Mapping Innovation PDF Summary – Greg Sattel

Mapping Innovation PDFA Playbook for Navigating a Disruptive Age

With the digital revolution, a new era of innovation begun, brutally and succinctly summed up in the dictum “innovate or die.”

In “Mapping Innovation,” Greg Satell provides a lifeline for the companies on their deathbeds or in the maternity ward, by systematizing “the strategies of the world’s most inventive startups, corporations, and scientific institutions.”

Your only job: to apply them.

Who Should Read “Mapping Innovation”? And Why?

“Mapping Innovation” is not especially innovative in its first part – where it counters innovation “Eureka” fairytales with stories of collaboration and combination – but it is satisfactorily novel in Parts 2 and 3, where it offers a powerful framework for mapping innovation space and introduces you to the challenges of innovating in the digital age.

Read the first part if you are interested in the history of innovation and memorable anecdotes; read the latter two for their applicability and practical value.

Greg SatellAbout Greg Satell

Greg Satell is a bestselling author and innovation advisor.

After spending a decade and a half building and managing business in Eastern Europe (Poland, Ukraine, Russia, and Turkey), he got a job as SVP at Moxie Interactive, a division of Publicis Groupe.

He is currently a regular contributor to “Inc” and “Harvard Business Review.”

“Mapping Innovation” is his first and, so far, only book.

“Mapping Innovation PDF Summary”

On December 9, 1968, something miraculous happened at the Association for Computing Machinery / Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (ACM/IEEE) in San Francisco.

About thirty years later – when, retroactively, many could see the revolutionary significance of the event – Steven Levy (in his book about the life and times of the Macintosh, “Insanely Great”) would dub the happening “the mother of all demos.”

So, what was it?

Some Dr. Strangelove-inspired Doomsday weapon capable of trouncing the Soviets in a second? A Vietnam-related report which resulted in the Vietnamization program? The key insight which helped NASA go from Apollo 8 (about to be launched) to Apollo 11 in half a year?

No, of course not – you would know if it was one of those!

And, believe it or not, “the mother of all demos” was something even more notable.

Namely, a demonstration of “augmented human intellect” by “a mild-mannered engineer” named Douglas Engelbart.

To understand the context, just don’t forget that it is 1968 and that, in those days, very few people had ever seen a computer, let alone used one. To almost everybody on the planet, computers were about as mysterious then as, say, quantum physics is today.

But here was Engelbart, dressed in a short-sleeved white shirt and a thin black tie, standing in front of a 20-foot-high screen and explaining in his low-key voice how ‘intellectual workers’ could actually interact with computers. What’s more, he began to show them. As he began to type a document on a simple keyboard, words started to appear, which he could then edit, rearrange, and add graphics and sound to, while all the time navigating around the screen with a small device he called a mouse. Nobody had seen anything remotely like it before.

Unsurprisingly, the people present in the audience were fascinated.

Two of them – Bob Taylor and Allan Kay – would use Engelbart’s ideas to develop the Xerox Alto, which, when introduced on March 1, 1973, became the first computer capable of supporting an operating system based on GUI, aka, the first truly personal computer.

Six years later, in exchange for Apple stocks, Steve Jobs would receive a demonstration of the technology behind the Xerox Alto, and, with great fanfare, the Macintosh was launched in 1984, 16 years after the mother of all demos!

Add to all of this the fact that Engelbart himself was inspired by Vannevar Bush’s 1945 essay “As We May Think” which, in turn, could have only been written at the time John von Neumann was working the Von Neumann architecture model and only after Alan Turing devised the concept of the “universal computer.”

We could go on, but the point should be already blatantly obvious by now:

Innovation is never a single event, and… rather than following a linear path, effective innovators combine the wisdom of diverse fields to synthesize information across domains. If a problem is difficult enough, it needs to borrow from multiple fields of expertise. Innovation, more than anything else, is combination.

As Walter Isaacson has beautifully shown, rather than a recent radical event in the mind of a single intellect, the digital revolution was actually a process lasting for more than two centuries and needing the brilliance of “a group of hackers, geniuses, and geeks.”

Ironically, owing to the success of this very same revolution, now you and your company don’t really have the luxury of innovating (or recognizing innovation) with such a slow pace anymore.

On the contrary, you have to act as fast as possible.

And “Mapping Innovation” offers a few valuable tools which can help you do that.

We look over them in our “Key Lessons” section.

Key Lessons from “Mapping Innovation”

1.      Innovation Is All About Defining the Problem
2.      The Four Innovation Domains
3.      The Innovation Playbook

Innovation Is All About Defining the Problem

As Greg Satell notes, “it is only by framing problems effectively that you can find the approach most likely to solve them.”

Consequently, all innovation starts with you defining the “innovation space” particular to your needs and expertise, by giving an answer to the question: “How well is the problem defined?” Only then you can answer the second question of crucial importance: “Who is best placed to solve it?”

For example, the iPod was invented when Steve Jobs relayed his personal vision to the Apple team with the sentence: “I want to carry 1,000 songs in my pocket.”

This, obviously, meant two things: a hard drive small enough to fit in a person’s pocket, but with sufficient space for 1,000 mp3 files. One company – Toshiba – could provide that, so Apple formed a partnership with the Japanese conglomerate.

The rest is history.

The Four Innovation Domains

Once a problem is identified, its solution should be assigned to the most appropriate innovation “domain” your company has.

In the optimal case, it should have four:

#1. Basic research. Unlike, say, IBM and Microsoft, most firms don’t have the money to establish this domain, which is not really a problem, since basic research is constantly done by scientists and academics, so companies are able to simply monitor it. Use either strategy.

#2. Sustaining innovation. If you want to stay competitive, you need to constantly upgrade your technology. “New and improved” is the modern way of saying “we’re still in the game.”

#3. Breakthrough innovation. Charles Darwin formulated the theory of evolution under the influence of Thomas Malthus, and Albert Einstein was inspired by David Hume for his theory of relativity. IN a nutshell, everything evolves – but some of the steps along the ladder spell “breakthrough.”

#4. Disruptive innovation. Clayton Christensen devised the concept of “disruptive innovation” in his 1997 classic “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” demonstrating that successful companies may lose their market leadership even if they do everything right, on account of some other less successful startups capable of offering brand-new business models through their products.

The Innovation Playbook

You can build your own innovation playbook, but, when doing that, be sure to adhere to these six basic principles:

#1. Actively seek out good problems. As we stated above, innovation is all about defining the right problem.

#2. Choose problems that suit your organization’s capabilities, culture and strategy. There’s no point in copying someone just because that someone is successful.

#3. Ask the right questions to map the innovation space. Then, just choose the right domain.

#4. Leverage platforms to access ecosystems of talent, technology and innovation. In that order.

#5. Build a collaborative culture. You need a cross-disciplinary team. Emphasis on both words.

#6. Understand that innovation is a messy business. Or: you’ll fail many times before you reach a breakthrough. To quote Thomas Edison: “If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”

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“Mapping Innovation Quotes”

A disruptive strategy is fundamentally iterative. It is not a purposeful march toward a set of tangible strategic objectives but thrives on experimentation and agility. Click To Tweet

It takes more than a single big idea to change the world, and it can take decades after the initial breakthroughs for the true impact of an idea to become clear. Click To Tweet

Big thoughts are fun to romanticize, but it’s many small insights coming together that bring big ideas into the world. Click To Tweet

We teach people that everything that matters happens between your ears, when in fact it actually happens between people. (Via Sandy Pentland) Click To Tweet

Our brains are, in fact, a billion times more efficient than today’s computer architectures. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“Mapping Innovation” is a pretty neat innovation manual that should be helpful to both start-ups and large firms.

And it’s well-written, so you should have no problems differentiating theory from practice or understanding which parts of it refer to your needs specifically.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

The Four Lenses of Innovation PDF Summary

The Four Lenses of Innovation PDFA Power Tool for Creative Thinking

Want to become an innovator?

The trick is to look at the world a bit differently.

And Rowan Gibson says that all you need to do that are “The Four Lenses of Innovation.”

Who Should Read “The Four Lenses of Innovation”? And Why?

There’s an innovator inside all of us,” writes Rowan Gibson, adding that “literally everyone on Earth has the potential for creative thinking because it’s an innate human capability.

“The Four Lenses of Innovation” attempts to awake this innate capability and is for everyone who wants to make the world a more advanced or, simply, a better place.

Rowan GibsonAbout Rowan Gibson

Rowan Gibson is a consultant and bestselling author, one of the world’s leading experts on business innovation.

Labeled “Mr. Innovation,” “the Innovation Grandmaster,” and “the W. Edwards Deming of innovation” Gibson has delivered keynote speeches and seminars in over 60 countries and has authored three books translated into over 20 languages.

In addition to “The Four Lenses of Innovation,” these are “Rethinking the Future” and “Innovation to the Core.”

Gibson is also the co-founder of, one of the world’s most popular innovation websites.

