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Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  398 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Wall Street Journal Bestseller

Is it possible to be at your best even when you are underqualified or doing something for the first time? Is it still possible, even after decades of experience, to recapture the enthusiasm, curiosity, and fearlessness of youth to take on new challenges? With the right mindset—with Rookie Smarts—you can.

In a rapidly changing world, experience
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 14th 2014 by HarperBusiness
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3.93  · 
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 ·  398 ratings  ·  59 reviews

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Michael Thurman
Dec 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
As someone who is struggling through a career field change, I picked this book (unabridged audio) on a long drive across the Southern Plains. I hoped that it would tell me that my struggles would soon settle and that my career would take off.

Was I disappointed.

I the news I received, not the book.

Ms. Wiseman tells me that my struggle and my "newness" (or re-newness, in my case) to my current industry is my strength. She tells me that I'm experiencing exactly what I should hope to experience at
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Rookies work harder....ask the questions that need to be asked....are humble....and they end up passing up the best guy on the payroll. There you have it. That is the book.

I liked the author's narration of the audio. She had a great voice for that.

I liked the basic message here, but I found it a bit repetitive. And as wonderful it would be to give the rookies a shot to perform and prove himself/herself, there are times when that doesn't sound like a good idea....especially when it comes to sur
Daniel Perez
Jul 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent book if you will experience anything new in your professional life, whether it be a new assignment, new project, new duties, a new position with a new company or even a new career. Some of it seemed redundant, but it became much clearer in the second half of the book. The different Rookie & Veteran "Modes" helped make it clearer what you'd like to be and what you'd NOT like to be in order to stay ahead of the game and always be marketable.
Steve Lozon
Nov 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Great business book. Deftly woven with anecdotes, examples, and facts to illustrate that 'fresh eyes' are good. Just read the appendixes if you are looking for a 'how-to', but if you do that you would be missing out on a great read. As good a business book as I have read in a long time.
Oct 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
I had the opportunity to hear Liz Wiseman deliver a brilliant closing keynote at the 2016 Healthcare Analytics Conference. I'm always a bit leery of business gurus and the books they write, but I left her talk wanting to hear more. The premise of rookie smarts is a familiar concept in Zen Buddhism. Suzuki Roshi famously wrote Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice where he taught "in the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there ar ...more
Raymond Goss
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book is written to inspire readers to continuously learn and try new things. In my experience, not all rookies follow the pattern, but idea is good - use others to help leverage collective knowledge and learn quickly. The author mentions multiple times that the best rookies are people in new roles (not necessarily young and fresh out of school) and often have to learn fast and ask questions. I don't agree that experience/knowledge are not as valuable, but agree to the principle about keeping ...more
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love this book! It was encouraging to me who, at 48 yrs old, am certainly not a rookie in terms of age, but I definitely am a rookie in multiple areas where I know I need to learn and grow. The author uses multiple real life stories and uses helpful illustrations to help solidify the ideas. Very practical and inspiring for those who have been in the workforce for many years, and I believe it would be very encouraging for rookies just entering their careers.
Samantha Manning
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love the idea of leveraging all the resources and the wisdom around you to learn and grow, reporting progress regularly (open communication), and having no other agenda apart from doing great work. This book is a good reminder to professionals at any stage of their career to, "Draw on the power of learning rather than falling back on old ways" and harness collective intelligence to deliver wins.
Carly Hodges
Jul 29, 2017 rated it did not like it
Only 45/102 pages were actual "book". I felt the chapters to be repetitive with little "how to's", mainly attempts to convince one that one should have Roomie Smarts. Rest of the book was Appendices with some useful tools. I really wanted to dig this book as I saw Liz speak a couple years ago. I just didn't enjoy it as much as I was hoping.
Garth Slater
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Super enjoyed this motivational book. Every manager will benefit from this and especially those of us who are in our final years in the professional world. Concepts that allow us the freedom and flexibility to feel and act like a rookie. I loved all of the success examples and ideas and concepts about being a rookie and the need to gain knowledge.
Lori Gibbany
Oct 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Always keep learning, never quit asking questions. Try to keep a new bright eyed view of life. Challenge yourself so you do not get burned out and you can continue to grow even if you can't advance or change jobs right now. All great advice just wished it was wrapped in an easy to hear format.
My Khe
Jul 25, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: life
I couldn't spend more than half an hour on this book. The message, as many other comments said, is repetitive, and the tips are both self-evident and fuzzy at the same time. Everything in this book is redundant except the title.
Crystal Freund
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book had a great perspective. The wide applicability was helpful.
Sara Picard
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love anything Liz writes.
Stephen Fenwick
Jan 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Good book, but fairly repetitive...
Kevin Vanderwal
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book allows you to re-encounter the why many novices are so effective and reminds us that often time we overvalue experience and undervalue curiosity and adaptiveness.
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great esteem booster for me as I consider launching a whole new career
Chris Gregg
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great Book

Love learning growing changing developing - Rookie Smarts
Very interesting, very worthy read, it hit the leadership spot- don’t get stuck
Christopher Lawson
Oct 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
√ "It's what you learn after you know it all that counts."

