Hardly revolutionary, but sensible advice on how to nurture creativity.

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QUIRKY

THE REMARKABLE STORY OF THE TRAITS, FOIBLES, AND GENIUS OF BREAKTHROUGH INNOVATORS WHO CHANGED THE WORLD

Examining the lives of serial innovators reveals strong commonalities.

Applying the research methods of large sample studies to investigate genius, Schilling (Management and Organizations/New York Univ. Stern School of Business; Strategic Management of Technological Innovation, 2004, etc.) failed to answer her overarching question: “is there some combination of traits or resources that increases the likelihood of an individual becoming a serial breakthrough innovator?” Instead, she took “a multiple case study approach” of a small sample of innovators, aiming to identify any unusual characteristics that set these individuals apart. Focusing on science and technology, she chose men—and one woman, Marie Curie—from different time periods and about whom significant biographical details were available: Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs, Dean Kamen, Elon Musk, and Nikola Tesla. Except for Kamen, the inventor of Segway as well as the first portable kidney dialysis machine, among other medical breakthroughs, all the innovators are likely to be familiar to readers, and Schilling offers no groundbreaking information about their lives or work. Her interest is in illuminating factors that enabled them to generate original ideas. She distinguishes between personal characteristics (such as a sense of separateness or rebellion against authority) and mechanisms (any situational advantage that allowed them to flourish). A feeling of being different or disconnected from the crowd, she found, “typically emerges quite early in life.” Einstein, Curie, and Jobs perceived themselves as different from peers and family; although this separateness may result in “a sense of suffering,” it also helps individuals “generate and pursue big and unusual ideas.” Although they thrive in solitude, innovators benefit from “a dense personal network” through which they can disseminate their ideas. Schilling uses her findings to offer suggestions to business leaders and parents about fostering innovation. She cites flexible teams at Pixar, for example, which give team members autonomy and support. She urges parents to consider that children who struggle in a structured classroom may benefit from a more fluid curriculum as well as access to intellectual and technological resources.

Hardly revolutionary, but sensible advice on how to nurture creativity.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61039-792-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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