“The Four Lenses of Innovation PDF Summary”

Most ancient cultures had no discernible concept of genius whatsoever.

In fact, that’s why we don’t know the name of the author of, say, “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” the very first work of literature in history.

It’s not that it was difficult to put the name of the poet above the first line of the work!

However, according to the Sumerians and many other cultures throughout history, this would have been all but a blasphemy.

After all, talents were the very definition of divine gifts, and presenting something that doesn’t belong to you as yours, is certainly not something people would admire.

Hell, even the Ancient Greeks weren’t that much above this notion!

Plato specifically, who not only didn’t like poets but also believed that it is quite easily demonstratable that they had absolutely no control over their artistry, being nothing more than simple “instruments of the Muses.”

The Romans inherited this belief, modifying it a bit and eventually ascribing all creative powers of an individual to his tutelary deity suitably named genius, i.e., household guardian spirit.

Put simply, the Romans believed that each person is part human, part divine, and that, logically, his divine nature (the genius) is the one responsible for all great works of the mind or the heart.

After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the Catholic Church ruled most of Europe for the following ten centuries, now appropriately remembered as the Dark Ages.

Following the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Catholic Church made sure that it transformed into vice all of the things we now consider virtues: individuality, originality, innovation.

During this period, it was sinful not to conform, and it was egotistic to think that you are capable of creating something: God was the only Creator, and artists and scientists were merely mediums of His Will.

And then the Renaissance came and radically changed everything!

Suddenly, God stopped being the center of the Universe, and inventiveness, all-embracing curiosity and a yearning for to-the-ends-of-the-world exploration became highly desirable traits:

Whereas the medieval mind had been severely suppressed, the Renaissance mind was set free to discover the beauty and the wonder and the significance of every possible phenomenon.

It is to the great thinkers of the Renaissance that we owe the four modes of innovative thinking or, as Rowan Gibson labels them, the four lenses of innovation which you can still use today to break through the known barriers.

These are: “challenging orthodoxies,” “harnessing trends,” “leveraging resources” and “understanding needs.”

Let’s have a look at each of them.

Key Lessons from “The Four Lenses of Innovation”

1.      The First Lens: Challenging Orthodoxies
2.      The Second Lens: Harnessing Trends
3.      The Third Lens: Leveraging Resources
4.      The Fourth Lens: Understanding Needs

The First Lens: Challenging Orthodoxies

Etymologically, “orthodoxy” means “right opinion” or “right belief” – and there’s a reason why it was considered reasonable to be orthodox for millennia.

Orthodoxies codify concepts, ideas, and best practices and they work great on the collective level.

After all, why should you question the way something is done if millions of people before you have used the same method to do it?

Orthodoxies eliminate the need to think which is great if you like to preserve mental energy for something else.

However, it is obviously not if you want to be an innovator.

And this is where many innovators start: challenging conventional modes of thinking.

Have this in mind every time somebody says that “some things are done certain way for a reason.” Analyze: what could that reason be? Is there any other way to do it? Has technology changed in the meantime to make this other way a feasible solution?

And that crazy idea that guy had some time ago… well, let’s see if it was crazy enough to work!

The Second Lens: Harnessing Trends

You don’t have to be the first to be the best.

The iPhone, the iPod, the iPad, the Apple Watch – these are all merely adaptations of products which existed before them.

And, don’t know if you remember, but Yahoo was here before Google.

The point – in many cases – is to recognize the emerging trends and focus your attention in their direction.

Innovators have been doing this for centuries: in the 1870s, no less than 23 people worldwide worked on inventing the light bulb!

In other words, be perceptive!

Analyze the trends and discover which product seems most likely to revolutionize and/or disrupt an industry.

Then, simply go for it!

The Third Lens: Leveraging Resources

They say that necessity is the mother of invention for a reason!

Case in point: when Steven Spielberg realized that he didn’t have enough money to make a mechanical shark, he decided to film the action of “Jaws” from its viewpoint!

The result?

Some of the scariest scenes ever filmed!

Similarly, even though Corning developed its Ribbon Machine process to make light bulbs, soon it started using it to make radio vacuum tubes.

So, reevaluate your resources, reexamine your skills and assets!

See what you have and whether some of the things you already own or have devised can be readapted in a way which will help you take advantage of the new markets.

More often than not, you’ll be surprised to see how much of your potential you’re not using!

The Fourth Lens: Understanding Needs

Understanding needs basically means “innovating from the customer backward.”

Or: instead of using the third lens – selling what you already have – you can also use the fourth one: providing what the others would buy.

After all, that’s why even McDonald’s is not the same everywhere: in India, you can buy Paneer Wraps from its restaurants, and in Japan there’s also a chicken veggie burger on its menu!


Because the Indian and the Japanese people said so!

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“The Four Lenses of Innovation Quotes”

Creative ideas don’t just occur to us spontaneously. (Our minds actually build them from a unique chain of associations and connections, sometimes over a considerable period of time.) Click To Tweet

Our brains save mental energy by learning and storing familiar patterns for automatic recognition and use. Click To Tweet

Many executives are afraid of the kind of reflective thinking that could lead to disruption. Click To Tweet

Try to identify and systematically question the fixed patterns that exist inside your own company and across your industry. Click To Tweet

Innovators try to solve common problems and frustrations in ways that make life easier, more convenient and more enjoyable for the customer. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“The Four Lenses of Innovation” demystifies innovation as something much more methodical and systemic than it is usually thought and presents itself as a power tool for creative thinking.

That may be true, but we kind of feel that it treats innovation as something much simpler than it actually is and that it inadvertently starts from a position it takes someone years to achieve.

Namely, the position of the highly competent and skillful intellectual with at least some kind of a vision for the future.

And that is not everyone.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

Happy Accidents PDF Summary

Happy Accidents PDFThe Transformative Power of “YES, AND” at Work and in Life

Sometimes, finding the perfect mix of freedom and dedication may seem hopeless. Many people just can’t get out of the way fast enough because they are afraid of change.

Learn more about how to adopt the right winning mentality.

Who Should Read “Happy Accidents”? And Why?

Every now and then, we fill trapped in the circle of mediocrity. We wonder what’s wrong with us and why we haven’t indulged in activities that bring us joy!

Happy Accidents” puts a label on this reality and tries to understand people’s behavior regarding the same issue.

We believe it’s suitable for the wider audience!

About David Ahearn, Frank Ford and David Wilk

Four Day WeekendWell, evidently David Ahearn, Frank Ford, and David Wilk are the co-founders of the Four Day Weekend comedy group.

“Happy Accidents PDF Summary”

What’s the deal with comedians? Well mostly, these entertainers draw on their personal experience and surroundings to think of hilarious and sarcastic jokes. Their performance is also affected by the type of audience, which is on the receiving end!

For the most part, they are solo workers. However, communication as a group has led to satisfactory results.

Working together as one means that they’ll either succeed od stumble as a group. Spending so many hours together sparks mental proximity and interdependent connection.

Betting the bottom dollar on collaboration is one of the few ways for putting an end to shallow limitations. Embracing the “Yes, I can do it” mentality chases away the negative mindset which profoundly influences a person’s ability to amuse the crowd.

Improvisation Is Key for Reaching the Stars

Even Bear Grylls – an adventurer and TV presenter said on numerous occasions that doing things off the top of your head is beneficial. If you ever end up in the wild, without proper gear or tools – the most important thing is to keep your morale up by improvisation and adapting to the environment.

In 1996, when Four Day Weekend was starting off their joint endeavors, they had to face a series of obstacles. These guys put in a lot of hard work, which eventually converted into a mentality to make good use of any happy accident.

The business community and the local authorities wholeheartedly endorsed their innovative idea, which made the path to success a bit easier. Nonetheless, there was a long road ahead of them.

How to seize every opportunity? The members of Four Day Weekend settled in Dallas. Over this transit period, they remained open to any scenario, without advocating for one turn of events. When someone offered them Fort Worth, they packed their bags and went on an adventure.

Think of spontaneity

People stuck in the daily routine, day in and day out hate to admit that opportunities are hidden behind every action. These symbols occur all the time, but not everyone has the guts to follow the same life-intensity.

Ask yourself the following question – What does that other person has that I don’t have? Probably, the one and only answer would be – ATTITUDE! Don’t let excuses stand in the way of success. A flashback to teenage years, where we bet that you’ve dismissed dozens of ideas, which could have infused some freshness into your life!

The members of Four Day Weekend after a large-scale search eventually laid their eyes on a theater which accommodated their needs. They even made a deal with the manager to take a percentage of the sales, in exchange for not paying rent.

Look at the possibilities, don’t be shooting in the dark

It’s no surprise that your colleagues or friends would like to see the organization flourish as well. The spiritedness and togetherness must be fueled with the “Yes” attitude. When you do treat people in a similar manner, you are sending positive vibes and encouragement!

Every person on this planet is eager to prove its worthiness to the world and show why their ideas should be taken into consideration. By understanding this mindset, you may be able to see the reality with different eyes.

