Motivational

Rebel Talent: Why It Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life

Rebel Talent: Why It Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life
rebel talent

Rebel Talent – Rebels have a bad reputation. We think of them as troublemakers, outcasts, contrarians: those colleagues, friends, and family members who complicate seemingly straight forward decisions, create chaos, and disagree when everyone else is in agreement. But in truth, rebels are also those among us who change the world for the better with their unconventional outlooks. Instead of clinging to what is safe and familiar, and falling back on routines and tradition, rebels defy the status quo. They are masters of innovation and reinvention, and they have a lot to teach us.

Francesca Gino, a behavioral scientist and professor at Harvard Business School, has spent more than a decade studying rebels at organizations around the world, from high-end boutiques in Italy’s fashion capital, to the World’s Best Restaurant, to a thriving fast food chain, to an award-winning computer animation studio. In her work, she has identified leaders and employees who exemplify “rebel talent,” and whose examples we can all learn to embrace.

Gino argues that the future belongs to the rebel — and that there’s a rebel in each of us. We live in turbulent times, when competition is fierce, reputations are easily tarnished on social media, and the world is more divided than ever before. In this cutthroat environment, cultivating rebel talent is what allows businesses to evolve and to prosper. And rebellion has an added benefit beyond the workplace: it leads to a more vital, engaged, and fulfilling life.

Whether you want to inspire others to action, build a business, or build more meaningful relationships, Rebel Talent will show you how to succeed — by breaking all the rules.

Book Review by John Chancellor

In one of his programs, Earl Nightingale, a pioneer in the motivational, self-help movement said, “Look at what the majority of people are doing, and do the exact opposite, and you’ll probably never go wrong for as long as you live”. If your goal is to stand out from the crowd, to enjoy exponential growth rather than incremental, there is a lot of value in what Mr. Nightingale said. Another way to say that is: Be a Rebel.

Harvard Business School Professor Francesca Gino, author of Rebel Talent, Why it Pays to Break the Rules at Work and Life, makes a compelling case for being a Rebel. You can think of being a Rebel as two ends of the spectrum of human behavior. On one end is what typically comes to mind when we think of being a Rebel – the negative, anti-social behavior. On the other end is the positive, progressive, super achievers. Ms. Gino focuses on the positive benefits of being a Rebel Talent.

Napoleon Bonaparte and Blackbeard the pirate very successfully used the concepts advocated in Rebel Talent. We get to view both men from very different perspectives. Mr. Nightingale based his advice on anecdotal evidence. Napoleon and Blackbeard acted on instinct. Ms. Gino has done extensive study on the behaviors of Rebel Talent and presented data driven evidence on why such behavior will benefit our work and life.

Ms. Gino is an exceptional story teller. Her writing is highly entertaining, insightful and engaging. All the lessons and concepts are developed and told in story format. In one of the stories in the book, she relates about her visit to Pixar Studios. One of the executives was discussing the ways to keep the audience engaged. He said if the audience can see where the plot is going, they tune out. We need novelty and surprise in our work, relationships, and communications.

There are many important lessons in the book – all based on real life examples and backed by research. You will get to meet and learn about many different people – Massimo Bottura, owner of an Italian restaurant which has won the coveted Michelin 3 Stars rating. Pal’s fast food chain that has found a way to relieve the boredom for its employees. Doug Conant, CEO responsible for the turnaround at Campbell Soup. And many others.

One of the more valuable lessons centers around the benefits of diversity. We tend to associate with people who think like we do. But that leads to “group think” and often results in less than optimal performance.

In the chapter prior to the conclusion, Ms. Gino summarizes the lessons from the book into “8 Principles for Becoming a Rebel Leader”. There is an extensive Notes section at the end of the book. In addition, she provides a wealth of additional information on a website created for Rebel Talent.

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Energetic and fun to read.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Readers can take heart in the search for a company that believes in and practices the power of rebellion.” (Booklist)

“Entertaining and well written, in addition to being informative, this career self-help book won’t put you to sleep and might actually help you out of a rut. Recommended for business and career collections. (Library Journal )

“In this groundbreaking book, Francesca Gino shows us how to spark creativity, excel at work, and become happier: By learning to rebel.”   (Charles Duhigg, New York Times bestselling author of The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better)

“Francesca Gino is one of the world’s most productive and creative social scientists. And with this book, she shows that she’s also one of the most persuasive. She makes a powerful and convincing case that letting loose our inner troublemaker can open up new vistas of creativity and problem-solving power.” (Daniel H. Pink, New York Times bestselling author of Drive)

“Great stories, great science, and great practical advice about how, when, and why to break the rules.” (Angela Duckworth, New York Times bestselling author of Grit)

“This marvelous and mischievous masterpiece shows us how to creatively rebel without getting into (too much) trouble. Francesca Gino’s splendid weave of stories and studies unpacks why, when, and how to break the rules in order to do more successful, challenging, and original work.”  (Robert Sutton, New York Times bestselling author of The Asshole Survival GuideScaling Up Excellence, and Weird Ideas That Work)

“Francesca has a very personal and self-aware approach to bridging the gap between the social norms that glue us together, and the acts of challenging those norms. The rebellious approach has led to great advances, and it also has led to abuse. She pushes us to allow for people who challenge what we do, but with a grounding in thinking about the use of power and status in our businesses and in our lives.” (Ed Catmull, President of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios)

“Francesca Gino is the best kind of rebel: the one who doesn’t just break the rules, but invents a better way. In this enthralling, carefully researched book, she shows you how to become one—and unleash the inner rebel in others too.” (Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of OriginalsGive and Take, and Option B with Sheryl Sandberg)

“‘To make an omelet, you gotta break some eggs’ is easy advice to give. Much more difficult is crafting a clear recipe—which eggs, when, how, blended with what?—for greatest success at it. Yet, this is precisely what Rebel Talent does for the process of breaking the rules optimally. As a result, I just ate it up.” (Robert B. Cialdini, New York Times bestselling author of Influence and Pre-Suasion)

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From the Back Cover

Do you want to follow a script—or write your own story?

Award-winning Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino shows us why the most successful among us break the rules, and how rebellion brings joy and meaning into our lives

Rebels have a bad reputation. We think of them as troublemakers, outcasts, contrarians: those colleagues, friends, and family members who complicate seemingly straightforward decisions, create chaos, and disagree when everyone else is in agreement. But in truth, rebels are also those among us who change the world for the better with their unconventional outlooks. Instead of clinging to what is safe and familiar, and falling back on routines and tradition, rebels defy the status quo. They are masters of innovation and reinvention, and they have a lot to teach us.

Francesca Gino, a behavioral scientist and professor at Harvard Business School, has spent more than a decade studying rebels at organizations around the world, from high-end boutiques in Italy’s fashion capital, to the world’s best restaurant, to a thriving fast-food chain, to an award-winning computer animation studio. In her work, she has identified leaders and employees who personify “rebel talent,” and whose examples we can all learn to embrace.

Gino argues that the future belongs to the rebel—and that there’s a rebel in each of us. We live in turbulent times, when competition is fierce, reputations are easily tarnished on social media, and the world is more divided than ever before. In this cutthroat environment, cultivating rebel talent is what allows businesses to evolve and to prosper. And rebellion has an added benefit beyond the workplace: it leads to a more vital, engaged, and fulfilling life.

Whether you want to inspire others to action, grow a business, or build more meaningful relationships, Rebel Talent will show you how to succeed—by breaking all the rules.

Originally published: May 2018

AuthorFrancesca Gino

Genre: Self-help book

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