This year I launched my new series for Fast Company called “Less of the Same”— a collection of stories about inspiring entrepreneurs and individuals who, in the face of threats that are seemingly beyond their control, have chosen to act in counterintuitive and unexpected ways. In doing so, they have achieved even greater success.
For the past two years, I’ve been doing research for my next book Unsafe Thinking. During that time, I’ve had fascinating conversations with entrepreneurs who have shared their secrets in facing a world of constant change. I’ve been interested in what they’ve created but more importantly how they’ve dealt with anxiety, demand for constant creativity, inevitable setbacks and the need to listen to their inner voices.
We humans are creatures of habit. Our habits are often responsible for our greatest achievements. But what happens when our worlds suddenly change? Most commonly, we dig in and do what’s comfortable but with even more fervor or we freeze. But we don’t have to. These entrepreneurs have shown me that and backing up their stories, I’ve discovered what science says about how to face the anxiety of sudden change without narrowing our field of possibilities.
In this series, I’ll introduce breakthrough leaders from startups who have had to let go of what seemed like the core of their businesses and large corporations whose long-thriving models were fading. I will introduce you to social change activists who have had to admit that their movements weren’t producing enough good so had to drastically change their approach. And we will hear the stories of ordinary people who, in the face of tragic loss, refused to sit back and let fate take its course. In the process, they have turned tragedy into enormous opportunity.
Nearly everyone can see that the pace of change around them is faster than the pace of change in their companies and themselves. There is little faith that the status quo in education, government or business is the right path forward. Less of the Same carries a message that if we are to live in a thriving, sustainable and satisfying future, we need, well, less of the same. My hope is that the stories of these changemakers will point the way.
Grace Sciences is trying to find a cure to a very obscure disease that pharmaceutical companies aren’t incentivized to work on–and is a model for the importance of passion and desperation in powering big breakthroughs.
Detroit’s Humble Design, which remakes the living spaces of the recently homeless, shows the benefits of embracing people’s basic humanity when designing solutions to their problems.
A fascinating conversation with a Syracuse researcher who has gathered solid evidence that ADHD, when well managed, can be an entrepreneurial superpower.
In this piece I explore aha moments along with what science and cognitive research tell us about these pivotal experiences. Are they the stuff of pure luck? Or simply the stories we like to tell ourselves after the fact? Or are they something else altogether? Could we multiply these aha moments in our lives by preparing for them, and being more attuned to their occurrence?
I’ve found that the only thing harder than achieving your first creative breakthrough is figuring out how to keep doing it. In this piece, Catmull and I explore the power of competitive collaboration and of disrupting one’s own thinking.
Founder Shereef Bishay sold Dev Bootcamp when he realized it no longer matched his personal mission. Shereef has recently created Learners Guild, a radical new approach to education and job creation.
Have you experienced such a moment in your career when you have had to make a radical break? How did you do it? I would love to hear what you think. Any suggestions for who I should I talk to next?