For instance, Four Day Weekend’s members were extremely worried that their audience was using their cellphones during the show.

They later found out, that these people were just calling or texting other people, to share how amazing the show was!  

So, during the breaks, the troupe encourage the audience to post pictures of the show on their Social Media profiles. As a result of this strategy, the popularity of the comedy went from OK to WOW. In other words, the group became an overnight sensation.

Four Day Weekend’s acclamation went through the roof, which made the group aware that the success they’ve reached up to 2016 now has to be maintained.

They continued welcoming the “Yes” attitude as part of their game plan and made an effort to boost each member’s status and reputation.

Now, their focus is fixated on finding new audiences, which know how to appreciate a good joke.

Focus on Partnerships and Relationships

Prosperous businesses must be open to various relationships and links. According to Four Day Weekend having a good time and making new friends counts the most.

It’s also critical to mention that after the devastating 2001 attacks, the members of Four Day Weekend agreed to perform for the military and other groups for free.

Key Lessons from “Happy Accidents”

1.      Don’t rely on your vanity
2.      Don’t undervalue anyone
3.      Excitement springs from right actions

Don’t rely on your vanity

Put your ego to the side and show why there’s no such thing as a bad idea. If you are firm in your opinion to cooperate with other parties and show them the respect, they are due.

Most people forget this mind-blowing but straightforward concept that yields impressive results.

Don’t undervalue anyone

As you can see, everyone deserves high-merits for their involvement in a certain activity. Doing the things, you wish others should do for you, is a great way to stay humble and on the right track.

Perhaps, the bottom line is – it’s never easy to destroy someone’s restrictions including yours.

Excitement springs from right actions

First and foremost, create an atmosphere of support, where people could present their ideas without becoming a laughingstock.

Even if you dislike the proposal, work on your rejection-skills to make everyone feel like part of the team.

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“Happy Accidents Quotes”

Always remember: If this were easy, everyone would do it. Click To Tweet We never explore the exact same material, or the exact same show, or the exact same audience. There’s always a fresh space for improvement, learning, and growth. Click To Tweet We all have a unique perspective…when we honor the unique perspective of others, we are often provided a glimpse of the potential that would otherwise go unseen. Click To Tweet True collaboration teaches us to let go of our preconceived notions and instead deal with the reality of what is being offered. Click To Tweet Passion and loyalty are the two most central components to the success or failure of an organization, and both…come from feeling heard. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Well, this storytelling book filled with practical tips can make all the difference if you know how to make use of it. We were thrilled and amazed by the sense of excitement and uniqueness in each sentence.

We sincerely advise everyone to dive into this storyline and learn the benefits of adopting the right attitude.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

You Don’t Have to Be an Expert to Solve Big Problems PDF Summary

You Don’t Have to Be an Expert to Solve Big Problems PDF“I’m no expert” shouldn’t be an excuse to avoid tackling a big problem.

On the contrary – it should be a stimulus.

Because, Tapiwa Chiwewe says in an inspirational 2017 TED Talk, “You Don’t Have to Be an Expert to Solve Big Problems.”

Who Should Read “You Don’t Have to Be an Expert to Solve Big Problems”? And Why?

A nine-minute lesson in anything is always worth the time.

Hell, you need more just to take a shower!

So, do yourself a favor and skip the rationales in this case: just listen to Tapiwa Chiwewe’s inspiring TED Talk.

Even if you don’t like it, you’ll lose nothing more than 518 seconds!

Tapiwa ChiweweAbout Tapiwa Chiwewe

Tapiwa Chiwewe is a manager at IBM Research Africa with a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering from the University of Pretoria.

He began his career in academia, serving as a junior lecturer at his alma mater, but soon he moved on to CSIR (the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research), where he worked as a senior engineer in the mechatronics and micro manufacturing group.

In 2015 he joined IBM Research, where he has worked on several large-scale projects, related to solar system design, asset maintenance optimization, and, most relevantly, air quality management.

“You Don’t Have to Be an Expert to Solve Big Problems PDF Summary”

Let’s start this summary with some staggering statistics.

Namely, according to data from the World Health Organization, in 2012, household and ambient pollution was responsible for one in seven deaths worldwide, mostly, of course, in low- and middle-income countries.

Yes, that means that malaria and HIV/AIDS bring about fewer deaths than pollution; and that even in Africa, more children die from air pollution than from, say, childhood malnutrition and unsafe sanitation.

Even more, according to a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, this comes to a huge economic cost as well: almost half a trillion US dollars in 2013 alone!

Now, Tapiwa Chiwewe is a South-African computer engineer, who works as a manager of the advanced and applied AI group at IBM Research Africa, and, really, shouldn’t know – or even, as brutal as it may sound, care about – these things.

After all, there are many people in the world who are much more competent than him in the field and who, consequently and deservedly, earn money from doing just that.

And that’s what Tapiwa Chiwewe believed as well for most of his life.

However, one day, while driving to work in Johannesburg, he noticed “a haze hanging over the city,” and, as he soon realized, this haze was actually “an enormous cloud of air pollution.”

Appalled by the possibility that his beloved city of “bright and vivid sunsets” may be overrun by “a dull haze” in the future, Chiwewe decided to do something.

Of course, knowing absolutely nothing about pollution, the first thing he could do was fairly simple: learn.

And that’s how he discovered the information we listed in the introduction to this summary – in addition to, we suppose, hundreds and hundreds of similar facts.

But, obviously, that wasn’t enough: it merely proved to him that air pollution was a serious problem, and that, if untreated, it may result in an ecological catastrophe of biblical proportions.

So, Chiwewe started consulting city officials and local scientists to get to the bottom of the problem and help them find a solution together.

What he learned during the process was something nobody should ever forget:

Even if you’re not an expert in a particular domain, your outside expertise may hold the key to solving big problems within that domain. Sometimes the unique perspective you have can result in unconventional thinking that can move the needle, but you need to be bold enough to try. That’s the only way you’ll ever know.

So, you already know that this story has a somewhat happy ending.

Unsurprisingly – let us not forget, we’re dealing with a computer engineer here – the happy ending, in this case, is an “online air-quality management platform.”

Designed by Chiwewe and fed with weather and air pollution records provided by the experts, the platform uses AI and ML algorithms to detect and predict pollution trends in real-time.

Its success?

A 120-day pilot program demonstrated “a tight correlation” between the forecasting data and the data gathered on the ground.

In other words, the platform could indeed see into the future!

The benefits are numerous, and it would suffice to merely list them:

Citizens can make better decisions about their daily movements and about where to settle their families. We can predict adverse pollution events ahead of time, identify heavy polluters, and they can be ordered by the relevant authorities to scale back their operations. Through assisted scenario planning, city planners can also make better decisions about how to extend infrastructure, such as human settlements or industrial zones.

Chiwewe’s beautiful point:

The platform was the product of a collaborative effort.

Just as he couldn’t do it without the experts, the experts wouldn’t have been able to do it without him.

And he was – and still is – no expert.

So, the next time you come across a big problem – especially one which may affect you or the wellbeing of your children – don’t absolve yourself from responsibility because of a lack of expertise.

As Chiwewe’s actions have shown, you really don’t have to be an expert to help others solve even the biggest problems out there.

Key Lessons from “You Don’t Have to Be an Expert to Solve Big Problems”

1.      Air Pollution Is a Serious Problem
2.      Your Outside Expertise May Hold the Key to Solving Big Problems
3.      We Should Tackle Big Problems by Collaborating

Air Pollution Is a Serious Problem

The World Health Organization attributed almost 14 percent of all deaths worldwide to household and ambient air pollution.

In other words, air pollution is responsible for more deaths than HIV/AIDS, malaria, or malnutrition.

It’s a serious problem – and it needs to be solved!

Your Outside Expertise May Hold the Key to Solving Big Problems

Tapiwa Chiwewe is a computer engineer, but he didn’t want to sit idly aside once he noticed the smog-covered skyline of Johannesburg.

So, he contacted experts and government officials to get to the bottom of the problem.

The result?

He learned a lot from them, but they learned a lot from him too!

Namely, that it is possible to use Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning algorithms to predict pollution trends.

So, together, they built an online air-quality management platform which basically works the same way the weather forecast does!

And that magnificent thing happened because Chiwewe didn’t want to remain quiet, freeing himself from responsibility with phrases such as “I’m no expert.”

He actually wanted to do something.

And he got the opportunity.

We Should Tackle Big Problems by Collaborating

Just as genius isn’t born in isolation, great ideas rarely emerge where there is no interaction and collaboration.

So, when they read the story of our times, may future generations remember not exceptional men with extraordinary biographies, but united humanity with life-affirming goals and imperishable dreams.

