Failing Up

How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning
Narrated by: Leslie Odom Jr.
Length: 3 hrs and 35 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,311 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

I can tell you’re a dreamer – you’re a human. We hope, we imagine, and believe daydreams will be realized. Then lives take shape, ambitions are shelved. What does it mean to be realistic?

Leslie Odom, Jr., became a household name when he originated the role of Aaron Burr in the Broadway sensation Hamilton, a performance that won him the 2016 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. But before he could perform for sold-out audiences in one of the most massively successful shows of all time, Odom had to stop playing it safe and take the risk of a lifetime. Now, with the depth and poetic power he brought to the stage, Odom shares his story in his own voice.

Listen in as Odom recounts his dynamic path to success with sincerity and vigor bound to inspire, motivate, and ultimately, help you believe in your own potential. In his intimate retelling of childhood dreams — finally fully realized — Odom shares insights to lift up listeners and offers concrete actions they can immediately apply to their own lives. Honest and thoughtful, Leslie Odom, Jr., transforms sentiment into success.

Cover photo by Christopher Boudewyns. 

©2018 Leslie Odom Jr. (P)2018 Audible, Inc.

Go Behind the Scenes with Leslie Odom, Jr.

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The Broadway phenom...draws on his own life, and success, to offer advice about living to your fullest potential.

-The New York Times
.

Our favorite moments from Failing Up

Identify your true passion
Have you taken a step forward today?
Open your heart to a new reality
Beginners luck isn’t actually luck

  • Failing Up
  • Identify your true passion
  • Failing Up
  • Have you taken a step forward today?
  • Failing Up
  • Open your heart to a new reality
  • Failing Up
  • Beginners luck isn’t actually luck

About the Author and Performer

Leslie Odom, Jr., is best known for his breakout role as Aaron Burr in the smash hit Broadway musical Hamilton, for which he won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical and a Grammy Award as a principal soloist on the original cast recording. Making his Broadway debut in Rent at age 17, he also starred in the stage adaptation of Leap of Faith. His off-Broadway work includes Venice and the original staging of Hamilton, both at the Public Theater. He also starred opposite Lin-Manuel Miranda and Karen Olivo in a 2014 City Center Encores! revival of Jonathan Larson’s Tick, Tick ... Boom!. Odom was most recently seen on the big screen in Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express. His previous film work includes the 2012 historical drama Red Tails, as part of an all-star cast that included Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and David Oyelowo. On television, he starred in the cult-classic musical drama series Smash and had recurring roles on NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and CBS’s Persons of Interest and CSI: Miami. In December 2017, Odom returned to the New York stage in a solo concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center -- a cabaret-style performance that was also filmed for PBS’s Emmy Award-winning series Live from Lincoln Center, aired in April 2018. Odom is also a featured performer on the Audible Audiobook The Radical King.

What listeners say about Failing Up

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One of the most profound reads I've heard yet!

At one of my lost/ lows at the time I've heard this reading, it was profound to me on account of losing my job, at home (my brother's home) on the couch, "waiting on calls" for job offers, feeling worried, and sorry for myself, this book couldn't have come at a better time! This book read out a loud that I can "try harder ", more proactively to help myself out of my situation! Thank you Leslie Odom Jr. for a book with real depth of self excellence !

12 people found this helpful

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didn't motivate me

If you are the type of person who doesnt get motivated by other people success, then this book is NOT helpful. (maybe I didn't like the book much because I have never heard of the author or seen any of his work)
It was nice to listen to his experiences but it did not change my life or made me get up of my lazy butt and do something useful!
This book could be summarized in:
Dont sit and do nothing. Dont just wait for something to come your way. Go do something new/else while you are waiting for what you want to happen.

5 people found this helpful

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Just what I needed to hear

Any additional comments?

As a working actor, who continuously goes through the feast and famine that this industry offers, the internal and emotional struggles that is inevitable to go through during this perpetual hustle, Leslie Odom Jr.'s book really hits home and speaks to my inner self and has helped center me, inspire me, allow me to accept the decisions I've made or am making and pushed me to keep learning, to say No when needed without remorse and never to be afraid to fail. Well done and thank you.

