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Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World

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In Originals the author addresses the challenge of improving the world from the perspective of becoming original: choosing to champion novel ideas and values that go against the grain, battle conformity, and buck outdated traditions. How can we originate new ideas, policies, and practices without risking it all?
Using surprising studies and stories spanning business, politics, sports, and entertainment, Grant explores how to recognize a good idea, speak up without getting silenced, build a coalition of allies, choose the right time to act, and manage fear and doubt; how parents and teachers can nurture originality in children; and how leaders can build cultures that welcome dissent. Learn from an entrepreneur who pitches his start-ups by highlighting the reasons not to invest, a woman at Apple who challenged Steve Jobs from three levels below, an analyst who overturned the rule of secrecy at the CIA, a billionaire financial wizard who fires employees for failing to criticize him, and a TV executive who didn’t even work in comedy but saved Seinfeld from the cutting-room floor. The payoff is a set of groundbreaking insights about rejecting conformity and improving the status quo.

326 pages, Hardcover

First published February 2, 2016

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About the author

Adam M. Grant

21 books17.9k followers
Adam Grant has been Wharton’s top-rated professor for 7 straight years. As an organizational psychologist, he is a leading expert on how we can find motivation and meaning, and live more generous and creative lives. He has been recognized as one of the world’s 10 most influential management thinkers and Fortune’s 40 under 40.

​He is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of 5 books that have sold millions of copies and been translated into 35 languages: Think Again, Give and Take, Originals, Option B, and Power Moves. His books have been named among the year’s best by Amazon, Apple, the Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal. His New York Times article on languishing is one of the most-shared articles of 2021.

Adam hosts WorkLife, a chart-topping TED original podcast. His TED talks on original thinkers and givers and takers have been viewed more than 30 million times. He received a standing ovation at TED in 2016 and was voted the audience’s favorite speaker at The Nantucket Project. His speaking and consulting clients include Google, the NBA, Bridgewater, and the Gates Foundation. He writes on work and psychology for the New York Times, has served on the Defense Innovation Board at the Pentagon, and has been honored as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. He has more than 5 million followers on social media and features new insights in his free monthly newsletter, GRANTED.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,268 reviews
Profile Image for Kony.
389 reviews240 followers
February 17, 2016
I beg to differ with Sheryl Sandberg. This isn't a cutting-edge primer on what it takes to be "original." It's a pleasantly readable, if mediocre, collection of findings and anecdotes that are more-or-less related to the notion of fostering creativity/success.

Earnest? Yes. The author applies his formula with zest: he starts each chapter with a "hook," spaces out his anecdotes, sprinkles in previews to build suspense, and distills each story into a pithy moral. He tries hard to keep us engaged and to make us feel like we're learning.

Informative? Somewhat. The take-away points are numerous and don't all hang together thematically. To illustrate his points, the author tells the stories of mostly familiar heroes (mostly white guys, except of course MLK) whose underdog narratives are either well-worn or predictable.

Original? Not so much. This book joins a growing genre that might be dubbed "how to succeed at being more [X], according to a slew of curated anecdotes and research studies." Like its predecessors, it really wants to be a quotable bestseller, to be shelved next to the Malcolm Gladwell books, and to be bought by MBA types who are really into things like "leverage" and "disruption."
Profile Image for Bill Zoelle.
46 reviews16 followers
February 23, 2016
I got the sense that this book was yet another compilation of blog posts with examples cherrypicked from successful books to support ideas with very little first hand research. The author is critical of other formulaic authors, such as those that write self help books, yet he follows the same formula that those in the pop psych genre have relied upon. The book is a collection of anecdotes slathered with confirmation bias in place of a logic rooted argument.

The examples are written in more of an infotainment style than the likes of Thinking Fast & Slow, yet it does not make up for the lack of detailed critical analysis with an engaging narrative as Malcolm Gladwell masterfully executes with his books.

One example that really stuck with me as lacking any scientific validity was the phrasing of the sign which instructed doctors to wash their hands. A 10% increase was reported when the sign mentioned getting others sick rather than protecting themselves. The study relied on weighing the hand gel to determine the amount used and, "...there were professionals on each unit doing covert observations of whether you washed according to guidelines before and after patient contact." There are so many flaws in the "study" that to include it as evidence of people responding to a more "why" centric reason for hand washing is silly. No details are given to even try to sell this as anything but an attempt to create a story to make doctors appear more empathetic. If the sample size was only 20 or so doctors in each group it sure wouldn't take much to swing 10% in either direction.

Another section of the book that got me feeling like the information was not very helpful, was the section that droned on and on about the various organizational blueprints employed by companies and how they related to their success or failure. Was it just me, or did Adam just dive into all the examples without giving the reader a comprehensive definition of each?

