Today, I'd like to talk about a book titled 'Originals'. A classmate from the United States was amazed when he saw that we had selected this book, as it was just newly released in the United States. This shows how convenient international communication has become. A book that has just been launched in the U.S., and is highly influential, can quickly be introduced in our country. We can introduce it to you through our book club.
The author of the book is Adam Grant, who is considered one of the 25 most influential management thinkers in the world. He's around my age, about forty, and he's a professor at Wharton School of Business. He wrote a very popular book called 'Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success', which explores the crucial elements of why people succeed or fail. We can introduce that book to you when we have the chance.
Why did I decide to share 'Originals' with you after reading it? It's because it challenges many of our previous misconceptions about innovators. We used to think that innovators should be decisive people. However, the research shows that innovators are often procrastinators. Didn't we just discuss 'Ending Procrastination', and how we should overcome it? Yet this book tells us that truly great innovators often have the habit of procrastinating. Of course, if you're not a great innovator, you'd better still overcome your procrastination.
We often believe that to innovate, we should be completely committed, make up our minds, quit our public jobs, and focus on innovation. But that's not the case. The book suggests that innovators often have a foot in two boats. Innovators often have a stable job while slowly innovating on the side. Surprisingly, these individuals are more likely to succeed. Why is this? We will provide many examples and corresponding principles later. So, this book completely changes our understanding and perception of innovators.
In this book, not only are there many examples, but it also explains the steps to complete an innovation. First, we must learn to identify good innovations. What kind of innovation is truly effective? You need to accurately identify it. Next, you must learn to gain support for your innovative ideas. If no one supports an innovation, it cannot be realized. So, you need to find someone willing to support you, agree with you, and help you innovate. Then, choose the right time to bring this innovation to the market. Finally, you need to choose allied comrades. Once you have allied comrades, you can implement this innovation together.
Finally, it discusses a very important topic: how can we cultivate these so-called non-conformists or mavericks? Why is it that some children tend to be innovative while others do not? Even among siblings, you will often find that the eldest tends to conform to the rules, while the younger ones are more likely to innovate. This is closely related to our methods of education and their birth order in the family. So, let's learn about the contents of this book.
First, innovators can also be indecisive. For instance, during the founding of the United States, figures like John Adams and George Washington, who are regarded as the founding fathers, were hesitant about the Declaration of Independence. They were reluctant revolutionaries. This is evidenced on page 13, where Adams feared retaliation from Britain and hesitated whether to give up his budding law career until he was elected to attend the first Continental Congress. He then got involved. Meanwhile, George Washington was focused on managing his estate and businesses in wheat, flour, fishing, and horse breeding. It wasn't until Adams appointed him as the commander-in-chief that he joined the revolutionary cause.
Washington once said that he had done everything in his power to avoid it. He did not want to be a founding father; he did not want to incite revolution. Martin Luther King Jr. once recalled that it all happened so quickly. He became a civil rights leader so abruptly that he didn't even have time to think deeply about it. If he had had the time, he would have declined the nomination; he was filled with fear.
So, these innovative disruptors were not born that way; they hesitated a lot. They often wavered and made each decision very carefully. And yet, in turn, they ended up changing the world.
Innovation involves risk. The book mentions a case study about Warby Parker, a company that excels at selling glasses online. The four founders of this company were students of Adam Grant at Wharton School of Business. These four young people found that glasses were too expensive. Even trying to buy glasses online was expensive, indicating a high profit margin. But one of them had experience in glasses production and knew that the cost of making glasses was actually very low. So, they thought, why not disrupt this market? Hence, they decided to create a company like Warby Parker.
They once sought Adam Grant for venture capital investment, but Grant turned them down. He said it was the worst decision he had ever made in his life. Why? Because he thought these four young men did not seem like innovators. Why? Because none of them were willing to devote themselves full-time to this venture; they all wanted to do it part-time. One said he was still a graduate student, another said he was pursuing his PhD, and another said he was already working in a company, suggesting they could consider going full-time once they had made significant progress. However, they succeeded in the end. Even though none of them left their original fields, they achieved great success, contrary to the conventional wisdom that you must quit your job to do well in a start-up.
Many of us suggest quitting your job when starting a business, claiming that once you quit, you can succeed. However, many painful entrepreneurial experiences have shown that this is not always the case. A ranking on the internet listed the top ten ways to go bankrupt in China: the first was selling your house to start a business, and the second was starting a business itself. It's a bit of a joke, but many entrepreneurs, if they throw themselves into it without hesitation, may indeed end up losing everything.
Consider Steve Jobs, often regarded as a great entrepreneur. However, he and his co-founder always kept an exit strategy. His partner, in particular, didn't quit his job until the venture capitalist threatened to withdraw the investment if he didn't quit.
