BOOK: Barking up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker; Chapter 1

The Surprising science behind why everything you know about success is mostly wrong. 

Chapter 1: Should we play it safe and do what we’re told if we want to succeed? Does playing by the rules pay off?

  • When are our weakness actually strengths? Is it better to be an outlier with both handicaps and superpowers? Or do we live better lives at the middle of the bell curve?
  • Differential susceptibility hypothesis: The same genes that lead to bad stuff can actually lead to great stuff in a different situation.
  • David Dobbs in The Atlantic: the very genes that gives us the most trouble as species causing behaviors that are self-destructive and antisocial, also underlie humankind’s phenomenal adaptability and evolutionary success.
  • Hopeful Monster: an individual that deviates radically from the norm in a population because of a genetic mutation that confers a potentially adaptive advantage.
  • Pixar Experience: pixar is thinking that they are starting to lose their edge after ‘Finding Nemo’. They hired a new CEO so that they will have a new strategy. This new CEO’s tactic was to hire the BLACKSHEEP of the company and give them absolute liberty to be creative. Result? a blockbuster The Incredibles”. ‘The same traits that make people a nightmare to deal with can also make them the people who change the world.
  • Idea of Intensifiers: qualities that are universally awful have their own uses in specific contexts. Example, Formula 1 cars are undrivable on city streets but break records on a track. When it comes to the extremes of performance, averages doesn’t matter. What matters is variance, those deviations from the norm. Almost universally, we humans try to filter out the worst to increase the average, but by doing so, we also decrease variance.
  • Mad Genius Paradox: mildly creative people are mentally healthier than average – but extremely creative people have a far higher incidence of mental disorders.
  • Venture Capital Business Mindset: Invest in strength versus lack of weakness. The companies that have the really extreme strengths often have serious flaws. But if you don’t invest on the basis of serious flaws, you don’t invest in most of the big winners.
  • Leadership Filtration Theory: reaching the heights of success requires a dip into qualities that are otherwise problematic.
  1. Know Thyself – In terms of achieving what you want in life, means being aware of your strengths. What are you good at that consistently produces desired results?
  2. Pick the right pond – You’ve got to pick the right environment  that work for you. When you choose your pond wisely, you can best leverage your type, your strengths, and your context to create tremendous value.


Too often we label things good or bad when the right designation might merely be different. We spend too much time trying to be ‘good’ when good is merely average. To be great, we must be different. And that doesn’t come from trying to follow society’s vision of what is best, because society doesn’t always know what it needs. More often being best means just being the best version of you. In the right environment, bad can be good and odd can be beautiful. 

BOOK THOUGHTS: The Magic of Thinking BIG

***I’m only on Chapter 2 and I find myself nodding while reading every line. I’m sharing you the most important ones from what I’ve read so far….

Chapter 1: Believe you can succeed and you will

  • Belief is the thermostat that regulates what we accomplish in life
  • A person is a product of his own thoughts. Believe big and grow big.
  • Believe in yourself and good things will start happening.
  • Those who convert opportunity into reward will be those wise people who learn how to think themselves to success.

How to develop the Power of Belief

  1. Think success, don’t think failure. Thinking success conditions your mind to create plans that produce success.
  2. Remind yourself regularly that you are better that you think you are. – Never sell yourself short.
  3. Believe Big. The size of your success is determined by the size of your belief.


Chapter 2: Cure yourself of Excusitis, the failure disease

The Four most common forms

1.‘But my health isn’t good’

  • The perfect specimen of adult life is nonexistent. There is something wrong with everybody
  • The right attitude and one arm will beat the wrong attitude with two arms everytime.’


  1. Refuse to talk about your health
  2. Refuse to worry about your health
  3. Be genuinely grateful that your health is as good as it is
  4. Remind yourself often, ‘it is better to wear out than rust out’


2. ‘But you’ve got brains to succeed’

  • Two common reasons: We underestimate our own brainpower & we overestimate the other fellow’s brainpower
  • What really matters is not how much intelligence you have but how you use what you do have


  1. Never underestimate your own intelligence and never overestimate. Concentrate on your assets. It’s how you use your brains that counts
  2. Remind yourself daily: ‘My attitude is more important than my intelligence’
  3. Remember that the ability to think is of much greater value than the ability to memorize facts


3. ‘It’s no use. I’m too old. Or too young’

  • What matters is how well you know your job. Age has no real relation to ability, unless you convince yourself that years alone will give you the need to make your mark


  1. Don’t be age conscious.
  2. Don’t take advantage of your new gold bars
  3. Get used to having older persons working for you
  4. Your age won’t be a handicap unless you make it one


4. ‘But my case is different. I attract bad luck’

  • Just concentrate on developing those qualities in yourself that will make you a winner


  1. Accept the law of cause and effect
  2. Don’t be a wishful thinker. Success comes from doing those things and mastering those principles that produce success