Episode#38 – Originals


by Adam Grant


The book in one sentence

Be different and be happy that others are different, too.


My personal opinion

Adam Grant’s Originals is a great book for our globalized world. A world where different people come together, where cultures meet, where we all have different backgrounds, different experiences, different opinions, expectations and priorities. We all share the world we live in, sometimes we share the country or the city, sometimes the organization or the team we are working at. There are no boundaries. Today, we live in an open and therefore diverse world. Adam Grant shows why this is valuable for all of us and why being original is beneficial in today’s world.

One of my favorite chapters – Rethink Groupthink – deal with supporting diverse discussions and dissent. Adam Grant describes that it’s just human nature, that we favor consensus over dissent. And here comes one of the strengths of great leaders into play. They are comfortable having a dissent. They value other opinions and they are grateful for diverse input. They know that dissent will help them to evaluate a decision from multiple perspectives, to step back to establish a new point of view. Adam Grant brings up a lot of inspiring thoughts about this aspect: “Dissenting opinions are useful even when they’re wrong.”

All in all, being original – as I understand it for myself – comes down to establish the following three characteristics:

  • Stay passionate: follow what motivates you.
  • Stay curious: Ask more, listen more.
  • Stay open: value and learn from others and their opinions.

At the end of the book you can find a great summary of the content, called Actions for Impact.


To whom I would recommend this book

A true bestseller and must-read of our time. This book offers advice and inspiration for everybody. I strongly recommend it for company and team leaders.


What I learned from this book

  • Being original is based on curiosity: identify the status quo and ask why it is in place.
  • Real and honest friendship is more important than success in business. Know your priorities…
  • Take calculated risks rather than gambling. Having a “balanced risk portfolio” increases your sense of security and can enforce original thinking.
  • Be aware that idea selection is a bigger challenge than idea generation.
  • We tend to be overconfident when we rate our own ideas.
  • Evaluating a new idea, focus on the strengths AND weaknesses. Do not get fooled by the confirmation bias.
  • Working more leads – in general – to more results.
  • Leverage “outsiders” to evaluate and progress original ideas. If they do not know the status quo of your industry it is easier for them to break the rules.
  • Create a portal where people can contribute with new ideas and give them the freedom to work on what most appeal to them.
  • Presenting your idea, know when it is smarter to emphasize the strengths or the weaknesses. Sceptical can maybe be persuaded by mentioning the weak aspects first to take the wind out of their sails.
  • “People think an amateur can appreciate art, but it takes a professional to critique it.” – by criticising your own idea you will look smart and trustworthy.
  • Through repetition humans get more used to an idea. It’s called the Mere-exposure effect.
  • To have an impact and challenge the status quo you need to speak up or exit the situation. Otherwise you will develop dissatisfaction. As Adam Grant states: “The best we can do is voice our opinions and secure our risk portfolios, preparing for exit if necessary.”
  • You don’t have to be the first to be original. It’s about being “different and better.” Learning from pioneers can be a benefit.
  • “Base decisions on who you are – or who you want to be.”
  • People need space and freedom to develop original ideas.
  • Praise character, not behaviour.
  • Help your children to find role models. It will help them to see the world or assess situations from a different point of view.
  • Try to keep your organization diverse, be happy about having different point of views in your team, support discussions. Becoming homogeneous can be a threat to your company over time. Become comfortable having a dissent. Value it. Leverage it.
  • “Minority viewpoints are important, not because they tend to prevail but because they stimulate divergent attention and thought.” – Charlan Nemeth
  • Prioritize your organization’s values and principles: create a guidance for your team.
  • “When change needs to happen, it needs to happen now.”


Want to read this book?

Check it out on Amazon.com – Originals by Adam Grant



Thanks to the publisher for printing such a great book!

Penguin Books