Podcast & Book Reviews

June 22, 2021

Book Review | Originals: How Non-Conformists Change the World

By Jared Tilley | Senior Investment Analyst at NAOS Asset Management


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

I stumbled across Adam Grant during a late-night binge session on TED videos. His 2016 talk, “The surprising habits of original thinkers” (YouTube LINK) stood out which is saying something given the quality of TED presenters. For context Grant is an organisational psychologist at Wharton and is an expert on finding motivation and meaning, and how to live more generous and creative lives.

The book takes the reader on a practical journey to finding good ideas and provides key lessons to not only avoid bad ones but how to bring good ideas to life. Grant provides key case studies and research to developing policies and practices to encourage the reader to go against the gain and build allies along the way without being silenced. His insights and research is not only applicable to individuals but also corporations.

Real life examples of “originals” are depicted from a wide range of areas including sport, politics and finance. Some examples include: an entrepreneur who focuses on reasons not to invest during pitches, an Apple executive who challenged Steve Jobs, an analyst who implemented a data sharing capability within the CIA and a TV executive who was the original backer of Seinfeld.

Finally, Grant challenges a few key theories and the status quo, for example the theory of the first mover advantage but argues its not always the way and highlights “it’s try the early bird gets the worm, but we can’t forget that the early worm gets caught”.

Three key points worth remembering:

  • 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 judgements about viability of the business.
  • In ancient Egypt, there were two different verbs of procrastination: one denoted laziness; the other meant waiting for the right time.
  • Argue like you’re right and listen like you’re wrong.

Link to book 


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