Bill Gates only dropped out of Harvard University after his mother helped him secure a large order from IBM. These people didn't just blindly plunge into their ventures. Including me; when I started my book club, I didn't just quit my job and start the club. It was only when the book club had grown to tens of thousands of members that I decided to resign from my university position and focus solely on running the club.
Why is it that those who hesitate, those who try to keep a foot in two boats, are more likely to create disruptive innovations? The reason is that when you feel secure in one area, you are more likely to attempt disruptive innovations in another. When an entrepreneur stakes everything on a company, they will not take significant risks or create disruptive innovations. They will simply mimic what others are doing.
But when a person feels secure, when they believe that even if they fail in their attempt, they can go back and continue with their previous work, they are more likely to innovate. The two Google founders also had this mindset; they were always ready to go back to their PhD dissertations. They thought that if Google failed, they would immediately go back to their dissertations and could still become professors in the future. It was only when Google truly succeeded, when they saw the possibility of success, that they quit their other work, stopped writing their dissertations, and focused on Google. Because they felt secure in one area, they dared to make a move. This is a completely different perception from our previous understanding of innovators.
Why does this happen? In addition to this reasoning, there is a figure that says that entrepreneurs who continue to work have a 1/3 lower probability of failure compared to entrepreneurs who quit their jobs. That is, those who start a business while working have a 1/3 lower failure rate compared to those who quit their jobs to start a business, which means their success rate is a third higher. This is the result obtained through statistical numbers. What is the reason? The best entrepreneurs are not those who pursue the greatest risk, but those who strive to minimize risk. So don't underestimate the act of straddling two boats.
Many people are bewitched by the "entrepreneurial chicken soup for the soul" that says you have to take a leap of faith to start a business, you have to fight with your back to the wall. If you don't push yourself to a dead end, you won't know how great your potential is. In the end, everything is ruined. Why do people oppose inspirational quotes and success studies and so on? The reason is that they lack effective argumentation and theoretical support. They have no tools or evidence, they just give you a slogan that makes you feel passionate, and this is the most dangerous.
Just like the very interesting analogy they talked about, where a weasel stands at the bottom of a cliff and tells the chicken above to fly because it's an eagle. Then the chicken flies and falls down, just to be eaten by the weasel. This is the damage that success studies and inspirational quotes do to us. So to understand the real principles of innovation, we need to find scholars who are doing serious and rigorous research, and then provide such arguments, conclusions, and case studies. Therefore, it's not necessary to take a leap of faith or fight a desperate battle. We can effectively minimize risk, and this is actually a skill. With this skill, you can do enough exploration, and in the end you might be able to do something disruptively innovative.
Fan Deng's Book Club may not be a particularly disruptive innovation, but we are truly a small leader in a certain field. We have created a new model, a new method of learning. This is because I have a sufficiently safe living environment and income in another field, so I can take a leap of faith in this field.
So how do you choose the right idea? Should you bet on this idea? This is a time that really tests a person's judgment. There is a case here, it's about an electric balance car called Segway. When Segway came out, do you know how sensational it was? Among them, our idol, everyone's 'Lord Jobs', aka Steve Jobs, rated the electric car as the most amazing technology since the personal computer. He wanted to provide the inventor with an investment of $63 million, but the inventor actually rejected his investment. Then Jobs said, even if you reject my investment, I will provide you with free consulting services for half a year, because I think so highly of you.
Another billionaire, Bezos, the founder of Amazon, immediately got involved after a glance at the product. He said that with such a revolutionary product, there will be no problem selling it. John Doerr, the famous venture capitalist who invested in Google in the United States, invested $80 million in this company. He expected that the company would grow into a billion-dollar company at the fastest speed and become more important than the Internet.
It's an electric balance car that you can stand on and run around with. Who invented it? His name is Dean Kamen. Why do so many big shots value his invention so much? Because Dean Kamen is known as the modern Edison, he has had countless successful invention patents. Especially those related to life medicine, such as the portable dialysis machine used during kidney dialysis, have all created exceptionally high market value.
So Dean Kamen also attaches great importance to the invention of the electric balance car, and these big shots also see it as promising. However, the result is that the inventor predicted that the sales of this new product would reach 10,000 units per week within a year. But six years later, they only sold about 30,000 units in total. Even a decade later, the company still has not turned a profit. In the end, the investor admitted that the investment was a failure.
No one could see that the electric balance car was inconvenient. There's no place to put things on the electric balance car. They only saw that the electric balance car doesn't need as much space as a car, it can save a lot of road space, and it won't cause traffic jams, etc. But it also doesn't have a trunk, it can't carry people, you can't carry a person on it. And if you're carrying a lot of packages around all day, it's not convenient for shopping. So it brings a lot of inconvenience, making it not a revolutionary new invention.
So why would so many big shots make a judgment error on an innovation? Think about this question. The big shots are so awesome, even people like Jobs make judgment errors, what's the reason? The first reason is that overconfidence can lead to cognitive bias. Overconfidence actually comes from cognitive bias. What is cognitive bias? There is a figure that says, what do you think your driving skills rank among all humans? The result of the test is that 75% of people think they rank in the top 50%.
What does this mean? This means that most people's predictions here are wrong. You can't have 75% of people in the top 50%, but 75% of people think they are in the top 50%. That's not outrageous, what's more outrageous is that 94% of university professors think they teach better than their peers. This is even more outrageous, 94% of university professors think they teach better than the average professor. This is called cognitive bias.
So when people like Jobs or Dean Kamen, who are already very successful, they are more likely to have cognitive bias. They will think that their decision-making will not be wrong. Therefore, you will find that many big shots in their lives will always make a big blunder, this big blunder may even lead to the decline of the entire company, politicians also have this problem. So the first problem is cognitive bias.
This cognitive bias also includes problems in one's own evaluation of their product. Take Beethoven, for example. They took more than 70 works of Beethoven to make a judgement. Based on Beethoven's past letters and remarks he had made, they judged Beethoven's judgement of his works. Then, after so many years, which works are truly great and which ones have gradually faded away? The result was that Beethoven was overly optimistic about 15 of his works and underestimated 8 of his works. That is, he was more often overly optimistic, the work was not as good as he thought, but he thought it was very good. And there were 8 works that he didn't think were that good, but they turned out to be really good, he had a 33% error rate. Beethoven had a 33% error rate in judging his own music. So the saying "unintentional success" makes a lot of sense because our judgements often go wrong.
Dean Kamen is actually a very excellent inventor, he has a very large invention team. When he talks to his team, he would say, "Before you find the prince, you must kiss countless frogs." What does this mean? Everyone remembers the story of kissing a frog and it turning into a prince, but you don't know which frog can turn into a prince. So you will end up kissing a lot of disgusting frogs, and then suddenly one of them turns into a prince. This means you need to do countless experiments to know whether something is good or not.
But when Dean Kamen and his team started to become complacent, when his self-perception became biased, and he became increasingly stubborn, you couldn't convince him that it was just a frog, he wouldn't believe it anymore. He kissed it many times, to the point of bleeding, but he still thought it was a prince and insisted on kissing it. This is the problem caused by our cognitive bias.
So if you want to ensure that your idea is effective, this saying is correct. Kissing countless frogs is right. What does this saying mean in our actual work? It means that creativity and quantity are linked. You have to produce a large enough quantity of things to have truly creative products appear.
There's a psychological experiment that goes like this, they divided the children into two groups. They told this group of kids, you need to create the most creative craft, you can only do it once, it must be the most creative. Then they told the other group of kids, the more you make, the better, the higher the evaluation for those who make more. Then the two groups of kids started to research, this group of kids focused on quality, saying they had to make a quality product. The other group of kids just kept making as much as they could, as fast as they could.
After they all finished, all the works of the two groups of children were displayed. Each group of children picked their best work and displayed it to see which one was the best. In the end, they found that all the best works came almost entirely from the group that made more. Why? Practice makes perfect. Because they made enough, they had enough chances to correct. The children who were holding back, saying they had to make a big one, a good one, a great one, often couldn't make the best. So done is better than perfect, we emphasize this value many times. It's what Facebook says, done is better than perfect. First do, be sure to do enough before anything else.
An entrepreneur's worst fear is spending all day making plans on paper, saying all day that I need resources, I need a plan, I need to talk to someone. Spending a huge amount of time just meeting people and not working, how can you possibly do a good job? So regardless, start working first, quantity determines quality.
There's a set of figures here, saying that the London Philharmonic Orchestra selected the 50 greatest classical music pieces, of which 6 were Mozart's works, 5 were Beethoven's works, and 3 were Bach's works. To create these masterpieces, Mozart composed over 600 works before he died at the age of 35. Beethoven composed 650 in his lifetime. Bach wrote over 1000. In the study of 15,000 classical music pieces, the more pieces a composer creates in any 5-year period, the greater the probability of a masterpiece.
Everyone knows Picasso's works are great, Picasso's paintings now sell for a lot of money. But you have to know that Picasso's entire body of work includes 1800 oil paintings, 1200 sculptures, 2800 ceramics, 12,000 drawings, not to mention a large number of prints, tapestries, and hangings. Do you understand? Li Bai was also a person who wrote a lot of poems. In such a large volume of poetry, a few great poems can emerge. So there is a close connection between quantity and quality. When you need to judge whether your thing is a good thing, you first have to ask yourself, did I do enough? Did I make enough attempts?
To judge the quality of an idea, one needs a wide and profound unique experience. What does that mean? There's a TV show called "Seinfeld," which was a very popular show in America, much like "Friends."