4 people found this helpful

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I wish this would have been a biography instead

A straight autobiography would have been more impactful. Leslie recounts specific events in his life to demonstrate certain values, and unfortunately it comes off preachy.
His personal stories are told too briefly and incredibly flatly- it would go from "I married my best friend, love of my life" to "my life wasn't great and I was depressed" in the same paragraph with little transition and little detail to gain meaning.
His successes are so extraordinary that when he tries to impress a life lesson, it's cheapened by the lack of narrative around his struggles. Instead, "fail spectacularly" was repeated again and again, with little substance to inspire.
Most of the stories in this book is easily found elsewhere, so I would pass on this if you're looking for more insight into Leslie's life. I would also pass if you're looking for life lessons.

10 people found this helpful

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mesmerizing and intuitive

There's no lack of positive words I could use to describe this audio book, performed with an appealing candor it was an easy listen that I had to continually repeat because of getting lost in the story I wasn't absorbing the life lessons, phenomenal I would reccomend this to anyone.

9 people found this helpful

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When you take one step, the universe takes two

My only wish is that there was more. I really enjoyed this and found it inspirational. Fail up. Don’t be afraid to fail. TRY. Take the risk and jump. Fly.

29 people found this helpful

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an actor writes

Leslie Odom, Jr. may be best known as Aaron Burr in Broadway’s Hamilton, but he’s had a lot of other roles on his journey to get there. He’s been a son, a student, a token black man, a husband, a father, and an actor in television, commercials, films, and on the stage. He draws on all that experience in his book Failing Up.

Packed with good advice for artists of all kinds, or really, for individuals of all kinds, he offers up excellent ideas for moving forward in a creative career, putting your best foot forward, and taking action even when the phone isn’t ringing. He had strong mentors, so he gives us some of the guidance they shared with him as well as the obvious good advice: get yourself some strong mentors.

Sharing memories from growing up, including his stint in Broadway’s Rent as a high schooler, on through his time on the stage for the smash musical Hamilton, Odom, Jr. shares his thoughts on taking chances, giving up, and being true to yourself.

Leslie Odom, Jr. shares a lesson from his life, along with a personal story to illustrate his point. Not so much a typical memoir as a handbook for living as a successful artist, Failing Up reads a little like a commencement address. But, a really good one. And with the audio book read by the author, it’s about 3-and-a-half hours of good advice for living from someone who has made the most of some amazing opportunities.

This would be a great gift for fans of Hamilton, for wannabe actors or artists, or for anyone who enjoys a good book about how to live a better life. The wisdom and graciousness of Failing Up make this as effective as a self-help book as it is a memoir, and Odom, Jr.’s experiences make for powerful life lessons for us all.

2 people found this helpful

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Inspirational

Good story. Could have been shorter. Got repetitive. But a good story nonetheless. Epilogue was poignant!

5 people found this helpful

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Great career advice

What a wonderful experience this was. Leslie has a great narrative voice, the message is uplifting, and the career advice is wonderful especially if you are a performer of the arts. I went out and bought a hard copy of the book to give to my daughter as a gift.

1 person found this helpful

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Never Fails to Engage the Listener

Using events in his own life, Leslie Odom Jr offers an inspirational read that feels different from any of the other inspirational books I've read. This one deals with perseverance and commitment like other books of its kind, but this one goes to dark and scary places that have to do with taking chances, giving yourself permission to fail and learn from those failures. The whole tone is fresh and different. Blending anecdotes with good, sound, concise advice, readers understand that everyone can achieve a more creative life. Never sad, always uplifting and often a little scary, Failing Up is a must read at any stage in your life because we all want to live a more creative life -- no matter how young or old we are. I loved the audiobook because you get to hear Leslie Odom Jrs' golden voice.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-23-18

Amazing

Brilliant audio book and such a lovely voice to listen to. Inspirational thank you for your story

1 person found this helpful

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  • KateHenderson
  • 04-11-18

Adored this

I am now an even bigger fan of Leslie Odom Jr. what a brilliant man! Very honest and open book!
Just wish it would have been longer!!! Wanted more!!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Miss
  • 01-21-19

Extremely helpful

I have listed to this book several times and it's amazing, and it's beautifully narrated. The real take home for me is the importance of being intentional about what it is you want for your life. It has guided me to enjoy the process of looking at opportunities in my life and taking risks. As well as, helped me to see that failing is not really my fear, it's the shame (and the inability to deal with it) that comes with giving your all and not succeeding. So now this book has led me into some further self-reflection and self-improvement. Can't thank Mr. Odom Jr. enough for his openness and over sunny demeanor throughout the book. Well worth a listen.