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Flashcards in Originals Deck (204):

Two Routes to Achievement

conformity and originality. Conformity means following the crowd down conventional paths and maintaining the status quo.
Originality is taking the road less traveled, championing a set of novel ideas that go against the grain but ultimately make things better.”


Originality Involves

introducing and advancing an idea that’s relatively unusual within a particular domain, and that has the potential to improve it


Originality itself starts with creativity: generating a concept that is both novel and useful. But it doesn’t stop there.

Originals are people who take the initiative to make their visions a reality. The Warby Parker founders had the originality to dream up an unconventional way to sell glasses online, but became originals by taking action to make them easily accessible and affordable.”


Why Chrome Users are Better Workers

They looked for novel ways of selling to customers and addressing their concerns. When they encountered a situation they didn’t like, they fixed it. Having taken the initiative to improve their circumstances, they had little reason to leave. They created the jobs they wanted. But they were the exception, not the rule


Theory of System Justification

people are motivated to rationalize the status quo as legitimate—even if it goes directly against their interests.”

People who suffer the most from a given state of affairs are paradoxically the least likely to question, challenge, reject, or change it.


Justifying the default system serves a soothing function.

If the world is supposed to be this way, we don’t need to be dissatisfied with it. But acquiescence also robs us of the moral outrage to stand against injustice and the creative will to consider alternative ways that the world could work.”


Hallmark of Originality

is rejecting the default and exploring whether a better option exists.

turns out to be far less difficult than I expected.
The starting point is curiosity: pondering why the default exists in the first place. ”


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: Rules and systems were created by people. And that awareness gives us the courage to contemplate how we can change them. ”


Child prodigies, it turns out, rarely go on to change the world.

When psychologists study history’s most eminent and influential people, they discover that many of them weren’t unusually gifted as children


The Achilles Heel of Prodigies

what holds them back from moving the world forward is that they don’t learn to be original. As they perform in Carnegie Hall, win the science Olympics, and become chess champions, something tragic happens: Practice makes perfect, but it doesn’t make new. The gifted learn to play magnificent Mozart melodies and beautiful Beethoven symphonies, but never compose their own original scores. They focus their energy on consuming existing scientific knowledge, not producing new insights. They conform to the codified rules of established games, rather than inventing their own rules or their own games. All along the way, they strive to earn the approval of their parents and the admiration of their teachers.


they become the world’s most excellent sheep.

Those who do must make a painful transition” from a child who “learns rapidly and effortlessly in an established domain” to an adult who “ultimately remakes a domain.”

Most prodigies never make that leap. They apply their extraordinary abilities in ordinary ways, mastering their jobs without questioning defaults and without making waves. In every domain they enter, they play it safe by following the conventional paths to success. ”


When achievement motivation goes sky-high, it can crowd out originality

The more you value achievement, the more you come to dread failure. Instead of aiming for unique accomplishments, the intense desire to succeed leads us to strive for guaranteed success.

Once people pass an intermediate level in the need to achieve, there is evidence that they actually become less creative.”


The drive to succeed and the accompanying fear of failure have held back some of the greatest creators and change agents in history.

Concerned with maintaining stability and attaining conventional achievements, they have been reluctant to pursue originality


If Michealangelo Had Imposter's Syndrome...

He viewed himself as a sculptor, not a painter, and found the task so overwhelming that he fled to Florence. Two years would pass before he began work on the project, at the pope’s insistence.”

“We can only imagine how many Wozniaks, Michelangelos, and Kings never pursued, publicized, or promoted their original ideas because they were not dragged or catapulted into the spotlight. ”


As economist Joseph Schumpeter famously observed

originality is an act of creative destruction. Advocating for new systems often requires demolishing the old way of doing things, and we hold back for fear of rocking the boat. ”


On matters of style, swim with the current,” Thomas Jefferson allegedly advised,

“on matters of principle, stand like a rock.”


The Myth of the Risky Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs who kept their day jobs had 33 percent lower odds of failure than those who quit.
If you’re risk averse and have some doubts about the feasibility of your ideas, it’s likely that your business will be built to last. If you’re a freewheeling gambler, your startup is far more fragile.”


Keeping your Day Job

“This habit of keeping one’s day job isn’t limited to successful entrepreneurs. Many influential creative minds have stayed in full-time employment or education even after earning income from major projects.


Balancing Risk Portfolio

When we embrace danger in one domain, we offset our overall level of risk by exercising caution in another domain. ”

“ Having a sense of security in one realm gives us the freedom to be original in another. By covering our bases financially, we escape the pressure to publish half-baked books, sell shoddy art, or launch untested businesses.”

“ Instead, successful originals take extreme risks in one arena and offset them with extreme caution in another. ”


The benefit of Calculated Risks

the adolescents who went on to start productive companies were only taking calculated risks.“Across all three studies, the people who become successful entrepreneurs were more likely to have teenage histories of defying their parents, staying out past their curfews, skipping school, shoplifting,“gambling, drinking alcohol, and smoking marijuana. They were not, however, more likely to engage in hazardous activities like driving drunk, buying illegal drugs, or stealing valuables.

But the most successful originals are not the daredevils who leap before they look. They are the ones who reluctantly tiptoe to the edge of a cliff, calculate the rate of descent, triple-check their parachutes, and set up a safety net at the bottom just in case.


The Myth of the Dominant Leader

When experts rated the presidents on the desire to please others and avoid conflict, Lincoln scored the highest of them all.

Before signing the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln agonized for six months over whether he should free the slaves. He questioned whether he had the constitutional authority; he worried that the decision might lose him the support of the border states, forfeit the war, and destroy the country.”


Job Designing

jobs are not static sculptures, but flexible building blocks. We gave them examples of people becoming the architects of their own jobs, customizing their tasks and relationships to better align with their interests, skills, and values

“Instead of using only their existing talents, they took the initiative to develop new capabilities that enabled them to create an original, personalized job. As a result, they were 70 percent more likely than their peers to land a promotion or a transition to a coveted role. By refusing to stick with their default jobs and default skills, they became“happier and more effective—and qualified themselves for roles that were a better fit. Many of their limits, they came to realize, were of their own making


The Difference of Originals

he people who choose to champion originality are the ones who propel us forward. After spending years studying them and interacting with them, I am struck that their inner experiences are not any different from our own. They feel the same fear, the same doubt, as the rest of us. What“sets them apart is that they take action anyway. They know in their hearts that failing would yield less regret than failing to try.”


Idea Generation vs Idea Selection

Many ideas are generated. Its choosing which ideas created are useful.


Be Wary of Overconfidence

Overconfidence may be a particularly difficult bias to overcome in the creative domain. When you’re generating a new idea, by definition it’s unique, so you can ignore all the feedback you’ve received in the past about earlier inventions. Even if your previous ideas have bombed, this one is different.


To Close to the Source

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. We’re giddy from the thrill of the eureka moment or the triumph of overcoming an obstacle.”

“But even when they do learn about“their audience’s preferences, it’s too easy for them to fall victim to what psychologists call confirmation bias: they focus on the strengths of their ideas while ignoring or discounting their limitations.”


