Like the best of this sort of non-fiction pop-science book, it’s hard to say exactly what the book is about. Yes, it sort of touches on “how non-conformists move the world” but it’s more like a collection of true stories around the theme of how some people managed to change their environments. It delves mostly into business scenarios, but also touches on other themes (such as how to overthrow a dictator) and has a broad enough discussion that the book will have some pointers for just about everyone.
My most interesting takeaway from this book was a comment about how there were really four ways to deal with a bad environment. Grant meant “a bad work situation” but you could apply it to a relationship too. You can either flee (leave the situation) voice (complain and try to make a change) ignore (phone it in and do the bare minimum, but disengage as much as possible) or persist (keep going on as you have been and hope things improve spontaneously. Only the first two will really improve things, but I myself most often resort to persistence when things are bad. He didn’t really talk about this, but an interesting character change happens when someone has been doing one of these four strategies (persist, for example) decides to switch to another strategy (voice or flee).
My least interesting takeaway was the extensive amount of time that Grant devotes to the importance of birth order. I personally have found that personality predictions based on birth order are about as useful on a person-by-person basis as personality predictions based on blood type. Maybe I’m just disgruntled because as a middle child, my order “doesn’t count.”
I wouldn’t say that this book is really going to tell you how to move the world, or how to be more original, or how to increase original thinking. However, it is a book full of lots of interesting stories about different ways other people have tried to do just that. It’s well-written and enjoyable and will make you feel a little broader-minded after reading it. And really, isn’t that what pop-science is for?