But when the show was about to start, even before it started, they brought in many people to test it, to see if it was good. Almost all the TV stations said no, that this show was not good. They brought in many test viewers to watch, and after watching, the ratings said it wasn't good. But the author said the perspective of the test viewers can be distorted, because test viewers think they are unique, their judgment when watching this show is completely different from the average viewer.
But only one person insisted this could work, because this person's background was very complex, he had both an entertainment industry background and a film and television industry background, and he had worked overseas for many years. He had a rich cultural background, he was a comprehensive talent. He said, I think this show should be given a chance to air. Even when the first season was not very sensational, this person still insisted that the second season could be aired, and then continued. "Seinfeld" later became the most profitable show for this company.
So why do we need a wide and profound experience? There's a reason here, they filtered the Nobel Prize winners and listed everyone's artistic hobbies. What does this artistic hobby include? Music, art, handicrafts, writing, acting. So what's the ratio of the number of Nobel laureates to ordinary scientists participating in this activity, like Einstein playing the violin, which belongs to liking music. What's the ratio? Music 2:1, art 7:1, handicrafts 7.5:1, writing 12:1, acting 22:1.
Those who win the Nobel Prize, they should be very specialized people, they should be people who just like this thing. But they often have a rich background in other things, they like music and painting. Even at a 22:1 ratio, they like acting, of course, this number is large, I think because very few ordinary scientists like acting. So as long as there is a Nobel laureate who likes this, the ratio will be very high. A study conducted on thousands of Americans also showed similar results. People who start businesses and obtain many patents have more hobbies than their peers, such as sketching, oil painting, architecture, sculpture, and literature.
I know many outstanding entrepreneurs, they really have a wide range of hobbies. Some people even paint to a professional level. Have you seen the paintings by Feng Xiaogang? They're actually quite professional. The most amazing one is Sylvester Stallone, a big star in America, who paints very well. Xu Jinglei's calligraphy is very good, those few words at the Beijing Media Center were written by Xu Jinglei when she was a child.
And having overseas work experience also helps, it's not about overseas tourism, nor short-term overseas living. But people who have lived overseas for more than five years and worked for more than five years are more likely to integrate more cultures and generate newer innovations. Therefore, letting our children go abroad to gain some experience and understand overseas culture will be helpful to them.
Deep industry cognition and wide experience, as well as involving a wide range of people, can reduce the rate of misjudgment of creativity. In the company we just talked about, the company called W.L. Gore & Associates, they are always able to produce highly innovative products. What's their method? It's that everyone can participate in the discussion of the product, and then management can vote on this requirement. But the management vote cannot decide whether the R&D staff should do this. The R&D staff only refer to the management's vote, the R&D staff has a veto power. They can make their own judgments for development, and the management's opinion is just a reference.
You see, this method is not compulsory, it's a way of opening up speech. It exposes more information to the R&D staff who are going to do this in the end, which can effectively reduce the misjudgment of innovative behavior. This is the first step, that is, how we identify effective innovation.
So when you identify a good idea, how will you get support? There's another interesting case here. At the CIA in the United States, the Central Intelligence Agency. In the 1990s, there was a woman named Medina. She proposed an idea, saying that the current way of intelligence exchange was wrong, why? Because the current intelligence is one-way reporting, there is no cross between people, we can't know the information of other intelligence agencies, so it's not conducive to combat terrorism. So I hope to create something like Wikipedia, allowing all intelligence officers, once authorized, to upload information to this platform.
When this statement was made, it was immediately attacked by everyone, everyone disliked her, why? They said, "Do you understand? We are doing spy work, how can you know if these people are good or bad? If you put all this information out there, what if it is exploited by terrorists?" So many people marginalized her. In the end, she even thought about leaving the CIA to look for a job because she felt she couldn't survive there anymore.
But in the end, she didn't choose to leave, she chose to do a special, auxiliary job in a corner of the CIA, she was completely marginalized. But after she was marginalized, in the ten years that followed, she never gave up on this idea. Ten years later, when she proposed this suggestion again, the entire organization quickly accepted it and implemented it.
In the process of the United States combating terrorism and the subsequent numerous terrorist attacks, the Wikipedia-like information exchange platform she built helped the U.S. government and various special agent organizations around the world a lot. Then everyone said this was a great invention. Because it didn't invest much money, it had such a big effect.
It's very interesting, why is it that the same idea, when she first proposed it, everyone really disliked her, but ten years later it was no problem? It's very interesting, here we talk about, people without status, when exercising power, will be punished by the organization. That is, when you have not gained enough recognition and status in this organization, you go to exercise power, you go to give orders, everyone will dislike you.
Ten years ago, when this girl was doing this, her status was very low, and she was a woman. This is not me saying, this is what the book says. That is, women in the special agent organization are looked down upon, marginalized, and then you come out boldly telling everyone what should be done. Everyone will think you're annoying.