If originals aren’t reliable judges of the quality of their ideas, how do they maximize their odds of creating a masterpiece?

They come up with a large number of ideas. Simonton finds that 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. “The odds of producing an influential or successful idea,” Simonton notes, are “a positive function of the total number of ideas generated.”

“In every field, even the most eminent creators typically produce a large quantity of work that’s technically sound but considered unremarkable by experts and audiences. ”


. If you want to be original, “the most important possible thing you could do,

“is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work.”


In a study of over 15,000 classical music compositions, the more pieces a composer produced in a given five-year window

the greater the spike in the odds of a hit.


the most prolific people not only have the highest originality

they also generate their most original output during the periods in which they produce the largest volume.*


It’s widely assumed that there’s a tradeoff between quantity and quality—if you want to do better work, you have to do less of it

—but this turns out to be false. In fact, when it comes to idea generation, quantity is the most predictable path to“quality. “

Original thinkers,will come up with many ideas that are strange mutations, dead ends, and utter failures. The cost is worthwhile because they also generate a larger pool of ideas—especially novel ideas.


Many People Fail to Achieve Perfection

because they generate a few ideas and then obsess about refining them to perfection. ”


our first ideas are often the most conventional—the closest to the default that already exists.

It’s only after we’ve ruled out the obvious that we have the great
“est freedom to consider the more remote possibilities.


Once you start getting desperate, you start thinking outside the box,”

“#24 will suck. Then #25 will be a gift from the headline gods and will make you a legend.”


Throwing Out Lines

“The best way to get better at judging our ideas is to gather feedback. Put a lot of ideas out there and see which ones are praised and adopted by your target audience. ”


Why to Be Wary of Obsession with Your Own Ideas

Conviction in our ideas is dangerous not only because it leaves us vulnerable to false pos“itives, but also because it stops us from generating the requisite variety to reach our creative potential.


To Close to the Source

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. We’re giddy from the thrill of the eureka moment or the triumph of overcoming an obstacle.”

“But even when they do learn about“their audience’s preferences, it’s too easy for them to fall victim to what psychologists call confirmation bias: they focus on the strengths of their ideas while ignoring or discounting their limitations.”


If originals aren’t reliable judges of the quality of their ideas, how do they maximize their odds of creating a masterpiece?

They come up with a large number of ideas. Simonton finds that 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. “The odds of producing an influential or successful idea,” Simonton notes, are “a positive function of the total number of ideas generated.”

“In every field, even the most eminent creators typically produce a large quantity of work that’s technically sound but considered unremarkable by experts and audiences. ”


. If you want to be original, “the most important possible thing you could do,

“is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work.”


In a study of over 15,000 classical music compositions, the more pieces a composer produced in a given five-year window

the greater the spike in the odds of a hit.


the most prolific people not only have the highest originality

they also generate their most original output during the periods in which they produce the largest volume.*


It’s widely assumed that there’s a tradeoff between quantity and quality—if you want to do better work, you have to do less of it

—but this turns out to be false. In fact, when it comes to idea generation, quantity is the most predictable path to“quality. “

Original thinkers,will come up with many ideas that are strange mutations, dead ends, and utter failures. The cost is worthwhile because they also generate a larger pool of ideas—especially novel ideas.


Many People Fail to Achieve Perfection

because they generate a few ideas and then obsess about refining them to perfection. ”


our first ideas are often the most conventional—the closest to the default that already exists.

It’s only after we’ve ruled out the obvious that we have the great
“est freedom to consider the more remote possibilities.


Once you start getting desperate, you start thinking outside the box,”

“#24 will suck. Then #25 will be a gift from the headline gods and will make you a legend.”


Throwing Out Lines

“The best way to get better at judging our ideas is to gather feedback. Put a lot of ideas out there and see which ones are praised and adopted by your target audience. ”


Why to Be Wary of Obsession with Your Own Ideas

Conviction in our ideas is dangerous not only because it leaves us vulnerable to false pos“itives, but also because it stops us from generating the requisite variety to reach our creative potential.


How to avoid a False Negative

“In the face of uncertainty, our first instinct is often to reject novelty, looking for reasons why unfamiliar concepts might fail. When managers vet novel ideas, they’re in an evaluative mindset. To protect themselves against the risks of a bad bet, they compare the new notion on the table to templates of ideas that have succeeded in the past.


Be Wary of Expertise

the more expertise and experience people gain, the more entrenched they become in a particular way of viewing the world. ”

“expert bridge players struggled more than novices to adapt when the rules were changed, and that expert accountants were worse than novices at applying a new tax law. As we gain knowledge about a domain, we become prisoners of our prototypes.


The Value of Another Artist's Perspective

there is one group of forecasters that does come close to attaining mastery: fellow creators evaluating one another’s ideas.”
“When artists assessed one another’s performances, they were about twice as accurate as managers and test audiences in predicting how often the videos would be shared.


Managers and Audiences Are Risk Averse

Compared to creators, managers and test audiences were 56 percent and 55 percent more prone to major false negatives, undervaluing a strong, novel performance by five ranks or more in the set of ten they viewed.”


When Looking For Feedback, Look to the Peer

They lack the risk-aversion of managers and test audiences; they’re open to seeing the potential in unusual possibilities, which guards against false negatives. At the same time, they have no particular investment in our ideas, which gives them enough distance to“offer an honest appraisal and protects against false positives.


To Evaluate New Ideas

Think Like a Creator. It can help us avoid false negatives.
All it took was having them spend their initial six minutes a little differently: instead of adopting a managerial mindset for evaluating ideas, they got into a creative mindset by generating ideas themselves. Just spending six minutes developing original ideas made them more open to novelty, improving their ability to see the potential in something unusual.”


Managers as False Negative Machines

Once you take on a managerial role, it’s hard to avoid letting an evaluative mindset creep in to cause false negatives.
Thinking like creators and then donning the manager hat dropped their forecasting accuracy to 41 percent.


If you’re gonna make connections which are innovative,

you have to not have the same bag of experience as everyone else does.

-- Steve Jobs


A unique combination of broad and deep experience

Is critical for creativitiy


comparing every Nobel Prize–winning scientist from 1901 to 2005 with typical scientists of the same era, both groups attained deep expertise in their respective fields of study

But the Nobel Prize winners were dramatically more likely to be involved in the arts than less accomplished scientists.”


Interest in the arts among entrepreneurs, inventors, and eminent scientists obviously reflects their curiosity and aptitude.

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.*


it’s not just that a certain kind of original person seeks out exposure to the arts.

The arts also serve in turn as a powerful source of creative insight.”

Galileo “was able to appreciate the implications of the dark and light regions,” Simonton notes. He had the necessary depth of experience in physics and astronomy, but also breadth of experience in painting and drawing. Thanks to artistic training in a technique called chiaroscuro, which focuses on representations of light and shade, Galileo was able to detect mountains where others did not.”


Just as scientists, entrepreneurs, and inventors often discover novel ideas through broadening their knowledge to include the arts

we can likewise gain breadth by widening our cultural repertoires.


