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The Misfit Economy: Lessons in Creativity from Pirates, Hackers, Gangsters and Other Informal Entrepreneurs
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The Misfit Economy: Lessons in Creativity from Pirates, Hackers, Gangsters and Other Informal Entrepreneurs

3.31  ·  Rating details ·  678 ratings  ·  90 reviews
A book that argues that lessons in creativity, innovation, salesmanship, and entrepreneurship can come from surprising places: pirates, bootleggers, counterfeiters, hustlers, and others living and working on the margins of business and society.

Who are the greatest innovators in the world? You’re probably thinking Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford. The usual suspects.

Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 23rd 2015 by Simon Schuster (first published June 16th 2015)
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Tim Shannon
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Bit of a management consultant view of the subject, interesting and fun anecdotes but very little substance. Nice beach read and the stories about pirates are neat.
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this more, but for the most part it was a collection of warmed-over Gladwellian "entrepreneurship" and "innovation" clichés about slightly unorthodox ways to, in the end, make a boatload of money. So much of this is the modern state of neoliberalism in a nutshell, from the guy whose nonprofit employer fired him for trying to make money off of indigenous rainforest-dwelling tribes' products to the woman whose career was left in tatters after she was helping recently-releas ...more
May 29, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfict
Let me start by saying the book might not deserve a 1-star rating - it's just my personal opinion.

I was expecting a thoughtful investigation, chronology, and analysis of historical and contemporary examples of the groups mentioned in the title. I expected there to be some overall conclusion about these groups, their similarities, their motivations, their impact, and then a small takeaway chapter or section on how society could utilize the more beneficial of those concepts.

Instead of history or a
Jul 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway. I absolutely loved this book, and found it to be very inspirational. I was so excited while reading this book that I texted friends and talked to family about reading it. In fact this might be my Christmas gift of choice this year.

This is a book about the "misfits" of business, not limited to criminals, but also including people who go against the grain in order to improve the world in some way. Or, people who think outside of the box.

There are five
Jul 27, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is full of interesting stories and people who did bold and fascinating things, but the message never coalesced into a convincing whole the way I was hoping.
Shawn Fairweather
Apr 07, 2015 rated it liked it
First the Caveat *This was a Goodreads Giveaway Free Read*.

Ill start of by saying don't be misled by the title. Are their lessons to be learned from the "Misfit Economy"? Yes. Are they presented here? No. What we have here is cliche filled case studies of specific individuals that in most cases were not that successful. I also do not appreciate celebrating individuals for outright theft, counterfeiting, criminal activity which many here have. Each case study in itself has some form of merit and
Rajat Gupta
Jul 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: gave-up-on
The title of the book is gives you an idea that the book is about the way the informal Entrepreneurs operate their organisations and the lesson that can be learnt from that, whereas it is just a collection of different types of Misfits. A lot of people might like the different stories but for me this book is not what it is expected of and so its hard to go beyond reading around 30% of it. Goes into my "left in between" Shelf. ...more
Inderpal Lehal
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Small real life references makes this book very interesting. Can implement few logics in your own practical life.
Pia Bröker
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Entrepreneurship means to make your hands dirty - I knew that before, but I didn't know so many other details about it.
This book illustrates the hustle of mostly unknown or unpopular entrepreneurs and how their ideas and actions let them to succeed (or not).
It gives an interesting perspective on the informal sector and how nonconformity is often the engine for innovation.

Definitely an inspiration to start taking every opportunity in life and stand for your dreams rather than waiting for the perf
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolute mandatory read for this and next generation

This book brings completely different perspective about the way we common people look at certain things, like pirates, underworld, prison system, hackers.extracting a lessons out of these would be great challenge but authors have delicately balanced and with panache brought the feelings on surface.beautifully written, kudos....please keep up.
Elena Nikolaeva
Aug 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is a collection of stories, some more interesting than others, about "misfits", "underground innovators" from Somalia pirates to Ernest Hemingway. However, the writers were not really convincing while trying to come up with the solid theory of what "misfits" are or justify the existence of a separate term for this type of people. For example, it's not still clear to me what's the difference between misfits and a broader definition of the word "entrepreneur". P.30 "While misfits and ent ...more
Jody Ellis
Nov 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I want more! I'm hoping there is or will be a second Alexa and Kyra! This book is inspiring, truthful, it is a call to action and shows our changing lifestyles and economy. As we move away from corporation and constraint to freedom of creativity and misfits. It offers comfort and encouragement to the population of misfits. It offers an educational experience exposing misfits I've never heard of.

This book was truly amazing and it's perfect for any adult, or even a young adult who feels they don'
Lewis Williams
Oct 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Really a 3.5-3.75 ranking, not a 4 but strong nonetheless. Interesting premise, but too superficial for me;lots of examples of people transforming their situations, but none of them seemed in depth enough to me. I enjoyed this book, and it is a fairly quick read. I would definitely try something else from these authors if they published more work.
Rochelle March
Jul 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Awesome! Seriously, a must read for everyone. Incredibly fascinating, insightful, and inspiring.
Jonathan Lu
Jun 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Great compilation of storytelling, about those who have found success in the unorthodox. Clearly 1-sided and driven by confirmation bias, as many who have done the same have not reached success. Still well worth the quick read for its entertainment value, featuring stories such as:

Walid Abdul-Wahab – story of paving his own unconventional path through leasing of camels, fighting pasteurization laws, and FDA regulations given its purported medicinal purposes to form what could be a billion dollar
Jolyn Moh
Feb 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: entrepreneurship
I like how this book encompasses a holistic lens to what really makes an entrepreneur one, regardless of your socio-economic background. The emphasis across various industries and backgrounds spoke out to the innovation across the world, the lessons a great one for us to take into our own world.

