Interview with Coauthor Allison Blankenship

Who is this book for? Basically everyone experiencing a significant life change or challenge. Upside is about riding the tide of change and finding your way out of fear into long-lasting happiness. The idea for the book started over lunch while discussing how our children and grandchildren need new ideas and strategies to make successful decisions. That mushroomed to include friends undergoing divorce, death of a spouse or career transition. And then, the recession hit and large numbers of people were faced with life decisions or situations they felt unprepared for.

What is an “upside?” An upside is simply the positive outcome of a downside. Upside is the promise or potential of a situation. It’s the clarity in the chaos – once the dust settles, usually an opportunity or improvement can be seen. We call that the “upside.”

What is an upside you’ve personally encountered? When I was 27 years old, I walked off an airplane to learn I had no job, no severance, limited unemployment benefits and actually qualified for food stamps within a few weeks. The blessing, or upside, of that situation is that I overcame my fear of being unemployed and losing my lifestyle. Now I am more willing to take calculated risks to reach my goals and make decisions differently than before. That upside has impacted me for 20 years and is especially useful now in this unstable economy.

How does one find the upside? Like any other skill, once you become attuned to the upside, you can easily find it in most situations. Creativity, looking beyond the obvious, forward thinking, developing your own visionary skills, researching and assessing events and values, moving beyond the groupthink – those are all possible ways to develop an upside ability that we explore in the book.

How is this book different from other books? We’ve received an inordinate amount of feedback about how comprehensive this book is without being overwhelming. That’s because we take an integrated, holistic approach. In the new reality, changing a career or making a lifestyle choice is no longer enough to sustain success. You must address all aspects of your life: career, personal, spiritual and financial. Upside is upbeat and based on realities with practical, lifetime strategies. It is also different in that the book is hands-on; the reader is required to work and think through exercises and activities. We address issues that can be uncomfortable in a nonthreatening manner.

You use the term “not known” in this book — what does that mean? “Not-known” is a dominant theme of Upside. A not-known entity is one that is not yet known to society, usually in the form of an opportunity or technology. It implies that events cannot be anticipated, so they are not yet known to you and in most cases not yet created or invented, or are waiting to happen. Examples of not-knowns in the past are cell phones and ATMs. Fifty years ago, the public in general could not conceive these technologies that we take for granted today. Once an opportunity materializes, it becomes known. Upside introduces the idea that our new reality is that the “not known” is a daily reality – not known is the new normal.

What do you mean by the “not known is our new normal?” Essentially, the rules of life as we know them are changing – the upside is that you get to make new rules! In our travels and businesses, we meet so many people who are waiting for life to “get back to normal.” Our premise is that we are never going back to where we were – Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore! The rapidity of change, the extremes we face and the ripple effect of the global economy are unprecedented. Our realities today are different from the issues of our parents and grandparents. We anticipate that this is a now a way of life versus a trend or temporary situation.

Is this book for a specific age group? It is appropriate for someone graduating from college all the way to starting life over after retirement or loss of a loved one. In our new reality of the “not known”, all age groups are undergoing rapid change. It is also a terrific resource for the loved ones or mentors such as parents, teachers, counselors and human resource professionals helping with this process. Upside is based on inspirational true life stories of people who have made incredible change for the better despite very difficult circumstances.

What are your solutions or suggestions for people? First, people need to accept reality, get out of denial and face their fears head-on – no problem! Seriously, because we have never faced the enormity of so many challenges, we all need new skills, strategies and tools to make decisions that support our lifestyles. Adaptability, flexibility, curiosity and clarity, along with strategic problem solving skills (evaluating, researching, assessing) are the keys to zigging and zagging. Upside walks the reader through a forward-thinking process to develop these abilities.

What strategies make Upside so effective? Because the book is truly holistic, it approaches your life in multi-dimension using sustainable strategies that endure over time:

o Abandon the myth of job security

o Make loss a springboard for success

o Reprogram your financial thermostat

o Rework your American Dream

o Build your bank account by utilizing simplicity

o Create your own crystal ball

All of these strategies are practical and are developed through introspective exercises. We also include extensive resources and websites for additional help.

What does life in the Upside look like? “Upsiders,” or people who live in the upside, create their success based on realistic expectations, smart career and lifestyle choices, develop an inner core that supports them through difficult times and know how to use a network of family and friends to help them. These are the people who rise to the top in times of adversity and change. They have a plan for survival. Upsiders can adapt, thrive and be happy no matter what the circumstances or when life zags.

Allison Blankenship Coauthor

For more information or to download a free book club discussion guide, visit