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Publisher's Summary

For fans of Drive, Outliers, and Daring Greatly, a counterintuitive, paradigm-shifting new take on what makes people and companies succeed.

Most new products fail. So do most small businesses. And most of us, if we are honest, have experienced a major setback in our personal or professional lives. So what determines who will bounce back and follow up with a home run? If you want to succeed in business and in life, Megan McArdle argues in this hugely thought-provoking book, you have to learn how to harness the power of failure. McArdle has been one of our most popular business bloggers for more than a decade, covering the rise and fall of some the world' s top companies and challenging us to think differently about how we live, learn, and work. Drawing on cutting-edge research in science, psychology, economics, and business, and taking insights from turnaround experts, emergency room doctors, venture capitalists, child psychologists, bankruptcy judges, and mountaineers, McArdle argues that America is unique in its willingness to let people and companies fail, but also in its determination to let them pick up after the fall. Failure is how people and businesses learn. So how do you reinvent yourself when you are down? Dynamic and punchy, McArdle teaches us how to recognize mistakes early to channel setbacks into future success. The Up Side of Down marks the emergence of an author with her thumb on the pulse whose book just might change the way you lead your life.

©2014 Megan McArdle (P)2014 Recorded Books

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Good Book

First of all, this isn't a self-help book (fortunately). Rather it is an interesting look at some solid research with the author's own failings as a minor backdrop.

Some of her examples seem to go a little far afield to make the point, but she manages to tie it all up pretty tightly before she's done. That a successful life requires a little friction isn't entirely new of course, but nothing in the book is tired or rehashed and all in all the reader walks away with some pretty good insight.

20 of 23 people found this review helpful

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  • Wayne
  • Matthews, NC
  • 11-24-15

The importance of failing well to success

There are a lot of possible ways to express the premise of The Up Side of Down. The one I like best is, "success is unlikely unless you first risk, and likely experience, failure". Failure is a great teacher. The concept is hardly new, but Megan McArdle provides so great examples from personal lives and businesses. McArdle is a journalist with an MBA degree. She currently writes a business and political opinion column each weekday for Bloomberg View. She has worked for the Economist, The Atlantic, and several other publications.

I first became of familiar with McArdle's work when two months after 9/11/2001 she worked to help clean up the WTC site and blogged about it in the evenings. I have followed her career since. She is responsible for Jane's Law of US politics; "The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out of power are insane." She was blogging at the time under the pen name Jane.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Started off great! Downhill from there

What disappointed you about The Up Side of Down?

This book started off with a BANG. Good ideas, thought-provoking topics, etc. Then, as it went along (after chapter 2) it became drier and drier. Bogged down with needless facts and figures about every success and failure of every business model you can think of. Not really that helpful to the average individual in the long run and difficult to listen to for 10 hours!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Totally Derivitive

What disappointed you about The Up Side of Down?

The author has simply read a bunch of popular books and assembled snippets of them, along with some personal experiences, to write an obviously derivative and non-original book.

Would you ever listen to anything by Megan McArdle again?

The author is an excellent writer. I might if there was good reason to believe she was going to write something original.

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

If your interest in this topic is marginal, such that you're likely to read only one book on the subject, this book would be okay.

Any additional comments?

Consider reading Scott Adams' "How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life" instead. It's totally original and far more entertaining. <br/><br/>Or "Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure" by Tim Harford.<br/><br/>Or some of the books the author steals from, such as "Thinking Fast and Slow" or "The Invisible Gorilla"

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Book's potential drowned in lake of Narcissus

This book started out wonderfully. If the author had stuck to her plan stated in the first several pages of the book, it could well have been helpful and inspiring. And yet, her smugness and self-aggrandizing babel get the better of her and ruin this book, which becomes all about Ms. McArdle and her personal and political views, rather than a book that gives advice or even anecdotes about those who have succeeded after failure, how they did it or how and *why failing well is the key to success*.

I didn't get to the last 3 chapters. I had suffered far too long, deciding instead to cut my costs and fail well.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Too many stories, almost no applicable lessons

I thought there were going to be lessons on how to be more open to failing and how to "fail well", but there simply wasn't.

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  • N.
  • Randolph, VT
  • 03-11-16

Presents a different perspective

This book covers many areas around the idea of failure. It is a great way to turn around your mindset on trying new things and failure. However, this author manages to almost never speak of race even when discussing, the start of America and the criminal justice system. It's such a narrow view on how life in America is about. For that reason I can not give it more stars. It was insulting that those very crucial complexities were glossed over. With that said I would still recommend it as a good read.

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  • Susan
  • Hampton, VA, United States
  • 08-20-15

Everyone should read this book

What did you love best about The Up Side of Down?

The information in this book is useful in the classroom, in the work environment, in personal budget planning and in life in general. It was useful and inspiring.

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  • Marie
  • WASHINGTON, DC, United States
  • 11-02-14

Perfect is the enemy of the good

I totally recommend this book to parents, people starting a business, heck everyone.
The author uses personal and other anecdotal stories to tell a bigger story of how we are forgetting that we learn from our mistakes and not making mistakes or the effort to prevent mistakes does us no favors. One was that of bankruptcy. In America you can start a business, fail, go bankrupt, and later try again (hopefully learning from the 1st effort). In other countries you only get to fail once, with sad results for the country as a whole.
The narration coupled with the story made this audiobook a good listen. it was informative and a little entertaining.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Insanely Inspiring

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I LOVED this. Not only is the book awesome, the narrator is the epitome of awesomeness. The content and real life experiences of people are super interesting and made me feel like I could do anything. In order to be great you have to fail at some things first and that's ok. Awesome read.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful