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When Smart People Fail Paperback – January 16, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (January 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439156883
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439156889
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,229,191 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hyatt (The Women's Selling Game and Gottlieb (Limbo here explore the effects of failure on people in success-oriented America. Interviewing men and women in various fields, they glean interesting information from those who accepted defeat only temporarily. Exemplifying "hidden failures," Clare Boothe Luce regrets that she abandoned her real interest, writing, for political roles; conversely George McGovern considers himself the winner over Richard Nixon, who defeated him for the presidency. Among those who offer advice on starting over is William L. Shirer: fired from his job as a reporter for being "too liberal," he went on to write such notable books as The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Shirer makes the cogent observation that success or failure aren't at issue but "whether you are a learner or non-learner."
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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I found this book to be both informative and practical.
Lorna Kellogg
It's practical and an excellent guide for all of us who want to create lives that we're proud of.
KP Harwell
This is an excellent reference when one eventually gets kicked in the teeth professionally.
K. Maly

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Gregory McMahan VINE VOICE on September 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
Failure among the ambitious, upwardly mobile, educated and intelligent of our modern, industrialized society often comes across as being more devastating, more defining, and more frightening than it actually is. What in actuality defines us is not the number of our failures, but how we deal with our failure, how we look upon it, and most importantly, how we either use our failure or allow our failures to define us.
Hyatt and Gottlieb have written an excellent text on professional/career failure. The authors start the book by imparting intrepid examples both personal and private, of the emotional processes associated with failure. They accurately describe (often in painful and excruciating detail) the feelings of fear, isolation, shame and remorse associated with losing a job, status, money or some combination of the three. One can not only relate to the loss of purpose, the punctured egos, and the declining sense of self of those who have failed professionally, but also can actually feel as if it is happening to him or her- for it at some point has happened to him or her. They emphatically stress that career failure is something that eventually touches every professional, in some cases sooner, and in others, later. In this way, they show that failure has no prejudices, and everyone is a card-carrying member of this club, whether they realize it or not. As such, in dealing with failure, it is extremely important for the individual to realize that he or she is not alone in the experience, even if our greater society compels us to put up a strong front and pretend that nothing is really wrong.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book after being let go from a F50 company late last year, and it has been a lifesaver as I've navigated unfamiliar territory. It lays out the stages most people experience when they've been fired, downsized, or eliminated -- shock, fear, anger & blame, shame, and despair. It addresses how failure changes the balance of power in a relationship, and how it affects men and women differently. It then moves to how we reinvent ourselves -- identifying the cause of failure, reinterpreting the event, relabeling yourself, and getting unstuck. There are numerous stories, including the authors' own, about failing and ultimately coming back better and stronger. One quote especially resonated with me: David Brown (he produced The Sting and Jaws, among other Hollywood blockbusters) was fired three times from top jobs. "Each time, [he] was stunned. And each time he never stopped to analyze what had caused him to be fired in the first place. Only after the third time did he begin to examine his working behavior. Why was he always running after corporate jobs...when in the end they held neither safety nor a degree of control over one's fate?" Whether you feel that corporate life is truly your calling, or you yearn for something different, this book can help you push past self-imposed limitations and re-invent your career in a unique and satisfying way.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
If you are having problems confronting a business defeat (whether you were fired, lost your business, or "failed" in your career), this is the book for you.
If your setback is affecting your health, your marriage, your friendships, there is hope.
If you have been moping around the house for a year or more, read this book.
If you've tried and tried to "move past" your personal problems, buy this book now.
If you have been searching for an answer, this is it.
Read this book.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read an excerpt from this book in the Reader's Digest in the spring before I was fired from a job where I had been both a professional and personal failure. (It was for a company that had asked much and gave nothing in return, but it still hurt) In addition, my long-dysfunctional marriage was on the rocks, and it was just a matter of time before he would leave me since I was no longer a breadwinner and able to be his meal ticket. Pretty pathetic, huh? I found the book while on a getaway to Toronto, and worked through it as well as Richard Bolles' What Color is Your Parachute? over the next couple of months. I knew I still wanted to work with people--just not in mental health--and the examples of what career counselors did with people in this book really sparked a long-dormant interest in doing that myself. With a little bit of luck, a lot of prayer, and a lot of help from this book in facing my failures, looking at what I still had going for me, and, as the authors call it, "relabeling," I hit the interview circuit. The best opportunity and the one I was most excited about involved doing educational/career counseling with low-income, first-generation college-bound adults. They took a chance on me, and it was the best job I've ever had, bar none. (I left it to marry and move to a larger city) I recommend this one, along with the Richard Bolles book, for anyone who's just been jarred out of their skull from being fired, downsized, abandoned, or just plain told, "you're a failure." As the back cover says, "when SMART people fail, often they've taken the first step toward renewed success." It was that way for me. . .hope it is for you, too:)
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