Review: Chris Guillebeau, The Art of Non-Conformity

Chris Guillebeau, The Art of Non-ConformityBook Reviews

Chris Guillebeau, The Art of Non-Conformity, Perigee, Penguin, New York, 2010.

I’ve been a fan and regular blog reader of Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity for about 18 months. I love his work. It’s a simple and inspiring reminder to be awake!

The Aim

Chris’s aim is simple enough: “transform your thinking about life and work”. In other words, “You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.”
In this sense it parallels two books we’ve rapped Timothy Ferris in the Four Hour Work Week and Seth Godin in Linchpin. It’s a guru-free philosophy and Chris is a modest chap who doesn’t claim to have all the answers.
However he does have a great personal story to share. He runs marathons, is self-employed and his quest is to visit every country in the world. At last count he’s at 149 of 192. Along the way he’s volunteered in Africa and learnt a few things about getting cheap flights. He calls it ‘travel hacking’.

To be honest I was a little disappointed in this book. I think this is simply because I’ve been reading his blog and other materials. I was looking for more practical things about how he does what he does. Not so. More the big picture of taking on life.

My Two Big Take Homes

Whilst this book wasn’t what I expected I did get two big take-homes from it.

  1. What’s the Legacy Work You’ll Do Today? : The idea of what you’re leaving as your impact on the world when you die is not new. What struck me as pivotal was transforming this in what I do on a daily basis. I’ve often felt like I wasn’t getting to the things I wanted to. Chris put a new context around this for me. The writing I’m doing at Book Rapper is my legacy work. And through Chris’ suggestions I can sharpen my efforts. Rather than write for an hour a day, his lead is to write 1000 words minimum a day. For me I can write and design one Book Rapper page each day. Gold! This begs 2 questions: What’s your legacy? And, what are you going to do about it today?
  1. What’s Your ‘Why?’ For Doing What You Do? : When I started Book Rapper I just got started. I knew why for me: I wanted to read books because I wanted to know what was going on in the world. That was a given for me yet I’ve never said that to anyone. I just presumed they would be into books or not. Having read Chris’s comments about this I can see this as a weakness for Book Rapper attracting an audience. So, it’s time to ask, Why would your audience be interested in what you’re doing? And, what does it do for someone like me?

The Good News

The good news is it’s a quick and easy read – I read it in one sitting in about 2 hours. It’s perfect for anyone feeling stuck in life or work. If this is you, then it’ll be a little can-opener for new possibilities.


If you want more then buy the book.

If you want to sneak up on the book, read Chris’s blog:×5/
And, I highly recommend you download his first manifesto: 279 Days to Overnight Success. It’s a practical, ‘here’s how I do it’ guide.

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