Summary of Rebel Talent

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Rebel Talent book summary

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Concrete Examples
  • Inspiring


“Comfort is overrated,” writes Francesca Gino about the consequences and benefits of breaking the rules. Rebellion, says the Harvard Business School professor, stimulates creativity, nurtures professional relationships and enhances your engagement with your work. But going against the grain isn’t always easy. You have to be open to working with diverse people and different perspectives, be willing to expose your flaws and vulnerabilities, and prepare for the backlash that often awaits those who step out of line. Gino contends that such discomforts are a relatively small price for the creative energy and passion for your work that rule-breaking unleashes. In a matter-of-fact and often subtly humorous style, she dissects the elements that make up a rebel’s psychology and shows you how to acquire them. Her book will be of special interest to entrepreneurs and creatives, and it’s an excellent resource for career development.

About the Author

Award-winning researcher Francesca Gino is the Tandon Family Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and heads its Negotiation, Organizations and Markets Unit. The Poets & Quants website named her one of the world’s top 40 business professors under age 40.


Rules Are Made to Be Broken

Every culture has its rules. Laws, norms and traditions help a society function by setting guidelines for acceptable behavior. Businesses and other organizations have their particular sets of rules, including codes of conduct, dress codes and standardized procedures. Most cultures, including corporate cultures, discourage stepping out of line and impose penalties of varying severity on rebels.

But following the rules isn’t always the best option, because rules have a serious downside: They can smother employees’ creativity and engagement. A standardized workflow that requires little creative input from workers quickly becomes routine and eventually turns to drudgery. If you can perform much of your job without thinking, you will sooner or later disengage from it. If you want to be creative and feel passionate about your work, you may need to go off script.

Being a rebel doesn’t mean indiscriminately flouting norms. It means asking a lot of questions and curiously examining processes, norms, rules and assumptions – including your own. Rebels’ favorite questions...

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