Originals

By: Adam Grahant

Originals is an interesting book, containing a lot of different ideas. Although the title might be slightly misleading (As there is barely any information about how to sharpen your originality), this book is more like a handbook of different tools that one might need when embarking a journey towards creating something meaningful in the world.

 

Overall, an interesting book but wouldn't recommend someone to read the entire thing.

Summary PDF >

5 Key Takeaways

  1. Being upfront about the downsides of your ideas is that it makes you more trustworthy. If I’m willing to tell them what’s wrong with my business, investors think, There must be an awful lot that’s right with it

  2. We often under communicate our ideas. They’re already so familiar to us that we underestimate how much exposure an audience needs to comprehend and buy into them.

  3. Surprisingly, the downsides of being the first mover are frequently bigger than the upsides.

  4. Exercise: Ask your executives to figure out ways that a competitor could kill your company and then figure out ways that the company could defend against these ways

  5. When in a nervous situation, just tell yourself I am excited instead of trying to calm yourself

Notes

Chapter 1 - Creative Destruction: The risky business of going against the grain

- Originality is taking the road less travelled, championing a set of novel ideas that go against the grain but ultimately make things better.

-The hallmark of originality is rejecting the default and exploring whether a better option exists

- Déjà vu occurs when we encounter something new, but it feels as if we’ve seen it before. Vuja de is the reverse— we face something familiar, but we see it with a fresh perspective that enables us to gain new insights into old problems.

- When we become curious about the dissatisfying defaults in our world, we begin to recognize that most of them have social origins: aqRules and systems were created by people. And that awareness gives us the courage to contemplate how we can change them.

- Advocating for new systems often requires demolishing the old way of doing things, and we hold back for fear of rocking the boat.

- To be an original, you need to take radical risks

- The word entrepreneur, as it was coined by economist Richard Cantillon, literally means “bearer of risk.”

- Having a sense of security in one realm gives us the freedom to be original in another.

- The best entrepreneurs take the risk out of risk-taking

- “Many entrepreneurs take plenty of risks— but those are generally the failed entrepreneurs, not the success stories.”

- Ultimately, the people who choose to champion originality are the ones who propel us forward.

 

 

Chapter 2 - Blind investors & One-eyed investor 

- “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” 1

- Our companies, communities, and countries don’t necessarily suffer from a shortage of novel ideas. They’re constrained by a shortage of people who excel at choosing the right novel ideas.

- When we’ve developed an idea, we’re typically too close to our own tastes— and too far from the audience’s taste— to evaluate it accurately.

- On average, creative geniuses weren’t qualitatively better in their fields than their peers. They simply produced a greater volume of work, which gave them more variation and a higher chance of originality.

-Non-experts make sounder judgments when they conduct a thorough analysis.

-“But products don’t create value. Customers do.”

-intuitions are only trustworthy when people build up experience making judgments in a predictable environment.

- Intuitive investors are susceptible to getting caught up in an entrepreneur’s enthusiasm; analytical investors are more likely to focus on the facts and make cold judgments about the viability of the business.

- Henry Ford goes: “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” Instead,

-The personality trait most associated with an interest in the arts is called openness, the tendency to seek out novelty and variety in intellectual, aesthetic, and emotional pursuits.

-People who are open to new ways of looking at science and business also tend to be fascinated by the expression of ideas and emotions through images, sounds, and words

- Research on highly creative adults shows that they tended to move to new cities much more frequently than their peers in childhood,

- Our intuitions are only accurate in domains where we have a lot of experience.

 

 

Chapter 3 - Out on a limb 

- When we climb up the moral ladder, it can be rather lonely at the top.

- Power involves exercising control or authority over others; status is being respected and admired.

-When we’re trying to influence others and we discover that they don’t respect us, it fuels a vicious cycle of resentment.

-But when you’re pitching a novel idea or speaking up with a suggestion for change, your audience is likely to be skeptical. Investors are looking to poke holes in your arguments; managers are hunting for reasons why your suggestion won’t work.