It does not just focuses on the 'theoretical' traits of what are proposed for entrepreneurs, the ubiquitous traits that we also see online these days - grit, perseverance, innovation, creativity, etc. Ins
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I felt called to review it when I saw other ratings here... To be fair this is more like an introductory essay than a full scale coverage of the content. At that it's still brilliant. They can confidently draw some conclusions after all that research, and I love how accessible they've made it. Anecdotes make it all that more easy to understand for anyone picking up the book. And since it is obviously made to be such a book, a thought rouser, more than anything very impractically heavy... I'll go ...more
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it
I initially thought that after the introductory chapter, the authors would delve into a pseudo self help guide on fostering the misfit spirit within, but this was not the case. The authors outline examples of individuals that have harnessed various aspects of the underdog innovator spirit (hustle, copy, hack, and pivot). Aside from the multimillionaire college dropout cliché as evidenced with tired references to the success of Steve Jobs, the authors are successful in tying together both modern ...more
Patrik Hallberg
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Like so many of these books, the first chapters are great and you think you are reading something really new and fresh, but as the book goes on it becomes more mainstream and less misfit. We see the misfit adoption in many areas at the moment and there are some great stories in the book. They start with the misfit philosophy and how it's based on altruism, entrepreneurship, informality, and self-governance. The book then talks about five key principles in the world of misfits. Hustle, Copy, Hack ...more
Karel De Smet
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
'Inside we are all misfits, just open up to yours.' That probably sums up this must-read full of brilliant examples you don't see cited during everyday life. From Somalian pirates to camel milk producers: learn how so many different people make the world a better place by being, thinking and acting against the grain, whilst ignoring the despise of those who oppose and don't believe in them. If you love reading how others have struggled hard, yet gained so much more from standing for what they be ...more
Dec 19, 2017 rated it liked it
I liked that this book had more information about Somali pirates than I have read anywhere else. I like the emphasis on thinking outside the box (to use a cliche). My main objection is that the book felt a bit forced in its juxtapositions and connections. I'm also left wondering whether camel milk might be as beneficial as touted.

There's often no clear indicator as to whether an idea is irrational or visionary. I found the discussion of the professor who was studying alien abductions to be inte
Jacinta Hoare
Dec 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
The idea behind this book is quite sound but the execution didn’t quite do it for me. That said, I did enjoy some of the quirky stories and will actively look further into the management structures employed by successful pirates. I do agree that there is a move towards acknowledging the unique contributions of the unconventional but the authors missed the opportunity to draw strong conclusions. I felt that this book is perhaps a prelude to more comprehensive work on the topic and not a stand alo ...more
Chancellor Clay
Mar 05, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
Like many of the readers on here, I thought this book would be an economic/anthropological study into the inner-workings of the unconventional economy.

Instead, it was an entrepreneur and business motivation book that analyzed certain behaviorisms of “economic misfits” and how you can improve your business using those same tactics.

All in all, it was a well written book. However the title is a bit misleading.
May 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
While I appreciate the authors' effort in piecing together many different examples to form themes that comprise a misfit, I was left wondering how they all tie up together.

Don't get me wrong, the contents are great and promising; however, I felt that it is too young and too soon to be published as a book.

This was a missed opportunity... :/
Peter Blok
Dec 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting book

The book gives an overview of all kind of peoples who dare to differ from mainstream thinking and organizing. What is interesting is the change that takes place in the perception of these mitfits: pirates become national heroes, hackers become the new enterpreneurs.
Dec 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the different perspective that the people in this book took. Trying to make things work where things weren't working by taking another view and then taking action. There is a lot to think about as one reads this book (or listens). Many of my views have changed after gaining more knowledge through this book! ...more
Jason Sebera
Jan 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
The Misfit Economy, emphasizing the value of the unconventional, is a light read, enjoyable for an extended airport layover. Alexa Clay and Kyra Maya Phillips do a good job of highlighting their general ideas in the book, replete with anecdotal evidence. The absence of structured economic theory, and substantial quantitative evidence may leave the reader dissatisfied.
A disparate collection of lightweight anecdotes loosely connected through the arch of those who tread the path less beaten. Frustratingly the quality and depth of each varies enormously.

This is not an intellectual read or a groundbreaking revelation on the subject matter as intended, rather an easy quick read. 2.5*
Dec 22, 2017 rated it liked it

More self-help/inspirational than a history of misfit economies and underground sectors. Perhaps I should have known given the length of the book. However, remains an interesting read and I did gain the names of other people, companies and books I should follow.
Jun 09, 2018 rated it liked it
The stories were fine though I wish it were slightly more fleshed out. The stories and lessons are not linked to actionable steps, which I did not like. Still, it was a fine read and I would be open to reading more by Alexa Clay and Kyra Maya Phillips in the future.
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