The Benefit of Living Abroad

First, time living abroad didn’t matter: it was time working abroad, being actively engaged in design in a foreign country, that predicted whether their new collections were hits. The most original collections came from directors who had worked in two or three different countries.
Second, the more the foreign culture differed from that of their native land, the more that experience contributed to the directors’ creativity. An American gained little from working in Canada, compared to the originality dividends of a project in Korea or Japan.”

“But working in multiple countries with different cultures wasn’t enough. The third and most important factor was depth—the amount of time spent working abroad. A short stint did little good, because directors weren’t there long enough to internalize the new ideas from the foreign culture and synthesize them with their old perspectives. The highest originality occurred when directors had spent thirty-five years working abroad.”


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

There’s a stable, robust relationship between the patterns you’ve seen before and what you encounter today. But if you’re a stockbroker or political forecaster, the events of the past don’t have reliable implications for the present. Kahneman and Klein review evidence that experience helps physicists, accountants, insurance analysts, and chess masters—they all work in fields where cause-and-effect relationships are fairly consistent. But admissions officers, court judges, intelligence analysts, psychiatrists, and stockbrokers didn’t benefit much from experience.


because the pace of change is accelerating, our environments are becoming ever more unpredictable.

This makes“intuition less reliable as a source of insight about new ideas and places a growing premium on analysis.”


The Shackles of the Expert

The more successful people have been in the past, the worse they perform when they enter a new environment. They become overconfident, and they’re less likely to seek critical feedback even though the context is radically different.


If we want to forecast whether the originators of a novel idea will make it successful,

we need to look beyond the enthusiasm they express about their ideas and focus on the enthusiasm for execution that they reveal through their actions.”


the Warby Parker entrepreneurs weren’t hampered by existing prototypes or limited by evaluative mindsets.

Instead of assuming that their idea would work and going into full-on enthusiastic sales mode like Kamen did, they first sought extensive feedback from fellow creators and potential customers.
Since other companies could sell glasses online, the founders realized that branding would be critical to their success. To name the company, they spent six months generating ideas, building a spreadsheet with more than two thousand potential names. They tested their favorites in surveys and focus groups.

they brought passion for execution in spades.



Warby Parker’s recent success is due to the way they involved peers in evaluating ideas. In 2014, they created a program called Warbles, inviting everyone in the company to submit suggestions“and requests for new technology features at any time. Before Warbles was introduced, they had received ten to twenty idea submissions per quarter. With the new program, the number of submissions jumped to nearly four hundred as employees trusted that the idea selection process was meritocratic. One of the suggestions led to the company’s overhauling how they conducted retail sales; another led to a new booking system for appointments. “Neil and Dave are really brilliant,” says Warby Parker’s chief technology officer, Lon Binder, “but there’s no way they can be as brilliant as two hundred people combined.”


Open Access Feedback

Warby Parker made the suggestions completely transparent in a Google document. Everyone in the company could read them, comment on them online, and discuss them in a biweekly meeting.

The technology teams have full discretion to sort through the requests and start working on the ones that interest them. It sounds like a democracy, but there’s one twist: to give employees some guidance on which suggestions represent strategic priorities for the company, managers vote the promising ones up and the bad ones down. To avoid false positives and false negatives, the votes aren’t binding. Technology teams can overrule managers by selecting a request that didn’t receive a lot of votes and work to prove its value.

They don’t wait for permission to start building something,”

“But they gather feedback from peers before rolling things out to customers. They start fast and then slow down.”


Leaders and managers appreciate it when employees take the initiative to offer help, build networks, gather new knowledge, and seek feedback. But there’s one form of initiative that gets penalized: speaking up with suggestions.”

the more frequently employees voiced ideas and concerns upward, the less likely they were to receive raises and promotions over a two-year period.


two major dimensions of social hierarchy that are often lumped together

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

people were punished for trying to exercise power without status. When people sought to exert influence but lacked respect, others perceived them as difficult, coercive, and self-serving.
Since they haven’t earned our admiration, we don’t feel they have the right to tell us what to do, and we push back.


The Downward Spiral of Attempting Moves at Power Without Status

When we’re trying to influence others and we discover that they don’t respect us, it fuels a vicious cycle of resentment. In an effort to assert our own authority, we respond by resorting to increasingly disrespectful behaviors.


Status Cannot Be Claimed

it has to be earned or granted.


Idiosyncrasy Credits

the latitude to deviate from the group’s expectations. Idiosyncrasy credits accrue through respect, not rank: they’re based on“contributions. We squash a low-status member who tries to challenge the status quo, but tolerate and sometimes even applaud the originality of a high-status star.”


Think of The Cost of Compliance

people rated male professors at top universities as having 14 percent more status and competence when they donned a T-shirt and a beard than when they wore a tie and were clean shaven. Most professors dress formally, and refusing to follow the norm usually carries a cost. Those who successfully buck convention signal that they’ve earned the idiosyncrasy credits to do as they please.”


When Presenting To Higher Status: The Sarick Effect

Griscom was presenting ideas to people who had more power than he had, and trying to convince them to commit their resources. Most of us assume that to be persuasive, we ought to emphasize our strengths and minimize our weaknesses. That kind of powerful communication makes sense if the audience is supportive.

“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. Under those circumstances, for at least four reasons, it’s actually more effective to adopt Griscom’s form of powerless communication by accentuating the flaws in your idea.”


Advantages of the Sarick Effect

The first advantage is that leading with weaknesses disarms the audience.when we’re aware that someone is trying to persuade us, we naturally raise our mental shields. Rampant confidence is a red flag—a signal that we need to defend ourselves against weapons of influence

Unbridled optimism comes across as salesmanship; it seems dishonest somehow, and as a consequence it’s met with skepticism. Everyone is allergic to the feeling, or suspicious of being sold.”

“When I put up a slide that says ‘Here’s why you shouldn’t buy this company,’ the first response was laughter. Then you could see them physically relax. It’s sincere; it doesn’t smell, feel, or look anything like sales. They’re no longer being sold.”


When people only touted the pluses of their ideas, she quickly concluded that “this idea is full of holes; they really haven’t thought it through, and they’ve constructed their slide deck to keep me from figuring it out.

When people presented drawbacks or disadvantages, I would become an ally. Instead of selling me, they’ve given me a problem to solve.”


“Along with changing the frame of the interaction, being forthright about faults alters how audiences evaluate us. ”

“But people rated the critical reviewer as 14 percent more intelligent, and having 16 percent greater literary expertise, than the complimentary reviewer.
People think an amateur can appreciate art, but it takes a professional to critique it.

This is the second benefit of leading with the limitations of an idea: it makes you look smart.* Rufus Griscom first discovered this early in his career, which started in publishing. “There’s nothing more shameful than writing a review that’s too positive,

he demonstrated that he wasn’t snowed by his own ideas or trying to snow them; he was a shrewd judge of his shortcomings. He was smart enough to do his h“mart enough to do his homework and anticipate some of the problems that they would spot.


