Adam Grant

I picked up this book because I have a lot of respect for the author as a public intellectual, and because the subtitle caught me: "How non-conformists move the world". Maybe this is me being a bit aspirational, but I resonate with the non-conformist part, and desire to do the change the world part.

Originals reminds me a fair bit of Malcolm Gladwell's books in that it blends together an interesting combination of academic research with anecdotal illustrations and case studies while exploring an overall theme. I found a lot of what Grant said to be interesting, though I'm not sure I felt anything in particular felt revolutionary to me. He discusses a cluster of topics that are relevant to being original: how to generate/recognize original ideas, voicing & championing original ideas, managing emotions in the uncertainty of the new, building cultures of originality, and even how to parent in such a way that your kids are encouraged to think originally. There were lots of helpful contrarian stances along the way: principles like question the default, procrastinate strategically, balance the risk portfolio, ask for problems–not solutions, hire not on cultural fit but on cultural contribution, emphasize values over rules, and so forth.

On the whole I enjoyed it, but I did feel the chapters were too long. I like to read a chapter in one sitting and I found myself somewhat annoyed it was hard to do that with this book. Also, maybe it's because I lean towards the contrarian, but I found this book mostly saying things that felt a bit self-evident. Of course we should question the default, how else will we make progress? Isn't that obvious? Maybe that's just me though, I'm not sure. In any case, Originals presents a helpful set of ideas to chew over, and a resounding affirmation for the nonconformists that are trying to change the world. (Cue Apple's infamous "Here's to the Crazy Ones" commercial)

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