Rebel Talent: Why it Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life – Francesca Gino Book Summary

Rebel Talent: Why it Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life – Francesca Gino | Free Book Summary

Rebel Talent: Why it Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life – Francesca Gino

When we challenge ourselves to move beyond what we know and can do well, we rebel against the comfortable cocoon of the status quo, improving ourselves and positioning ourselves to contribute more to our partners, coworkers, and organizations

How Rebels are engaged

These five key ‘rebel traits’ represent paths to engagement:

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Novelty: It allows us to fight the boredom that comes with routines and traditions.

Curiosity: It allows us to combat the tendency to stick with the status quo.

Perspective: It allows us to rebel against our narrow focus when we approach problems or decisions, which usually include only one view – our own.

Diversity: It allows us to defy the stereotypes that are so ingrained in human nature.Free book, podcast summaries

Authenticity: It allows us to be honest about our preferences, emotions and beliefs.

Novelty: exploitation and exploration

Exploitation involves improving and refining existing products and processes. This typically happens through a focus on efficiency and execution.

In contrast, the focus of exploration is on identifying new ideas and ways of doing things. This involves things like risk-taking and experimentation.


When we open ourselves to curiosity, we are more apt to reframe situations in a positive way. Curiosity makes us much more likely to view a tough problem at work as an interesting challenge to take on.

As we get older, curious people seem to have a natural inclination to ask questions – both at work and in life. 

Perspective: counterfactual thinking

Counterfactual thinking means forgetting what you know and considering a situation from a fresh perspective. This way of thinking is also referred to as “the beginner’s mindset” or “unlearning”.

Rebel talent will always try to broaden their perspective and thus mitigate the “curse of knowledge” (overestimating the amount of knowledge that we or others have).

The role of diversity

Rebels know that to effectively leverage differences, their organizations should work beyond race and gender.

In the rebel mind, all differences matter, and diversity isn’t a quota system but a long-range vision for growth.


It means being able to be your ‘true self’ at work, and throwing this into the mix when tackling tough challenges or coming up with new ideas. This doesn’t mean that one’s ability to be authentic can be abused to behave negatively or to disrespect other people’s authentic selves. Instead, the value of authenticity and humour comes particularly in times of change, where it can help people thrive.

Psychological Safety

This is important in an environment where rebel talent can thrive.

Members of psychologically safe teams aren’t afraid of admitting to errors and discussing these openly nor would you fear being embarrassed about asking unorthodox questions, ideas or doubts.

Continuous Learning

To be able to question, challenge, and innovate, we need to constantly frame our work around learning goals.

These learning goals can cover developing our competence, acquiring new skills, or mastering new situations.

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