Just like Jack Ma said, if a new employee comes to me and tells me how to do this, I will be very happy and grateful to him. But if this person says how our company's strategy should be done, I will fire him, why? Can't this employee say this? Jack Ma said it's annoying, because you're not qualified to say this, you're not there yet. This is an organizational culture, it's very difficult to break this culture.
There was an experiment that went like this, two people were together, A was told that he had the right to assign a task to B. After completing the task, he could get a bonus of 50 dollars. That is, A assigns a task to B, and then B can get a bonus of 50 dollars. The experimenter played a little trick, what was it? He divided them into two groups, in the first group, he would tell A some information, saying that B really likes you, B respects you very much. And then in the second group, he would tell A that B looks down on you, he said bad things about you before.
So what's the result of such a slight adjustment? For the group where A was told that B respected him, the tasks he assigned were particularly simple. You go and count from one to a hundred, and I'll give you 50 dollars. Because there are no requirements, you can assign any task. He said, "You go out and take a walk and I'll give you 50 dollars." But for the group where it was suggested that the person doesn't like you, the person said, "You go and clean the toilet," or "Strip off your clothes and take a walk." He made the task suddenly very difficult.
What does this prove? It shows that when someone doesn't feel respected, they are likely to suppress you. So, in an organization, when you haven't gained enough status, expressing opinions easily can be a dangerous thing. There's a technical term for this in psychology, called character credit.
What is character credit? For example, have you noticed that celebrities can wear clothes randomly? Celebrities can pair red with green, Lady Gaga can wear meat on her body, she came out in a beef outfit. When Lady Gaga first started out, before she became a star, how strong must her spirit have been to endure all the criticism for her strange behavior? Because at that time, you hadn't gained character credit, you were just an ordinary person, and people couldn't accept the strange things you did.
But when you finally realize that she is Lady Gaga, you think whatever she does is acceptable. This is the character credit of a star. Therefore, you find that celebrities dress very casually. When Jackie Chan goes to a meeting, he wears a vest inside and a suit outside, and that's okay. If you, as a normal person, wear a vest inside and a suit outside, people will ask, "Why don't you respect our stage?" Because you haven't accumulated enough character credit.
The same goes for university professors. There's a statistic that says professors in universities who wear sweaters and T-shirts and grow beards all day are more respected than those who wear suits and ties. Why? Because people naturally think that if he can dress like this, then he must have some abilities. This is called accumulating character credit.
You know, when I was a trainer many years ago, our first time as a trainer was at IBM. Then IBM's requirement for us was to wear suits, ties, dark shoes, dark socks, and so on. Every time we lectured, think about it, it's so hot and we're wearing a suit and tie. Because you have to show this IBM feel, you want the customer to feel that you respect them. That was the requirement and standard for us new lecturers at that time.
wear such clothes to give a lecture? It's too exhausting. Now when I lecture, I like to wear T-shirts, and no one comes to question me, asking if I'm not professional, or if I don't respect them. Because you've accumulated enough character credit, you're able to say things that others find different, and you're able to challenge the existing rules.
So after this girl was pushed to the edge, she finally figured it out. She said, "I might as well stop making a fuss and not bring up this matter for now." She often worked hard to do her job well and let herself continually increase in value. Then she slowly sought allies and found a leader willing to accept change, and constantly talked to him.
There's a very important psychological phenomenon called the mere-exposure effect. What is the mere-exposure effect? It's when you've heard something over and over again, and without any external factors changing, just because you've heard it enough, you gradually develop a liking for it. This is called the mere-exposure effect. So when she frequently talked to her leader about this issue, about this network, after many times, the leader slowly accepted it. So over the years, she constantly talked about these terms with her leaders, slowly letting them soak in. After a long period of soaking, these people gradually started to accept this matter.
In an organization, when your suggestions are not accepted, there's a quadrant, and people have four types of reactions. What are the dimensions of this quadrant? This side is called change, this side is called no change, this side is beneficial to the organization, this side is detrimental to the organization. In the quadrant of no change and detrimental to the organization, our reaction is neglect. That is, you have a good idea, and if everyone doesn't adopt it, you neglect it. That's the first kind, no change but detrimental to the organization.
What about change but detrimental to the organization? The reaction is, "I quit, I leave, I'm done, I resign." You see, there's change, I left, but it's detrimental to the organization. The second kind, from a beneficial perspective, is to maintain the status quo, and this reaction is called loyalty. That is, I made a suggestion and you didn't listen, but I still loyally continue to work for you, that's called loyalty.
There's also a quadrant where it's beneficial and involves change, this is called speaking out, that is, expressing your views. So for an organization, the most effective is definitely speaking out. Because loyalty only maintains the status quo, only speaking out is both a change and beneficial to the organization.
Therefore, an innovator, once you have an innovative idea, you must find a way to voice it, to express it, and then let more people come into contact with this term. Over time, as your status rises and you gain enough respect from everyone, and you also accumulate this character credit, the innovative ideas you propose will be accepted by others. So promoting innovation requires some patience.
Did you know that in the year 1740s, a man discovered that if you could wash your hands thoroughly before delivering a baby, you could reduce child mortality. He even wrote an article about it and published it, only to be unanimously ridiculed by his peers. No one at that time believed that washing hands had anything to do with childbirth. Because no one had discovered bacteria yet, people didn't know about bacteria. So he kept trying, kept trying, and slowly people accepted that you should wash your hands before delivering a baby.
So promoting a disruptive innovation is really not an easy thing. You need to understand the mere exposure effect and the issue of character credit. This is how to gain everyone's support for your creative ideas.
Once you have support, the third step is to choose the timing of innovation. This brings us to the phenomenon of procrastination. It's interesting that when Martin Luther King Jr. gave his speech, the theme of his speech was not "I have a dream". The speech Martin Luther King Jr. wrote was revised over and over again, and he still didn't have a final draft before he went on stage to speak.
When Martin Luther King Jr. got up on stage and started his speech, he was still following the script for the first half. At that time, there was a black woman from the choir standing behind him. She knew that Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. She kept saying from behind, "Tell them about that dream, tell them about that dream." Martin Luther King Jr. didn't actually want to talk about it, but he had almost finished reading his speech. The girl kept saying, "Tell them about that dream, tell them, tell them," and then Martin Luther King Jr. said "I have a dream". Do you know how far he procrastinated? He procrastinated until someone urged him to say it, and then he said "I have a dream".
Even more outrageous is Leonardo da Vinci. His most famous painting is probably "The Last Supper", and he also spent many years painting the "Mona Lisa". He kept revising "The Last Supper", changing a bit here and there, and then running off to do experiments. You know, da Vinci loved optics, anatomy, and all kinds of things. So he was always interrupted by all sorts of things, and only then did he create such a masterpiece as "The Last Supper".
Why do these procrastinators tend to become greater? There's an interesting theory here: you need to know that in every innovation market, there are pioneers and settlers. What is a pioneer? If no one else is doing it, I'll jump in and do it. What is a settler? I'll wait and see how well you do, and then I'll slowly follow, this is the settling strategy. The most typical case here is Odyssey and Nintendo. No one has heard of Odyssey, an old game brand, while everyone knows Nintendo, because it's getting more and more expensive. Nintendo's stock price is getting higher and higher, and this is a follow-up strategy. After it saw that Odyssey's game console had already been successful, it found many areas that needed improvement in this game console. After slowly improving, it made Nintendo's game console and suddenly dominated the whole market. This is the advantage of the follow-up strategy.
In the world of mobile internet, we all know about Facebook, but do you know who Facebook stood on the shoulders of to rise? There was a company called Friendster, which is "friend" plus "ster". Friendster was a social networking site. There was also MySpace. Facebook's team was playing with these two websites every day and found many areas that they were dissatisfied with. Then they revised their entire platform based on these two and created a product like Facebook.
So in the market, everyone is constantly emphasizing, especially American culture and this kind of Western economy, they all emphasize the advantage of being the first mover. But in fact, the first-mover advantage brings a lot of first-mover costs and has a lot of risks, and you don't know which pit you will fall into. But the latecomers can slowly follow the first movers to avoid all the pitfalls and reduce risks and costs.
Similarly, in the choice of innovation timing. You will find that some people become famous very early, such as poets, some like Wang Bo, who became famous when they were very young. Some people become famous very late, like Jiang Ziya, who became famous very late. So why did people like Einstein, Gauss, James Watson, Wang Bo, and Li Bai become famous at a very young age, while people like Hitchcock, Chen Zhongshi, Da Vinci, and Mark Twain became famous very late? Should we become famous as early as possible, or is it better to be old and spicy?
This is based on theory, in fact, after a lot of research, the author found that our discoveries and inventions are divided into two categories. One is conceptual and the other is experimental. What is conceptual? For example, mathematical reasoning, physical formulas, writing a great new poem, these are conceptual. Just like what my dad told me, because he was a math professor. He said that theoretical mathematicians are all young people. There are almost none who can achieve something in theoretical mathematics after the age of 30, while those who do applied mathematics research like them can be very old.
You can understand it as theoretical and applied. If you want to make a breakthrough at the theoretical level, you must be young, you have to be smart, and achieve something in your twenties or thirties. But if you want to achieve results at the applied level, like Hitchcock making his films, he did his best after the age of 50. Because the older you are, the more proficient you are in using it.
Innovation is categorized, so whether you're pioneering the latest and most cutting-edge theories, or working on practical applications, it will determine whether it's better to start earlier or later. So for the timing of innovation, we can find that it's not always the sooner, the better. Depending on the different situations of innovation, we can choose to start earlier or later, always leaving hope for our lives. For example, writing novels, I really want to write novels, and I feel that it might be better to start later. Like Cao Xueqin, he condensed his life into one excellent novel. After Chen Zhongshi finished "White Deer Plain", he hardly wrote anything. So this is the advantage of starting later.
Then, in addition to this knowledge about innovation, there is another module on how to win the support of allies. In this module, there is a concept that I think is very good. All disruptive innovators should learn a trick called "moderate radicalism". What is moderate radicalism? When Kodak invented the digital camera, the boss got angry immediately when the inventors told him that this thing could work without film. Because you've overturned my film, what should I do with my film? Therefore, "The Innovator's Dilemma" tells us that any disruptive innovation is not made by the top three in the industry because their suggestions are too radical.
What is moderate radicalism? There is a very wonderful case here. In 2011, there was a girl named Perry. What did this girl invent? She started thinking, nowadays, mobile phones and computers have to be connected with wires to charge. Is it possible to charge without wires, just by radiating energy through the air?
She found that if a device is placed under a train, it could capture the energy generated by the train as it passes. Although it's unrealistic to have people gather around the train to charge, she realized that sound can be transmitted through air vibrations. So, can it use invisible and silent ultrasonic waves to vibrate the air and convert the vibration into wireless electricity?
Don't you think this is a particularly outrageous, bold thing? Then she started to talk about this with many scientists, and all the scientists who heard her said "no way, it's impossible". No one was willing to help her. After two or three years of trying, she didn't find anyone willing to help her. But she received the support of a great person, an old friend of ours, Peter Thiel, the author of "Zero to One", remember? Peter Thiel gave her $750,000 and told her to do it. So this person is truly amazing, he can support this girl to do such a thing and give her $750,000 to do it.
After she got the money, she wondered how to complete it? Because no one was helping her. In the end, her approach was to stop telling anyone about this idea. She no longer told them that she wanted to charge it through sound waves, but told these experts what she needed. She only requested, provided the technical specifications she wanted, and let others operate according to her technical specifications. Those people didn't know what she was going to do, so they did it according to her request, as long as she paid them. After they did it and gave it to her. When they were doing this experiment, suddenly someone said, "Damn it, it actually works." At this time, you found that many people believed in her.
To succeed, innovators must often become moderate radicals in most situations. They believe in values and ideas that run counter to tradition, but they've learned to express their beliefs and ideas in less shocking ways that are more appealing to mainstream audiences, thus diluting the radical nature of their ideas. This tactic, I believe, will be very effective when you're looking for allies. Don't scare everyone at the beginning, but do it bit by bit.
Also, the best allies are not your friends, but your enemies. It's better to ally with enemies than with friends who are also enemies. Do you know what a friend-enemy is? Although he is your friend, he can also oppose you. The relationship between these two people is very contradictory and this kind of contradictory relationship is very difficult to transform. Conversely, enemies can sometimes be more easily converted through communication.
They conducted an experiment on police officers, saying that a contradictory relationship is actually worse than a negative relationship. Research shows that people dealing with more contradictory relationships are under greater stress, more depressed, and more dissatisfied with life. The best allies are not those who always support us, but those who initially oppose us and then turn to support us, that's the best.
In this police experiment, they conducted some experimental surveys on many police officers. They found that if some people in the team are always opposing and arguing with the police officer every day, they measure the officer's job satisfaction and job engagement. In other teams, some people say good things about him and bad things about him. Sometimes there are conflicts, sometimes the relationship is okay, and then they observe his work status. It turned out that the group of police officers who had obvious enemies did a better job. Police officers who have awkward relationships with others, who are good at one moment and not at the next, are more distracted and less energetic in their work. Why? Because dealing with these complex relationships is more difficult.
Therefore, when persuading allies, in addition to our firm supporters, we can go to find those enemies. If these enemies initially do not support you, but they are eventually persuaded, they may become your more staunch followers. On the other hand, those wavering friend-enemies, who are good one moment and not the next, are harder to win over.
Finally, many characteristics have been summarized to say, how can we cultivate an excellent innovator? Surprisingly, being an innovator is related to parental upbringing in childhood. They did a statistic. Do you know there is a move called stealing bases in baseball? Stealing bases is a very risky move in baseball. It is very likely to be out, and its success rate is not high, but once it succeeds, it can gain a lot of benefits. Therefore, athletes who can steal bases are very innovative and adventurous. They listed the names of American athletes who like to steal bases and found a very interesting phenomenon, almost no eldest sons.
Among these people, they are all the second, third, fourth, fifth child, or those from a family with seven siblings, who rank sixth or seventh, are particularly prone to do such things. You might say this can't be established as a rule based on one or two instances, but when they listed all these people, they found that almost all of them are like this. Why? Why do the second and third children have more innovative spirit than the first child? This isn't a superstition or a simple arrangement.
They did research, and the results found several possibilities. What is the first possibility? If the second or third child doesn't innovate, he has no status in the family. Because the safest status is occupied by the eldest, the eldest likes to do everything that is safe, all the advantages are with him. So you find that the eldest child can also be very successful, but the eldest's success is often in traditional business, traditional industry, traditional work. They become civil servants, politicians, lawyers.
The second child, because he and the eldest, the eldest has occupied all the reasonable directions, he needs to do some different things, this is one reason. Also, the second child gets more security, because when he was a child, not only did he have his parents protecting him, but also his elder brother. When he has his elder brother and parents to protect him, he dares to do many risky things. He doesn't have so much pressure to support the family, he doesn't have so much pressure to say that I am the eldest in this family, I must bear what kind of responsibilities. So he is more likely to do such innovative things.
The third reason is, parents usually don't know how to raise the eldest child. They exhausted all the wrong education methods on the eldest, and when it comes to the second child, they suddenly joined the Fandeng Reading Club, they suddenly learned to use the correct methods to educate children. For example, what is the correct method of education? Parents should emphasize values rather than rules when managing children. When parents don't know how to teach children, they often tell their children rules, not to do this, not to do that, wash your hands clean, etc., all are rules. The more rules are set, the more the child will do things honestly and feel restricted.
But when parents tell him, do you know why you have to wash your hands? Because health is important. Look, this is emphasizing values. There are not many rules in our home, but we have a lot of very stable values. At this time, when the child acts according to these stable values, he can have more innovative space.
Therefore, we often say, gentle but with boundaries, that's the reason. What is the boundary? The value is the boundary. But we are doing things gently, so we don't limit the child to say you can only do what, you can't do what.
There is a very moving case, which is about the rescuers during the Holocaust. During the German massacre of the Jews, these Jews were actually seeking help from many Germans. Some Germans helped them, hid these Jews in their home cellars, and helped them survive. But some Germans refused to help these Jews. Later, psychologists conducted a survey on all these people involved in the rescue and found that a large number of rescuers, when recalling their childhood family education, mentioned the values passed on by their parents. Their parents believed it was right to help others, and they should not easily harm anyone. These are values. But those who refused to help the Jews, most of the education they received as children was about rules. Our family can't do this, our family can't do that.
So, I hope everyone can reflect on our education, whether we are passing on values or a series of rules to our children at home? If you use a series of rules, you can only cultivate an ordinary person who conforms to the rules. But if you use rich values, you can let the child know the principles of doing things, and he can break the rules to do things himself.
Also, when you praise a child, you need to learn to praise his character, not the thing. Do you still remember the book we talked about "You Are Your Child's Best Toy"? That's the principle. You need to tell him why this thing is right, this is praising his character, not the thing itself. Similarly, when we ask someone not to do something, we should say don't become a liar, not don't lie. Don't become a liar has a stronger constraint on the other person than don't lie. Because that's about character, and don't lie is about the thing itself.
So the most interesting part of this book, I think, is its cross-disciplinary nature. It extends from the topic of innovation to the cultivation of innovators. In fact, it runs through all the books we talked about, namely, the three levels of career, family, and spirit, so I think it is a really rare good book.
There are many people who recommend this book, including Sheryl Sandberg who wrote the preface for it. Sheryl Sandberg is the author of "Lean In" and the CEO of Facebook. We've discussed her book, and they are good friends. She thinks that Adam Grant himself is a maverick, who can make a lot of disruptive innovations. Including the author of "Outliers", Malcolm Gladwell, said that this is the work written by the writer he admires most.
The last chapter of this book is about how to build an innovative organization. Here, because we have talked about similar topics in many books before, I won't go into detail again. But there is one suggestion I think is very good, which is that even if the suggestions made by others in an organization are wrong, they are useful. You know many organizations like to say, don't tell me the problem, tell me the answer, many bosses like to say this. When employees keep bringing up problems to the boss, the boss gets annoyed, don't talk about the problems, talk about the solutions, do you have a solution?
Do you know what the result is when you emphasize such a culture? It's that this person has only problems, no answers. He won't tell you because he feels as soon as he speaks up, it becomes his responsibility, so everyone just stops speaking, which is the real danger. If an organization wants to identify and encourage innovation, you should encourage employees to ask questions, even if they don't have the answers. Because no one is responsible for providing solutions to all the problems they raise, but the person who can raise questions is valuable in itself. This is a very important foundation for nurturing mavericks.
I have a lot of confidence in the next generation, like Doudou and their generation. I think the education they received is completely different from what we received when we were young. Few of us now would do things that only people with a strong sense of security would do, because our sense of security was destroyed when we were young. But our children, they have hope, especially the children of our book club members. They all have such good parents, they are bound to become individuals who can change the world and innovate.