The Art of Living Out Loud

The Pursuit of Meaningful Work and Joyful Living

The Art of Living Out Loud ( is a personal development blog that offers original high quality articles on meaningful work, joyful living and taking smart risks. The blog is a one-woman labor of love of Vee Somphon, former journalist, Asian American writer and management consultant.

6 Key Traits of Innovators

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“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world.  The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.  Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”  -George Bernard Shaw, playwright


In his book, David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell lists key traits of the innovator.

  1. They are open to things.
  2. They have to be able to imagine things that others cannot.
  3. They must be willing to challenge their own preconceptions.
  4. They must be discipline.
  5. They must be persistent.
  6. They are willing to be disagreeable.

The first five did not surprised me quite as much as the last trait on the list, what Gladwell calls disagreeableness.  This is not you being a jerk.  It’s your willingness to challenge convention.  If you worry about hurting people’s feelings and disturbing the social structure, you’re not going to put your ideas forward.

Gladwell concedes going up against convention is certainly not easy.   Society frowns on people who don’t buy into its program.  “As human beings we are hardwired to seek the approval of those around us,” he says.

“Yet a radical and transformative thought goes nowhere without the willingness to challenge convention.”

To be disruptive, you must.  This is what sets an innovator apart from the rest. 

Are you willing to take social risks and do things that others might disapprove of?

Next Monday - the second Future Proof Drill


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