Rebel Talent - Critical summary review - Francesca Gino

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Rebel Talent - critical summary review

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Personal Development

This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: Rebel Talent - Why It Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life

Available for: Read online, read in our mobile apps for iPhone/Android and send in PDF/EPUB/MOBI to Amazon Kindle.


Publisher: Macmillan

Critical summary review

Sometimes, the practices and principles that look legit and authentic are the ones that you need to question. 

According to Francesca Gino, having the courage to change your perception about certain socially acceptable norms is something that requires creativity and flair. The truth is that everyone is different, and you can’t demand everyone to live by the same rules.

While we are at, let’s recall that not everyone believes in astrology, and not everyone believes that talent is a crucial factor for achieving success.Motivational gurus nowadays give credence to sheer will and determination that they believe to be the primary method to overcome the obstacles ahead.

In this microbook, you’ll learn what’s the price of breaking the rules, and what the gains are. Without further ado, let’s get more precise about it. 

Look over the rail 

“Rebels don’t create trouble, but trouble creates rebels.” This simple yet powerful quote alludes to new generations of rebels that emerge as a result of various problems. To get to the bottom of how the nonconformist mentality forms, let’s do a recap of some historical events that Francesca Gino considers important.

Ambition and desire to challenge the hegemony of the British Empire fueled Napoleon’s conquests in North Africa. Intending to capture Cairo, French troops led by Napoleon marched to defeat the Mamelukes whose warlords wreaked terror on the locals. 

Even though being outnumbered, Napoleon managed to protect the French flanks disposing his troops in a circle-like formation. The Mamelukes’ cavalry, notorious for its close-combat fighting, was quickly wiped out. 

Many interpretations follow this battle as to whether the defeat was good or bad, but most historians believe that Egyptians were then free from the brutality of the autocratic rulers.

Napoleon Bonaparte’s thirst for new military knowledge and his lust for power made him an excellent commander and political leader. Regarded as the new savior of France, he derived some ideas from Pierre Bourcet (a well known a French tactician and general). However, we all know that his story didn’t have a happy ending.

On the bright side, Napoleon Bonaparte reformed the justice system and enacted laws that applied to every citizen, introducing the very pillar of democracy. 

The dog named Hot

In the next section of the book, Francesca Gino tells us the story of how she discovered the absolute power of novelty and imagination. Okay, let’s get down to it. Accompanied by her husband, she paid a visit to an unorthodox show that exhibited a new form of acting. A man pulled up a chair and sat in the center of a small stage. 

He then started steering his imaginary wheel, while a woman ascended from the crowd and tapped Francesca on the shoulder. At this moment she realized that this whole improvisation was part of the act in which one person starts the entire show and others merely follow in. 

As you can see, the concept of novelty can help you break from the daily grind and rejuvenate your relationships. Francesca and her husband Greg feared that routine would be the biggest killer of marriages. They hence decided to inject a bit of spontaneity into their everyday lives to spice things up. 

The story about the vanishing elephant

You probably have heard stories about Harry Houdini, whose stunts, illusions, and magic left the crowd speechless. He mastered escaping from handcuffs, ropes, chains; you name it. Widely reputed as one of the top illusionists of the 20th century, he was able to flare up the audience with ease. 

Houdini’s extraordinary performances don’t fit into one category. He did far more than just escaping while being locked up as his remarkable tricks dazzled the audience time and time again. 

He once managed to swallow a pack of needles and 20 yards of thread, helped only by a glass of water. When people asked him about his passion for doing magic, Houdini replied that what motivated his love was the awe-moment that followed  afterward. As a child, he learned how to unlock the cabinets where his mom kept the pies and sweets. 

So, how did the elephant disappear?

In the vicinity of the Hippodrome, a noisy and intense drum sound filled the air and announced the act. The stage pistol gave the official go-ahead as the doors of the box at both ends opened simultaneously. The elephant was gone, overwhelming everyone in the audience. 

The new runway

Chesley Sullenberger, an experienced pilot with more than 20,000 flying-hours experience, was forced to land a US Airways – now American Airlines – jet into a river after losing thrust on both engines.

On Jan. 15, 2009, flight 1549 took off from LaGuardia Airport heading for Charlotte, North Carolina. A bird strike prevented it from continuing the journey as Captain Sully tried to make it back toward LaGuardia and attempted to reach Teterboro for an emergency landing. None of that happened.

Faced with lack of options and minimal decision-time, he decided to land the plane in the cold waters of the Hudson River with 150 souls on board. Despite the risk, every single person survived that day, and just a few had minor injuries.. Patrick Harten, an air traffic controller, testified that he never once failed to assist an airplane crew in making the right choice in ten years. 

The control tower offered Sully runway 13 as a potential option for an emergency landing, but he declined the proposition deeming it impossible to pull out. He was then instructed to turn right toward Teterboro, an option also dismissed as it was too risky.

Before landing in the Hudson, Capt. Sully made an announcement: “Brace for Impact!”

