The Misfit Economy: Lessons in Creativity from Pirates, Hackers, Gangsters and Other Informal Entrepreneurs by Alexa Clay and Kyra Maya Phillips
Published in June of 2015
Maybe, you are a higher ed misfit. How would you know?
Take this quick test - and report back the results:
Question 1: Are you in an academic job that doesn’t quite fit into the traditional org chart?
Question 2: Is nobody at your school quite sure about what you do, and when folks ask you what your job is they look at you sort of strange when you try to explain?
Question 3: Are you spending all your energy and passion to do a job at your school that nobody quite asked you to exactly do?
Question 4: When you look back at your academic career, do you have as many failures as successes?
Question 5: Do you love your school, and love higher education, but at the same time are you deeply impatient with the status quo?
If you answer yes to all of these questions you might qualify for being profiled in the next book that I hope Clay and Phillips write - The Higher Education Misfit Economy.
This is a great book for those of us that don’t really belong. What Clay and Phillips try to do, and largely succeed, is give voice to those on the margins of organizations.
Unlike other other business motivational writings,The Misfit Economy never romanticizes the hard work of innovating from the fringe.
What is striking is not the successes of the misfits that Clay and Phillips profile, but their failures. Almost none of the characters that populate the book are all that successful by conventional measures.
This book is not filled with stories of people like Steve Jobs, those who are first misunderstood but eventually hailed as geniuses. Rather, The Misfit Economy is full stories about people who are just keeping their heads above water as they seek to challenge the prevailing systems in which they work and live.
The most successful misfits profiled in The Misfit Economy are not the most charismatic or edgy. Skills around empathy, listening, and patience seem to be as valuable as vision and charisma. A deep knowledge of the industry that one wishes to change, and a willingness to consider other viewpoints and arguments, seems also to be a critical element of success in catalyzing change.
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