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Failing Up

How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning
Written by: Leslie Odom Jr.
Narrated by: Leslie Odom Jr.
Length: 3 hrs and 35 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (53 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

I can tell you’re a dreamer – you’re a human. We hope, we imagine, and believe daydreams will be realized. Then lives take shape, ambitions are shelved. What does it mean to be realistic?

Leslie Odom, Jr., became a household name when he originated the role of Aaron Burr in the Broadway sensation Hamilton, a performance that won him the 2016 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. But before he could perform for sold-out audiences in one of the most massively successful shows of all time, Odom had to stop playing it safe and take the risk of a lifetime. Now, with the depth and poetic power he brought to the stage, Odom shares his story in his own voice.

Listen in as Odom recounts his dynamic path to success with sincerity and vigor bound to inspire, motivate, and ultimately, help you believe in your own potential. In his intimate retelling of childhood dreams — finally fully realized — Odom shares insights to lift up listeners and offers concrete actions they can immediately apply to their own lives. Honest and thoughtful, Leslie Odom, Jr., transforms sentiment into success.

Cover photo by Christopher Boudewyns. 

©2018 Leslie Odom Jr. (P)2018 Audible, Inc.

What the critics say

"Listening to Leslie Odom, Jr., it's clear that he approached the narration of his audiobook with the same attention to craft, preparation, and openness that he strives to bring to all of his projects.... Listeners will be glad to spend time in his company." (AudioFile)

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What listeners say about Failing Up

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  • MDT
  • 2020-09-13

Inspiring

I loved this piece - thank you Leslie for sharing your story, so beautifully read and narrated by yourself. It found me in the right time, as an artist and writer alone in the midst of quarantine and gave me a little boost to keep going.

1 person found this helpful

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A must listen!

Odom's mellifluous voice guides you through a beautiful story of hope by allowing yourself to take risks and possibly fail.

1 person found this helpful

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genuine bio with lots of nuggets

beautiful telling of his journey, very authentic and heartfelt. he's excellent at storytelling and his chasing of dreams is impressive and inspirational. one might look at Odom and see an unimaginable talent, but he breaks it down to a formula that seems attainable... consistency, persistence, constant action...but it's not going to be easy. when you take a step towards your dream, the universe take two to get you there. what did you do today to get where you want to go?

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An amazing storyteller.

Leslie has such a soothing voice to listen too. And to hear his story and the lessons he learned was a real treat.

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Locomotive

Leslie takes a while to get into this little book but punch’s well above his weight.

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  • Anthony L. Dennis
  • 2018-05-04

One of the most profound reads I've heard yet!

At one of my lost/ lows at the time I've heard this reading, it was profound to me on account of losing my job, at home (my brother's home) on the couch, "waiting on calls" for job offers, feeling worried, and sorry for myself, this book couldn't have come at a better time! This book read out a loud that I can "try harder ", more proactively to help myself out of my situation! Thank you Leslie Odom Jr. for a book with real depth of self excellence !

12 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 2019-07-02

didn't motivate me

If you are the type of person who doesnt get motivated by other people success, then this book is NOT helpful. (maybe I didn't like the book much because I have never heard of the author or seen any of his work) It was nice to listen to his experiences but it did not change my life or made me get up of my lazy butt and do something useful! This book could be summarized in: Dont sit and do nothing. Dont just wait for something to come your way. Go do something new/else while you are waiting for what you want to happen.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Andrea
  • 2018-04-17

Just what I needed to hear

Any additional comments?

As a working actor, who continuously goes through the feast and famine that this industry offers, the internal and emotional struggles that is inevitable to go through during this perpetual hustle, Leslie Odom Jr.'s book really hits home and speaks to my inner self and has helped center me, inspire me, allow me to accept the decisions I've made or am making and pushed me to keep learning, to say No when needed without remorse and never to be afraid to fail. Well done and thank you.

