Originals: how are those who change the world?

I had very high expectations for this book due to its author, Adam Grant. I’m a big fan of Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant is the co-author of his latest book.

Book Cover

I admit that I had not done my homework, and I wanted to read it simply because of the relationship with Sheryl Sandberg and assuming that it would be enough for me to like it. For once, I’m glad I did not do my homework because if I had done it I probably would not have read the book.

Summary “Originals: how non-conformists move the world”

The book talks about Adam Grant’s research work on “original” people. Throughout the book, the author analyzes the characteristics of the people who changed our history, identifying points in common among them and pointing out to the reader how to be more “original”.

The reading was dense at times. The examples jump from one chapter to another and there are quite a few references to other studies and statistical numbers. At times I felt like I was reading a research article, just longer.

My takeaways

On the other hand, his conclusions helped me to dismantle many myths that I had very internalized. It gave me a new perspective on preconceptions, another way of looking at things.

These are some of the ideas that I liked the most:

  1. The order of birth has a great influence on our character.
    Popular culture is full of knowledge in this field: “the oldest is the most responsible”, “the smallest is the most savvy”, etc. The book studies examples of people with great impact in the world and how they were influenced by been small brothers. Through these examples, the book goes deeper and explains why small siblings are less risk averse. Very interesting also if you are father / mother, good ideas on how to counteract these effects.
  2. Diversify the risk in your life.
    When you read the news it seems that to be successful in business you have to bet everything to your idea. You need to show commitment and give your best. The book dismantles that myth, showing that these stories are less frequent than we think. Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, the founders of Warby Parker … they had a plan B if the A did not work. It is true that they bet strongly for his idea, I do not try to say the opposite, but their lives had a balanced risk. An interesting concept of having a balanced portfolio in your life.
  3. Immerse yourself in a new field.
    Another fallen myth, you have to be specialists in a field. It is proven that the most successful scientists are those who also practice art (they paint, they play an instrument, etc …) I love that idea of ​​being trained in all fields of life, and I like it even more that science supports the theory that you have to learn new things and get out of our comfort zone.

To conclude, it is a book that I recommend to read in small pieces, calmly on winter Sunday evenings. It dismantles some myths and reinforces others, all from the perspective of scientific research. I take many ideas that I will apply in my life, especially on the subject of children and how the order of birth influences.

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