55. Originals by Adam Grant

Every now and then I get this craving to read something educational without feeling like I’m going through my 12th grade textbooks. I distinctly remember this habit developing from my first management class during my Computer Science degree where the amazing lecturer would bring out these research studies and their results about companies, employees and technologies that would fascinate me so much that later on I would purchase books on them.

Starting with Rich Dad Poor Dad, books by Malcolm Galdwell, a bit of Sheryl Sandberg, or GirlBoss by Nasty Gal’s founder Sophia Armouso, I finally ventured to Adam Grant – an American psychologist who carries out research and experiments at some of the world’s finest companies and draws conclusions that only intrigue the mind further.

Originals by Adam Grant mainly focuses on how to create ideas by “… taking the road less traveled, championing a set of novel ideas that go against the grain but ultimately make things better.” Each chapter holds stories from companies to Government bodies to tech icons and cult favorite shows like Seinfield. I’ve tried to explain the core of each chapter in a few lines below, but trust me there is more juice and knowledge in those paged which I’ve badly tried to sum up.

Chapter 1: Creative Destruction focuses on how in order to work on a novel idea, calculated risks should be taken like keeping your day job, or carrying out your studies while working on the idea part time till you can fully commit to it. He gives an example of Warby Parker – a startup started by students he knew from Wharton – focusing on breaking the monopoly in eyewear. Those guys stuck to their day jobs/studies and took their time with launching, ultimately landing on the Forbes list.

Chapter 2: Blind Investors and One-Eyed Investors takes a look on how some ground breaking inventions can have the most famous innovators blinded with it’s ambitious success. Exemplifying how the Segway had many think-tanks delusioned with it’s market projections or the fact that one of the most popular sitcoms till date i.e. Seinfield almost didn’t make on air, due to the biases of the audience it’s being proposed too.

Chapter 3: Out on a Limb shows that how change can be brought to even the most conservative and bureaucratic institutions like the CIA or the most innovative companies like Apple. However, the change carrier and the obstacles placed in their way can delay/propagate the progress accordingly. This chapter was particularly close to me heart because it focused a lot on factors that impact the acceptance of one’s idea based on their gender, race, respect or ranking.

Chapter 4: Fools Rush in portrayed a very odd and conflicting analysis of how procrastination and detailing all the flaws in one’s pitch, can actually work in one’s favor. From Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic speech “I have a dream” that was a prime example of how extempore speeches should be done, to how Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and The Last Supper were a product of years of delaying and working on new skills. This chapter made some very intriguing arguments.

Chapter 5: Goldilocks and the Trojan Horse is a chapter on how the suffragette movement in America started by Lucy Stone began, the collisions formed, the affiliations torn, the influence recreated and the strategies developed. It focuses on enemies, frenemis, radicals, narcissists, and how conflicts can ruin a movement, vision, or idea if we let our personal biases or views come through.

Chapter 6: Rebel with a cause is my most favorite part of the book. It focuses on how the sibling order can impact the way we take risks in the future with regards to our career, life choices and so much more. Focusing on the data gathered from baseball players, Grant makes a point of how the later borns make the more bolder moves as compared to the first borns that are more calculated and want to do right by their parents. Moreover, how parenting can affect the originality and creativity among children is strikingly eye opening.

Chapter 7: Rethinking Groupthink starts with the rise of Kodak and how the founder of Polaroid camera; Edwin Land used Groupthink – the tendency to seek consensus and the enemy of originality – that ultimately made Kodak go down, miserably, terribly, and horribly. This chapter is so important when it comes to starting a new business, or a new division within a reputable company, and to go in depth we see Bridgewater Associates as the perfect example of how Group think can be avoided.

Chapter 8: Rocking the Boat and Keeping It Steady will make you understand all your fears and how to better use them in situations that can make or break your cause. It’s the perfect way to end this amazing journey of insight, reflections, analysis, while debunking so many stereotypes and myths to lead a life where non-conformity paves the way for originality.

Overall, this book is full of references, case studies and insights that can be read from anywhere in between. Totally worth the buck, time and effort.

Now, back to the basics:

  1. Rating: 5.0/5.0
  2. Favorite quote:  “Being Original doesn’t require being first. It just means being different and better.”
  3. Reader level: Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
  4. Should you read: Must read for students, employees, bosses, heads and everyone in between.
  5. Would I read it again: Sure thing.

Till next time,

-Sarah

 

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