Like this summary? We’d like to invite you to download our free 12 min app, for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

“You Don’t Have to Be an Expert to Solve Big Problems Quotes”

Even if you're not an expert in a particular domain, your outside expertise may hold the key to solving big problems within that domain. Click To Tweet

Sometimes the unique perspective you have can result in unconventional thinking that can move the needle, but you need to be bold enough to try. Click To Tweet

Sometimes just one fresh perspective, one new skill set, can make the conditions right for something remarkable to happen. Click To Tweet

Our willpower and imagination are a guiding light, enabling us to chart new paths and navigate through obstacles. Click To Tweet

So… the next time you find that there's some natural curiosity you have that is being piqued, and it's about something you care about, and you have some crazy or bold ideas… ask yourself this: Why not? Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Even though Tapiwa Chiwewe oversimplifies some of the barriers non-experts face when moving from one field to another, “You Don’t Have to Be an Expert to Solve Big Problems” is still a powerful message.

The bottom line is you lose nothing if you try.

And resistance and motivation shouldn’t distract you; on the contrary, they should motivate you even further.

Concise and thought-provoking.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

A More Beautiful Question PDF Summary

A More Beautiful Question PDFThe Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas

Why do teachers award children points for giving them the right answer, and not for posing a good question?

What if the point of it all is to ask a more beautiful question?

How should you do that?

Well, let’s just ask Warren Berger.

Who Should Read “A More Beautiful Question”? And Why?

Contrary to what we’ve been taught at school, the learning process is less about memorizing answers and much more about asking questions.

Warren Berger’s book is interested in finding the best ones.

Consequently, it should be an essential read for anyone who wants to become an innovative thinker, since, after all, innovation stems from asking the right questions.

And since innovation is what drives all aspects of society, dear company leaders and entrepreneurs, even dearer scientists and artists – to quote Seth Godin – “what’s keeping you from reading this book right now?”

On a side note: dearest teachers, take copious notes!

Warren BergerAbout Warren Berger

Warren Berger is an American journalist and a bestselling author, who mainly writes about topics such as creativity and innovation.

Berger has written for a wide variety of publications, among others, the “Harvard Business Review” and “Fast Company.” He was also a longtime contributor at both “The New York Times” and the “Wired” magazine.

He has authored and co-authored 11 books, one of which was the critically acclaimed “Glimmer” which “Business Week” named one of the “Best Innovation & Design Books of 2009.”

A More Beautiful Question” was published in 2014, and recently it was announced that, by the end of the year, it should be joined by a companion piece, “The Book of Beautiful Questions.

Find out more at

“A More Beautiful Question PDF Summary”

Computers are useless,” said Picasso about half a century ago. “They only give you answers.

The point is – says Warren Berger, borrowing a line from the American poet E. E. Cummings – to find “a more beautiful question.”

That’s what people such as Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs did throughout it certainly did whole humanity a favor:

The author Stuart Firestein, in his fine book ‘Ignorance: How It Drives Science,’ argues that one of the keys to scientific discovery is the willingness of scientists to embrace ignorance – and to use questions as a means of navigating through it to new discoveries.

‘One good question can give rise to several layers of answers, can inspire decades-long searches for solutions, can generate whole new fields of inquiry, and can prompt changes in entrenched thinking,’ Firestein writes. ‘Answers, on the other hand, often end the process.’

So, in a nutshell, humanity profits more from a beautiful question than from a beautiful answer.

Then, why are we living in a world of answers?

In other words, why do the inquiring children in us grow to become the adults afraid of admitting that they don’t know the answer to some question?

You’ve guessed it already:

It’s our schools’ fault!

Preschool children, on average, ask their parents about 100 questions a day,” states Professor Kyung-Hee Kim, “By middle school, they’ve pretty much stopped asking.

And it’s not like they’ve learned all the answers in the meantime!

They’ve just memorized the answers to the questions their bosses want them to know.

In other words, schools were never meant to be outlets of creativity, but merely preparatory courses for a worker’s career.

And even though Google and Wikipedia have rendered memorizing answers practically useless, children are still awarded at our schools for knowing the correct answer to a specific question.

News flash: that’s only a mouse click away!

What’s not – is the beautiful question!

And according to Warren Berger – and a series of interviews with over 100 creative thinkers in science, technology, business, and entertainment – there are three kinds of beautiful questions: why, what-if, and how queries.

Key Lessons from “A More Beautiful Question”

1.      The Naivety of a Child: Behind the Zen of a “Why?” and a “Why Not?”
2.      Dream Your Way Out of a Problem: Ask Yourself “What If?”
3.      Acquire the Perseverance of the Realist: Experiment Through the “How?”

#1. The Naivety of a Child: Behind the Zen of a “Why?” and a “Why Not?”

I know one thing,” claimed Socrates. “And that is – that I know nothing.

Well, contrary to what they’ve taught you at school, it turns out that this is a great way to think about the world – naïvely, with a fresh mind.

Take, for example, Edwin Land, the guy who co-founded the Polaroid Corporation, widely considered the Steve Jobs before Jobs.

On a family vacation in the 1940s, his three-year-old daughter asked him why she couldn’t see the photo just taken by her father.

Edwin Land knew why: the only way you could develop the film was in a dark room. But he also knew that there was another bigger why in his daughter’s question.

And that was the one which – many years later – led to the invention of the Polaroid camera.

The actual Steve Jobs – the Edwin Land after Land – firmly believed in the power of this why-oriented beginner’s mind.

And he was influenced to do so by a 1970 Zen Buddhism classic written by Shunryu Suzuki, “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.”

The mind of the beginner is empty, free of the habits of the expert,” writes Suzuki in the book. Such a mind, he adds, is “open to all possibilities” and can see things as they are.

Knowledge imposes limitations, and that kinda helps when dealing with mechanical tasks.

Want to get creative?

Step back from it by asking why.

And you can even add a great twist: why not?

#2. Dream Your Way Out of a Problem: Ask Yourself “What If?”

Once you’re done with the whys and why nots, it’s time for some dreaming.

In other words, it’s time to ask yourself the what ifs.

Discovery depends on questions such as these.

Because a “what if” question gives you the right mental foundation for a few processes which are essential when it comes to creativity, invention, and imagination: mixing, connecting, and recombining ideas.

We mentioned Einstein and Jobs before.

Do you think that their grand ideas came to them out of the blue?

Of course not!

They just recombined some old ideas in a new way, once they had the step-back luxury of a “why” or a “why not.”

Einstein’s revelation came when he asked himself a fairly childlike question: “What if you could travel on a motorcycle at the speed of light?”

#3. Acquire the Perseverance of the Realist: Experiment Through the “How?”

Of course, once you’ve dealt with the whys and the what ifs – and moved from freshness of naivety to the endlessness of dreaming, it’s time that you transform your knowledge into something much more tangible.

In other words, it’s time for the how.

Of course, this third stage of the “actionable inquiry” process is the most difficult one, since it requires time, knowledge, experimentation, and a lot of endurance.

But, persevere long enough – and the sky is your limit.

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“A More Beautiful Question Quotes”

Don’t just teach your children to read. Teach them to question what they read. Teach them to question everything. Click To Tweet

The main premise of appreciative inquiry is that positive questions, focusing on strengths and assets, tend to yield more effective results than negative questions focusing on problems or deficits. Click To Tweet

Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air, and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you. Click To Tweet

I’ve always been very concerned with democracy. If you can’t imagine you could be wrong, what’s the point of democracy? And if you can’t imagine how or why others think differently, then how could you tolerate democracy? Click To Tweet

What if our schools could train students to be better lifelong learners and better adapters to change, by enabling them to be better questioners? Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

The best way to get the answers you need is to ask the questions you want to have answered.

And asking the right questions – as Warren Berger demonstrates in this book – is an art, and one of the highest order.

Thought-provoking and practical, rife with real-world examples and inspiring anecdotes, “A More Beautiful Question” is a fascinating book.

Possibly even of the kind that may make you question your present and inspire you to start working toward a better future.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

Perceptual Intelligence PDF Summary

Perceptual Intelligence PDFThe Brain’s Secret to Seeing Past Illusion, Misperception, and Self-Deception

Rest assured that the brain will process the information, as accurately as possible. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Our mental concepts that we acquired or developed are significantly affecting our judging notion.

In this book summary, you’ll rub your face in the dangers of adopting a tendentious point of view.

Who Should Read “Perceptual Intelligence”? And Why?

By now, you probably understand that there is more than one type of intelligence. People differ from one another in all aspects, and that includes the mental capabilities.

Perceptual Intelligence concerns us all, and in truth, we should be worried as well. We believe that this book is a great asset for all people, especially those who are trapped in the circle of biased decision-making.

If you are aware of your misleading agenda, this masterpiece will open your eyes.

About Brian Boxer Wachler

Brian Boxer WachlerBrian Boxer Wachler currently works at Cedars Sinai Medical Center as a staff physician.

“Perceptual Intelligence PDF Summary”

Is your reality, the actual truth? Can it be that we all have shown just a glimpse of our perspectives? Perhaps, it’s just our imagination, around which we build our lives and future.

