and what doesn’t so you can stop guessing at success and start living the life you want.