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Mistakes I Made at Work: 25 Influential Women Reflect on What They Got Out of Getting It Wrong Paperback – April 29, 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

  • One of "Ten New Books You Need to Read This Year" - Fast Company
  • One of the "Top 10 Business and Economics Books for Spring" - Publishers Weekly
  • "Bacal . . . hit pay dirt: stories filled with humor and humiliation, plus loads of hard-earned career management advice." -ELLE Magazine
  • "crucial character boot camp . . . an important book because it shows that life is not a magazine spread." - The Globe and Mail
  • "wide-ranging enough to avoid the stiflingly corporate perspective of many mainstream conversations about women in the workplace."- New York Magazine
  • "shines in its recognition of the futility of the one-size-fits-all professional recommendation" - Forbes Magazine
  • "generous display of guts and wisdom . . . the stories are pure gold." - Bust Magazine
  • "will be of huge value to women today . . ." - Verily Magazine
  • "the printed equivalent of a long, hot bath at the end of a terrible day at work." - The New York Times

About the Author

Jessica Bacal is the director of the Wurtele Center for Work & Life at Smith College. She lives with her husband and two children in Northampton, MA.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; 1 edition (April 29, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142180572
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142180570
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mistakes I made at Work is a must-read. Not only is the author's voice (in the preview sections of each of the four parts) really accessible and down-to-earth, the essays themselves are priceless. They are easy to digest and end with "tips" which are great take-away messages. I book-marked and highlighted at least a third of the book for future reference, for myself and for the students that I mentor at my work.

The book itself is a collection of essays by 25 really successful women. Part 1 is about telling your own story, Part 2 is about asking, Part 3 is about saying no, and Part 4 is about resilience. I loved part 3 and 4 the best. Part 1 was less relevant to me, but I see its value for those who are beginning their careers. Even so, every section of the book had some real gems by luminously amazing women like Cheryl Strayed, Danielle Ofri, Luma Mufleh, and my three personal absolute favorites (people I want to meet and have a long drink with and pick their brains forever): Carla Harris, Rinku Sen, and Shirley Malcom.

If you've ever stepped on someone's toes, brokered a terrible deal, beleagueredly said yes when you really meant no, doubted yourself or career/educational choices, or did something that makes you want to hide under a rock for the rest of your career- then this is a book for you.
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I couldn't finish this book since, like Sheryl Sandburg's "Lean In," the women profiled were from an echelon of society to which I can't really relate. Their careers are in a stratosphere that I have no hope of achieving and it was frustrating to hear about "mistakes" that ended up being fortuitous in the long run. I would have preferred more coping skills or learning strategies that helped them resurrect their careers after the so-called mistake, not banal or cliched advice about being a leader or listening to your gut or tapping into your network for your second wind. What about those of us who don't have money to take those risks that may or may not end your career? Sometimes I have had to take jobs that were not aligned with my career goals because my line of work did not exist where I lived. No, I couldn't just re-locate to pursue my dreams. I felt my blood boiling sometimes at the resources available to these women that people like me just don't have. Again, I couldn't relate and eventually felt my time better spent reading books about multi-potentiality to help me learn from my "mistakes I made at work."
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This book is great! Very short essays on making mistakes at work by 25 impressive women. Regardless of what your career is or what you want it to be..making mistakes is inevitable. Anyone can relate to this book.
I used to be a paralegal for a decade until one day I realized I hated it and I stopped. Thankfully, I had a lot of support from my guy and that made things easier. Now I am a writer and a visual artist. I am a lot happier doing something I love and not having to be fake all the time. In my previous career I had to be someone else and had to be overly careful about what I said. For some of us hiding who we are is a form of emotional torture. I'm just glad I got out when I could.
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This book is very well-written and easy to read. Bacal introduces themes and lets these successful individuals explain what they learned from their mistakes - and the vignettes are in many different career areas from business to music to writing to changing the world. It's not just an enjoyable (and easy) read, but you'll leave with some pearls: I will no longer refer to the "work-life balance" that we all struggle with, I will call it "managed disequilibrium," which frankly makes me feel like I'm doing a much better job than "work-life balance" ever did! While some of their issues are unique to women, everyone would benefit from reading this, and it would be great to see a Volume II that included men - we all have to learn from our mistakes, men and women alike!
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By jsm1 on November 14, 2015
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I purchased this book hoping to find out how various women performed damage control and recovered from professional messes they made at work, but I didn't find any examples in this book.

For me, this book is more about women sharing their low level mistakes to let other women know that they are not alone when they make mistakes at work. I would be very interested to read the personal stories of women who messed up big at work and were demoted, fired, etc., and how they managed to recover and thrive in their profession. I understand that many of these women may be bound to confidentiality agreements and/or are unwilling to share the heavy stories that may harm their career, but I still want to know so that I may avoid these issues.
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Books on women in the workplace are hot right now, and some people take the position that women need to change their approach, while others insist that the system is the bigger problem. In “Mistakes I Made at Work,” Bacal shows us how it’s not one or the other; it’s both. And she doesn’t do it by listing statistics. She does it through women’s stories, compelling stories you’ll want to retell to a friend.

This book does a fantastic job unpacking why it’s so easy to say, “we all learn from our mistakes,” but it’s so hard to do. There are gems throughout this book, but the chapters that spoke most to me were by Cheryl Strayed (if you’re a writer, you need to read Strayed’s thoughts on how writing involves “failing every day”), Danielle Ofri (who shows how stultifying it can be when you’re new in your role and all eyes are on you) and Alina Tugend (if you’ve ever been underpaid for a job, her experience will ring true).
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