Book about failure becomes a best seller

December 5, 2012

By Kelsey Budd ‘14

Nobody in business wants to talk about failure, but apparently everybody wants to read about it. 

Dr. Larry Weinzimmer, the Caterpillar Inc. Professor of Strategic Management, explored unchartered waters in the business world when he wrote the best-selling “The Wisdom of Failure,” his fourth and latest book that examines what business leaders can learn from their mistakes.

Shortly after its publication, the book ranked number one on the Barnes and Noble Top 100 Best Seller List and number three on the Wall Street Journal’s Best Seller List.

“It’s something that people want to hear, but it’s a topic that we don’t like to talk about and I think that’s why it has received so much exposure,” Weinzimmer said. 

The Barnes and Noble list ranks books of all genres so Weinzimmer said he was surprised to see “The Wisdom of Failure” at the top. 

“I was excited, but it was also very humbling to be getting that recognition and see that it was a message people wanted to hear,” he said.

Because of the book’s national success, Weinzimmer has teamed up with a publicist, a marketing firm and a fulfillment firm that help manage the whole process.

In business, mistakes are often unacceptable and performance is graded solely on success. People are hired in business to succeed, not fail, Weinzimmer said, which is why so few have dared to take the perspective in his book.

In the past, writings about business leadership have discussed what great leaders do in times of success, but Weinzimmer felt it was important to talk about how to be a good leader in times of struggle. He attributed the success of the book to the practicality of the messages throughout it.

“I am most proud of being able to tell a story that hasn’t been able to be told before,” he said.

The book is available at the Bradley Bookstore, BarnesandNoble.com and Amazon.com.