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Eric  Barker

Eric Barker

Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author of Barking Up the Wrong Tree & Plays Well with Others


Wall Street Journal bestselling author and former Hollywood screenwriter Eric Barker uses research and compelling stories to challenge common myths about success and relationships, inspiring audiences with bold new insights on how to avoid burnout, collaborate better as teams, and be more productive. Read More >

His first book Barking Up The Wrong Tree challenged the maxims about success we’ve been told, using research to uncover the best methods of improving resilience, productivity, and networking. It sold over half a million copies and been translated into 19 languages. Named a top business book by The Financial Times, Business Insider, Fast Company, and Entrepreneur Magazine, it even became the subject of a question on “Jeopardy!” Wharton professor Adam Grant described it as, "Delightfully puckish, evidence-backed and full of insight, this book answers questions about success that have puzzled us for far too long."

Barker’s most recent book Plays Well with Others gave the Mythbusters treatment to the maxims about relationships we all grew up with, looking at the science to get us the answers we need to connect better with others. It instantly hit multiple bestseller lists upon release in May of 2022. Science writer David Epstein said, "Reading Plays Well With Others is like having a hard conversation about relationships with your smartest, funniest friend. Eric Barker's wit and explanatory powers shine through every page."

In both his books, Barker delivers revolutionary ideas that impact workers in business, healthcare, innovation, education, and technology. What he’s found is that it’s often the stories we tell ourselves about the world that make the critical difference between success and failure in the areas of teamwork, resilience, and productivity. Drawing on domains as varied as Navy SEALs, astrophysics, wilderness survival, and the organization structure of pirate ships, Barker makes clear that, handled correctly, our perspectives and narratives not only shape our goals and trajectories but end up leading us to higher achievement, greater adaptation to challenges and more fulfilling, harmonious connections with co-workers.

Barker has spoken in the US and abroad on the science of improving performance, teamwork, and resilience at a diverse group of leading institutions such as the Olympic Training Center, Google, MIT, the Aspen Ideas Festival, and the United States Military Central Command (CENTCOM).

Barker rose to prominence via his groundbreaking blog, “Barking Up The Wrong Tree” which has been syndicated by Time Magazine, The Week, and Business Insider. Over 500,000 people have subscribed to its weekly newsletter. His work has been covered by The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Financial Times, and others.

A former Hollywood screenwriter, Barker brings humor and engaging storytelling to his presentations, sculpted from years of writing for Walt Disney Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Spider-Man creator Stan Lee and others. He holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, an MBA from Boston College, and an MFA from UCLA.

Drawing on engaging tales and insights from diverse arenas and peer-reviewed research, Barker illuminates fundamental insights that make the difference between success and failure in any environment. Whether it’s how teams can communicate and build morale, to how individuals can revitalize their energy and commitment in the toughest of environments, Barker delivers actionable takeaways wrapped in mesmerizing stories that audiences can use to perform better, feel better and connect deeply with those around them to achieve concrete results. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

The Power of Confidence

The Danger of Overconfidence

The Confidence Balance

Decoding Myths of Success

How Your Personality can Sabotage Your Success

Barking Up the Wrong Tree | Talks at Google

Speech Topics

Surprising Team Building Secrets for the Modern World

How do you build great teams? The answer probably isn’t what you think. Many say all it takes is assembling the best people for the job. However, research shows bad teams can actually make star performers perform worse. Bestselling author Eric Barker has looked at the science on teams in a range of arenas from corporate executives to Navy SEALs and found that it’s not merely the standard metrics that matter – it’s how team members feel about one another, how they communicate and the stories that tell that can make all the difference. Covering more than just generalities, Barker provides the science-backed answers to the tough questions: What do you do when you can’t get A players? What’s the secret to finding those diamonds in the rough that form the backbone of great groups? What’s the best size of a team? How do groups evaluate and increase trust? And when are teams not a good idea at all? These are the insights leaders need to create effective, efficient, resilient groups that can innovate in the toughest of environments.

Beating Burnout & Building Resilience in Challenging Environments

Burnout has reached epidemic proportions. Turns out we have a fundamental misunderstanding of what burnout actually is. Far from simply being “overwork”, burnout is a perspective more akin to job-induced depression -- it’s actually the flip side of “grit.” Expanding on insights from his Wall Street Journal bestselling book, Eric Barker explains the three perspective shifts that can pull people back from the brink and deliver the relief that vacations don’t. With the correct attitude, employees don’t need to dial back, they can actually work long and hard and thrive in the process. In this essential talk, Barker delivers actionable insights on how to instill emotional intelligence and optimism to build and retain workers that get stronger under pressure.

The Counterintuitive Productivity Secrets of Top Performers

In a fast-paced world, nothing is more important than the ability to be productive. But what’s the best way to manage multiple goals and projects? To cope with the onslaught of 24-7 email? How do you stay motivated during the crunch times? What’s the best way to leverage calendars, to-do lists, and technology so they’re a help and not a hindrance? And how do you do it all without feeling like a robot? Bestselling author Eric Barker pulls together the best insights to help workers develop a tailored system of habits that feels organic. Whether it’s coping with a fast-paced office or the unique challenges of work-from-home, there are proven strategies that can bring control to the chaos and deliver results that move the needle.

Emotionally Intelligent Negotiation, Influence & Communication

Influencing others is undeniably one of the most powerful skills in the workplace. Bestselling author Eric Barker reveals the strategies and techniques of professional therapists and hostage negotiators that address the specific challenges we face in workplace communication. How can you be persuasive without being manipulative? How do you lead when you’re not in charge? What does it take to balance assertiveness with empathy? How do get leverage in a negotiation when you don’t seem to have any? Through research insights and powerful stories Barker conveys the latest tools for getting what you need while building rapport and strengthening relationships.