What if, these tendencies have deluded you, and your real perception is biased? – Taking into account all these matters is the perfect recipe for discovering the Perceptual Intelligence from another angle – PI.

This discipline meets both science and philosophy on controversial grounds. It takes personal experience as well as mental sharpness to combine these branches of knowledge that are likely to generate sympathy and acceptance.

Let’s put it in plain English – Each person responds/reacts differently to the same situation. PI has a massive role in developing a mindset, which serves as an engine for perceiving the world and then conducting in-depth processing of the data collected through the senses.

PI can be subdivided into two aspects:

  • Perception
  • Interpretation.

Here’s how the process is set in motion: As we mentioned, through the senses (consisting of receptor cells), a person perceives the outer world or the worldly sensations.

Afterward, the information gathered is transformed into some kind of “electrochemical signal,” which is then passed on to the brain.

To streamline this process, we have unconsciously developed mental concepts, to process the information much quicker.

In other words, when a certain electrochemical signal arrives at the desired destination, the brain already has a reaction in place, without diving into too much evaluation.

As far as the psychological aspect is concerned, many people still remain skeptical, and unwilling to climb on board. Distorting reality as a process, not always can be separated from periodical illusions, which are mind driven.

It is of critical value to underline some conditions that may affect these tendencies such as “physical status,” “sleep deprivation or paralysis,” and others. So, how high or low is your PI, depends on only one thing – How well do you deal with false impressions and figments of your imagination!

The philosophy of the human existence also plunges into the discussion about Perceptual Intelligence. For instance, what are your thoughts on death, and whether your religion does the job for you?

Take your time, and make up your mind, but don’t jump into conclusion, without taking the facts into account.

Perceptual Intelligence has a pivotal role in many other areas such as athletics. As a matter of fact, are you one of these people who’ll start off next Monday? – All joking aside, this type of intelligence, adds to your laziness or energizes you to jump off that bed and start the workout.

People feel great after a workout, because the brain releases endorphins, as a reaction to physical and mental efforts. Team sports, on the other hand, also rely on the high PI.

What this does is digging up the external factors which can affect the PI, and shape the process of analyzing the information.

Believers and Non-Believers are forming a mental image and are forcing their minds to see the patterns, which they consider trustworthy and relevant.

If you are not primed to fill in, as a long-lasting solution, you can at least try to see the truth from an impartial standpoint. Only then you can be regarded as a person of High PI.

Scarcity is undoubtedly affecting and influencing the level of your PI. For instance, you so badly want to buy a new car, but you don’t have any money.

This exaggerates the value of the vehicle, by making it look more appealing, majestic and impressive. Or, if you are not given access to a certain area, that makes you even more eager to look behind that door.

Remember Dee Dee, from Dexter’s laboratory – well it’s the same thing. If something is prohibited, it makes us wonder what would happen if we don’t follow the rules.

It would be totally ignorant of the author to neglect the performance in the office because it is a relevant element have a part in determining PI. Are you familiar with the saying – We are just sheep in the herd? – It’s true; people would do almost anything (even blindfolded) to be accepted by the group.

Individuals with higher Perceptual Intelligence disregard these warnings and act on their own. The idea is not to stand out from the rest of the group but to avoid imitations of others.

People with a lower PI, tend to mimic the environment, without casting doubt upon the collective practices.

Being yourself is in fact, the only advice that’s worth anything, to be marked as a high PI person.

Key Lessons from “Perceptual Intelligence”

1.      The dangers of following an agenda
2.      Stay away from religious conclusions
3.      Team sports in the spotlight

The dangers of following an agenda

Cult leaders have managed to brainwash members and young people, and thus influenced their judgmental abilities. This way, they create a new sense of reality, one that matched the group’s intentions and agenda.

They are no longer capable of separating facts from opinion because everything they do is not self-directed.

Stay away from religious conclusions

In the light of many examples Brian Boxer Wachler has expressed, it can be said that religion also adds to the misinterpretation of reality.

People are willingly giving their contribution to the collective cause, which deteriorates the Perceptual Intelligence.  

Team sports in the spotlight

The goal is to spark that team cohesion and synergy, without which the group cannot put a great display of their capabilities.

Perceptual Intelligence can enhance team performance, and lead to better long-term results.  

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“Perceptual Intelligence Quotes”

I’ve seen different definitions of perceptual intelligence…but I like to think of it as how we interpret and occasionally manipulate our experiences to distinguish fantasy from reality. Click To Tweet Interpreting what we experience…requires something much greater than perception alone. Click To Tweet Daily we are surrounded by images that get tucked away in our memory banks. Click To Tweet We all sense reality through our own perceptual filters. Click To Tweet The key is being aware and accepting of ideas that strike us (and others) for no reason, even if they seem crazy or go against the grain. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

The value of Perceptual Intelligence is a foregone conclusion. We have to fight with this ignorance that has swept the world and expand our wisdom with the right actions.

Staying flexible, and open to all possibilities because that will give you the edge in any situation.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

The Seat of the Soul PDF Summary

The Seat of the Soul PDFWho can identify the location of the soul? – Even if you are an atheist, you must have asked yourself – What’s the purpose of this existence?

What am I doing here?

We encapsulate Gary’s most profound revelations and key takeaways.

Who Should Read “The Seat of the Soul”? And Why?

Extolling the virtues of others or yourself doesn’t quite reflect your politeness. The real strength derives from silence, and the ability to plunge into psychological war and drill down to the core of your intentions.

The Seat of the Soul” deserves all the praises, and as such, it’s suitable for the broader audience, regardless of cultural, personal, or religious background.

About Gary Zukav

Gary ZukavGary Zukav is an award-winning author of several best sellers. He has appeared on numerous occasions on Oprah Talk Show, sharing his views and main findings.

He also wrote:  Self-Empowerment Journal, The Mind of the Soul, Soul Stories, The Dancing Wu Li Masters, etc.

“The Seat of the Soul PDF Summary”

The Seat of the Soul gives the readers a highly unusual mix of disciplines, which endorse the idea of discovering the primary purpose of this existence.

The blend of spirituality, knowledge (science) and philosophy allows each and everyone to get a glimpse of the evolutionary process, which signifies the human development in psychological and spiritual terms.

Behind closed doors, the author emphasizes the value of getting the big picture regarding the internal shift that is about to take place.

Switching off the external perspective, and embracing the broader sense of self, best illustrates what the author is trying to convey.

Generally speaking, all the knowledge acquired through the capabilities of the senses, represents what is known as – the external power. According to Gary Zukav, this influence is variable, and it can be changed in a flash.

To put it in other words, whatever is floating around, can be absorbed by various individuals. Furthermore, this process defies the concept of uniqueness and opposes the idea of self-knowingness. Generally speaking, this know-how or expertise can evaporate just as easy, as it once came.

Changing the world begins with the very personal process of changing yourself, the only place you can begin is where you are, and the only time you can begin is always now.

It’s in the interest of the society to put an accent on the internal forces because that’s the only way to find our hidden treasure.

A down-to-earth approach is not sufficient to handle the difficulties that are just waiting to pop up. Hardship and struggle can be erased only if you have a clue about your inner powers and how to use them.

The evolution that we talk about so often, and what the kids learn in school, is in fact, the same process of human development – referred to as a physical enhancement.

The process of progression from single-cell organisms to conscious human beings is merely an illustration of this evolution.

The body and mind of all creatures on this planet have reached a phase, which either supports or neglects their superiority over other beings.

For instance, a cow is much more evolved than a worm or a fish. To get to the bottom of this enigma, one must thrive on digging deep and finding unknown secrets.   

The author puts in the spotlight the authenticity of knowing thyself and encourages you to dig deep until you find the roots of existence. Unfortunately, this authentic power can neither be traded nor earned. It’s neither inherited nor found, it’s simply there, where the core of your being is.

An authentically powered person lives in love. Love is the energy of the soul. Love is what heals the personality. There is nothing that cannot be healed by love. There is nothing but love.

A person who identifies with this revelation is unmistakably empowered to change the human behavior, by neither acting nor portraying anyone as a victim.

Being an easy target doesn’t make you an authentic person at all. If you are bold and eager to identify with your deepest self, nothing can stop you.

We are inclined to agree and go along with many concepts that don’t apply to our views. The real question is – Is evolution restricted to the lifespan, and does it have beginnings and ends?

There are two sides to any story, and this theory is no different.

The external reality that is promoted and shared through the senses is attached to the body and its life-period. This personality can’t go beyond the superficial existence as a form and rubs its face into the five-sensory perspective.

From another point of view, what any monotheistic religion refer to as a soul, can outlast this lifetime, and extended the evolution by a fraction.

The immortality of the soul and its synchronization with an identity proves that beyond the physical form, there’s a higher source of power.

Gary expands on karma and reincarnation, and how these two abstract phenomena are intertwined with evolution. The physical battlefield is filled with shallow energies, whose intentions don’t allow the real power to kick in.  