I do not doubt Adam Grant's expertise in organizational psychology. It is just the style in which he presents his rationale that leaves me feeling like he is more of a salesman than educator.
Profile Image for Michael Payne.
63 reviews66 followers
February 5, 2016
“Fools rush in.” Those 3 words are the foundation for the recurring theme that Adam Grant reveals through studied research which shakes the dominant mythology of our modern dogma on what it takes to succeed.

The myth is that first movers gain a first-to-market advantage. The fact is that “settlers” who enter later, lower their risk of failure compared to the early “pioneers.” The slow-movers also raise their yield of measurable returns. Who is really laughing first and last here?

The myth is that genius triumphs in youth. The reality is that older wisdom does in fact have value and measured results, particularly in the wealth of accumulated experimental insights.

The myth is that procrastination is a recipe for disaster. The reality is that procrastination (aka waiting) may in fact be the measured recipe for provoking more creative output as judged by multiple observers.

The myth is that first borns have an innate advantage compared to later siblings. The reality is that later birth ordered children have demonstrable abilities to take risks that older siblings avoid and these calculating risk-takers succeed in higher ratios.

If your are ready to stop believing the dogma of what it takes to succeed and start questioning the mythology of success then you must read this book. This is Adam Grant’s magnum opus, a true Original, that asks you to rightly question with fact all that has been heralded as the truth about success.
Profile Image for Peter.
34 reviews3 followers
February 15, 2016
Ironically, this book contains very few original ideas on it's own
Profile Image for Andy.
1,350 reviews462 followers
January 5, 2022
Strikingly unoriginal for a book on originality. This is a mash-up of other books on pop psychology and whatnot with some personal anecdotes about other people who are original. It's entertaining enough because it's got these counterintuitive ideas like "procrastination is good." The problem is that these are just teasers, because they get hedged with "except when it isn't" or they're overall gibberish.

Take the procrastination example. Grant talks about MLK's famous "I have a dream" speech and he makes it sound like it was great because MLK put it off and then had to pull an all-nighter and then just ad libbed anyway. By the end of the chapter you find out that's all BS, because really the speech was building on a few hundred other speeches he'd delivered and what he was doing was editing and perfecting. This made me think of that recent movie The Darkest Hour, where Winston Churchill was scribbling and rewriting his hugely important speech until the last possible second. That kind of overachieving activity is pretty much the opposite of what most people think of when they hear the word "procrastination." There's something interesting in these speech stories about greatness, but it's not procrastination and I don't even know that it's about originality.

Of course, touting the benefits of procrastination is in itself unoriginal and if you want a better book for that I'd recommend:
The Art of Procrastination A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing by John R. Perry The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing

Nerd addendum:
Some of the stuff he refers to is books I have read and that contain sloppy science. He doesn't get 1* as they do, precisely because he is not original: he's apparently just somebody who read their books and took them at face value. He doesn't present himself as a scientist. It is concerning though that people might think this is well-researched strong science.
Update 2021: It turns out the author does label himself a scientist and makes an awfully big deal in subsequent writings about how he thinks like a scientist and investigates things before talking about them. So I have to lower the rating.
Profile Image for Lloyd Fassett.
700 reviews16 followers
December 2, 2017
1/31/16 The author wrote an interesting synopsis for the nyts here: How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off http://nyti.ms/1nv0ZIj

I appreciated learning about a company that seriously promotes dissenting opinions as well as social science experiments. It's great to know they exist, but the book didnt match my expectations set by the title at all. These are anecdotes about successful people. It's not about nonconformists or originals.

There are many Social Science tests discussed. Setting up the tests themselves are interesting ideas, but the audio book never mentions the sample sizes or if any experiments have been able to recreate results, so you don't know how real the implications are.

He deals with how relatively little decisions are made where the main gist is to get people to just be more open minded and less dogmatic. I would have found it much more interesting if he analyzed decision making in war where people die based on your decisions.

I would have appreciated some insights into failed artists. It seems that would be easy to find people who create original art, but do not become successful by doing so. I would have appreciated a discussion of the book Moby Dick, which I think is very original and would have been lost to history if an influential book publisher hadn't happened into an old copy of what was an obscure book at the time. Point is, success isn't a key driver of Original. The author never puts that in context.

The book is misnamed. He doesn't define what is original or give a framework to discuss it. He takes a lot of successful people and goes backward to see how they got there implying that they are an Original because they are successful. I would get a lot more out of the author pointing out unsuccessful Originals.

