Saturday, June 09, 2012

"The Art of Non-Conformity" by Chris Guillebeau

After learning about it from The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss (which I enjoyed quite a bit), recently finished reading The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau.

Really solid book by Guillebeau that has some excellent stuff around living and working and some of the things that stood out to me (which I may be restating for my own use) are the following:

The often harmful idea of working to live

Concept from Guillebeau is that too many people view work as a have-to-endure slog to achieve some distant future goal of then enjoying life. The opposing view he trumpets is that life short and someone should think of how they want to live and start doing that.

The often excellent idea of taking a different tack

Direction given in the book prologue is to "think for yourself instead of following the crowd" and follow on idea that it ok to dream of unrealistic things... even if they don't come to pass (and they could), usually no harm done. To this point, Guillebeau writes about the concept of worst case scenario planning and whether said worst case really enough to not do something considered (with this same idea in the Ferriss book).

Approaches to a work

Guillebeau notes that regardless of whether someone works for a boss or is self-employed, their best job security is own competence. As someone who has done well with self-employment, he describes it as self-reliance and notes that many businesses can be started very cheaply (and may not make someone rich, but perhaps enough to make a living)... an idea which almost certainly led to Guillebeau's recently released The $100 Startup book. In relation to working for others, he writes about someone hiring a boss rather than being hired by a company. Even if not taken as far as in the book example, there's still something of heft there around someone targeting the type of work desired to do.

Recommendations of additional resources to check out

People, books and websites noted by Guillebeau include the Anne Lamott book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, the Seth Godin blog (or his website), the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, Zen Habits by Leo Babauta, and Guillebeau's own Art of Non-Conformity website (which includes his "A Brief Guide to World Domination" document that led to the book).

Really a solid book overall from Guillebeau and an interesting life he's created for himself with his writing, speaking and teaching... all stemming from an unconventional approach towards his work and time. A final thing I found of interest was an anecdote told in the book Postscript about someone unsubscribing from Guillebeau's blog and leaving a "thanks for everything, but I need to go it alone now" note. Interesting story that to me hits on a point about how-to and self-help type books... just ruminating on them is good and well, but the import of action and forward movement (even if the destination not known) can't be overstated.