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The Power of Onlyness: Make Your Wild Ideas Mighty Enough to Dent the World

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  226 ratings  ·  48 reviews
An 800-CEO-READ Staff Pick
Shortlisted for the Thinkers50 Breakthrough Idea Award
A Financial Times Business Book of the Month

"For any would-be activists who hear the voice: 'not me' or 'not now, ' Merchant makes the strong case for 'yes you' and 'yes now'--and even shows you how to jump in." --Van Jones, host of CNN's The Messy Truth, author of Rebuild the Dre
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 29th 2017 by Viking
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Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening
to empire
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the
mass hardens...*

Nilofer Merchant has written one of the most essential books of the year.
The Power of Onlyness is a book for all those who see something that they want to change, but don't believe that they have the power to change anything, that by themselves they are nobody. These days especially, that is demonstrably false, as she prove
Andy Roth
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The world has changed. Those who are “in”; whether that be from money, connections, or status; have a plethora of mechanisms to effect change. Often, they were the few who made a difference.

The world has changed. Those of us who thought we had none of those things now have a way to impact, to dent, the world, even if just our small part of it—to realize what we do have to offer—and a way to do it.

The endless list of how-to and self-help books simply provide someone’s cookbook—what worked for the
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I learned of this book while reading an article about communication and emotional intelligence across political divides. The idea of listening more to those whom you strongly disagree with appealed to me. The book’s chapter on the subject was stunning. The book as a whole is about using your unique gifts to make a dent in the world. It presents many amazing case studies. If you’ve given up on the dream of making a difference (or you’re still committed to it!) this book is for you. I found it to ...more
Marne Wilson
Jul 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways, nonfiction
Merchant's concept of "onlyness" is that we are each the only person in the world who could do certain things. (For instance, I'm the only one who could have written many of my poems, because they are narratives of personal experiences that only I have had.) Her idea is that we can take our onlyness out into the world, bond with others who each have their own onlyness, and make things happen together. (As she calls it, making a dent in the world.)

Most of the book consists of case studies of indi
Sep 26, 2017 rated it liked it
This book started really strong for me and then it seemed kind of long by the end. The stories in the book were good, but I feel like the point was dissolving by the end. This is one of those books that may or may not stay with me. If I find myself thinking about it, I'll come back and up it a star. Until then, I consider it a good enough read but not ground shaking. ...more
Bonnie Shuster
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
When I started this book, I had low expectations. I feared it would be a self-help book filled with buzzwordsz. I still think “onlyness” is a bit of a buzzword, but Merchant’s stories of folks who have “dented” the world are fascinating, instructive, and inspiring. A worthwhile read.
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
How would you like to make more of a difference in the world? Do you sometimes wake up in the morning with a bit of angst about your role in impacting change, but perhaps have no idea how to do it? If so, then The Power of Onlyness (published/on sale on August 29, 2017) is a must read for you. Nilofer Merchant’s newest book is an accessible, timely, relevant, bold and powerful guide that shows how anyone can use their own ideas to make a valuable contribution.

Merchant quickly pulls you into the
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: personal-library
THE best book I've read in years. I couldn't put it down and have pages and pages of notes. This new book from Nilofer Merchant is a deep dive into the power of YOU to make a DENT in this world. Discussion archaic leadership models, power, creativity and making a difference in the word, this is something that IS indeed accessible to everyone - not just those bestowed a leadership title.

We all matter, and inside of our collaboration and individuality, there is a greatness to be had, discovered an
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this book while in transition out of full time corporate employment into a self employed freelance career. It was great timing to be empowered by Nilofer’s theory on onlyness. She shares beautiful and inspiring stories of people making a difference in the the world by harnessing their uniqueness. While the book is filled with great rhetoric, it was Nilofer’s personal stories that have stuck with me. She is an excellent storyteller and her message will resonate with anyone looking to make ...more
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Nilofer Merchant's premise - that everyone has unique ideas that can benefit the world - is intriguing and inspiring. In developing this premise into a practical philosophy, she makes use of well-honed storytelling skills and spotlights a diverse array of change makers, ensuring that readers of all backgrounds can see their potential reflected in her book. ...more
Jan 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
There are many interesting and valuable ideas in this book- and many interesting stories of paths people took to get to certain places and almost all of this sounds kindly intended. It got more and more interesting to me as I progressed- I felt "Lean In"-ed at the beginning in a way that I did not like very much but- the author seems to have the intention to empower human beings to pay attention to themselves and take actions on their “productive” thoughts and also sees and encourages the inhere ...more
Terri Griffith
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Great book." "Perfect time." I expect these are the phrases I'm going to hear a lot about Nilofer Merchant's new book, The Power Of Onlyness: Make Your Wild Ideas Mighty Enough To Dent The World. "Great book," because it is. This is an actionable book filled with stories that would have made you glad to read them even if they didn't teach you something. "Perfect time," because of all the conflict in the world and how we need to deepen our discussions around many of the things we may have let sl ...more
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, how-to
"Through the power of only ness, an individual conceives an idea born of his narrative, nurtures it with the help of a community that embraces it, and through shared action, makes the idea powerful enough to dent the world."

"Finding 'your people' sometimes means having to walk away from places you don't fit in rather than trying to squeeze yourself into a too-tight space with the aim to belong. It isn't until people make that choice that they are able to find others who share something meaningfu
Apr 11, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the idea of Onlyness.

Onlyness playfully flips loneliness upside down. That these words are but one phoneme apart suggests, rightfully so, that with a quick mindset re-calibration, isolation becomes togetherness, helplessness becomes empowerment.