Still, it's interesting to hear about successful people in a casual way. It's better use of time than reading People magazine.
Profile Image for Jim Lavis.
248 reviews6 followers
February 20, 2016

Two stars are generous. The first 3 or 4 chapters had some value, but the examples that were used, in those chapters, were dated and generic. The author’s credentials seem steer and the reviews were quite good, so you can imagine my surprise when I found the content to be so remedial.

The remaining chapters seemed trite and had little value. It’s sad. I love to find something worthwhile in this subject matter, so please recommend something if anyone knows of anything worth reading.
Profile Image for Richard Newton.
Author 26 books564 followers
November 16, 2016
This is a book full of well written chapters with interesting insights based on solid research.

It could have been a 5 star book, but struggles for a few reasons. Firstly, it wanders around bringing in some topics which seem to have little to do with the topic of originality. The second issue is similar, it can't seem to decide if it wants to be a book about originality in the situation of entrepreneurship and business, or originality in terms of wider creativity and innovation. Thirdly, some of the examples used seem to be of successful businesses, but I struggle to see them as hugely original. Finally, the perennial problem of many business books - its very US centric. Don't get me wrong I've got no problem with the US and many of us can learn a lot from US businesses, but there is a wider world out there with plenty of originals in it!

An easy read, some useful information, but it does not really live up to the original promise. Still, the good bits and quite good, so it manages 3 stars from me.
44 reviews13 followers
January 28, 2016
I read this book in two days. Several times while in the middle of reading it, I had to remind myself that I wasn't reading a book written by Malcolm Gladwell. Then, I realized something just as good: I was reading a book by Adam Grant. Grant is quickly becoming one of my favorite thinkers in the field of social science. Pick this book up—it's wildly entertaining, and you'll get so much out of it.
Profile Image for Ian Kelly.
27 reviews
June 14, 2017
Read this for the EY book club at work. I found it to be mostly weak connections and psychological claims with no real support. It is like a BuzzFeed article turned into a book. There are better books in this genre.
Profile Image for Liza Fireman.
839 reviews141 followers
November 8, 2016
This is one of the best books I have read lately. It has a lot that I already knew, but it added important principals, told great stories, and wrapped it all in great structure.

When was the last time you had an original idea and what did you do with it?

Originality is scary, and it is conventional wisdom that some people are innately creative, while most have few original thoughts. This is of course far from being the truth, but it is the easy way out of being original. People are afraid to speak up and stand out. We worry about the costs of non-conformity, and not wired to embrace uncertainty and ignore social approval. It doesn’t even take a violent dictator to silence us, standing out can be paralyzing and make us to conform to the majority. Even the claim that all inventions are happening by the young geniuses is very wrong. There are plenty of old masters who soar much later.

Our most known original creators almost did not make it. Martin Luther King had no intention to lead the civil rights movement, one of the attendees nominated King for the presidency. Michelangelo almost didn't take the project of the Sistine Chapel, he wasn’t interested since he viewed himself as a sculptor, not a painter, and found the task so overwhelming, only the pope’s insistence convinced him. Wozniak did not plan to leave his full time job at HP and join Steve Jobs to start Apple. Even Jerry Seinfeld almost didn't make it. Each one of these almost could change the world.

As we see, they are not cut from a completely different cloth and do not have full proof biologicals immunity for risk. They are much better in risk mitigation, and “They take the risk out of risk-taking”.

How important it is to excel at your studies to become an inventor/entrepreneur?
Funny but the least favorite students for teachers were the non-conformists who made up their own rules. And it seems pretty tragic that practice makes perfect but it doesn't make new. People that follow the rules perform in Carnegie Hall, win the science Olympics, and become chess champions. “only a fraction of gifted children eventually become revolutionary adult creators”
If you play it safe by following the conventional paths to success, without questioning, without the drive to change things, you just keep running on a treadmill.
Achievement motivation actually drives out originality. Valuing achievement too much, makes people dread failure and go for guaranteed success. So the pressure to achieve leads to do the opposite of creativity and originality.

Can we really judge our ideas? Well, not really, but neither the crowds. The "wisdom of crowds" doesn't really hold, it depends on who is the crowd. Peer creators are the ones more open to different kinds of ideas and will best judge other's creators inventions. (It reminded me the jam tasting from Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell, which was outstanding, asking people to rate jams. I highly recommend to find and read it).

And of course, passion is very important, but is not enough. (Sending you back to Malcolm Gladwell, this time to Outliers: The Story of Success and the ten thousand hours). Bill Sahlman adds: “It’s never the idea; it’s always the execution.” And real creators are hard working people: “They were the kinds of guys who would be in the writer’s room trying to figure out how to fix the second act at midnight. You saw how meticulous Jerry was in his work. That’s the passion you’re looking for.” (Or in Outliers: The Story of Success, The Beatles and their relentless performances, playing for eight hours a day in Hamburg before becoming outstanding).

