Yes, it’s a novel. Yes, it’s funny. And yes, it’s a business book. The Downside of Up is a great business case study of how to turn a failing company around, tracking the best current management and leadership presence theory. It also happens to be a real page-turner and great airplane reading.
DOWNSIDE tells the story of Paul Lavallier, a 43 year old corporate speechwriter, who makes a joke at a cocktail party that his dream job is to be a failed CEO, since that’s where the real money is. To his surprise, someone takes him up on it. To his (and everyone else’s) surprise, it turns out he’s pretty good at it. All he has to do is go down with the ship and collect his big payoff. But when he discovers the deal will cost thousands of people their jobs, he can’t help himself: he starts trying to rewrite the script. But fixing things might kill the deal and powerful people can’t let that happen. The question is, does he have the leadership chops to do it?
“The Downside of Up is classic Dunston. It unleashes the creativity of a novelist, the provocative insights of a thought leader who has coached many of the top executives in the world, and the compassion of a sensei who deeply cares about the human condition, for Dunston is all three. This riveting story is loaded with all the lessons of a Harvard case study, but delivered with the kind of humor that will entertain you throughout. The business literature is ripe with short fables, but here, Dunston has broken new ground—read it and laugh.”