-The first advantage is that leading with weaknesses disarms the audience

-Everyone is allergic to the feeling, or suspicious of being sold.”

-Leading with the limitations of an idea: it makes you look smart.

- Being up front about the downsides of your ideas is that it makes you more trustworthy.

-“If I’m willing to tell them what’s wrong with my business, investors think, ‘There must be an awful lot that’s right with it.’”

-“When I led with the factors that could kill the company, the response from the board was the exact opposite: oh, these things aren’t so bad. Newton’s third law can be true in human dynamics as well: every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”

-When you present a new suggestion, you’re not only hearing the tune in your head. You wrote the song.

-we often under-communicate our ideas. They’re already so familiar to us that we underestimate how much exposure an audience needs to comprehend and buy into them.

-If we want people to accept our original ideas, we need to speak up about them, then rinse and repeat.

-It is often the prickly people who are more comfortable taking a stand against others and against convention.

-When we speak up to agreeable audiences, their instinct is to nod and smile. In their effort to be accommodating and avoid conflict, they often shy away from offering critical feedback. Disagreeable managers are more inclined to challenge us, improving our ability to speak up effectively.

 

 

Chapter 4 - Fools run in: Timing, Strategic Procrastination, and the First-Mover Disadvantage

-takes longer to write a short speech than a long one. 3 “If it is a ten-minute speech it takes

- But genius is uncontrolled and uncontrollable. You cannot produce a work of genius according to a schedule or an outline.

- Martin Luther king winged the ‘I have a dream’ phrase in his speech when King’s favourite gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson, shouted from behind him, “Tell ’em about the dream, Martin!”

- Along with providing time to generate novel ideas, procrastination has another benefit: it keeps us open to improvisation.

- The most successful organizations were run by executives who admitted that they often wasted time before settling down to work

- Great originals are great procrastinators, but they don’t skip planning altogether.

-“Timing accounted for forty-two percent of the difference between success and failure.”

- Surprisingly, the downsides of being the first mover are frequently bigger than the upsides.

- Being original doesn’t require being first. It just means being different and better.

- Roughly three out of every four fail because of premature scaling— making investments that the market isn’t yet ready to support

- if you have an original idea, it’s a mistake to rush with the sole purpose of beating your competitors to the finish line.

Chapter 5 - Goldilox and Trojan horse: Creating & maintaining coalition

- To form alliances, originals can temper their radicalism by smuggling their real vision inside a Trojan horse.

-  our best allies aren’t the people who have supported us all along. They’re the ones who started out against us and then came around to our side.

-Procrastination may be the enemy of productivity, but it can be a resource for creativity.

 

 

Chapter 8: Rocking the boat and keeping it steady: Managing Anxiety, Apathy, Ambivalence, and Anger

-When self-doubts creep in, defensive pessimists don’t allow themselves to be crippled by fear. They deliberately imagine a disaster scenario to intensify their anxiety and convert it into motivation.

-“Fear forces you to prepare more rigorously and see potential problems more quickly.”

- When in a nervous situation, just tell yourself “I am excited” instead of trying to calm yourself

- Once we’ve settled on a course of action, when anxieties creep in, it’s better to think like a defensive pessimist and confront them directly.

-But once we’ve settled on a course of action, when anxieties creep in, it’s better to think like a defensive pessimist and confront them directly.

- just having one friend is enough to significantly decrease loneliness.

- To convince leaders to sponsor the issue, create a task force, and spend time and money on it, the environmental champions had to articulate why the original cause needed to be adopted now.

- Exercise: Ask your executives to figure out ways that a competitor could kill your company and then figure out ways that the company could defend against these ways

- Start by establishing “what is: here’s the status quo.” 29 Then, they “compare that to what could be,” making “that gap as big as possible.”

- When we’re determined to reach an objective, it’s the gap between where we are and where we aspire to be that lights a fire under us.

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