It's a fresh lens to view the familiar tools and techniques commonly taught in Dreaded Corporate America. Negotiation, collaboration, impact, the whole gamut. It lifts individuals up without pushing others down. Sure, some may label it as derivativ
Lynn Lyon
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended via LinkedIn by Beth Comstock, vice Chair at GE. I think this is important because the book can resonate with those of us in the midst of the corporate world with our onlyness as well as the entrepreneurs who will be inspired by the challenge.

It was a slow thought provoking read. Nilofer is an excellent writer. The book was well-organized with insightful examples.

I took notes, bended page corners and realized I could relate and try to apply her challenge.

I love reading
Wilma Jakobsen
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book has already inspired me and I am only on chapter 4. It's going to become an important book. Based on 20 powerful narratives of people who made a difference in the world, it is clear about the premise that we can all make a difference in the world. The effect of the dent we make is best achieved through knowing our uniqueness, being rooted in our identity and context, then finding ourselves in community with others who share our passion, then spreading the passion, going viral and watch ...more
Joy Beaver
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Individually Empowering!

All of our individual experiences provide valuable insights into common sense solutions to the problems that affect the lives of all citizens. By actively participating in voicing our concerns and our insights to our elected representatives and monitoring their actions, we can regain the power we have relinquished through neglect of our duty to hold those who govern us responsible for their decisions and the effects they have on our lives. Every senator and every represen
Eric Ness
Mar 21, 2021 rated it liked it
I heard Nilofer talk about her book on a podcast and it got me interested enough to read the whole book. I was expecting to be wildly inspired to implement my ideas and put my voice into the world. Some of the stories in the book about others who made a big impact were inspiring. However, they seemed cherry-picked to show what is possible without providing a practical route to get there. The foundational ideas in the book are good, but they keep getting repeated without adding more. This book wo ...more
Marie Cameron
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Love this book! It's a road map of how to effect the kind of change that each of us, in our own unique way, needs to see in the world. Through real stories of people who have already made their "wild ideas mighty enough to dent the world" we discover how to find and collaborate with others who share and support our vision and reach heights we could never manage by ourselves. Nilofer Merchant draws successful strategies from these stories that we may employ in own journeys, no matter who we are. ...more
Lonny Grafman
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In the The Power of Onlyness, Nilofer shows how everyday people can have real impact. I love this and get to watch it happen everyday. Example after example shows many paths towards making it happen. In the end, you are left emboldened by the power we all have to bring about positive change.

I have already bought more copies of this book for a few of my favorite future-makers.

Full disclosure: I, and an organization I am part of, are mentioned as examples in this book... and we are quite proud of
Geetanjali Mukherjee

* I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

In Nilofer Merchant's new book, "The Power of Onlyness", she shows you how to bring forth that which only you can do, bring out your unique gifts and talents, your 'onlyness', and share it to make a dent in the universe. I really enjoyed reading the book and the stories of individuals from around the world who have found a way to tap into their own uniqueness, embraced their 'onlyness' and have made a differen
Lisa Murray
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book for so many things. A fresh, insightful approach to the mysteries of difference and creating change in the world. The inspiring stories and the brilliance with which these ideas have all been tied together to create a platform for making a difference through collaboration. Highly recommended!
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Book about making a change by embracing basically what's special about you: what intersections of thought and culture and other aspects of background do you represent and how do you gather other people to your cause and make a dent in the world? Stories were fresh and interesting, prose was fairly inspiring. ...more
Kathleen Warner
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Incredible. Forward-thinking, Nilofer Merchant sets out a new paradigm of effective collective impact - unleashing the power of onlyness that exists within and across all of us. I found myself underlining, annotating, nodding and rereading. I feel better equipped as both a leader and a human being to unlock my own and others potential.
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: stephbe
This book works to confirm one of my most fundamental beliefs - that every single one of us matter and can contribute in a fulfilling way to the world if we get rid of the barriers and beliefs that stop us. Very inspirational with lots of fascinating case studies.
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars. Didn’t ever fully engage with this one. Some of the stories were interesting, absolutely, but I got tired of the vignette format, and it didn’t rev me up to put my awesome self out there in the world. You Are A Badass worked better for me.
Mar 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I like the premise of the book but I found reading the book a little tedious. The connection from one idea to the next wasn't clear to me and some of the stories were just too long and got bogged down in detail. ...more
Cady North
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoy all the insights in this book. I especially love how vulnerable Nilofer is as she offers up her experience being unique and embracing her "onlyness." I love learning more about her struggles and triumphs as a business owner. ...more
Sep 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2-goodread_wins
I won this in a GOODREADS giveaway.
Jenna M
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
A quick paced read, touched on lots of movements I find interesting (black lives matter, occupy wall street) and have practical advice for crowd fueled work that respects the individual
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Nilofer Merchant is a master at turning seemingly “wild” ideas into new realities and showing the rest of us how we can too.

A recovering business executive from Apple and other tech companies, she has personally launched more than 100 products, netting $18B in sales. (That's billions, not millions.)

The Power of Onlyness is her third book. Her prior ideas have earned her quite a few recognitions.

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Believe it or not, we're halfway through 2021! As is our tradition, this is the time when the Goodreads editorial team burrows into our data to...
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“I believe that at the very root of our humanity is a passion to create value with heart, to work alongside others who care, and to make a difference.” 1 likes
“I believe that at the very root of our humanity is a passion to create value with heart, to work alongside others who care, and to make a difference. I believe that each of us has something of value to offer -- all 7.5 billion of us. While not everyone will, anyone can.
The fact that today so many people do not is not a sign that they lack capacity, but instead it's a sign that the scaffolding and structures need to be built to let them do so. This is society's problem, and its opportunity.”
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