Can we tell who is going to be a better original?
For one, Research on highly creative adults shows that they tended to move to new cities much more frequently than their peers in childhood, which gave them exposure to different cultures and values, and encouraged flexibility and adaptability. Being open to change, to new cultures, to new environment makes a difference and further open the mind.
Not taking the default and questioning or looking to improve things is another critical trait (even if it is not to accept the defaults of Internet Explorer and Safari). It also makes people happier with their jobs, not to take them as fixed, and to allow themselves to take the initiative to improve their circumstances. But they were the exception, not the rule.
Coming with large amount of ideas is also a good signals. There is no quantity against quality. In fact, when it comes to idea generation, quantity is the most predictable path to quality. “Original thinkers,” Stanford professor Robert Sutton notes, “will come up with many ideas that are strange mutations, dead ends, and utter failures. The cost is worthwhile because they also generate a larger pool of ideas—especially novel ideas.”

You will find so much more in the book. Emotion regulation and positive thinking
(is it really the best to think positive and imagine yourself succeed or to be a defensive pessimist)? How many values or principals are too many and what is that effect? How do our parents affect us? And do they the best role models? And is it gender related? What is worse - your adversaries or your frenemies? Is your position in the family makes a difference in taking risks?

Originality brings more bumps in the road, yet it leaves us with more happiness and a greater sense of meaning. Highly recommended and a very important book. Above 4.5 stars.
Profile Image for Mehrsa.
2,234 reviews3,659 followers
December 15, 2017
This is one of the few self-helpy books that is actually worth reading. Great stories and great tips and very well-written. I really enjoyed it and have thought a lot about it since I read it.
Profile Image for إيمان .
260 reviews175 followers
September 19, 2021

من أكثر الكتب التي قرأتها فائدة و تنظيما. كل فصل من فصول الكتاب ينطلق من مثال ليحلل أسباب الفشل و النجاح أو الإستجابة من عدمها، و كل الحجج مدعمة بأمثلة من التاريخ أو من التجارب العلمية المرتبطة بعلم النفس أو الإجتماع أو الإقتصاد. كتاب مبهر جدا جعلني أتساءل لماذا لا تحظى تلك التجارب بالإهتمام عندنا و نحن الشعوب التي بأشد الحاجة لفهم سلوكها الجماعي و الفردي، أسباب خنوعها، قلة وعيها، و استفحال الفردانية فيها. بدون أسس علمية أعتقد لا يمكن أن نقف على أسباب الوضع الحالي و أن نجد تفسيرا للسلوكيات الجماعية و الفردية خاصة تلك المرتبطة بالشأن العام.
Profile Image for Joy D.
1,775 reviews213 followers
June 5, 2020
“By my definition, originality involves introducing and advancing an idea that’s relatively unusual within a particular domain, and that has the potential to improve it. Originality itself starts with creativity: generating a concept that is both novel and useful. But it doesn’t stop there. Originals are people who take the initiative to make their visions a reality. This book is about how we can all become more original.” – Adam M. Grant, Originals

Adam M. Grant pieces together research on the subject of originality, offering advice to individuals in the areas of business, child-rearing, and personal growth. He liberally inserts case studies, quotes, and anecdotes. Many of his observations go against commonly held assumptions. This book includes such diverse and unexpected topics as women’s suffrage, what your internet browser says about your originality, procrastination, and the Mona Lisa. It also covers some predictable topics such as speaking truth to power, organizational cultures, avoiding groupthink, and how to sell your ideas.

It is the latest take on a subject that has been around forever. In some ways, this is your “typical business book.” I commend the author for seeking to introduce more people to the idea of challenging the status quo and finding ways to make the world into a better place. It certainly provides food for thought and I found it worthwhile.
Profile Image for Maciej Nowicki.
74 reviews50 followers
December 4, 2019
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World is about creativity, risk-taking and conformity. The book is written by Adam Grant an American psychologist who is also a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania specialising in organisational psychology. In the book, he studies a relationship between entrepreneurship and risk-taking. Most people think that extremely successful entrepreneurs are risk-takers, however, the data provided in the book shows something completely opposite. Best entrepreneurs are not necessarily more risk-taking than the rest of us. In fact, they may even be more risk-averse as most entrepreneurs hate gambling. What they really enjoy is the opportunity, trying something new. They’re typically driven not by passion for risk, but rather craving of passion. A lot of them are managing a variety of risk portfolios. They make risky investments in one realm which potentially could be offset with a safer bet in a different basket. In the end, when they have to go from one domain they will actually be more cautious in another to cover their position.

