CM 024: Adam Grant on Being Original

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Blog Post - Adam GrantAbraham Lincoln, Lucy Stone, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Steve Jobs: What set them apart and helped them achieve such world-altering success? In his latest book, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, Adam Grant  shares the research on the mindsets, behaviors, and emotional resilience that lead to incredible breakthroughs in innovation and creativity. He also explains how we can apply these findings to our own lives.

Adam Grant is the youngest tenured, highest-rated professor of management and psychology at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a contributing writer for the New York Times, and he’s consulted with organizations like Google, the United Nations, and the U.S. Army. He is also the bestselling author of Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success.

In this episode, we talk about:

  • why Originals rarely accept the status quo
  • breadth versus depth — which one drives innovation and creativity?
  • the role of risk in the mindset of Originals
  • what Originals do differently when faced with the same fears as everyone else
  • why we are the worst judges of our own ideas and who can help us
  • the importance of status over power in rallying others around our ideas
  • why enemies can become our biggest advocates
  • what really causes groupthink and prevents innovation
  • the power of getting pulled into leadership roles
  • role models versus mentors and how it can be easier to find them
  • why we need to rethink optimism, happiness, and contentment for achievement and innovation
  • why your first 15 ideas are less original than your next 20

Adam also shares how he uses these ideas in his classroom.

Selected Links to Topics Mentioned


Adam Grant website

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

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Albert Einstein

Tiger Mom

Galileo Galilei

Dean Simonton


Steve Jobs

Jerry Seinfeld and Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee



David Heinemeier Hansson

Abraham Lincoln

Martin Luther King, Jr.


Irving Janis and Groupthink

Devils advocates and Charlan Nemeth at University of California, Berkeley

Mark Cuban and Shark Tank and Mavericks

Elon Musk

Peter Thiel

Lord of the Rings

Sheryl Sandberg

Jeff Bezos

A Wrinkle in Time

Mark Zuckerberg

Enders Game


Michael Eisner

The Lion King

King Lear




TED Talk

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Thank you to Emmy-award-winning Creative Director Vanida Vae for designing the Curious Minds logo!



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1 Comment

  1. Are you stuck? | Empty The Cup on April 12, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    […] If you want to learn more about Adam Grant, check out his wonderful podcast with Gayle Allen here. […]