The critical level in understanding the full picture of evolution can be reached, only if you pay exclusive attention to your deepest intentions. If you are aware of them, you’ll never be at the mercy of negative people and evil agendas.

Key Lessons from “The Seat of the Soul”

1.      Love conquers all
2.      Lead the way
3.      Think smart, and find the deeper meaning in everything

Love conquers all

Every experience in life subtly is bringing your personality closer to your soul. A perfect alignment would clear the path to internal harmony and mental stability.

The physical aspect, on the other hand, must not be sidestepped, especially if you intend to explore the meaning of love.  

Lead the way

No matter how bitter the truth is, it’s always much more beneficial than comfortable lies.

If you want honesty to back up your decision-making, you must be willing to push yourself to the limit and destroy the hidden fears.

Think smart, and find the deeper meaning in everything

We form our opinion in correlation with the outer and the inner world.

You must gird your loins to get the most out of this existence and free yourself from ignorant thinking patterns.

Like this summary? We’d Like to invite you to download our free 12 min app, for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

“The Seat of the Soul Quotes”

Eventually, you will come to understand that love heals everything, and love is all there is. Click To Tweet Nonsense is that which does not fit into the prearranged patterns which we have superimposed on reality...Nonsense is nonsense only when we have not yet found that point of view from which it makes sense. Click To Tweet If you want to have the kind of relationship that your heart yearns for, you have to create it. You can't depend on somebody else creating it for you. Click To Tweet What is nonsense, and what is not, then, may be merely a matter of perspective. Click To Tweet Acceptance without proof is the fundamental characteristic of Western religion, rejection without proof is the fundamental characteristic of Western science. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Gary is no stranger to the public, and his words have touched millions of hearts. From the bottom of ours, we believe that this book has a story to tell.

Even though it discloses many scientific secrets, the main philosophy is fueled by simplicity and broadness.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

Hackers and Painters Summary

Big Ideas from the Computer Age

As far as you’re concerned, the world of intellect is sharply divided between two kinds of people: the math nerds and the creative type. And there’s nothing similar between them since each group is interested in two entirely different things.

In “Hackers and Painters,” Paul Graham asks: “Oh, really!?”

Who Should Read “Hackers and Painters”? And Why?

One of the strangest questions you can ask when books such as “Hackers and Painters” are the topic of discussion.

It really feels like a centaur-book. Namely, the first half of it is more accessible and should be interesting to people who want to get to know with the hacker culture better. Since there are few start-up tips and tricks, entrepreneurs will have a reason to have a look at this part as well.

However, the second half is much more technical and will be much less attractive to non-professionals. Programmers and hackers, however, will enjoy it.

About Paul Graham

Paul Graham is an English essayist and author, entrepreneur and CEO, computer scientist and philosopher. His broad interests and diverse skills have granted him the nickname “hacker philosopher.”

Graham has so far co-founded Viaweb (which was eventually sold to Yahoo! and renamed Yahoo! Store) and Y Combinator, an American seed accelerator. His blog,, is extremely popular among hackers and computer scientists.

He has authored two more programming books: “On Lisp” and “ANSI Common Lisp.”

“Hackers and Painters Summary”

Let’s warm you up with the first of our two simple tests.

First, picture a hacker. Did that?

OK, now imagine a painter. Done?

Finally, compare the two.

No comparison, right?

Because as few movies from the early age of computers taught us – yes, we’re mostly talking about the one which first made us dream of Angelina Jolie in a dress – hackers are mischievous video-games-addicted coders capable of breaking into any system imaginable.

You know, the guys you should be afraid of because, if they wanted to, they could steal all your money or sensitive photos in a blink.

Media coverage of the Pirate Bay trials, massive leaks of celebrity photos such as Celebgate, and people like Kim Dotcom certainly don’t help anyone change their perception.

As for painters – there’s an archetype there too. Still misunderstood, but an inspired genius, nevertheless, an eccentric profoundly interested in creating order out of chaos, beauty out of ordinariness.

Well, guess what?

Paul Graham, the author of “Hackers and Painters,” has a B.A. in Philosophy, a Ph. D. in Computer Science, and has also studied painting at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence.

And, as far as he’s concerned, hackers and painters are actually much more similar than hackers and mathematicians.

But you’ll probably understand the comparison better if you redefine the archetypal image of the hacker in your mind. And the proper definition of “hacker” may help.

Via Wikipedia: a hacker is an individual who enjoys “the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming limitations of software systems to achieve novel and clever outcomes.”

Change “software systems” to, say, “visual media” and you get a definition of what it means to be a painter, don’t you?

Another thing painters and hackers have in common: both of them are usually unpopular in high school.


Well, because they are uninterested in things that are seasonal, be it fashion or morals. Some things change, they intuitively know, while others never do. And since they are smart, they choose to dedicate their time to the latter.

Can you blame them?

Sacrificing four years to insults and solitude for a lifetime of knowledge and a shot at immortality is worthwhile.

It’s you who are in the wrong.

Which brings us to the second test Paul Graham has prepared for you:

“Do you have any opinions that you would be reluctant to express in front of a group of your peers?”

We’ll quote you Graham’s answer in full:

“If the answer is no, you might want to stop and think about that. If everything you believe is something you’re supposed to believe, could that possibly be a coincidence? Odds are it isn’t. Odds are you just think whatever you’re told.”

Well, hackers and painters don’t. You may think of them as nerds or eccentrics, but actually, they are much more rebellious than you’ll ever be.

Originality, after all, is nothing more but an act of transgressing the limitations. If these are humanmade – i.e., the law – they aren’t perfect. So, it’s worth experimenting around them.

Painters do that.

Hackers do that as well.

And just a small number of the latter wear the black hat. The other, just like Picasso or Dali, are merely interested in the limitations of the systems which proceeded them.

Because the ways they can be hacked are actually the same ways which will improve them.

Key Lessons from “Hackers and Painters”

1.      The Freaks and Geeks of the World: Painters and Hackers
2.      Painters and Hackers Are More Similar Than You Think
3.      It’s All About the Feedback

The Freaks and Geeks of the World: Painters and Hackers

In high school, there are at least two groups of people who don’t really belong anywhere. They are neither fashionable nor adhere to social conventions. And they are so focused on what they’re doing that they are sometimes too dull to even talk to them.

The first group consists of those peculiarly dressed art types who spend most of their math classes sketching things – since they don’t really care about equations.

The second, on the other hand, is comprised of math geniuses who know how to solve these equations the second they look at them.

The freaks and the geeks.

The interesting thing: Paul Graham is both.

Before you say “you must have had a difficult time in high school, Paul,” take a second and compare your life to Graham’s life at the present moment.

That’s right.

The freaks have inherited the earth.

Painters and Hackers Are More Similar Than You Think

At first glance, painters and hackers have nothing to share between them. After all, the least favorite subject of either group is usually the one the other group thrives in.

Artists are not good at math; oftentimes, hackers can’t really draw a straight line.

However, hackers and painters have much more in common than you’d think.

For example, as is most apparent, both are uninterested in fashion. A less obvious similarity between them is the fact that both think that morals are seasonal. Possibly even counter-intuitive (and, yet, true) both are more rebellious than both delinquents and jocks.


Well, both are interested profoundly in how to transgress the limitations of a system. That’s why you usually think of hackers as criminals. And the reality is – if art composition rules were laws, Picasso would have been tried.

It’s All About the Feedback

Finally, both hackers and painters only are successful if they create something good. Or, in other words, something other people will like.

The end opinion is what matters.

That’s why it’s better to go through the trial-and-error test regularly. Whether a program or a painting – create it, see the reaction, and then improve it.

It’s worked for many.

It’ll work for you as well.

Like this summary? We’d like to invite you to download our free 12 min app, for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

“Hackers and Painters Quotes”

There are few sources of energy so powerful as a procrastinating college student. Click To Tweet Object-oriented programming offers a sustainable way to write spaghetti code. It lets you accrete programs as a series of patches. Click To Tweet The recipe for great work is: very exacting taste, plus the ability to gratify it. Click To Tweet The main reason nerds are unpopular is that they have other things to think about. Click To Tweet In business, there is nothing more valuable than a technical advantage your competitors don’t understand. In business, as in war, surprise is worth as much as force. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“Hackers and Painters” is one of the very few books of its kind – if not the only one. After all, there aren’t many people with Paul Graham’s background in the world, so not many can write a book like this.

However, Graham seems to forget that he’s the exception (and not the rule) which results in few flawed comparisons and forced arguments. And, truth be told, the book reads more like a collection of essays than a cohesively structured unit.

By the time you reach the end, you’ll wonder why isn’t the book called, “Lisp, the Language of the Future”? However, the writing style and the first half of the book makes up for it.

Or the other way around – if you’re a hacker.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

Humans Are Underrated PDF Summary

Humans are Underrated PDFWhat High Achievers Know that Brilliant Machines Never Will

You know him as the author of the brilliant “Talent Is Overrated.” Now, Geoff Colvin is back with an update: In “Humans Are Underrated,” he explains how talent is not the only thing you can – and should – develop.