Originality and creativity are other great subjects of the book. Adam Grant tells that the biggest barrier to originality is not the ability to generate ideas but to select them properly. How can we avoid making bad bets when it comes to idea selection. The funny thing was his conclusion that we are all terrible at judging our own ideas. It’s really other people’s feedback that turns out to be important. Here the book provides a few great examples of ideas badly evaluated. The best example was Segway as a case of an entrepreneur being overconfident. In a short story, it’s an idea of a self-balancing vehicle. The idea was great and allured many successful people to invest in this product. On the other hand, apart from its uniqueness the company had great problems with monetising the idea and actually persuade customers that the product is worth buying.

Here the book tells a lot about what is called the confirmation bias: when we come up with something unique, we overexaggerate its qualities expecting that it is going to shake the market and get success instantly. The big idea here is when you came up with something original, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be successful just because it seems unique to you.

So First, reconsider the market needs and your audience’s preferences, not the product itself. Be your own judge and study where you fall short and of course correct from there before you put out anything in public. When we are excited about an idea we tend to make the mistake of assembling as many reasons as possible to support it and by the time we are completely biased and blinded.

Here I really loved the story of Rufus Griscom who has a great antidote to this. Once he started a company called Babble a parenting magazine. When he went to investors he said: “these are the top five reasons not to fund my startup company.” The same year received 3.3 million dollars to fund his expansion. Two years later went to Disney which was interested in buying the company and once again said “here are the five reasons why you should not buy it”. Disney ended up buying it for 40 million dollars. So the lesson to learn is to acknowledge the weaknesses of your idea and to be self-critical and honest with yourself.

The next great lesson taken from the book was a problem with advisors and business partners we tend to choose. Naturally, we look for the friendliest, most agreeable person assuming that the person is ultimately going to be supportive. Nevertheless, it often turns out that that person doesn’t have your back because in hard times he is interested in being nice to you and he also...(if you like to read my full review please visit my blog https://leadersarereaders.blog/origin...)
Profile Image for Dar vieną puslapį.
335 reviews538 followers
May 7, 2019
Adam Grant - pasaulio mastu garsus verslo psichologijos konsultantas, dirbantis su tokiais grandais kaip Google, Disney ir New York Times. Akivaizdu, kad šis žmogus nutuokia apie dalykus, kurie šiaip jau kiekvienam mirtingąjam nėra prieinami. Tuo jis ir dalinasi šioje knygoje.

Paerzinsiu jus - ar Jums būtų įdomu sužinoti, kaip buvo auklėjami žydų gebėtojai kai buvo vaikai? O apie tai, kaip viena moteris pasipriešino žymiąjam ir aroganiškąjam Steve Jobs, kai šis užsidegęs norėjo įgyvendinti savo naują idėją? Arba apie tai, kaip viena moteris pakeitė tai, kaip CŽV dalinasi informacija? Visa tai ir dar daugiau Adam Grant atskleidžia šioje knygoje.

Vienas pirmųjų šios knygos pliusų yra tas, kad ji neparašyta tuo saldžiu, familiariu ir perdėm draugišku tonu. Ne ne. Tonas dalykiškas, tačiau nėra "sausas" ir puikiausiai įtraukia skaitytoją. Jau anksčiau minėti pavyzdžiai iš knygos apie Jobs, CŽV, taip pat apie Da Vinči, Martiną Liuterį, Amerikos prezidentus ir tt. yra lyg puikūs prieskoniai dar labiau pagardinantys ir taip puikų tekstą.

Kitas momentas - oi, kiek ši knyga sugriovė tokių "savaime suprantamų" stereotipų. Tiek apie organizacijų kultūrą, tiek apie kūrybiškumą apskritai. Neperdedu - buvo ne vienas momentas kaip garsiai citavau knygą aplinkiniams, nes knygai tikrai pavyko nustebinti.

