“The Myths of Innovation” by Scott Berkun
Acquiring the Book
“The Myths of Innovation” by Scott Berkun was a book that I happened to stumble across while trying to return another book to a mentor. We will call my mentor Mr. C for referencing purposes. He had this book and another sitting on his desk. He had admitted that he hadn’t read it yet and was interested in its contents but offered me the first go. I took the opportunity of being the first human to read this copy of the book and quickly grabbed it up and made my way back to my office with it.
You can easily purchase this book from outlets such as Ebay.com, Amazon.com, and Walmart.com for prices ranging between ten and twenty dollars. I have a few relationships in my workplace where we actively trade books for a prolonged period of time because we spend so much of our time at work that it makes reading and digesting books a costly pastime.
Like the book’s title infers, it is written around the subject of innovation. This writing delivers a lot of facts about historical innovators and the challenges that they faced long before they were known as innovators, inventors, or even successful persons. The flow of this book started out pretty exciting for me. I felt its invitational pull that drew me back strongly in the beginning. This leveled off through the middle portion of the book but then returned as strong as ever towards the end.
I often found that the book would influence me to want to pursue my dreams as an entrepreneur and inventor. It had me comparing some of my travels and journeys with those of historically famous innovators that were the subject of the read. I spent quite a few hours lying on my back on my living room floor looking up at the pages and thinking of how I would apply the knowledge contained in the book to my own life.
In tandem to reading this, I was also studying business law. My studies and the contents of the book fit together perfectly. I have this knack for tying various things going on in my life simultaneously together to provide a good jolt of purpose and drive to whatever it is that I am trying to accomplish. I will forever remember this book for this chunk of time of my life.
The first thing that really surprised me and sold me about this book was that it contained a complete annotated bibliography that covered the entire span of the book. Literally every page donned reference material to whatever it was that author Scott Berkun was writing about. This was impressive as I am weak for scholarly articles and citations. Seeing them at the bottom of every page just made me happy inside.
Being surrounded by all the reference material gave way to the feeling that what I was reading was true. I knew with a little bit of further research that I could confirm what it was that the author was saying and follow up on what I was reading. I embarrassingly admit that I did not do this much, rather, I took the book for face value and absorbed the content within it without using the referencing material more than two or three times. Upon finishing the book, it had a larger complication of the bibliography’s references. I didn’t take too much time to look through these as I had already had the book an unwelcome length of time, however, it still made me feel good that the author had taken so much time to provide sources for what he was writing about.
This was especially helpful in the subject matter. The author used references to point to the validity of his claims as they pertained to historical innovators, their innovations, and their life stories. I do wish that it contained more faction research on the process of innovation and invention and followed up by pointing to journals and articles that he based his information on, but nonetheless, any reference is better than no reference at all. The biggest benefit of the annotated bibliography is the feel of what you were reading. It did not feel like you were reading some quickly scribbled and pushed self help book, however, it really felt like you were holding a tome of knowledge.
Towards the End
Things really turned up towards the end of the book. The author skillfully twists historical inventors, inventions, their strategies, and their stories together for you and allows you to look through their eyes and think how they think for a good bit before giving you some real gems. Towards the end of the book Scott Berkun delves into very applicable tactics and methods that the modern person can use towards improving their skills as an innovator and as a person.
The author wrote two excellent chapters on motivation and pitching ideas. I previously hadn’t realized how important pitching an idea was for an innovator. I hadn’t tied innovation to salesmanship. I also hadn’t realized all the little things to keep in mind when bringing an idea to someone else. I am truly enlightened for having read these two chapters alone. I admit that I wish that the book was packed full of these gyms, and I imagine how exciting it would be to read had I felt the excitement of reading the entire book as I had felt during reading and digesting these two chapters.
The author breaks down the sales pitch of an idea in one of the later chapters into various components. He then explains that anyone delivering a sales pitch needs to have the same pitch in various time-length formats. What I took from this is that anyone pitching an idea needs to have a ten second pitch, a one-minute pitch, and a ten-minute pitch for the same idea. He then gives strategies for applying each and going from the first to the last in a progressive fashion.
I think that it is worth it to mention that a lot of the fluidity and ease of reading this book comes from the passive humor that the author possesses. He’s able to weave a very natural feeling humor in his writing that leaves you smiling when you come across it. This is not a forced humor or a book so injected with humor that you have to look for the content, rather, it is genuine and imaginable that this is how you would experience communicating with the author in real life.
A lot of whether I mesh with these types of non-fiction writings depends on if I find that through reading the book that the author’s personality is compatible with mine. In this case, it very much was.
I feel like a pretty hard critic in giving book a 3.5 out of 5. This writing really explored historical innovators and their challenges. I feel like it spent a lot of time pounding on history and not enough time delivering unique technique to overcome. I do like the level of encouragement to be an inventor, but a lot of it came from pointing to the persistence of other inventors who struggled a lot instead of pointing to ways to overcome these struggles. Overall, I really enjoyed the book and would recommend others read it if they are interested in business, inventing, innovation, and changing the world.
My Headspace at the Time
During this time, I had been doing a lot of dreaming in my spare and not-so-spare time. I had crafted an idea of a licensing business based on research and innovation. This is a hard sell in real life, because of the inherent risk in hoping that research transforms into profitable substance. Nevertheless, the book had me thinking and dreaming in ways that I hadn’t thought or dreamt of before. I think it is these influences in our emotions and thoughts that really make books hang with us over the course of our lifetimes. I only hope that my next series of reads provides me with the same type of interface to my life as I am currently experiencing it.