The Up Side of Down

  • by Megan McArdle
  • Narrated by Mia Barron
  • 10 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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.
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- Ray

Successful Failures

'm not a 'B-School graduate'. My undergraduate degrees is in Business Administration. It's from a prestigious private university. I could have chosen to go on to get a Master's from the same place. Instead, I chose to get a Juris Doctor, and I've been a litigator ever since.

Do I want to manage people? Unless it's a trial team assembled on an ad hoc basis, I would rather clean tile grout with a toothbrush. I still love the theory of business management. I've been following it for the last quarter century. I work for a Major Company (you've heard of it) and I get to watch how the theories come and go, from the managed point if view.

Some trends are a flash, or so radical they won't happen for at least a generation - but it Is fun to watch management try the ideas. Adam Grant's "Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success" (2013) is an example. Nice idea, but it didn't work for the Soviet Union (1922 - 1991) and it's not working now. It might eventually - but the world's leading economy, the United States, and it's business leaders aren't at the tacit socialism Grant proposes.

Megan McArdle's "The Upside of Down: Why Failing Well Drives Our Success" (2014) discusses a "trend" that's working well, from the perspective of the managed worker: learning from failure. I'm using "trend" in quotes because it sounds like a facile lesson, but it's really not. It's also not new - "Billion Dollar Lessons: What You Can Learn from the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last 25 Years" (2008) is a wonderful book on the same subject by Paul B. Carroll and Chunka Mui.

After discussing Old Coke/New Coke (THE quintessential B-mistake), "The Upside of Down" and "Billion Dollar Lessons" talk about different failures; the ways to approach and analyze them; and their causes.

McArdle distinguishes an accident as "while there's lots of things you could have done differently, there's nothing you should have done differently" (Chapter 5 on Audible) and "failure" as a "mistake, performing without a safety net." It's a good way to distinguish them. McArdle emphasizes that a lot of mistakes are the result of large, well funded research that carefully asks exactly the wrong questions, or asks the right questions in the wrong situation.

"The Upside of Down" is thought provoking, but there's an issue that I'd like to see addressed more fully: how to create an atmosphere where employees aren't subtly - or sometimes even overtly - required to hide mistakes, especially those that can compound and result in failure. After all, even one of the world's most successful investors, Warren Buffett, reported an $873,000,000 investing mistake to shareholders May 1, 2014. Referring to a bad investment, Buffett said, "Most of you have never heard" of the company, he wrote. "Consider yourselves lucky; I certainly wish I hadn't." What a no-nonsense way to share a problem without sharing the blame.

The Audible narrator was fine, but the editing was rough - there were some long pauses.

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- Cynthia "Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always.""

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-11-2014
  • Publisher: Recorded Books