Knyga "Originalai" savyje talpina tiek daug, kad jokiais būdais nesiūlyčiau jos tik tiems, kurie vienaip ar kitaip susiję su verslo sritimi. Autorius kalba apie auklėjimą, istoriją, žinomas ir respektabilias asmenybes, naujus verslo valdymo būdus ir t.t. Taigi neapsigaukite. Jei jums įdomu psichologija, norite tapti kūrybiškesnis tiek darbe tiek savo asmeniniame gyvenime - ši knyga kaip tik Jums. Juk taip smagu būti novatorium bei pažvelgti į įprastus dalykus iš kito kampo, o ne būti dar vienu klonu ir taip jau gana suvienodėjusių žmonių pasaulyje. Būkite ne standratai, o originalai. Ši knyga Jums padės.
Profile Image for د.أمجد الجنباز.
Author 3 books772 followers
September 25, 2017
يتحدث الكتاب عن الأشخاص الذين يأتون بأفكار جديدة وسباقة، والذين أسماهم باسم
Originals الأصليون
ويعطي نصائح هامة لهم
كل فصل من الكتاب يتحدث عن مشكلة معينة تواجه هؤلاء الأشخاص، ابتداء من الآلية المثلى لتقييم افكارهم ومعرفة ما إن كانت فاشلة أو قوية، مرورا بكيف سيتحدث وكيف يقنع الآخرين بفكرته والتوقيت الأمثل لطرح الفكرة، وانتهاء بطرق لتجاوز القلق من صعوبة التحديات التي تواجههم.
الكتاب قوي جدا، يبدأ بحماس ويضيء العديد من مساحات التفكير لديك.
واعتمد في كتابه على الكثير من الأبحاث والتجارب
Profile Image for Henry David.
53 reviews1 follower
October 2, 2016
I'm going to have to disagree with Sheryl Sandberg on this one. Not cutting-edge on what mavericks of the society have done to make it big. Grant tells a curated set of stories of familiar heroes that are mostly white guys, except of course of MLK. I wish he included a broader range of stories from other incredible black figures and figures of color -- Native Americans, Latinoamericanos, Asian Americans. Moreover, women of color were entirely written out and only mentioned as "double minorities" which paints them as powerless victims, rather than sharing stories of overcoming adversity and fight for equality.

Overall, the underdog narratives are either well-worn or predictable. More of a collection of stories that don't necessarily fit together.
Profile Image for Saadia  B..
180 reviews64 followers
February 23, 2023
3.5 Stars

The hallmark of originality is rejecting the default and exploring whether a better option exists. Originality is not a fixed trait. It is a free choice. Successful originals often begin by questioning defaults and balancing risk portfolios. In reality, the biggest barrier to originality is not idea generation - it is idea selection. Many people fail to achieve originality because they generate a few ideas and then obsess about refining them to perfection.

Conviction in our ideas is dangerous not only because it leaves us vulnerable to false positives but also because it stops us from generating the requisite variety to reach our creative potential. Intuitions are only trustworthy when people build up experience making judgments in a predictable environment. Middle-status-conformity leads us to choose the safety of the tried-and-true over the danger of the originals.

Two radically different styles of innovation: conceptual and experimental. Conceptual innovators formulate a big idea and set out to execute it. Experimental innovators solve problems through trial and error, learning and evolving as they go along. Conceptual innovation can be done quickly because it doesn't require years of methodological investigation. The experimental approach takes longer but proves more renewable: instead of reproducing our past ideas, experiments enable us to continue discovering new ones.

The more strongly you identify with an extreme group, the harder you seek to differentiate yourself from more moderate groups that threaten your values. Coalitions often fall apart when people refuse to moderate their radicalism. When we shift our emphasis from behavior to character, people evaluate choices differently. Defensive pessimism is a strategy used in specific situations to manage anxiety, fear and worry. Rather than trying to suppress a strong emotion, it's easier to connect it into a different emotion - one that's equally intense, but propels us to step on the gas.

Originality brings more bumps in the road yet it leaves us with more happiness and a greater sense of meaning. The easiest way to encourage non-conformity is to introduce a single dissenter. Originals embrace the uphill battle, striving to make the world what it could be. Rules set limit that teach children to adopt a fixed view of the world. Whereas values encourage children to internalize principles for themselves.

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Profile Image for Helio.
421 reviews63 followers
November 6, 2020
This book challeges conventional thinking on a number of issues.  You may have to read the book to appreciate these examples and why:

· Procrastination can be good for creativity.  Like Sheryl Sandberg, who wrote the Forward, I tend to do things in advance and accomplish things ahead of schedule.  Cheryl says she might change, but like me i doubt it.

· entrepreneurs are significantly more risk adverse than the general population

· the least effective leaders were those who followed the will of the people

· when American Presidents made inaugral addresses featuring positive thoughts about the future employment rates and GDP declined

· Steve Jobs and other high profile investors thought the Segway would be a phenomenal success.  Instead it was one of the top ten technological flops of the decade.

· the TV series Seinfield bombed in prescreening episodes - hardly anyone thought it would be a success

· companies, communties and countries don't suffer from lack of novel ideas; they're constrained by shortage of people able to choose the right ideas

· even geniuses have trouble recognizing they have a hit on their hands.  Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Shakespeare and Picasso were cited as examples.  They produced thousands of works but only known for a few extraordinary pieces.

· individual creators had better odds with a lifetime of ideas

· People who started businesses and applied for patents were more likely to be involved in painting, sculpture, architecture or literature.