Because the machines are coming, and because, as perfect as they are, humans have an advantage in many fields. Learn who they are and how you can benefit.

Who Should Read “Humans Are Underrated”? And Why?

If you’ve read this article and found your job somewhere near the top of the least safe job list – you may be already in a panic. After all – how are you supposed to win against a machine?

Well, “Humans Are Underrated” is here to alleviate your anxiety. It explains what in which ways computers will one day surpass us and which ways they will never be able to.

In other words, even in the worst-case scenario, this book can teach you which skills you should focus on to become indispensable in the future job market.

About Geoff Colvin

Geoff ColvinGeoff Colvin is an American journalist, broadcaster, motivational speaker and senior editor-at-large for “Fortune.” He has written hundreds of articles for the magazine, including the very popular regular column “Value Driven.”

A frequent TV show and radio guest, Colvin graduated summa cum laude from Harvard, receiving a B. A. in economics, before obtaining an M.B.A. from New York University’s Stern School.

He has authored four books so far: “Angel Customers & Demon Customers,” “The Upside of the Downturn,” “Talent Is Overrated” and “Humans Are Underrated.”


“Humans Are Underrated PDF Summary”

Sure, you know that twenty years ago you had to wait about a minute for your dial-up to download a 200px image and that twenty years before only few hundred people on the planet even bothered to buy a computer.

Still – it’s almost impossible to imagine how fast computers increase their power!

American computer scientist, William Nelson Joy, has provided us with an excellent way to think about it.

You walk – he points out – at an average speed of 3 miles per hour. Usain Bolt’s speed has been clocked at about 30 mph. Finally, the fastest planes in the world can fly at a speed of about 3000 mph.

In other words, a plane is faster than the fastest man alive by a factor of 100 and is a thousand times faster than you walking from point A to point B.

Now, get this!

It systems increase their computing power by a factor of 100 every two years. Which amounts to a factor of 1,000,000 if we make the comparison over a four-decade-long period!

Translated back into our analogy, this means that, by now, if the plane industry developed similarly, we should have already developed a plane able to fly around the Earth in no more than two seconds!

We just can’t get our heads around the numbers, exclaims Geoff Calvin!

But they are the real numbers, and, interestingly enough, they were accurately predicted as early as 1965 by Gordon Moore.

Fortunately for humans, the trend can’t go on indefinitely (due to space limitations), but half a century since the original prediction, it still sounds more like a natural law than a projection.

But, why did we say “fortunately for humans”? After all, you’re reading this because of the accuracy of Moore’s law.

Well, because computers are developing so fast that unless homo sapiens evolve into homo deus in few years, we stand no chance defeating them in almost any field whatsoever.

And if we can’t compete against computers in most areas, maybe, you’d think, we’d better hold on to that “almost” from the previous sentence.

Let’s find where we’re better at and where computers are inherently incapable of improving.

Hold your horses!

Computers are now able to write poems, beat Kasparov in chess, and even accurately read human emotions!

Emotions! The first thing you’d say if asked what is the thing which distinguishes computers and humans most!

Elon Musk may be right: the Dooms Day is near!

No – says Geoff Calvin. It’s just a wrong way to posit the problem.

We shouldn’t ask ourselves what the computers can’t do, because they are developing so fast that what is true today may be false in less than a year.

Instead, we should ask ourselves what humans are most driven to do. Or, to put it differently, what we must do even if a computer can do it as well.

Geoff Calvin has discerned five categories where improving will not only make you a more valuable asset in the workplace of the future but will also help you remain human in an increasingly inhuman world.

First of all, empathy, the foundation of all else. It consists of two elements: understanding the feelings of the other and reacting in an appropriate manner. It’s what we crave for – it’s what computers will never be able to imitate.

Because even if a computer is capable of doing everything right, it will not convince us that he feels for us. Because, after all, there’s no pleasure in winning a game if you know that the others let you win it.

Next, teamwork. It’s, once again, something that computers may be programmed to do; but, also something that, really, makes no sense if you don’t put the effort.

And when we do, we create something spectacular: a cohesive group capable of winning even against a less unified team of far more skilled individuals.

Thirdly, storytelling. The foundation of Rolf Jensen’s dream society.


Because we are born with an inherent need to tell stories. And because, even when it is not true, we like a good story much better than logic and facts.

Let’s just let computers rule the latter. We’ll deal with the former.

Fourthly, creativity.

True, computers can be creative. But humans are better at randomness and serendipity. And that’s the basis of creativity.

Finally, relationships.

No need for further explanation, we suppose. This one’s the difference between animals and humans, between humans and humanity.

Key Lessons from “Humans Are Underrated”

1.      Computing Power Increases at Incredible Rates
2.      Don’t Ask What Computers Can’t Do…
3.      …Ask What We Must Do Even If Computers Do It Too

Computing Power Increases at Incredible Rates

About half a century ago, Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Intel, published a paper which stated that the number of components per integrated circuit is doubled every two years. And it predicted that this trend will continue in the future.

It has. And it has resulted in today’s computers being 1,000,000 times faster and more efficient than those from forty years ago!

Don’t bother trying to grasp what that actually means. Let’s just say that it’s a lot.

Don’t Ask What Computers Can’t Do…

Consequently, asking what computers can’t do is the wrong way to look at things.

They develop so fast that even if they are incapable of doing something today, they may be able of doing it perfectly in no more than few years.

As Randall Munroe’s webcomic xkcd has shown to us a couple of times before, this is something that has been proven over and over again.

…Ask What We Must Do Even If Computers Do It Too

Now, if you start with the premise that computers will one day be able of doing everything, it’s a lot easier to detect what you should start doing now to not be made obsolete by computers in the future.

And the answer is relatively simple: the things you must do as a human, even if computers one day learn to do them as well.

Empathy is the foremost example. No matter how good computers are at empathizing, their empathy will always be programmed and, thus, fake.

The good news?

The same holds true for four other human qualities: teamwork, storytelling, creativity, and relationships.

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Humans Are Underrated Quotes

As the shift in valuable skills continues, organizations are finding not only that they have no jobs for the disengaged and socially inept, but that such people are toxic to the enterprise and must be removed. Click To Tweet Google’s autonomous cars are an obvious and significant example—significant because the number one job among American men is truck driver. Click To Tweet As technology takes over more of our work… the people who master the human abilities that are fading all around us will be the most valuable people in our world. Click To Tweet Computing power increases by a factor of a million in forty years. The computing visionary Bill Joy likes to point out that jet travel is faster than walking by a factor of one hundred, and it changed the world. Click To Tweet The right kind of narrative, told by a person, is mightier than logic. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Humans Are Underrated” is a fresh and original take on something many people have grappled with: how to deal with the advent of AI?

His response is almost counter-intuitive. Unlike other writers on the subject, Geoff Colvin doesn’t really care what computers are incapable of doing; he cares what humans must do even if computers develop so much that they are able to do it too.

Well-researched and superbly written, “Humans Are Underrated” is both a thought-provoking and highly practical book.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

Ignore Everybody Summary

Ignore Everybody SummaryAnd 39 Other Keys to Creativity

Creativity is a mysterious force. You may think that it’s a question of whether you have it or not, but according to Hugh MacLeod, it’s actually one of whether you’ll use it or not.

If you want to learn how he’s a good guy to listen to. And in our “Ignore Everybody summary”, we have a look at each of his 40 keys to creativity.

Who Should Read “Ignore Everybody”? And Why?

“Ignore Everybody” is specifically intended for creative types. True, some of the advises you’ll read here are applicable in other situations as well, but don’t bother if you’re not a writer, a musician, a painter, an architect.

If you are – use this book as a constant reminder. Because sometimes you’ll get an urge to quit your day job – and that’s when you’ll like to remind yourself of MacLeod’s Key #8. And when inevitably you’ll start suffering from writer’s block, Key #25 will certainly help you get over it.

About Hugh MacLeod

Hugh MacLeodHugh MacLeod is an American author and cartoonist.

He worked as an advertising copywriter for a decade before deciding to focus solely on his ultra-popular blog,, where he first published cartoons and then started writing about marketing as well.

In 2004, he published “Ignore Everybody” and “The Hughtrain.” Since then, he’s also authored two more books, “Evil Plans” and “Freedom is Blogging in Your Underwear.”

He regularly lectures on the effects of the Web 2.0 paradigm on modern businesses.

“Ignore Everybody Summary”

If the full title of a book is “Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity,” you can’t be blamed for expecting 40 new items in your creativity toolkit.

And, let’s face it, we can’t think of you as a genius of some sort if you’ve already guessed the first one. Or the fact that we’ll list all 40 of them in a second.


Let’s go!

1. Ignore everybody.

That’s the basic premise of Hugh MacLeod’s book: if you want to become something important, you need to be able to ignore everybody.

It’s basically a paradox: the better your idea is, the more original artist you are, the less applicable the advice of those around you will be.