--John Wooden

ROOKIE SMARTS takes a hard look at the role of experience in the workplace. Since scientific knowledge is changing rapidly, the question is, "How long does one's expertise last?"

The author's proposition is this: In a rapidly-changing world, retaining knowledge becomes less critical than GETTING the knowledge. Those who adapt and figure out ways to acquire knowledge will be miles ahead of those who only have outdated informat
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An enjoyable read. I listened to the audiobook, which was very clear and even-toned for my sometimes-noisy commute.

Wiseman discusses thought-provoking ideas on how to return to our curious selves again. It's also a nod to teachers: sparking curiosity in students (which will lead to hard work) requires the material to be interesting and engaging... Great book, would like to re-read every couple of years.

Favourite quotes:

"What my team and I lacked in experience and conviction, we compensated for
Dec 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My first exposure to the use of the term “agile” in any business sense was in the area of software development. I was teaching software engineering at the time and agile development was a welcome and obvious alternative to the traditional and rigidly sequential waterfall method. In the waterfall method each step in the process is thoroughly completed before you move on to the next one. With agile software development you make small and quick changes to the program and get immediate feedback fro ...more
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work by Liz Wiseman was chosen by Soundview Executive Book Summaries as one of the Top 30 Business Books of 2015.


When you're inexperienced in business, you're more likely to seek counsel or ask questions. However, you tend to lose that curiosity once you are established in the workplace. Leadership expert Liz Wiseman explains why it's often an asset to be completely inexperienced and how to cultivate the curious, f
Feb 17, 2017 rated it liked it
For a business book it was worth a read. The basic concept of we are at our best when we are in challenging new situations does get repetitive.
Aug 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
What this book is all about: When we are stretch to reach beyond our current capabilities, we can open ourselves up to learning from everyone and everything around us and tap into a different mindset – what is called rookie smarts. When the world is changing quickly, experience can become a curse, trapping us in old ways of doing and knowing, while inexperience can be a blessing, freeing us to improvise and adapt quickly. With experience comes habits, and once we form a habit our brain stops wor ...more
Rachel Blom
Dec 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fascinating book on a relevant topic. The author successfully demonstrates that in this time and age, what you know isn't as important as it used to be. How fast you learn, how eager you are to play the game, how humble you are - those are traits that truly matter. Author Liz Wiseman shows the traits that make rookies (people who are new at what they're doing, even if they may have experience in different areas) so successful in comparison to veterans doing the same job. But she also ...more
Jul 07, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Rookie Smarts had premise that can be boiled down to: it's how fast and effectively one learns more than experience which rapidly becomes obsolete in the new global economy. I just saved you 8 hours of audiobook listening time for something else.

Wiseman attempts to sprinkle actionable recommendations throughout, but they all feel fairly thin, just like the majority of the book which feels like thin anecdotal justification for her team's research conclusions. I also question the causation/correla
Kevin Bennett
Oct 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating, intelligent, and insightful

This book is hard to put down. I even read it while on vacation. It puts forth and supports the concept of staying or becoming (once again) fresh and youthful in your approach to your employment and organization, and then shows you HOW to do so. Great advice for a veteran attorney of 30 years, who could benefit from the approaches, attitudes, and excitement of "his early days" as a young lawyer who was going to change the world! Thank you for reminding me
Kevin Eikenberry
This new book arrived on my desk a few weeks ago, sent in hopes I would review it. Aware of the author, I was confident this would be a good book, and yet the stack of books on my desk was taller-than normal.

After looking at it for a few days, I had an idea.

Down the hall from my office sits our newest and youngest employee, Marisa Hendrickson. She is a rookie, loves to read, and has done a lot of writing in her past (though that isn’t the focus of her role here). I decided to ask her to read the
Nov 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leadership
I read the previous book by Liz Wiseman called Multipliers. I liked it so I picked this one.

Reading this book gives me confidence as a rookie that my opinions and thoughts might be valuable. I can ask questions that nobody dared to ask before.

Rookies are knowledge gatherers. When they don't know something they will go and find 5 experts to learn from.

Because I like to learn and I learn pretty fast, this book gives me confidence that I can go into any new domain, figure it out and make a good c
Ko Matsuo
Dec 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Good book. Wiseman analyzes 2 types of people: inexperienced people who do phenomenally well with extremely difficult tasks, and experienced people who waste away at their idle jobs. She does a good job identifying advantages and disadvantages of having experience versus being a rookie.

I found her concept of a "perpetual rookie" fascinating, which she describes as people having curiosity, humility, playfulness, and deliberateness. I also liked her description of 4 different team configurations t
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Liz Wiseman is an American researcher, speaker, executive advisor, and the author of The New York Times bestseller Multipliers
“When leaders offer a right-size challenge, people contribute quickly, build confidence, and are readied for bigger challenges.” 0 likes
“To generate a big impact, pair someone who wants to change the world with someone who already knows how the world works.” 0 likes
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