· two to 22 times as many Nobel Prize winners played a musical instrument, painted, did crafts, wrote poetry, acted or danced than typical scientists.  Must be true; I don't do any of those things and I never won a Nobel prize.

· non-experts make sounder judgments when they do thorough investigations

· to be successful an invention needs to be new AND practical

· last borns are much more likely to be risk takers than first borns

· likelihood of purchases increased up to $100 then plateaued then dropped off at higher prices

· Donna Dubinsky (CEO of Palm Computing) remembers Steve Jobs saying "There's no way I am ever building a phone."

· When you are first to market you have to make all the mistakes yourself.  Meanwhile settlers watch and learn from your errors.  [Makes me think of Shark Tank and all that false emphasis on being first in the marketplace.]

· entrepreneurs that don't risk it all are more likely to be successful than those that go for broke

· Being first not necessarily an advantage. A Hungarian Physician discovered washing hands reduced death rates.  He was scorned by his colleagues and ended up in an asylum.

· From ages two to ten children are told to change their behavour every six to nine minutes: 15,000 times a year!

· parents of highly creative children had usually only one rule > that emphasized moral values, rather than specific rules

· a sign saying "Hand hygiene prevents you from catching disease" was ineffective whereas "Hand hygiene prevents patients from catching diseases" resulted in more hand washing.  [Perhaps there is lesson for encouraging mask wearing > to prevent infecting others, rather than protecting oneself.]

· character praise works better than behaviour praise

· children were more likely to help if asked to be helpers rather than asked to help

· cheating was cut in half by phrasing it "Don't be a cheater" instead of "Please Don't Cheat"

· we might get better results saying "Don't be a Drunken Driver" rather than "Don't Drink and Drive"

· Defensive Pessimism is a strategy for managing anxiety, fear and worry.

The delivery of keeping going back to the same examples was annoying/distracting.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Conor Ahern.
655 reviews187 followers
November 8, 2017
So I really enjoyed this book, and I can't really figure out why. It's not profound in any way, and a lot of it even takes the form of a shopworn case study, well told. But the best reasoning I can come up with was that it was flattering to me...!

Not because I'm particularly original--I'm an attorney, after all--but because it actually lauded a certain kind of restraint that I believe I'm possessed of. The book did not exhort throwing out all conventions, but rather to be sensible and accept restraints and to discard conventional thinking within them.

Given that I'm a lawyer, the field whose whole "thing" is adhering to convention, I must be either a masochist or highly deluded about the degree to which the above describes my mien. But it at least describes how I think I operate when thinking about social and legal issues, or that I aspire to.
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,038 followers
February 1, 2016
I am always on the hunt to learn more about creativity, particularly in the context of leading a team of Outreach librarians and staff. It is one of our top values as a group, even if all of our ideas don't always make it all the way to the top.

I appreciated that while Grant starts with startups and well-known innovators, he moves from that angle through many other scenarios - the work place, the CIA, even revolutions! If you haven't read much on creativity lately, he does a good job at consolidating a lot of recent research (including his own - many of the references are for email exchanges or phone conversations that he instigated) and presenting it in a holistic way. Some of it I had seen before but there was a lot of new perspective and new ideas in it for me. Most of it is narrative, instead of the obnoxious bullet points that often fill books in this arena.

For where I am professionally, most helpful to me was the discussion of how and when to use your voice, how creative ideas succeed (it may be quantity, and being realistic about how many ideas will really stick out in the end... the numbers weren't great but I needed to hear that one nixed idea is probably not that big of a deal), and how to deal with anger.

I will be ordering this book for my library!

I received a copy of this from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for W. Whalin.
Author 42 books383 followers
April 28, 2017
What does it take to act on an original idea? Are entrepreneurs risk-takers or calculating risk-taker? We learn from the careful research of Adam Grant in ORIGINALS that successful entrepreneurs are careful risk-takers. Instead of jumping off a cliff, these entrepreneurs took calculated risks to begin their business. For example, everyone likes to talk about how Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to begin Microsoft. It was through listening to ORIGINALS, I learned Gates took a calculated risk and a “leave of absence” from Harvard.

Another fascinating chapter was about the value of procrastination and doing deliberate procrastination. DaVinci delayed completing the Mona Lisa and during those years learned all sorts of lighting techniques that he built into the final painting. Also Grant explains that that people who are prolific--lots of writing and ideas--have more of a chance of having an original idea than people who only write every now and then. It is one of the principles that Grant mentions in his book.

