Quirky | Melissa A. Schilling

Summary of: Quirky: The Remarkable Story of the Traits, Foibles, and Genius of Breakthrough Innovators Who Changed the World
By: Melissa A. Schilling


Welcome to the fascinating world of quirky serial breakthrough innovators who have transformed industries and society with their revolutionary ideas. In this engaging summary of Melissa A. Schilling’s book ‘Quirky’, you’ll learn about the traits, habits, and idiosyncrasies that have driven the likes of Elon Musk, Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, and Marie Curie, among others, to dream big and transform the world. Discover how these extraordinary individuals defy conventional wisdom, wield their fierce independence, and immerse themselves in the pursuit of their ambitious goals, even at the cost of their personal well-being.

The Quirks of Serial Breakthrough Innovators

Learn the individual traits of world-class innovators like Elon Musk, Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs, and Dean Kamen in this summary.

Serial breakthrough innovators like Elon Musk, Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs, and Dean Kamen are prodigious “quirky” innovators. These individuals have unique traits that set them apart from the average person, propelling them to become highly successful and influential.

Elon Musk, for instance, developed his first video game at the age of 12 and became a millionaire by 28. He went on to create the electronic payment system PayPal, teach himself rocket science, establish SpaceX, an aerospace transportation services firm that pioneered reusable rockets, and develop Tesla Motors, which is now a leading electric car manufacturer. Musk is known for attempting the impossible and not caring about what others think of him.

Nikola Tesla, on the other hand, was an “oddball” and social misfit. Despite suffering from mania, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and oversensitivity to sensory stimuli, he was responsible for over 200 noteworthy innovations. These include the first long-distance wireless communication systems, alternating-current electrical systems, and remote-control robots. Tesla was fixated on the number three, walking three circles around a building before going inside, and even had neurological disturbances that made him feel like his brain was on fire.

Albert Einstein developed four papers that revolutionized scientific principles concerning space, time, mass, and energy in just four months at age 26. His work in particle physics paved the way for quantum mechanics to replace conventional physics. Einstein consistently kept himself apart from others, which allowed him to become an original thinker.

Marie Curie, the discoverer of radium and the first woman to win a Nobel Prize twice in different fields, preferred isolation and suffered from chronic depression. Thomas Edison, famously known as the “Napoleon of invention,” spent most of his life working in his laboratory and even slept on a lab table. Despite having only three months of formal schooling, he read numerous books such as the Dictionary of Sciences and Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, and actively invented innovative solutions.

Benjamin Franklin, another famous American inventor and patriot, had formal schooling for only a few years during his childhood. Yet he led and influenced the development of the Philadelphia Public Library, a system for sweeping and lighting the city’s streets, and the country’s first volunteer firefighting cooperative.

Steve Jobs, known for his visionary groundbreaking products like the iPhone, iPad, and iPod, had a “reality distortion field.” Jobs was so brilliant in his persuasion that people felt as though he possessed a supernatural aura around him. He drove around without a license plate, parked in spots meant for people with disabilities, and lived in a house without furniture.

Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway, created the first portable kidney dialysis machine and the first wearable drug infusion pump, among other revolutionary devices. He even bought his own island and announced his intentions to secede from the United States to avoid the strictures of its rules.

Serial breakthrough innovators have unique traits, often quirky in nature, that enable them to achieve success that is out of reach for many people. These extraordinary individuals teach us that by embracing our eccentricities and following our passions, we can aspire to leave our mark on the world in a way that is uniquely our own.

The Traits of Serial Innovators

Serial innovators are often social outcasts who crave independence and think for themselves without limits. However, some, like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison, are accomplished social networkers. They often toil like maniacs, have terrific memories, and pursue ambitious goals. Many are autodidacts who live isolated lives and don’t buy into conventional wisdom. Albert Einstein and Marie Curie both lived anti-social lives but became the world’s most famous scientists. Although they varied in personalities, all serial breakthrough innovators share a common trait – they believe in their own abilities and pursue their goals relentlessly.

Self-Efficacy in Serial Breakthrough Innovators

Serial breakthrough innovators possess an attribute called “self-efficacy,” a supreme self-confidence in their own abilities. They think big and are ready to attempt the seemingly impossible, such as Elon Musk. However, their life is not for everyone, and many factors that aided them in changing the world are hard to replicate. Examples include Kamen, who has unbreakable confidence in his abilities, and Einstein, who always believes in himself while disrespecting authority and other experts.

Embracing Weirdness

Serial breakthrough innovators are intelligent yet a bit crazier than the average person. Tesla, a prime example, had OCD, mania, and germ phobia. Despite his mental issues, he had a photographic memory and was highly creative. The dopamine imbalance in his brain boosted his creativity. Tesla slept only two hours a night or not at all, a common trait among serial innovators. Embracing weirdness can allow natural creativity to flourish.

Inventors with Purpose

Edison, Franklin, and Tesla shared lofty goals beyond profit for their innovations. They sought to solve the world’s biggest problems, fueled by a sense of duty to serve God and mankind. Tesla believed a safe environment could eliminate inequality and suffering, while Edison saw power as a mainstay for providing people with what they need. Franklin’s faith fueled his determination to improve society. These inventors remind us that inventing for profit is not the only motive.

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