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Originals: How Non-Conformists Change The World By Adam Grant (Book Review)

Originals: How Non-Conformists Change The World By Adam Grant (Book Review)

When it comes to choosing books I like to do my research. Time is precious and I am really not very good at not finishing a book I start. So when I decided to let the PropelHer community make suggestions for PropelHer’s Book of the Month I was nervous about what would be suggested and then eventually win the vote. Luckily for me the winning book was Originals: How Non-Conformists Change The World by Adam Grant. (If you are American your version of the book is called Originals: How Non-Conformists Change The World. I have no idea why they changes change to move, but I think the contents of the book is the same.


According to the dictionary original means A thing of singular or unique character; a person who is different from other people in an appealing or interesting way; a person of fresh initiative or inventive capacity”

Adam defines originality as originality involves introducing and advancing an idea that’s relatively unusual within a particular domain, and that has the potential to improve it”.



Adam states that “To be an original you need to take radical risks” and the book devotes a whole capture to risk

A statistic I loved was that “Entrepreneurs who kept their day jobs had 33 percent lower odds of failure than those who quit”. So often the image portrayed by society is to go hard, burn all bridges, leave yourself with only one option and give you 100%. However, Adam is suggesting the complete opposite. He then goes on to tell the stories how even the entrepreneurs who are famous for going all in, like Bill Gates, actually did mitigate their risk.



In the world of originality being the first is emphasised.  However, Adam states that “The advantages of acting quickly and being first are often outweighed by the disadvantages”. Part of this is due to the fact that “When you go first to market, you have to make all of the mistakes yourself”. Now this isn’t to say in some industries first advantage doesn’t work. However, I think his point is we should recognise by going later we can learn from the mistakes of others and for some this has major benefits.


In Fools Rush In Adam also talks about how we generally are negative about procrastination. As a society, we are obsessed with trying to overcome our procrastination. Adam believes that “Procrastination may be the enemy of productivity, but it can be a resource for creativity”. Part of the reason why it can increase creativity is because when a task isn’t finished your mind will continue to think of different ways you can finish it. Therefore, by not finishing a task in one go you are allowing your brain the time to think of a different way to complete the task. Furthermore, when you procrastinate it can mean you are left with not enough time to fully complete and you are forced to improvise. Adam backs up this idea by discussing how Martin Luther King didn’t actually finish writing his ‘I have a dream’ speech and in fact, the famous I have a dream section was improvised.



A chapter I found really interesting with Rebel With A Cause. This chapter explored how your birth order could play a role in your originality. Apparently, “Firstborns tend to defend the status quo; laterborns are inclined to challenge it.”. If you want to find out why you will have to read the book. However, as an only child a fact I loved was that predicting personality is more challenging with only children than with children who have siblings”. However, all of theories shouldn’t be taken as fact. Adam clearly states that “Birth order doesn’t determine who you are; it only affects the probability that you’ll develop in a particular way”.



 Overall, I really enjoyed Originals: How Non-Conformists Change The World. There were a number of sections of the book that definitely contradicted the lessons we are usually taught by society. Furthermore, Adam is an academic and this is can be seen in the writing style of the book. It is full of references to research and thoroughly annotated. Whilst this style isn’t for everyone, it is a style I very much enjoy.

Like what you read? Why not by a copy of Originals: How Non-Conformists Change The World for yourself?

This book was read as part of PropelHer’s Book Club. PropelHer’s Book Club is a non-fiction book club for ambitious with a focus on reading for personal development and professional success. Sound like your sort of thing? Head over to


Rather listen than read? Originals is also available on audible.

Charelle Griffith

Charelle is book-loving Marketer, Success Coach and Founder of PropelHer. Charelle is passionate about personal development and blogs about non-fiction books. She also runs PropelHer's Book Club - a non-fiction book club for ambitious women.

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