The third advantage of being up front about the downsides of your ideas is that it

makes you more trustworthy. When Griscom described the hurdles he faced in his own business, he came across not only as knowledgeable, but also as honest and modest.
“The job of the investor is to figure out what’s wrong with the company. By telling them what’s wrong with the business model, I’m doing some of the work for them. It established trust,” ”

“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.”


The Fourth advantage of Being Upfront With Your Downsides

is that it leaves audiences with a more favorable assessment of the idea itself, due to a bias in how we process information. To illustrate this bias, I often ask executives to judge how happy they are after thinking about the positive features of their lives. One group is tasked with writing three good things about their lives; another group has to list twelve good things. Everyone expects the twelve group to be happier: the more blessings you count, the better you should feel about your circumstances. But most of the time, the opposite is true. We’re happier after we list three good things than twelve

By acknowledging its most serious problems, he made it harder for investors to generate their own ideas about what was wrong with the company. And as they found themselves thinking hard to identify other concerns, they decided Babble’s problems weren’t actually that severe.


This is the core challenge of speaking up with an original idea. When you present a new suggestion, you’re not only hearing the tune in your head.
You wrote the song.

it’s no longer possible to imagine what it sounds like to an audience that’s listening to it for the first time.
This explains why we often undercommunicate our ideas. They’re already so familiar to us that we underestimate how much exposure an audience needs to comprehend and buy into them.


Change Agents

undercommunicated their visions by a factor of ten. On average, they spoke about the direction of the change ten times less often than their stakeholders needed to hear it.
Since more than 99 percent of the communication that employees encounter during those three months does not concern the vision, how can they be expected to understand it, let alone internalize it? The change agents don’t realize this, because they’re up to their ears in information about their vision.

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


Mere Exposure Effect

the more often we encounter something, the more we like it.”
One explanation for this effect is that exposure increases the ease of processing.

An unfamiliar idea requires more effort to understand. The more we see, hear, and touch it, the more comfortable we become with it, and the less threatening it is.


Optimum Exposures For Ideas

the evidence suggests that liking continues to increase as people are exposed to an idea between ten and twenty times, with additional exposure still“useful for more complex ideas. Interestingly, exposures are more effective when they’re short and mixed in with other ideas, to help maintain the audience’s curiosity. It’s also best to introduce a delay between the presentation of the idea and the evaluation of it, which provides time for it to sink in.

If you’re making a suggestion to a boss, you might start with a 30-second elevator pitch during a conversation on Tuesday, revisit it briefly the following Monday, and then ask for feedback at the end of the week.”


At work, our sense of commitment and control depends more on our direct boss than on anyone else.

When we have a supportive boss, our bond with the organization strengthens and we feel a greater span of influence.


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

As a Google employee put it, disagreeable managers may have a bad user interface but a great operating system.”


“In the decision to speak up, whom we choose as our audience matters as much as how we deliver our message. 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. “A lot can be said for cynicism, as long as it doesn’t go too far,”

“Instead of speaking up to audiences who are highly agreeable, we’re better off targeting suggestions to people with a history of originality. Research shows that when managers have a track record of challenging the status quo, they tend to be more open to new ideas and less threatened by contributions from others.


Middle Class Conformity Effect

If you’re perched at the top, you’re expected to be different and therefore have the license to deviate. Likewise, if you’re still at the bottom of a status hierarchy, you have little to lose and everything to gain by being original. But the middle segment of that hierarchy—where the majority of people in an organization are found—is dominated by insecurity. Now that you have a bit of respect, you value your standing in the group and don’t want to jeopardize it.


In the quest for originality, neglect isn’t an option. Persistence is a temporary route to earning the right to“speak up. But in the long run, like neglect, persistence maintains the status quo and falls short of resolving your dissatisfaction. To change the situation, exit and voice are the only viable alternatives.

a major drawback of exit. Although it has the advantage of altering your own circumstances, it doesn’t make them better for anyone else, as it enables the status quo to endure. “Voice feeds,” Hirschman argued, “on the lack of opportunity for exit.”


Delaying progress enabled them to spend more time considering different ways to accomplish it, rather than “seizing and freezing” on one particular strategy.

It was only when they began thinking about the task and then deliberately procrastinated that they considered more remote possibilities and generated more creative ideas.


Procrastination didn’t always fuel creativity: if the employees weren’t intrinsically motivated to solve a major problem, stalling just set them behind

But when they were passionate about coming up with new ideas, putting off the task led them to more creative solutions.


Procrastination may be the enemy of productivity,

but it can be a resource for creativity.


Long before the modern obsession with efficiency precipitated by the Industrial Revolution and the Protestant work ethic

civilizations recognized the benefits of procrastination. In ancient Egypt, there were two different verbs for procrastination: one denoted laziness; the other meant waiting for the right time.


“It may not be a coincidence that some of the most original thinkers and inventors in history have been procrastinators. A

A prime example is Leonardo da Vinci, whose original accomplishments spanned painting and sculpting, architecture and music,“math and engineering, geology and cartography, and anatomy and botany. Scholars estimate that da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa on and off for a few years starting in 1503, left it unfinished, and didn’t complete it until close to his death in 1519.


Leonardo's critics believed he was wasting his time dabbling with optical experiments and other distractions that kept him from completing his paintings. These distractions, though, turned out to be vital to his originality”

Leonardo’s studies of how light strikes a sphere, for example, enable the continuous modeling of the “Mona Lisa” and “St. John the Baptist.” His work in optics might have delayed a project, but his final achievements in painting depended on the experiments. . . . Far from being a distraction—like many of his contemporaries thought—they represent a lifetime of productive brainstorming, a private working out of the ideas on which his more public work depended. . . . If creative procrastination, selectively applied, prevented Leonardo from finishing a few commissions—of minor importance when one is struggling with the inner workings of the cosmos—then only someone who is a“complete captive of the modern cult of productive mediocrity . . . could fault him for it.


Productive mediocrity requires discipline of an ordinary kind. It is safe and threatens no one. Nothing will be changed by mediocrity.

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

He noted that people of “genius sometimes accomplish most when they work the least, for they are thinking out inventions and forming in their minds the perfect idea.”*”


Procrastination turns out to be a common habit of creative thinkers and great problem solvers.

Procrastination proved especially fruitful for creative work. The science stars “used procrastination as a form of incubation to stave off a premature choice of a scientific problem or solution.”


Knowing Exactly Where You Are Going is A Lack of Humility That Prevents invention

Jeff Bezos


Using the Zeigmark Effect As a Creative Tool

Once a task is finished, we stop thinking about it. But when it is interrupted and left undone, it stays active in our minds.

Lincoln “probably followed his usual habit in such matters, using great deliberation in arranging his thoughts, and molding his phrases mentally, waiting to reduce them to writing until they had taken satisfactory form.”


Along with providing time to generate novel ideas, procrastination has another benefit:

it keeps us open to improvisation. When we plan well in“advance, we often stick to the structure we’ve created, closing the door to creative possibilities that might spring into our fields of vision.