After the incident, many questioned Sully’s expertise and decision-making, but they found out that if he hadn’t followed his instincts that day, the consequences would have been disastrous.

The price of uncomfortable truths 

Ava DuVernay came to prominence when nominated for “Selma” in 2014. At that time, she had already caught the attention of movie elitists like Sean Bailey, president of Motion Pictures Production at Walt Disney Studios. 

He started pondering about the possibility of giving DuVernay a shot to direct the adaptation of “A Wrinkle in Time.” They even had a meeting, discussing a potential agreement.  

Growing up in a rough neighborhood turned Ava into a fighter and helped her to deal with things in life. She never believed that her situation was some disadvantage, nor that it turned her into an underdog. Quite the opposite, it made her stronger and independent to work hard and follow her dreams. Entering a male-dominant industry wasn’t a piece of cake. 

Her leadership was always under scrutiny, but that didn’t stop her from crushing the stereotypes. As we mentioned, thanks to “Selma” – the story of the 1965 voting campaign spearheaded by Martin Luther King Jr. – Ava became a renowned movie director. 

The Disney pair caught a glimpse of her potential, and Ava received full support to adapt “A Wrinkle in Time.” Her passion and skill, now bonded together, made her a highly successful filmmaker and director. 

Coach Maurice Cheeks and his support 

Back in 2003, Portland Trail Blazers were hosting the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Playoffs series. Dallas had won the first two matches on their home court, but now it was the Blazers turn to show why they had won 13 of the then last 15 games against the Mavericks in Portland. 

Before the match, 13-year-old girl Natalie Gilbert was invited to do the honors and sing the national anthem. Unfortunately, she caught the flu that morning and was unable to perform at her best. Nonetheless, she mustered up her courage and went on to do it anyway. 

On the second line, her voice suddenly switched off, and she wasn’t able to pull herself together. Coach Maurice Cheeks won the hearts of millions when he approached her and started to sing alongside her, giving Natalie the support to continue. 

Later on, Natalie told the press that Maurice was her guardian angel, while he remained humble in his words. 

The Trail Blazers lost that night, despite putting up quite a fight. They won the next three games and tied the series, but the Mavericks managed to win the decisive Game 7.

Coach Cheeks told the press: “I never thought about doing it before I did it. I’m a father. I have two kids myself. I’d have wanted someone to help them if they could.”

The secrecy of commitment

Paying attention can be either a blessing or a curse. Francesca Gino recalls a situation that helped her to see the big picture and understand why sometimes the irrational seems rational to us. One time, upon boarding a plane, she completely forgot to pay attention to the emergency instructions announced by the flight attendants.

Preparing an exercise for 40 people engrossed her completely, and she took that as an excuse for not paying attention in that critical moment.

After the flight, she concluded that people unwillingly embrace the group mood, even at the cost of their safety. It is undoubtedly irrational to put your life at risk only to appease a group of people.

Moreover, she realized that disengagement could be a very risky strategy because it puts loads of pressure on figuring everything and acting in the blink of an eye. This short-attention span is proving to be a problem that is sweeping across the globe and engulfing everyone.

Truthfully, catching people’s attention hangs in the balance as distractions increase by the day.

How to become a rebel leader?

Last but not least, we all wonder what it takes to develop into a true leader! So, here’s the eight-step process you must follow to accomplish just that:

  • Seek out the new.
  • Encourage constructive dissent.
  • Open conversations, don’t close them.
  • Reveal yourself – and reflect.
  • Learn everything – then forget everything.
  • Find freedom in constraints.
  • Lead from the trenches.
  • Foster happy accidents.

Embrace change and work your way through life

How many times have we witnessed stories that belong in the same trilogy as “David & Goliath.” That serves as proof that, despite the odds, you have what it takes to come out as a winner.

Let this be a motivation, not a guide for you to circumvent a problem, but to face it and deal with it. It’s a wake-up call that could represent the start of a new day. While we are at it, you should know that not everything goes according to plan, and that’s fine. You shouldn’t be the one passing judgments nor pointing any fingers, regardless of the situation. 

Leave the interpretation to others, and you focus on the action! Keeping your composure can sometimes be tough, but you have to ward off negative influences to prevail. Even in the worst circumstances, you must keep your eyes peeled and be ready to act.

Final Notes

Each chapter has its story, one that explains that every person has a knack for something. Usually, digging up your talent and capitalizing on it takes time. However, on rare occasions, there's limited time to decide if you are racing against the clock and must act quickly.

Our books are written about these instances.

Although not all people have lived up to a certain level of competence, the talent buried deep inside them can be unleashed under the right circumstances.

Being honest is your  job, as is keeping questioning your urges that drive your decisions. Once you become aware of your potential, you can scale up from there.

12min Tip

If this microbook spoke to you in a way that encourages you to take action, then you might want to explore “The Power of Your Subconscious Mind” by Joseph Murphy and see why the mind is the center of your world.

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