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Firing Back: How Great Leaders Rebound After Career Disasters Hardcover – February 8, 2007

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Firing Back: How Great Leaders Rebound After Career Disasters + Comebacks: Powerful Lessons from Leaders Who Endured Setbacks and Recaptured Success on Their Terms
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (February 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591393019
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591393016
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #351,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"...a well-timed new book...on how executives recover from career disasters." -- The Economist, February 15, 2007

"...an excellent book...essential for leaders and aspiring leaders in all walks of life." -- The Financial Times, January 17, 2007

"A sophisticated self-help guide for the fallen chief executive" -- BusinessWeek, February 12, 2007

"Firing Back is full of wreckage and hard-fought redemption, sparing little detail and never going gooey." -- FORBES, March 12, 2007

...Firing Back should be read by anyone who has success on their agenda. -- Donald Trump

...insight valuable for anyone who wants to reach the top and stay there. -- Jim Cramer, Journalist, Host of CNBC's "Mad Money"

A stunning achievement. One of the best books on leadership I've read in a very long time. -- Warren Bennis, University Professor, University of Southern California and author of On Becoming a Leader

An insightful, compelling work filled with real-life examples of triumphs, failures and recoveries. -- Jamie Dimon, CEO JPMorgan Chase

Given that the average tenure for a chief executive has been steadily declining, the timing of the book could not be better. And for anyone else who has ever been fired, it is nice to know that F. Scott Fitzgerald got it wrong. Apparently, there are second acts in American (business) lives. -- The New York Times, February 4, 2007

I wish I'd written this book myself and surely recommend all aspiring leaders read it. -- Roger Enrico, Former Chairman and CEO, Pepsico

From the Back Cover

Is it possible to rescue your career and restore your reputation after a major professional setback? In an age rife with press accounts of disgraced CEO’s, politicians, and celebrities-as well as courageous but beleaguered whistle-blowers and victims of rivalries or envious colleagues and bosses-this question has grown more important than ever.

In Firing Back, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and Andrew Ward answer the question with a resounding “Yes”. They go on to lay out a practical and important five-step process for actually recovering from setbacks. Following these steps will help guise you through difficult circumstances, rebuild your reputation, and chart a new future. The authors also explore strategies for surmounting common barriers to career recovery, including tricky corporate cultures ad psychological stresses.

Anchored in decades of research and scholarly studies across multiple fields, this book is packed with engrossing stories and firsthand accounts from humbled but restored CEOs and executives from firms as diverse as General Electric, the Home Depot, Morgan Stanley, Apple, Staples, and Hewlett-Packard.

Firing Back offers a clear plan for anyone who needs to recover from a career setback and reclaim lost prestige and reputation-whether the setback stemmed from his own actions or forces outside her control.

Learn more about this book at www.firingbackbook.com

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 16 customer reviews
We will all face adversity.
Marshall Goldsmith
Great book with good insights about how to handle set-backs in career.
J. Churchill
An interesting story not found in the book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As I began to read this book, I was reminded of Jack Dempsey's observation that "champions get up when they can't." All of us have encountered professional setbacks of one kind or another and some of them are especially difficult to overcome. Most of the examples which Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and Andrew Ward cite in this book involve CEOs who either "fired back"and eventually prevailed after a career setback (e.g. Donald Trump, Martha Stewart, Bernie Marcus, Jimmy Carter, and George Foreman) or never fully recovered from them (e.g. Jill Barad, John Scully, Leona Helmsley, Jacques Nasser, and Linda Warnaco). The former demonstrate the importance of "seven lessons to turn tragedy into triumph" which Sonnenfeld and Ward recommend; the latter demonstrate the probable consequences of failing to understand and then apply those lessons on which a five-step strategy - "for rescuing and restoring a career and reputation after a devastating professional setback" -- is based.

It would be a disservice to Sonnenfeld and Ward as well as to those who read this brief commentary if I were to list the "lessons" and "steps" which are best revealed within the narrative of this remarkably thoughtful, eloquent, and practical book. Each is anchored in a real-world context. Each is relevant to anyone now embarked upon or preparing for a professional career. I mention this last point because some who consider purchasing this book may incorrectly assume that its material will be of greatest value only to senior-level executives. On the contrary, all of Sonnenfeld and Ward's observations and recommendations can be of substantial benefit to anyone who wishes to (a) avoid "a devastating professional setback" or (b) recover from one.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Rita W. Bartczak on February 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
While I'm not in the league of the leaders featured in 'Firing Back' it

has had a profound impact on how I dealt with a recent set back. I realize

now, that I have a choice - even in defeat. The advice is practical and

quickly changed how I viewed my situation. I now know I'm not alone and am

excited about my new path of 'Firing Back'.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Marshall Goldsmith on March 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Unfortunately, much of the literature on CEOs depicts them as either Gods , demons or idiots. I have worked with many CEOs and have found them to be human beings - just like the rest of us. Jeff Sonnenfeld is one of the few authors who has actually interacted with hundreds of CEOs. This book depicts the 'human drama' of success and failure at the top of the executive world. It also has lessons about defeat, courage and perserverence that we can all use. Lots of books talk about what we can learn from success stories - few talk about what we can learn when we fail. From my experince, most of of learning comes from our losses - not our victories. We will all face adversity. We will all fail. 'Firing Back' gives us some great ideas about how to make a comeback when that happens.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Grammar Curmudgeon on August 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I'm about a third of the way through this book and have had to stop reading several times, in sheer amazement. Was an editor from Harvard Press involved in this publication at all? It's full of run-on sentences, missing words, typos, repetitions (sometimes within the same sentence) and just plain bad writing.

I've come to expect grammar and spelling mistakes in popular fiction, but these authors should know better -- they're university professors. This book is just astoundingly badly edited. The authors need to pull it off the market, have someone go through it who knows how to write, and issue a revised version. Their many good points are being lost in the debris of poor composition.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By R. Spell VINE VOICE on April 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this from a magazine recommendation. The recommendation highlighted the telling of past business titans who had failed and how they rebounded. I assumed I would have chapters on each different story, a beginning, middle and end. Instead, this is more a business management book on the theoretical discussion of comebacks, why some work and some don't. The business biographies are there, but they are told in short staccato versions to prove a point and not fully explored. Nothing wrong with that, just not what I had hoped for. For others, this book will be perfect. But if you are looking for multiple business biographies as was I, this is not for you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Medvlst on July 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading this book, and though it could be improved on, it's unique and helpful. At times the authors try to stress how helpful the experiences of CEOs are to us "little people" and at other times they try to stress how special CEOs are. Although I'm not a CEO, many of the concepts and examples in this book apply to me, even some of the ones that supposedly only apply to CEOs. For example, CEOs operate within a small community and their reputations are very important for future employability. I work in a very tiny subspecialty of my profession and my biggest worry about finding a new job is exactly that: what are people saying about the way I left my job? Is anyone saying destructive things behind my back? I don't think they are, but it's validating to read a whole chapter on how important a professional reputation is for future job searching. They urge people to take control of their story and how to frame it in the least destructive way. The division into external and internal obstacles was useful too. I'm still reeling from the emotional toll my career crisis took on me. I got a pretty good severence package so I have time to take care of myself, and I plan to follow much of the advice in this book. I showed this book to my therapist because many people need therapy to help them overcome career challenges and she found it interesting too.

The best thing about this book is that it uses real-life examples with real names, most of which are household names. These people have been excellent role models for people who have recovered from disasters, but this book gives the insight into how and why they did what they did and why they were effective.

There needs to be a new edition, though, because Carly Fiorino has bounced back! Good for her. I want to know how she did it.
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