Adam Grant is no amateur writer. His first book, “Give and Take,” was considered one of the best books of 2013 by The Financial Times. It made the Wharton School professor stand out as someone who is highly insightful and approachable for people who are looking to better their personal and professional lives.
It’s no surprise that when “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World” came out in 2016, the hype was even greater than it was for “Give and Take.” This #1 New York Times bestseller had J.J. Abrams saying how “extraordinary, wildly entertaining” it was and shed new light to us, mere mortals, on a different perspective of our place in the world and our potential to change things up a little.
I first heard about this book from a friend who is a student in the Questrom School of Business. She told me that this book was the “perfect distraction from hardcore studying for a midterm.” I took up that challenge and finished reading this book in less than four days (at the expense of actually studying for my midterms).
Don’t mistake the conversational language Grant uses for useless chit-chat at a dinner party. This book and its values truly change how you will think about yourself and your goals in life, both professional and personal, by giving us just what we all need to keep going: confirmation that we’re not crazy, we’re just original.
“Originals” explores how people got out of the regular path of creating a business, starting a career, and just growing up, and made their “crazy” ideas into successful enterprises. Grant uses research, case studies and statistical analysis to help us recognize innovative ideas and propel them into existence. Better yet, he helps us see that anyone can create stuff outside the conventional rules and improve people’s lives while doing it.
We were always taught that we need to follow the rules if we want to be successful in life. We all, as college students, have probably thought about dropping out of college and starting a successful business venture with some friends at some point (especially during midterms season). Like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs before us, our generation thinks that the only ways to get to the same status quo as those two successful innovators is to drop out of college and leap to the “unknown” with no backup plan.
Grant fires back at this belief with the case of Warby Parker, an eyewear company founded in 2010, in which the founders not only finished school but kept side jobs while working at their startup. These college students had a breakthrough idea and turned it into a highly profitable business, and they had a backup plan to fall into every step of the way.
What I liked most about this book is that it is highly simple in its composition, yet it inspired me to be a better non-conformist and to stand up for what I believe is right. Grant reminded me that the reward for breaking out of conventional rules can be positive if done right, and he gave me the tools to make it happen for myself with “Originals.” I truly recommend this book to anyone who needs a little inspiration to be different and extraordinary in their own field.