Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World | Thoughts and Book Notes4 min read

💡 Overall Thoughts

The first 3 chapters of Originals were my favorite. Most of my notes were from those chapters because the author provided some great points and stories to back up those points.

As an aspiring professional musician (amongst other goals) I found it valuable to be risk averse with my investment of resources in multiple projects.

I found some information not relevant to the book that I wanted to skip through. Such as discussing parenting advice in detail “When children misbehave, help them see how their actions hurt other people.” This felt off base.

I expected the book to touch more on past non-conformists to analyze their actions and deduct frameworks that could be applied to people seeking to be more original. The author did this in some parts, such as when he discussed how citizens formed rebellions against their governments.

Principles such as using procrastination to my advantage, using the right balance of originality and familiarity, producing a lot of ideas allowing the audience to choose what’s best will be valuable for several projects of mine!

💡 Main Takeaways

  1. Use procrastination to my advantage.
  2. Use the right balance of originality and familiarity.
  3. Produce a lot of ideas and allow the audience to choose what’s best.

Book Notes

“The Hallmark of originality is rejecting the default and exploring whether a better option exists.”

Question the status quo how Warby Parker questioned why eyeglasses were so expensive.

Warby Parker founders got internships and applied for jobs after college to hedge their bets in case things don’t work out.

Those who are risk-averse are more likely to create a business that lasts.

No person could possibly be original in one area unless he were possessed of the emotional and social stability that comes from fixed attitudes in all areas other than the one in which he is being original. – Polaroid Founder Edwin Land

Creators have a bias in evaluating the level of success of their own ideas.

The most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work.

Edison filed over 1000 patents yet only a small handful were major influences.

Get quality in original ideas through quantity. Our first ideas are usually the least original and most conventional. Through several more ideas, we start to become more original.

Put a lot of ideas out there and see what gets praise from your audience.

Artists evaluating their piers’ ideas proved to be the most accurate predictor of a hit.

Conformity and Originality

High status: Individuals at the top feel a safety net to go against status quo thinking. They also feel they have a reason to think differently since they are at the top.

Middle Status: Individuals in the middle choose conformity over originality. They don’t want to lose what they’ve worked for.

Low Status: Individuals at the bottom take risks because they have nothing to lose.

Timing in Innovation

Delaying progress allows you to spend more time thinking and have more creative solutions. Leonardo Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa on and off for a few years before finally finishing it near the end of his life. During that time he used knowledge gained from other discoveries that lead to the final product.

It’s better to be a settler than a pioneer. Watch how the pioneer performs and take your time to make adjustments that are different and better.

When entrepreneurs are more risk averse and wait for the right time to enter the market they have proven to have higher chances of success.


The most promising ideas begin from novelty and then add to familiarity. When reviewing The Lion King, Disney executives liked the novel idea of animating lions with the familiar storyline of Hamlet.

A completely original idea that people can’t connect to something familiar isn’t perceived as highly as an idea with some form of familiarity.


Original breakthroughs come after criticism has been given.

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