I enjoyed listening to this audio book from cover to cover.
Profile Image for Masatoshi Nishimura.
315 reviews13 followers
March 5, 2017
He tackles lots of popular misconceptions about what it needs to become successful. It shows that you don't need to follow the media image. His writing style is similar to Malcolm Gladwell in that he introduces academic research and creates a compelling story that can stick. Overall, I find this approach really difficult to follow. He throws in lots of numbers, but I don't know which one is based on proper study or just based on 1 case study. He mixes those 2 up so much that I had to be extra careful to find its validity. Also, after reading it, there are not many ideas that lead to actions. All it says is you don't need to follow a certain path. I usually respect this type of "Self help" author who can give guideline, rather than simply tearing down misconception like a pop journalist. It's therefore 3 stars.
Profile Image for Pavel Grecu.
8 reviews
May 10, 2018
A must-read for any person who strives to change the status-quo.
Profile Image for Milica Stojiljkovic.
330 reviews202 followers
June 18, 2020
Ovo je 4.5 od 5. Knjizi nisam dala 5 zvezdica jer sam počinjala da je čitam 3 puta i odustajala. Bez obzira na to - knjiga je zaista odlična. Podseća na udzbenik iz menadzmenta, prepuna je informacija i motivišuća. Nije klasična popularna psihologija, ona više analizira primere iz prakse nekih uspešnih ljudi koji su svet učinili boljim mestom i daje neke sažetke i savete kako da kod sebe prevaziđete prepreke na koje nailazimo svi, bili prodavac u marketu ili Nikola Tesla. Shodno količini informacija - potrebno je da je čitate sa punom pažnjom i zahteva više vremena. Moj prikaz knjige možete pročitati i na: https://zurnal.bookmate.com/kako-prom...
Profile Image for Kelly.
861 reviews111 followers
October 6, 2020
3.5 stars

This is my first audiobook and I think I lost something in the switch from print to spoken voice. This is a book which demands to be read, at least for a person like me who absorbs more from reading than listening. Listening, I felt like I was back in college, especially as I listened in 30 or 45-minute chunks while commuting to and from work. At times I felt it was hard to concentrate (there goes that visual learning bias again - not having a professor standing in front of you, gesturing, and a notebook at the ready to jot down nuggets of wisdom was detrimental to my listening experience) and I ended up not taking away from this book what I really needed to take away from it - because there's certainly a lot to glean from Originals.

What I liked: Grant took some pretty common assumptions (youngest children have reputations for being more rebellious and daring than firstborns) and worked in research from the social sciences (I loved hearing about the experiments) to draw conclusions as to why (firstborns spend more time with adults and being parented by adults, whereas youngest children spend more time with children and being parented by other children [hence less rigidly]; firstborns tend to occupy niches established for them by their parents, whether it's to play golf or be a lawyer, which frees up youngest children to seek less defined niches, whether it's to play baseball or be a stand-up comedian). The research is really interesting, for example the research on stand-up comedians and how the vast majority are middle or youngest children of large families; however, other sections I found to be too explanatory (and also - grasping at straws a little big, as in the section on women's suffrage in the US, which spanned decades in time and was under the leadership of dozens of women and dozens of groups - drawing conclusions on the "originality" behind the movement and what made it work seems too simplistic for such a complex undertaking).

I also liked the list at the back of the book, which sums up beautifully all of the points.

However, if you're looking for a book that is purely about being original, this is not it. There are sections here on parenting strategies and guidance for child-rearing (for example, instead of asking your child, "Will you share that toy?", which refers to one action, you should appeal to their person and ask, "Are you a sharer?" - not sure how that relates to the topic of originality except by stretches [and far too many paragraphs on the subject]). There are also long sections about procrastination (for me, the social science studies were fascinating; the part where Grant tries to marry this research to MLK Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech is a little bit of a stretch), about political revolutions (I zoned out here), and several other topics I found to be less interesting and frankly less topical. This is not necessarily a book about cultivating or applying originality, although there are really great chunks of gold in this book on those topics, but those sections are hampered by cautionary tales and off-topic research that brings this book down from 4 stars to 3 stars for me.
Profile Image for Lea Espinal.
14 reviews10 followers
August 11, 2018
Following some of the book's advice, which says to ban the words "like", "love" and "hate" when talking about ideas, I'll just say this book presents its ideas on originality and creativity in a palatable way, gives practical advice on how to put them into practice, and connects them to real life examples. It's quickly become one of my non-fiction favorites.
Profile Image for Brad Meltzer.
Author 206 books6,406 followers
October 7, 2017
This is a nonfiction guide to making a meaningful difference, inspiring creativity and finding one’s own gifts. It’s how to be truly different by one of my favorite thinkers.
Profile Image for Nopadol Rompho.
Author 4 books326 followers
July 28, 2021
Another interesting book written by Adam Grant. This book shows you how you can become 'original'. There are a lot of researches and interesting stories throughout the book. Strongly recommended.
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