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

They procrastinate strategically, making gradual progress by testing and refining different possibilities.


The Most Important Aspect of Success

The most important factor was not the uniqueness of the idea, the capabilities and execution of the team, the quality of the business model, or the availability of funding. “The number one thing was timing,”
“Timing accounted for forty-two percent of the difference between success and failure.”



Initial Company to Sell or Develop a Product. Being First to market.
Pioneers were about six times more likely to fail than settlers.

Even when the pioneers did survive, they only captured an average of 10 percent of the market



Settlers are often branded as copycats, but this stereotype misses the mark. Instead of conforming to the existing demand, they bide their time until they’re ready to introduce something new. They’re often slow to enter because they’re working on revolutionary products, services, or technologies within the category.“Being original doesn’t require being first. It just means being different and better.
When originals rush to be pioneers, they’re prone to overstep; that’s the first disadvantage. ”


Three of four startups fail because of

premature scaling—making investments that the market isn’t yet ready to support.”


Malcolm Gladwell on Invention

Wouldn’t you rather be second or third and see how the guy in first did, and then . . . improve it?”

When ideas get really complicated, and when the world gets complicated, it’s foolish to think the person who’s first can work it all out


When you’re the first to market,

you have to make all the mistakes yourself. Meanwhile, settlers can watch and learn from your errors.


The key lesson here is that if you have an original idea, it’s a mistake to rush with the sole purpose of beating your competitors to the finish line.

Just as procrastinating can give us flexibility on a task, delaying market entry can open us up to learning and adaptability, reducing the risks associated with originality.”


Two Types of Creators

Conceptual vs Experimental


Differences Between Conceptual and Experimental Creators

Conceptual innovators formulate a big idea and set out to execute it. Experimental innovators solve problems through trial and error, learning and evolving as they go along. They are at work on a particular problem, but they don’t have a specific solution in mind at the outset. Instead of planning in advance, they figure it out as they go


Why Conceptual Innovators burn brightest earliest

conceptual breakthroughs tend to occur early, because it is easiest to come up with a strikingly original insight when we approach a problem with a fresh perspective.

conceptual innovators become less original once they’re entrenched in conventional ways of approaching problems.”


The Real Enemies of Conceptual Innovators

are the establishment of fixed habits of thought. . . . Conceptual innovators may become the captives of an important early achievement.


while experimental innovation can require years or decades to accumulate the requisite knowledge and skill

it becomes a more sustainable source of originality.


Conceptual innovators tend to generate original ideas early but risk copying themselves

The experimental approach takes longer, but proves more renewable: instead of reproducing our past ideas, experiments enable us to continue discovering new ones.


Mark Twain on Writing Experimentally

“As the short tale grows into the long tale, the original intention (or motif) is apt to get abolished and find itself superseded by a quite different one.”


To sustain our originality as we age and accumulate expertise,

our best bet is to adopt an experimental approach. We can make fewer plans in advance for what we want to create, and start testing out different kinds of tentative ideas and solutions. Eventually, if we’re patient enough, we may stumble onto something that’s novel and useful. ”


Two Ways to Discover the Novel

by “putting old things in new combinations and new things in old combinations.”


Instead of getting mired in the tunnel vision of your imagination, by looking out into the world you improve the acuity of your peripheral vision.

The more experiments you run, the less constrained you become by your ideas from the past. You learn from what you discover in your audience, on the canvas, or in the data.


Goldilocks Theory of Coalition Formation

The originals who start a movement will often be its most radical members, whose ideas and ideals will prove too hot for those who follow their lead. To form alliances with opposing groups, it’s best to temper the cause, cooling it as much as possible. Yet to draw allies into joining the cause itself, what’s needed is a moderately tempered message that is neither too hot nor too cold, but just right.


Potters envy potters

We assume that common goals bind groups together, but the reality is that they often drive groups apart.
a lens for understanding these fractures is the concept of horizontal hostility. Even though they share a fundamental objective, radical groups often disparage more mainstream groups as impostors and sellouts.”


Sigmund Freud on Minor Differences

“It is precisely the minor differences in people who are otherwise alike that form the basis of feelings of strangeness and hostility between them.”

“The more strongly you identify with an extreme group, the harder you seek to differenti“ate yourself from more moderate groups that threaten your values.”


Sharing Tactics as a Way to Build Alliances

They found that shared tactics were an important predictor of alliances. Even if they care about different causes, groups find affinity when they use the same methods of engagement.”


Shifting the focus from why to how can help people become less radical.

Explaining why gave them a chance to affirm their convictions. But when asked to explain how their preferred policies work, they became more moderate. Considering how led them to confront the gaps in their knowledge and realize that some of their extreme views were impractical.


The Goldilocks Radical

They believe in values that depart from traditions and ideas that go against the grain, yet they learn to tone down their radicalism by presenting their beliefs and ideas in ways that are less shocking and more appealing to mainstream audiences.


Foot in The Door Technique

you lead with a small request to secure an initial commitment before revealing the larger one. By opening with a moderate ask instead of a radical one


Ambivalent vs Negative Relationships

having more ambivalent relationships predicted higher rates of stress, depression, and dissatisfaction with life. ”


One Would Think We should focus on our frenemies by cutting out time with our enemies

But the evidence suggests we ought to do the opposite: cut our frenemies and attempt to convert our enemies


The Power of a Converted Rival

our former adversaries who are the most effective at persuading others to join our movements. They can marshal better arguments on our behalf, because they understand the doubts and misgivings of resisters and fence-sitters. And they’re a more credible source, because they haven’t just been Pollyanna followers or “yes men” all along.


the starting point in generating ideas is like the first brushstroke that a painter lays down on a canvas

it shapes the path for the rest of the painting, constraining what we imagine.

To come up with something original, we need to begin from a more unfamiliar place.”


Although a novel starting point does help foster the originality of our ideas

it doesn’t necessarily make them palatable and practical to our audiences. ”

The most promising ideas begin from novelty and then add familiarity, which capitalizes on the mere exposure effect we covered earlier. On average, a novel starting point followed by a familiarity infusion led to ideas that were judged as 14 percent more practical, without sacrificing any originality.


Radical thinking is often necessary to put an original stake in the ground

But once the radical idea of voting was planted, the original suffragists needed a more tempered mediator to reach a wider audience

two lessons about persuading potential partners to join forces. First, we need to think differently about values. Instead of assuming that others share our principles, or trying to convince them to adopt ours, we ought to present our values as a means of pursuing theirs. It’s hard to change other people’s ideals. It’s much easier to link our agendas to familiar values that people already hold.


Two Lessons About Persuading Potential Partners to Join Forces

First, we need to think differently about values. Instead of assuming that others share our principles, or trying to convince them to adopt ours, we ought to present our values as a means of pursuing theirs. It’s hard to change other people’s ideals. It’s much easier to link our agendas to familiar values that people already hold.

Second,transparency isn’t always the best policy. As much as they want to be straightforward“with potential partners, originals occasionally need to reframe their ideas to appeal to their audience. Willard smuggled the vote inside the Trojan horse of fighting alcohol abuse.”


