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Summary

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.

©2017 Eric Barker (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable book

A very enjoyable listen. A collection of interesting observations. Not perhaps as controversial in its assertions as the title suggests. Would very much recommend.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable and enlightening

A book full of stories of success from various sources backed by the science to make it truly interesting.

If you like a book that looks at success from a different angle (not just business) then this is an entertaining book. Although much of the real science is covered lightly it still gives enough information for further reading.

Although no earth-shattering revelations there are some real nuggets within that make it worth the listen.

On that note I would mention that the narrator speaks quite slowly and I found I had to listen at a much higher speed otherwise it became tiresome.

The narration aside this is a great listen.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Entertaining and educational

Enjoyable and useful listen. Great set of stories that can help guide how you live and use your time

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Case studies and obscure examples

The idea success is limited or taught is explained in detail through the most unusual people. You come to realise that despite everyone’s craziness within everyone lies the ability to be successful in whatever you desire, especially with any drawbacks or disabilities you may have. The range of examples used is extremely vast and you will find an example that fits you’re position!

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A must listen

Challenges the mind and individual perception of what success truly means... It is a long book but worth the time.

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Exceptionally Good Book to listen to

From start to finish a great book to listen too. Very insightful with a great narrator.

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Great summary of must read books<br />

Contains the main takeaways from many books on most to read lists.It would be great to get a PDF also, as there is lots to reflect on.

I have read a lot of the books referenced within, but Eric provides further insights.

In hindsight I would have bought the book , but still lots of information here if you just don't like reading.

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Interesting, but a bit random

Not really sure what I take away from this book, although it was an interesting listen.

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Fantastic!

Loved it! Entertaining and full of wise words to live by. Everyone should read this

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Fantastic

Really enjoyed the book . Pointing out all sorts of ideas you think should give you performance but don't ... we really are barking up the wrong tree for a lot of the time.

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  • Dan_H.
  • 07-03-18

Poorly written

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Yes but with the caveat that it reads more like a mediocre self-help book than an interesting collection of anecdotes about the science of success.

What could Eric Barker have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

He needs to omit the words "research shows" or "studies have shown" from his vocabulary entirely. If you're going to talk about research, describe a study or paraphrase what specific (named) researchers have said. Don't insult their work by degrading it down to the infomercial one-liner, "studies have shown". By Doing this he discredits many of his points since I don't know if he's talking about peer reviewed research or, you know, "research".

Was Barking up the Wrong Tree worth the listening time?

There are a few really interesting points, a few quotes worth hearing, and a few takeaways that I thought were really helpful. I think it's worth the listen if you're willing to get past the groan-worthy moments where he drones on about a point he made 3 times in the last 15 minutes. The takeaways are worth while, though.

72 of 79 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Celso Relvas
  • 21-03-18

Unbelievable wisdom. I just wish I were the author

Simply put: this is the most useful audiobook I've had the luck stumble upon and listen to. Through a very long list of totally disparate stories, Eric Barker made me realize that for many decades (I'm 51 now), I've chased many wrong objectives thinking that these would lead to the "success" (whatever that is). This is not a self help book and the lessons here should not be taken lightly. This is serious stuff and the best thing is that the 16-minute final chapter sums it all up. As always, Roger Wayne does a phenomenal job in narrating.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael0310
  • 12-12-17

Nothing new here

I guess I can’t necessarily blame the author for this, but this book had no new information for me. If you’re familiar with the following researchers/authors then you’ll likely have a similar experience:

- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Flow, Happiness, Motivation) referenced a lot
- Susan Cain (Quiet, introversion vs. extroversion)
- Dan Ariely (Psychology and Behavioral Economics)

The narrator was very good, easy to listen to.

72 of 81 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Reggaws
  • 12-09-17

Excellent presentation of cognitive research

Would you consider the audio edition of Barking up the Wrong Tree to be better than the print version?

I'll never believe audio is better than print but this audio is well read and a great way to learn on the move. Because the content is so "meaty" I have purchased the print version as well to digest with my eyes and mark up.

