Summary: Barking Up The Wrong Tree by Eric Barker
Summary: Barking Up The Wrong Tree by Eric Barker

Summary: Barking Up The Wrong Tree by Eric Barker

Kindle | Hardcover | Audiobook

Road to ‘Ethical’ Success

Rule 1 – Pick the Right Pond

When you take a job, you should look at the people you’re going to be working with because the odds are you’re going to become like them; they’re not going to become like you. You can’t change them. If it doesn’t fit who you are, it’s not going to work.

Rule 2 – Cooperate First

Do quick favors for new acquaintances. Tell other givers that you’re a giver.

Rule 3 – Being selfless isn’t saintly. It’s silly.

A mere 2 hours a week of helping others, volunteering, is enough to get maximum benefits. There’s no need for guilt or excuse for saying you don’t have time to help others.

Rule 4 – Work hard – But make sure it gets noticed.

Every Friday send your boss an email summarizing my accomplishments for the week – nothing fancy.

Rule 5 – Think long term and make others think long term.

Bad behavior (jerks) are strong in the short term but good behavior wins over in the long term.

Rule 6 – Forgive.

Forgiving prevents death spirals. You can’t even always trust yourself. You say you’re on a diet, then someone brings you a donut and I blow it. Does that mean you’re a bad person and you should never trust yourself again? Of course not.

Good Games Are ‘WNGF’


What if your boss hates you? Or you’re being discriminated in your workplace? Those games really aren’t winnable. Move on. Find a game you can win.


Think back to your first day at job. That certainly wasn’t boring. There was so much to learn, so many new different things to master. Slight overwhelming perhaps, but it was novel and challenging.

6 months later, you’re playing the same level of a game 10 hours a day, 5 days a week for years. That’s not a fun game.


Goals can be intimidating. We don’t want to fail so often we don’t set them. But if you make your game winnable, setting goals become less scary. Failure is okay in a game. Failure in a game just makes things more fun.


Life satisfaction is 22% more likely for those with a steady stream of minor accomplishments than those who express interest only in major accomplishments. Research shows most motivating thing is progress in meaningful work.

Achieve your goals with ‘WOOP’

Wish, but don’t stop there

Outcome see a specific one

Obstacle envision what’s standing in your way

Plan make one

When positive outlook become fantasizing, things go sideways fast. Your emotional brain just can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality.

Watching football doesn’t make you a quarterback, 60 years of sitcoms hasn’t made people funnier and watching Bruce Lee doesn’t teach you to kick ass.

Finding a Mentor: 5 Principles

Be a worthy pupil

Many people want a mentor because they’re too lazy to do the hard work themselves. What makes a mentor want to go an extra mile for me is when you demonstrate You’ve explored every conceivable avenue and can go no further without the mentor’s help.

Study them. Really study them.

Spend the time to be intimately familiar with their work.

Wasting a mentor’s time is a moral sin.

Never ask a mentor a question Google can easily answer for you.

Follow up

Stay in the picture. You’ll easily be forgotten by busy people. Drop emails and questions at an interval that straddles the fine line between bothersome and buzz-worthy.

Make them proud

No mentor wants to feel they wasted their time helping me. In the end your goal and your mentor’s goals should be aligned: to make you awesome. However, there’s a secondary goal here: to make them look good.

Turn Wars into Friendly Negotiations

  1. Keep calm and slow it down
  2. Use active listening
  3. Label Emotions
  4. Make them think (ask for their help)

Congenital Insensitivity to Pain (CIP)

Patients suffering from CIP live a very hard life, they get burnt, break their bones, get scars but remain unaware of their injuries.

All informal leaders had intensifiers

Informal leaders (who don’t follow rules and regulations to reach to the top) did something groundbreaking in their career are not the leaders who came from Ivy League colleges.

They all had intensifiers which are generally seen as bad but turned out to be good in some situations.

Bad can be good in the right environment

Would you like to be a person with your upper body too long, legs too short, hands and feet too big and gangly arms? No, you won’t. But Michel Phelps is this type of person.

Find situations where your qualities can be used as your strength.

Doing something you are good at makes you less stressed.

Be visible to your boss

More than working hard, it’s more important that your boss thinks you’re working hard.

Do nice guys finish last?

Takers – Successful in short term. In the long run, people see their nature and starts leaving them.

Givers – Some succeed but some get exploited a lot.

Matchers – Wait for someone to initiate a good act. Protect givers.

So, who are the most successful?

Givers who’re prudent enough to realize they’re being exploited end up being very successful.

So nice guys do not finish last.

Gamify Your Life

  1. Try new things to face new challenges
  2. Have a clear goal so that goals become winnable
  3. Take constant feedback from your seniors
  4. Try gaining new skills and start treating your life as a game

It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.

  • You’re more likely to know about new opportunities when you have a big network.
  • Getting a job is easier when you have many connections.
  • Even if you’re a drug dealer, you’re less likely to go to prison if you’ve a lot of trustworthy friends.
  • You’re less likely to be happy if you’ve fewer friends in your workplace.

Make Friends without being Awkward (as an Introvert)

  1. Be a giver.
  2. Find similarities between me and the other person.
  3. Meet friends of your existing friends.
  4. Join groups of your interest.

Man Vs Machine

Biggest chest player of his time lost a match with a computer for the first time in 1997.  It was the famous Deep Blue vs Garry Kasparov match.

After 15 years, it was revealed that the moves which led to victory of the machine were not brilliant in any way. In fact, those were just some random moves caused by some bugs in the machine.

Confidence is the name of the game

Garry lost the game because he lost confidence when the machine started making random moves. He though Deep Blue knew what it was doing. He thought the machine is more intelligent than him.

  • Successful people are confident.
  • With more success, they become more confident. It’s an upward spiral.
  • Overconfidence have more chances of getting a promotion and increased productivity.

Pitfalls of overconfidence

  • Become more selfish
  • More likely to commit infidelity
  • Start living in denial
  • Stop looking for new ideas

What works better than under confidence and overconfidence? Self-compassion.

When problems emerge, look into them with a problem-solving attitude. When you fail, accept you’re not perfect and try to improve your shortcomings. Become kind not only to yourself also to others.

Kindle | Hardcover | Audiobook