For movement leaders to “succeed in organizing potential recruits

they must strike the appropriate balance between resonating with the existing cultural repertoire and challenging the status quo.


The Benefit of the Rebellious Latter Born

Compared to firstborns, laterborn scientists had more than triple the odds of endorsing Newton’s laws of gravity and motion and Einstein’s theory of special relativity when these ideas were considered radical.
During the half century after Copernicus published his model of the earth revolving around the sun, laterborn scientists were 5.4 times more likely to endorse the Copernican model than firstborns. After Galileo invented the telescope and published his discoveries supporting the model, the ratio dropped to 1:1. Since the theory was no longer radical, firstborns accepted it at equal rates.


Logic of Consequence

Which course of action will produce the best result?


Logic of Appropriateness

What does a person like me do in a situation like this? Rather than looking outward in an attempt to predict the outcome, you turn inward to your identity. You base the decision on who you are—or who you want to be.


How Logics of Consequence and Appropriateness Differ

When we use the logic of consequence, we can always find reasons not to take risks. The logic of appropriateness frees us up. We think less about what will guarantee the outcome we want, and act more on a visceral sense of what someone like us ought to do.


Rules vs Values

In one study, parents of ordinary children had an average of six rules, like specific schedules for homework and bedtime. Parents of highly creative children had an average of less than one rule and tended to “place emphasis on moral values, rather than on specific rules,”

Reasoning communicates a message of respect. . . . It implies that had children but known better or understood more, they would not have acted in an inappropriate way. It is a mark of esteem for the listener; an indication of faith in his or her ability to comprehend, develop, and improve.


teenagers defy rules when they’re enforced in a controlling manner, by yelling or threatening punishment.

When mothers enforce many rules but offer a clear rationale for why they’re important, teenagers are substantially less likely to break them, because they internalize them. ”


When Comparing Creative Architects with skilled but Unoriginal Peers

a factor that distinguished the creative group was that their parents exercised discipline with explanations. They outlined their standards of conduct and explained their grounding in a set of principles about right and wrong, referencing values like morality, integrity, respect, curiosity, and perseverance. But “emphasis was placed upon the development of one’s ethical code,” MacKinnon wrote. Above all, the parents who raised highly creative architects granted their children the autonomy to choose their own values.


Why Teaching Values Rather than Rules Creates ethics

Good explanations enable children to develop a code of ethics that often coincides with societal expectations; when they don’t square up, children rely on the internal compass of values rather than the external compass of rules.”


Difference Between Holocaust Rescuers and Bystanders

explanations of why behaviors are inappropri“ate, often with reference to their consequences for others.” While the bystanders’ parents focused on enforcing compliance with rules for their own sake, the rescuers’ parents encouraged their children to consider the impact of their actions on others.*”


“Guilt is the gift that keeps on giving.”

The dual moral emotions of empathy and guilt activate the desire to right wrongs of the past and behave better in the future.”


Moral Values of all people vs specific in group morality

The rescuers emphasized that their parents “taught me to respect all human beings.” While bystanders also held moral values, they attached them to specific behaviors and in-group members—pay attention in school, don’t get in fights with your peers, be polite to your neighbors, be honest with your friends and loyal to your families.”


Align the Person with the praise of punishment

When our character is praised, we internalize it as part of our identities. Instead of seeing ourselves as engaging in isolated moral acts, we start to develop a more unified self-concept as a moral person.
Affirming character appears to have the strongest effect in the critical periods when children are beginning to formulate strong identities”

“Bryan finds that appeals to character are effective for adults as well. His team was able to cut cheating in half with the same turn of phrase: instead of “Please don’t cheat,” they changed the appeal to “Please don’t be a cheater


Where to Find Mentors

Finding the right mentor is not always easy. But we can locate role models in a more accessible place: the stories of great originals throughout history. Human rights advocate Malala Yousafzai was moved by reading biographies of Meena, an activist for equality in Afghanistan, and of Martin Luther King, Jr. King was inspired by Gandhi, as was Nelson Mandela.
In some cases, fictional characters may be even better role models. Growing up, many originals find their first heroes in their most beloved novels, where protagonists exercise their creativity in pursuit of unique accomplishments.


classic case of groupthink

the tendency to seek consensus instead of fostering dissent. Groupthink is the enemy of originality; people feel pressured to conform to the dominant, default views instead of championing diversity of thought.


The Myth of Cohesiveness as a hotbed for Groupthink

they discovered that cohesive groups weren’t more likely to seek agreement and dismiss divergent opinions. In fact, in many cases, cohesive groups tended to make better business decisions.

the benefits of group cohesion” include “enhanced communication,” and members of cohesive groups “are likely to be secure enough in their roles to challenge one another.” ”


Commitment Model of Business

Skills and potential were fine, but cultural fit was a must. The top priority was to employ people who matched the company’s values and norms. The commitment blueprint involved a unique approach to motivation, too. Whereas founders with professional and star blueprints gave employees autonomy and challenging tasks, those with commitment blueprints worked to build strong emotional bonds among employees and to the organization. They often used words like family and love to describe the companionship in the organization, and employees tended to be intensely passionate about the mission.”


Failure Rate of Commitment Blueprint

failure rate of their firms was zero—not a single one of them went out of business. The future wasn’t nearly as bright when founders used other models: Failure rates were substantial for the star“blueprint and more than three times worse for the professional blueprint. The commitment blueprint also meant a better chance of making it to the stock market, with odds of an initial public offering more than triple those of the star model and more than quadruple those of the professional model.


The Weakness of a Commitment Blueprint

lueprints grew their stock values 140 percent slower than star blueprints and 25 percent slower than professional blueprints; even the bureaucratic blueprint performed better. It seems, as executive coach Marshall Goldsmith says, that what got you here won’t get you there.”
“Commitment firms have greater difficulty attracting, retaining, or integrating a diverse workforce,


Who Commitment Ceos Turn to

They favored the comfort of consensus over the discomfort of dissent, which was precisely the opposite of what they should have done. Company performance only improved when CEOs actively gathered advice from people who weren’t their friends and brought different insights to the table, which challenged them to fix mistakes and pursue innovations.*
“Minority viewpoints are important, not because they tend to prevail but because they stimulate divergent attention and thought,”


Why Are Dissenting Opinions Useful Even When Wrong?

they contribute to the detection of novel solutions and decisions that, on balance, are qualitatively better.”


The True Source of Groupthink

The evidence suggests that social bonds don’t drive groupthink; the culprits are overconfidence and reputational concerns.”


Open Dissent up within the Company

“At Bridgewater, employees are expected to voice concerns and critiques directly to each other. “Don’t let ‘loyalty’ stand in the way of truth and opens

“In a typical organization, people are punished for raising dissent. At Bridgewater, they’re evaluated on whether they speak up—and they can be fired for failing to challenge the status quo.”


