To say Adam Grant is a professor and an author of nonfiction books about social and business psychology is to say a candle and a 100-watt bulb are lights. Read more about him here.
I just finished listening to the audiobook of his best-selling Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World. It is inspiring and eye-opening. What does it mean to be “original” in an age when everything is accelerating at speeds beyond our imaginations? How does one stand out in a crowd? How do you take a novel – sometimes controversial – idea, and get other people on board?
The answer might not be what you think. Great thinkers, brilliant innovators, and Nobel prize winners top the list of originals, but how about the office worker who has a brilliant idea for improving an internal process. Is she shot down because the idea is so novel, so unconventional the hierarchy can’t see its value? How does that lower-level staffer get past barriers of groupthink and cautious management?
The book is based on real-world examples and research done by, well, innovative social psychologists in different fields of expertise. It delves into –
• ways you can improve family dynamics and raise children who can solve problems and think for themselves;
• coalition-building to achieve transformational objectives;
• managing fear;
• understanding why listening to your critics makes your ideas scalable and achievable;
•how entrepreneurs create sustainable products and businesses;
• why it’s okay to procrastinate;
• yes, and more.
Originals aren’t born, they are made, or perhaps better stated, they make themselves. They are not always dynamic, take-it-to-the-mat personalities. Originals learn the skills necessary to carry their invention or idea from coulda, shoulda, woulda, to a revolutionary product, inspirational message, or life-altering concept.
What to look for (from the author’s website)
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.
You’ll 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
• A TV executive who didn’t even work in comedy but saved Seinfeld from the cutting-room floor
Adam Grant explores the journeys of several successful originals and looks at why some things work and others don’t. He explains how the non-innovator – which covers most of us – can take the behaviors of originals and create change within their own businesses, organizations, and families. You can even take a quick test to see if you have the traits of an original. Typically, respondents got 6 of 15 answers correct; I got 9 of 15 and I read (listened to) the book! I suspect I’ll listen to it again after I’ve had time to distill the wealth of information it contains.
Originally published in 2014, the book is available through online retailers and in bookstores. I’m sure if Nancy at Paper Trail doesn’t have the book, she can order it for you. I got Originals through Libby, the Carnegie Library application on which you can download digital and audiobooks. To use the app, you must have a library card.
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