Summary of The Power of Onlyness

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The Power of Onlyness book summary

Editorial Rating



  • Visionary
  • Concrete Examples
  • Inspiring


By reflecting on her own and others’ most important life decisions – good and bad – business thinker and creativity maven Nilofer Merchant realized the uniqueness of every person on the planet. Interviews with hundreds of diverse people who’ve led extraordinary change convinced her that anyone, anywhere, can share his or her ideas widely and make a positive “dent” in the world. Merchant provides the formula for making your mark: Find your purpose or meaning, then rally like-minded people who share your passion. With them, scale the idea to make world-changing impact. Merchant insists perhaps a little too strenuously that you can make a dent only by finding lots of “joiners” for your cause or by joining other movements that inspire you. But, as she also says, you can be as effective on a smaller scale. Merchant’s thought-provoking exploration of how groups of individuals drive significant change will appeal to anyone interested in starting a movement or in understanding how individual and collective action succeed. 

About the Author

Nilofer Merchant found her onlyness when she refused an arranged marriage and went to college instead. She speaks and writes about ways that people can fulfill their individual potential.


Kim Bryant

Kim Bryant didn’t like the way adults ignored her daughter at a Stanford University software coding camp. Bryant’s solution was one of a kind: She based it on her experiences as an African-American woman. Bryant grew up poor in Memphis, Tennessee, earned a college scholarship and chose the difficult path of studying engineering at a prestigious university. She struggled to fit in, failing in the beginning both at school and at work, but making her way to success in an often-forbidding environment dominated by white males. To support her daughter, Bryant founded a “Black Girls Code” camp. Other mothers emerged who shared her passion. They spread the camps to cities across the United States and then other countries, and introduced thousands of black girls to software design. Bryant made a dent by leveraging her unique purpose and voice.

You and Your Purpose

Like Bryant, you are the one and only person now, or ever, with your perspective. If you fail to give it voice, you deprive the world of your uniqueness. Figure out your purpose and then find ...

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    M. T. 3 years ago
    It's impressive about organization of communities for your own purpose that may coincide with other ones. Onlyness helps in it.

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