Building a Strong Culture is Key

Strong cultures exist when employees are intensely committed to a shared set of values and norms, but the effects depend on what those values and norms are. If you’re going to build a strong culture, it’s paramount to make diversity one of your core values. This is what separates Bridgewater’s strong culture from a cult: The commitment is to promoting dissent.


Dissent Score

Rather than deferring to the people with the greatest seniority or status, as was the case at Polaroid, decisions at Bridgewater are based on quality. The goal is to create an idea meritocracy, where the best ideas win. To get the best ideas on the table in the first place, you need radical transparency.”


Don't Designate Someone to Play the Devil's Advocate:

Unearth one.

When people are designated to dissent, they’re just playing a role. This causes two problems: They don’t argue forcefully or consistently enough for the minority viewpoint, and group members are less likely to take them seriously.

It is not useful if motivated by considerations other than searching for the truth or the best solutions. But when it is authentic,“it stimulates thought; it clarifies and it emboldens.”


extensive research shows that leaders do react much more positively when employees bring solutions rather than problems to the table.

But a culture that focuses too heavily on solutions becomes a culture of advocacy, dampening inquiry. If you’re always expected to have an answer ready, you’ll arrive at meetings with your diagnosis complete, missing out on the chance to learn from a broad range of perspectives.”


You have to raise Problems before Setting off To pErform Solutions

To make sure that problems get raised, leaders need mechanisms for unearthing dissenters.



a group of trusted engineers across the company who represent diverse viewpoints, and have a reputation both for being sensitive to adverse conditions and for speaking their minds. ”

“Before Google’s people operations team introduces a major change in policy, they often run it by the Canaries for critical feedback.


Embrace Critical Feedback

holding an open season on leaders might be an effective way to begin changing the culture.

By role modeling receptivity to feedback, employees across the company became more willing to challenge him—and one another.”


Agreement on Principles is Key to Success

The more strongly leaders disagreed about the importance of these values, the lower their ticket revenues and net income.

“It didn’t matter what their principles were, as long as leaders established consensus about their significance.


a compelling vision was necessary but not sufficient for strong health and financial performance.

The more core principles a hospital emphasized, the less a vivid vision helped. When hospitals had more than four core values, a clear mission no longer offered any benefits for reducing heart attack readmission rates or increasing return on assets. The more principles you have, the greater the odds that employees focus on different values or interpret the same values differently.


build Experimentation into your work

he gold standard is a series of randomized, controlled experiments with objective outcomes. The least rigorous“evidence: “the opinion of respected authorities or expert committees.” The same standards are part of the growing field of evidence-based management and people analytics, in which leaders are encouraged to design experiments and gather data instead of relying solely on logic, experience, intuition, and conversation.”


Strategic Optimists

Defensive Pessimists

Strategic optimists anticipate the best, staying calm and setting high expectations. Defensive pessimists expect the worst, feeling anxious and imagining all the things that can go wrong.

Most people assume it’s better to be a strategic optimist than a defensive pessimist. Yet Norem finds that although defensive pessimists are more anxious and less confident in analytical, verbal, and creative tasks, they perform just as well as strategic optimists. “At first, I asked how these people were able to do so well despite their pessimism,” Norem writes. “Before long, I began to realize that they were doing so well because of their pessimism.”


Defensive pessimism is a strategy used in specific situations to manage anxiety, fear, and worry,

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. Once they’ve considered the worst, they’re driven to avoid it, considering every relevant detail to make sure they don’t crash and burn, which enables them to feel a sense of control. Their anxiety reaches its zenith before the event, so that when it arrives, they’re ready to succeed. Their confidence springs not from ignorance or delusions about the difficulties ahead, but from a realistic appraisal and an exhaustive plan.


When You Want to Sabotage the Performance of the Chronic Defensive Pessimist

Just Make Them happy. When they don’t feel anxious, they become complacent; when encouraged, they become discouraged from planning.


defensive pessimism is a valuable resource when commitment to the task is steadfast.

But when commitment flutters, anxiety and doubt can backfire.


The trick is to make fear your friend

Fear forces you to prepare more rigorously and see potential problems more quickly


Convert Fear into Excitement instead of trying to calm down

Rather than trying to suppress a strong emotion, it’s easier to convert it into a different emotion—one that’s equally intense, but propels us to step on the gas.“Instead of hitting the stop switch, we can motivate ourselves to act in the face of fear by pressing the go switch. Fear is marked by uncertainty about the future: We’re worried that something bad will happen. But because the event hasn’t occurred yet, there’s also a possibility, however slim, that the outcome will be positive. We can step on the gas by focusing on the reasons to move forward—the sliver of excitement that we feel about breaking loose and singing our song.
When we’re not yet committed to a particular action, thinking like a defensive pessimist can be hazardous. Since we don’t have our hearts set on charging ahead, envisioning a dismal failure will only activate anxiety, triggering the stop system and slamming our brakes. By looking on the bright side, we’ll activate enthusiasm and turn on the go system.


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.

In this case, instead of attempting to turn worries and doubts into positive emotions, we can shift the go system into higher gear by embracing our fear. Since we’ve set our minds to press forward, envisioning the worst case scenario enables us to harness anxiety as a source of motivation to prepare and succeed.


Neuroscience research suggests that when we’re anxious,

the unknown is more terrifying than the negative.nce people have imagined the worst, “they feel more in control. In some sense, they’ve peaked in anxiety before their actual performance. By the time they get to the event itself they’ve taken care of almost everything.”


the most inspiring way to convey a vision is to outsource it to the people who are actually affected by it

They were suspicious of the leaders, who clearly had the ulterior motive of convincing them to work harder. When the same message came from a scholarship student, they found it more authentic, honest, and truthful. They empathized with the student, and instead of being anxious about asking for money, they were excited to solicit donations to help more students like him.
This doesn’t mean, though, that leaders need to step out of the picture altogether. In later studies, I found that people are inspired to achieve the highest performance when leaders describe a vision and then invite a customer to bring it to life with a personal story. The leader’s message provides an overarching vision to start the car, and the user’s story offers an emotional appeal that steps on the accelerator.”


The easiest way to encourage non-conformity

is to introduce a single dissenter.”

“If you want people to go out on a limb, you need to show them that they’re not alone.”


The Power of Laughter to Counteract Fear

When you have no power, it’s a powerful way to convert strong negative emotions into positive ones.”


Urgency As a Key To Adoption

“Executives underestimate how hard it can be to drive people out of their comfort zones,” Kotter writes. “Without a sense of urgency, people . . . won’t make needed sacrifices. Instead they cling to the status quo and resist.” ”


To Incite Urgency

we can dramatically shift risk preferences just by changing a few words to emphasize losses rather than gains. ”


Kill the Company Exercise

is powerful because it reframes a gain-framed activity in terms of losses. When deliberating about innovation opportunities, the leaders weren’t inclined to take risks. When they considered how their competitors could put them out of business, they realized that it was a risk not to innovate. The urgency of innovation was apparent.


To counter apathy, most change agents focus on presenting an inspiring vision of the future. This is an important message to convey, but it’s not the type of communication that should come first.