What about Roger Wayne’s performance did you like?

The reader's voice has the perfect pitch and cadence for this type of book. Well Read!

49 of 56 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Louisa
  • 05-09-17

Amazing research and case studies!

When I first saw this book, I thought it would be a self help book with ideas for how to get success for yourself. This book is more of a book of facts and you making your own assessment which is fine but just not what I thought I was getting.

The real life case stories and tests are incredibly fascinating and this book was well worth the read. Only downside is that it might not expecting offer what you were expecting.

36 of 41 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Medgeniva
  • 02-09-17

Teaching to live a life, but how?

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

This book is a collection of curious facts and anecdotes, so anyone interested in stories of success might enjoy it more. I found it contradictory and lacking depth. Some parts of the book made me angry.

What could Eric Barker have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Be a different person?

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

As I have already said, it is full of interesting stories and renderings of exciting experiments. This is the best part of the book and, in my opinion, the only part making it worth reading/listening. Ah, the performance as well. The performance is great.

Any additional comments?

Why was I angry?

First, when I heard about the distinction between Dandelions and Orchids, I decided I would stop listening to it right away, since it stopped being useful for me. You see, if you're a sensitive person (an orchid) who never had enough support in your childhood and whose parenting was so-so or just bad, you can only become an alcoholic, a drug-addict or some other miserable burdensome member of society. You can only bloom (much better than resilient dandelions) if you had perfect parents devoted to your talent.

The second maddening point concerned Moldova. OK. The level of trust between people in Moldova (and many other post-Soviet countries) is very low, which makes it impossible to be happy or reach any real lasting success there. Many times the author repeats: If you don't do this or If you do that, where will you find yourself? Right! Moldova! And he gives wonderful advice: "Keep as far away from Moldova as you can, both literally and figuratively!" And if you happen to be living there (I don't, but I live in a similar country)? Die!

Third. The division into givers, takers and matchers is described in such a way as if these styles of communication depend on a choice of a person. Be a giver but not to the extreme, says the author. Spend two hours a week on volunteering, but not more, or else you will exhaust yourself. Goodness. It sounds like sheer calculation. Has he ever heard about childhood trauma and other stuff leading to the experience of deficit in people (the desire to take)? Has he heard about lack of love, which incapacitates children, depriving them of the ability to love (=give unconditionally) in the future?In general, this book does not appeal to me, since it is shallow and contradictory. To achieve success (in the worst sense of this word), on the one hand you have to have the right upbringing and the right place of birth (not Moldova or the like), and on the other hand your background doesn't matter, since you can consciously choose whether to give (moderately) or to take.

If I had listened the book to the end, I am sure I would have found more to complain of, but I am returning it.

155 of 184 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jeff
  • 20-05-17

great book but

like many other books in this sphere of influence it starts strong has one or two nuggets of insight then fades in the last half to three quarters of the book. sometimes shorter and more concise is better rather than padding to fill space. that said the nuggets within are worth the read.

19 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-09-17

great

practical, intellectual, good research, easy to follow, and addictive to listen to. I would definitely recommend this book to every parent.

15 of 18 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Clinton Aukstolis
  • 12-07-17

Comprehensive update to the science of success

Do you have alignment between your career and your personality? Are you working too hard? Are you giving up too soon?

Eric Barker's book is a great resource for answering that most nagging question of "is this the right path for me?"

You may not discover your calling overnight but he will give you resources to take a holistic look at your life and help you decide for yourself if you're banging your head against the wall or if you should press on, and how.

15 of 18 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • robert martin davison
  • 03-06-17

Lots of interesting stories.

I think this book is most useful for people who are younger. I'm 45 and things are too stable in my life to really take advantage of the advice. However the book has so many interesting stories in it that it's worth reading or listening to, and I learned quite a lot. I seem to be addicted to self help books, and am always looking for ways to improve. I would say the main point of the book is, 'know thyself' .

25 of 31 people found this review helpful