4 people found this helpful

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  • person
  • 2018-04-16

I wish this would have been a biography instead

A straight autobiography would have been more impactful. Leslie recounts specific events in his life to demonstrate certain values, and unfortunately it comes off preachy. His personal stories are told too briefly and incredibly flatly- it would go from "I married my best friend, love of my life" to "my life wasn't great and I was depressed" in the same paragraph with little transition and little detail to gain meaning. His successes are so extraordinary that when he tries to impress a life lesson, it's cheapened by the lack of narrative around his struggles. Instead, "fail spectacularly" was repeated again and again, with little substance to inspire. Most of the stories in this book is easily found elsewhere, so I would pass on this if you're looking for more insight into Leslie's life. I would also pass if you're looking for life lessons.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Faye
  • 2018-04-12

mesmerizing and intuitive

There's no lack of positive words I could use to describe this audio book, performed with an appealing candor it was an easy listen that I had to continually repeat because of getting lost in the story I wasn't absorbing the life lessons, phenomenal I would reccomend this to anyone.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Amy Aguilar
  • 2018-04-11

When you take one step, the universe takes two

My only wish is that there was more. I really enjoyed this and found it inspirational. Fail up. Don’t be afraid to fail. TRY. Take the risk and jump. Fly.

29 people found this helpful

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  • Jill Nicely
  • 2020-03-03

an actor writes

Leslie Odom, Jr. may be best known as Aaron Burr in Broadway’s Hamilton, but he’s had a lot of other roles on his journey to get there. He’s been a son, a student, a token black man, a husband, a father, and an actor in television, commercials, films, and on the stage. He draws on all that experience in his book Failing Up. Packed with good advice for artists of all kinds, or really, for individuals of all kinds, he offers up excellent ideas for moving forward in a creative career, putting your best foot forward, and taking action even when the phone isn’t ringing. He had strong mentors, so he gives us some of the guidance they shared with him as well as the obvious good advice: get yourself some strong mentors. Sharing memories from growing up, including his stint in Broadway’s Rent as a high schooler, on through his time on the stage for the smash musical Hamilton, Odom, Jr. shares his thoughts on taking chances, giving up, and being true to yourself. Leslie Odom, Jr. shares a lesson from his life, along with a personal story to illustrate his point. Not so much a typical memoir as a handbook for living as a successful artist, Failing Up reads a little like a commencement address. But, a really good one. And with the audio book read by the author, it’s about 3-and-a-half hours of good advice for living from someone who has made the most of some amazing opportunities. This would be a great gift for fans of Hamilton, for wannabe actors or artists, or for anyone who enjoys a good book about how to live a better life. The wisdom and graciousness of Failing Up make this as effective as a self-help book as it is a memoir, and Odom, Jr.’s experiences make for powerful life lessons for us all.

2 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 2018-04-19

Inspirational

Good story. Could have been shorter. Got repetitive. But a good story nonetheless. Epilogue was poignant!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Swimmom50
  • 2020-02-12

Great career advice

What a wonderful experience this was. Leslie has a great narrative voice, the message is uplifting, and the career advice is wonderful especially if you are a performer of the arts. I went out and bought a hard copy of the book to give to my daughter as a gift.

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  • Deborah Jacob
  • 2018-11-03

Never Fails to Engage the Listener

Using events in his own life, Leslie Odom Jr offers an inspirational read that feels different from any of the other inspirational books I've read. This one deals with perseverance and commitment like other books of its kind, but this one goes to dark and scary places that have to do with taking chances, giving yourself permission to fail and learn from those failures. The whole tone is fresh and different. Blending anecdotes with good, sound, concise advice, readers understand that everyone can achieve a more creative life. Never sad, always uplifting and often a little scary, Failing Up is a must read at any stage in your life because we all want to live a more creative life -- no matter how young or old we are. I loved the audiobook because you get to hear Leslie Odom Jrs' golden voice.

1 person found this helpful