If you want people to take risks, you need first to show what’s wrong with the present. To drive people out of their comfort zones, you have to cultivate dissatisfaction, frustration, or anger at the current state of affairs, making it a guaranteed loss.

Instead of Courage, foster
a level of fury with the status quo such that one cannot not act


“The greatest communicators of all time,”“start by establishing

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

He devoted more than two thirds of the speech to these one-two punches, alternating between what was and what could be by expressing indignation at the present and hope about the future.

The audience was only prepared to be moved by his dream of tomorrow after he had exposed the nightmare of today.”


When We are Experiencing Doubt Toward our goal

whether we ought to look backward or forward depends on our commitment.

When our commitment is wavering, the best way to stay on track is to consider the progress we’ve already made. As we recognize what we’ve invested and attained, it seems like a waste to give up, and our confidence and commitment surge.

Once We are Committed it’s better to look forward by highlighting the work left to be done. 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. ”


To channel anger productively, instead of venting about the harm that a perpetrator has done,

we need to reflect on the victims who have suffered from it.focusing on the victims of injustice spurs us to speak truth to power.


Empathetic Anger

the desire to right wrongs done unto another. It turns on the go system, but it makes us thoughtful about how to best respect the victim’s dignity. Research demonstrates that when we’re angry at others, we aim for retaliation or revenge. But when we’re angry for others, we seek out justice and a better system. We don’t just want to punish; we want to help.


Eb White

I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world,” “This makes it difficult to plan the day.”


Becoming original is not the easiest path in the pursuit of happiness

but it leaves us perfectly poised for the happiness of pursuit.”

By struggling to improve life and liberty, they may temporarily give up some pleasure, putting their own happiness on the back burner. In the long run, though, they have the chance to create a better world.


Question the default.

Instead of taking the status quo for granted, ask why it exists in the first place. When you remember that rules and systems were created by people, it becomes clear that they’re not set in stone—and you begin to consider how they can be improved.


Triple the number of ideas you generate

Just as great baseball players only average a hit for every three at bats, every innovator swings and misses. The best way to boost your originality is to produce more ideas.


Immerse yourself in a new domain

Originality increases when you broaden your frame of reference. One approach is to learn a new craft, like the Nobel Prize–winning scientists who expanded their creative repertoires by “taking up painting, piano, dance, or poetry. Another strategy is to try a job rotation: get trained to do a position that requires a new base of knowledge and skills. A third option is to learn about a different culture, like the fashion designers who became more innovative when they lived in foreign countries that were very different from their own. You don’t need to go abroad to diversify your experience; you can immerse yourself in the culture and customs of a new environment simply by reading about it.”


Procrastinate strategically.

When you’re generating new ideas, deliberately stop when your progress is incomplete. By taking a break in the middle of your brainstorming or writing process, you’re more likely to engage in divergent thinking and give ideas time to incubate.


Seek more feedback from peers.

It’s hard to judge your own ideas, because you tend to be too enthusiastic, and you can’t trust your gut if you’re not an expert in the domain. It’s also tough to rely on managers, who are typically too critical when they evaluate ideas. To get the most accurate reviews, run your pitches by peers— they’re poised to spot the potential and possibilities.


Balance your risk portfolio

When you’re going to take a risk in one domain, offset it by being unusually cautious in another realm of your life. Like the entrepreneurs who kept their day jobs while testing their ideas, or Carmen Medina taking a job to protect against security leaks when she was pushing the CIA to embrace the internet, this can help you avoid unnecessary gambles.


Highlight the reasons not to support your idea.

Remember Rufus Griscom, the entrepreneur in chapter 3 who told investors why they shouldn’t invest in his company? You can do this, too. Start by describing the three biggest weaknesses of your idea and then ask them to list several more reasons not to support it. Assuming that the idea has some merit, when people have to work hard to generate their own objections, they will be more aware of its virtues.


Make your ideas more familiar. Repeat yourself—it makes people more comfortable with an unconventional idea.

Reactions typically become more positive after ten to twenty exposures to an idea, particularly if they’re short, spaced apart by a few days, and mixed in with other ideas. You can also make your original concept more appealing by connecting it with other ideas that are already understood by the audience—like when the Lion King script was reframed as Hamlet with lions.


Speak to a different audience.

Instead of seeking out friendly people who share your values, try approaching disagreeable people who share your methods.Your best allies are the people who have a track record of being tough and solving problems with approaches similar to yours.”


Be a tempered radical.

If your idea is extreme, couch it in a more conventional goal. That way, instead of changing people’s minds, you can appeal to values or beliefs that they already hold. You can use a Trojan horse, as Meredith Perry did when she masked her vision for wireless power behind a request to design a transducer. You can also position your proposal as a means to an end that matters to others, like Frances Willard reframing the right to vote as a way for conservative women to protect their homes from alcohol abuse. And if you’re already known as too extreme, you can shift from leader to lightning rod, allowing more moderate people to take the reins.”


Motivate yourself differently when you’re committed vs. uncertain.

When you’re determined to act, focus on the progress left to go—you’ll be energized to close the gap. When your conviction falters, think of the progress you’ve already made. Having come this far, how could you give up now?”


Don’t try to calm down. If you’re nervous, it’s hard to relax.

It’s easier to turn anxiety into intense positive emotions like interest and enthusiasm. Think about the reasons you’re eager to challenge the status quo, and the positive outcomes that might result.


Focus on the victim, not the perpetrator.

In the face of injustice, thinking about the perpetrator fuels anger and aggression. Shifting your attention to the victim makes you more empathetic, increasing the chances that you’ll channel your anger in a constructive direction. Instead of trying to punish the people who caused harm, you’ll be more likely to help the people who were harmed.


Realize you’re not alone.

.Even having a single ally is enough to dramatically increase your will to act. Find oneand begin tackling the problem together.


Remember that if you don’t take initiative, the status quo will persist.

Consider the four responses to dissatisfaction: exit, voice, persistence, and neglect. Only exit and voice improve your circumstances. Speaking up ”
“improve your circumstances. Speaking up may be the best route if you have some control over the situation; if not, it may be time to explore options for expanding your influence or leaving.”


Shift from exit interviews to entry interviews

Instead of waiting to ask for ideas until employees are on their way out the door, start seeking their insights when they first arrive. By sitting down with new hires during onboarding, you can help them feel valued and gather novel suggestions along the way. Ask what brought them in the door and what would keep them at the firm, and challenge them to think like culture detectives.


Ask for problems, not solutions.

If people rush to answers, you end up with more advocacy than inquiry, and miss out on the breadth of knowledge in the room. Following Bridgewater’s issue log, you can create an open document for teams to flag problems that they see. On a monthly basis, bring people together to review them and figure out which ones are worth solving.


Welcome criticism. It’s hard to encourage dissent if you don’t practice what you preach.

When Ray Dalio received an email criticizing his performance in an important meeting, copying it to the entire company sent a clear ”
“copying it to the entire company sent a clear message that he welcomed negative feedback. By inviting employees to criticize you publicly, you can set the tone for people to communicate more openly even when their ideas are unpopular.”