Book Review: “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move The World” by Adam Grant

“Originals” by definition: A thing of singular or unique character; a person who is different from other people in an appealing or interesting way; a person of fresh initiative or inventive capacity. They take the road less traveled, championing a set of novel ideas that go against the grain but ultimately make things better, as opposed to “conformists.”

– Originals are not necessarily reckless risk takers. In most cases, they keep the day job before plunging into their new adventures, as in the case of Warby Parker. “They take the risk out of risk-taking.”

– Employees who use Chrome or Firefox tend to be happier – they tend to be non-conformists as they need to take to the effort to install new applications on their computer.As non-conformists – rejecting defaults – they tend to enjoy their work.

– Child prodigies tend to be conformists, hence not able to change the world.

– Being the first movers does not guarantee success. Sometimes being a second mover could be a better position.

– Originals aren’t very good in judging their own work, but they do kiss lots of frogs to find the prince. E.g. Shakespeare produced 37 plays and 154 sonnets, Picasso produce more than 1,800 paintings, 1,200 sculptures, 2,800 ceramics, and 12,000 drawings.

– Managers don’t evaluate well original ideas unless they started out generating their own ideas. Have an open mind first before judging. But don’t try to evaluate ideas outside of your area expertise as Steve Jobs on Segway.

– Having artistic hobbies like music playing, drawing arts, crafts, writing, performing (amateur acting) increases the odds of winning a Nobel prize.

– Use Sarick Effect to argue the negatives (why you shouldn’t invest in my company) may disarm your potential investor. Reverse psychology.

– Procrastination may sometime yield a better idea: ML King’s “I have a dream” speech was completed just minutes before it began. In fact, “I have a dream” wasn’t written in the script until he was reminded by a lady shouting to him, “tell them about the dream.” Settlers (procrastinators) had a better odd of winning higher market share in business.

– Two life cycles of creativity: Young genius (conceptual thinking, done quickly) then old masters (experimental thinking, takes time to do trials and errors)- more sustainable.

– Frenemies with strong positive AND negative feelings toward us are much harder to handle like in the case of Susan Anthony and Lucy Stone in the suffrage movement. Hence enemies make better allies than frenemies.

– Later birth order (laterborns) in the family tends to become rebels – more original.

– Parents aren’t the best role models. Introducing other roles models to raise our children’s aspirations.

– To avoid groupthink, find a true dissenter, not just an acting one. The devil’s advocates must believe in his/her position to be effective. Polaroid failed because of groupthink that customers always want a hardcopy and lost the chance to develop digital cameras.

– Venting emotion may turn aggressive. The Serbia activists were trained to avoid venting. Venting focuses the attention on the perpetrator of injustice. Instead, reflect on the victims who have suffered.

– “Becoming originals is not the easiest path in the pursuit of happiness, but it leaves us perfectly poised for the happiness of pursuit.

This is an excellent book for those who want to be more original and creative. Some of the suggestions can help. Highly recommended.