Just think of all the Van Goghs and Mozarts from history who died penniless because they believed what others told them!

You mustn’t repeat their mistake. If you think you’re on to something, you’re probably the only person who knows that.

Keep walking the path.

2. The idea doesn’t have to be big; it just has to be yours.

Joseph Campbell said it best: follow your bliss.

We could have emphasized the second of these three words, but I guess you don’t need us to do that. It’s simple: copying a Mona Lisa will make you an epigone of Da Vinci, which is a fancy word for saying that you won’t pass the plagiarism test of history.

But drawing a mouse – and drawing it nice – will make you original. And, more importantly, yourself.

3. Put the hours in.

Remember the talented guy who sat next to you in Literature and wrote so much better than you ever will?

Well, allow us to enlighten you: he was probably just working much more than you. Because even Mozart wasn’t as talented as you think: he just put the hours in.

4. Good ideas have lonely childhoods.

Back to 1, we guess. So, there’s no need of much explaining: if you’re original, don’t expect to be understood. On the contrary, the better your idea is, the less audience you will have.

5. If your business plan depends on some big shot discovering you, your plan will probably fail.

Oh, come on – it’s the 21st century!

What did you expect? That someone will come knocking at your door and offer you a million dollars for your debut novel?

Learn to art-think.

6. You are responsible for your own experience.

“No one can tell you if it is good or meaningful or worthwhile.   The more compelling the path, the more lonely it is.”

Yes, that quote is taken right out of this book! You can tweet it right away – just go to our Quotes section.

7. Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.

In other words: remember kindergarten? Remember how much you loved drawing? Come high school, and they suddenly took away your crayons.

And you forgot how much you liked them. Take them back. Just listen to the voice inside you saying: ‘’I’d like my crayons back, please.”

8. Keep your day job.

Now, don’t expect to earn money as an artist straight from the bat.

So, be aware that if you’re an artist, you probably are a person with two different jobs: 1) “sex” ­– which is your sexy, creative job; and 2) “cash” – which is the one which gets you the money.

Chances are – the more original you are, the less likely you’ll merge the two jobs into one.

So – juggle with them!

9. Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.

The title of this chapter is so long that we don’t even need to explain it. We’ll let one of our summaries do that instead.

10. Everybody has their own Mount Everest to climb.

There’s no cure-all solution to your creativity problems: your Mount Everest is different from the one others have climbed.

Try climbing it yourself – even if you don’t get to the top, it will be a pleasurable experience!

We promise.

11. The more talented somebody is, the less they need props.

Steven Spielberg didn’t have money to pay for a model of a shark in “Jaws.” His idea: to shoot from its viewpoint.

So, the camera became the shark and “Jaws” one of the scariest films ever.

12. Don’t try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.

Have you heard about crowd mentality? Then, does MacLeod really has to tell you this? As far as artists are concerned, there’s no wisdom in any crowd.

13. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.

Buddhists say this for millennia. MacLeod says: they’re right!

14. Never compare your inside with somebody else’s outside.

You are the only one who knows what’s happening inside you. And the most you know about the people around you is what happens to them based on their outside.

Don’t make comparisons: there may be storms below the calmest faces. And saddest stories under the shiniest smiles.

15. Dying young is overrated.

It really is. Because it adds nothing to your art you’ll be able to appreciate.

16. The most important thing a creative person can do is to learn professionally where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do and what you are not.

You’re really making it easy for us, Hugh!

17. The world is changing.

Constantly. So, don’t expect the old formulas to be applicable both today and tomorrow. Try to adapt.

18. Merit can be bought. Passion can’t.

You know what Angela Duckworth says, right: passion breeds perseverance and the latter breeds greatness.

So, do what you’re most passionate about!

19. Avoid the Watercooler Gang.

Sure you know the Watercooler Gang! They are the guys who try to get you down whenever you’re up. Someone likes your song? They are the ones who say: “So what: many musicians have been one-hit wonders!”

Let us spell that out for you:

A-V-O-I-D! Avoid them!

20. Sing in your own voice.

For someone who favors originality so much, MacLeod is a bit unoriginal. See 1, 2, 4, etc.

21. The choice of media is irrelevant.

It is. Once again – the only thing you need is a medium you’d be interested in. Creativity can be fashioned in all of them.

22. Selling out is harder than it looks.

First of all, because of what we said in 5. And secondly, because of what we said in 1, 2, 4, 20…

23. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.

Yeah… yeah… we know by now. Ignore everybody.

24. Worrying about “Commercial vs. Artistic” is a complete waste of time.

This is related to 22. And it’s kind of important.

Because people seem to think that if you’re commercial, you’re probably unartistic.

Guess what?

There’s no more commercial writer than Shakespeare, no more popular band than The Beatles, no more profitable artist than Picasso or Dali.

The point is: you won’t know if you’re making something popular or not for most of the time. Because it’s impossible to guess.

25. Don’t worry about inspiration. It comes eventually.

Suffering from a writer’s block? That merely means you have nothing to say at the moment.

How long do you think that will last?

A month? A year? Three years?

The less you worry about it, the faster it will pass.

26. You have to find your own schtick.

Now, this is getting rather obvious: be original and true to yourself. We get it, Hugh.

27. Write from the heart.

If it sounds like a cliché, that’s because it is. And it is – because it’s been proven correct numerous times in the past.

28. The best way to get approval is not to need it.

One of the first lessons you’ll learn from “The Art of Seduction.” The same is true with art itself.

29. Power is never given. Power is taken.

That is: you are not a passive participant in this.

30. Whatever choice you make, the Devil gets his due eventually.

It may seem unfair, but it happens: sooner or later, something bad will happen. You know – the Big Crash. Face it.

31. The hardest part of being creative is getting used to it.

Tell me about it!

I can’t get used to eating vegetables every day, let alone pushing myself to the limits of my creativity. Speaking of which –

32. Remain frugal.

The less energy you spend today, the more you have for tomorrow. So, unless you are a Stephen King type of guy, don’t be too prolific.

33. Allow your work to age with you.

The world is changing. So are you. So should your work.

34. Being poor sucks.

Of course it does! That’s why – see 8.

35. Beware of turning hobbies into jobs.

As we said – see 8!

36. Savor obscurity while it lasts.

Want to be famous? You know that fame comes with a price, right? So, there’s an upside to your current obscurity!

37. Start blogging.

You need absolutely nothing to start blogging. So, why don’t you?

38. Meaning scales, people don’t.

Shakespeare didn’t write many of the things your teacher says that he did. You know why? Because the meaning of what he did changed simultaneously with the world. Even though Shakespeare died way before Eagleton wondered if the Witches in “Macbeth” form a communist sisterhood.

39. When your dreams become reality, they are no longer your dreams.

Well put.

40. None of this is rocket science.

Even better.

Key Lessons from “Ignore Everybody”

1.      Be True to Yourself and, Thus, Original
2.      Art Won’t Pay the Bills Until You Get Famous
3.      When You Do – Don’t Forget Us

Be True to Yourself and, Thus, Original

You know why DNA sampling works?

Because everyone has a different DNA. And when you add to this fact the fact that you actually are your DNA, you realize that, according to science, you are a unique being.

So, your artistic creed should be by now obvious: be true to yourself.

Because if you are – you’ll also be original.

Art Won’t Pay the Bills Until You Get Famous

The Beatles said something along these lines, and there’s no need to quote them here. No need to explain either: only a small part of the artists currently working in the world will really make it!

But are you in it for the money?

If so – then you are not an artist. If not – then you need to be something more than it. In other words, a man with two jobs: a sexy, creative one, and one that gets you the money to be able to work on the former.

Bear that in mind. Until you get famous, that is.

When You Do – Don’t Forget Us

When you do become famous, and your dreams become a reality, please don’t be one of those guys who suddenly forget who they were before they were famous.

Because – after all – being true to yourself is what got you there.

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“Ignore Everybody Quotes”

Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Being suddenly hit years later with the 'creative bug' is just a wee voice telling you, 'I'd like my crayons back, please.’ Click To Tweet Writer's block is just a symptom of feeling like you have nothing to say, combined with the rather weird idea that you should feel the need to say something. Click To Tweet Nobody can tell you if what you’re doing is good, meaningful or worthwhile. The more compelling the path, the more lonely it is. Click To Tweet You have to find your own schtick. A Picasso always looks like Picasso painted it. Hemingway always sounds like Hemingway… Part of being a master is learning how to sing in nobody else's voice but your own. Click To Tweet If your business plan depends on suddenly being ‘discovered’ by some big shot, your plan will probably fail. Nobody suddenly discovers anything. Things are made slowly and in pain. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Just like the Hugh MacLeod’s 40th key to creativity explicitly states – none of the book’s advices are rocket science. Which means that most of them are both obvious and unoriginal.

However, it also means that you’ll be able to understand them instantly. And that you’ll be able to apply them the very next second.

So, why don’t you start right now?

Your future depends on it.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF: