Adam Grant Shares His Secrets On Becoming An Original Thinker

Even though Wharton School management and psychology professor Adam Grant once worked as a professional magician, he doesn’t like surprises. A self-proclaimed “rule follower,” he chose a career in academia for job security and tenure, and runs mental models when making decisions to minimize risk. But when Grant declined an invitation to invest in an eyewear startup because the founders weren’t all-in risk takers—his perceived model for successful entrepreneurs—he learned things aren’t always what they seem.

A year later, Warby Parker, the brainchild of four Wharton School students, was called the “Netflix of eyewear” by GQ, and the company hit its first-year sales goal in just one month. Grant’s decision turned out to be a bad one financially, but it inspired him to discover where he went wrong, and why some ideas succeed when others fail. He shares what he learned in his new book, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, including the science behind creative thinking and the formula for innovation.

Fast Company: Your new book is about creative thinkers. What’s your creative process for writing?

Adam Grant: I start by identifying what people believe to be true about a topic, then I imagine what would happen if the opposite were true. A big part of my idea generation process is looking at things others take for granted, and asking, “What would the world look like if we looked at it differently?” For example, for years, students were coming into my office asking for career advice. They wanted to find a job that would let them make as much money as possible, so in 35 years they could give back. That led me to the question, “What if you could do that in reverse?” Give first, and find a path to success later? And that was the idea behind my first book, Give and Take. [/interview]

via Fast Company


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