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Saturday, May 23, 2015



The Most Productive People in History: 18 Extraordinarily Prolific Inventors, Artists, and Entrepreneurs, From Archimedes to Elon Musk, by Michael Rank

I think we all have wondered at one time or another just what is that makes this person or that person so much more productive or successful, than I am. What is that magic that they seem to have? How can I get me a piece of that? What did they do or how did they live that made that difference? What gave them that genius to invent, design, be so tenacious and made them so successful, so much more like I'd like to be.

I know that, I have, many times. I still play with the thought of picking up a book on each of these successful people I admire and want to be like and analyze what it is that makes them so successful, productive, wealthy.

Michael Rank has done just this kind of research, analysis and thought with a group of inventors, artists and entrepreneurs from throughout the ages, who he, and many people, see as  prolific producers.  That book is: The Most Productive People in History: 18 Extraordinarily Prolific Inventors, Artists, and Entrepreneurs, From Archimedes to Elon Musk.

Rank defines "productivity" not as doing lots of tasks, but "doing the goal oriented work that goes about achieving the right tasks.” This definition, in my opinion, hits the nail on the head. It’s not productivity as we look at it today nor is it success or wealth, it is productivity as it was the perception of the people  who Rank considers in his book. He looks at the lives of people such as Archimedes, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Leonardo daVinci, Elon Musk and others that many people consider to have been remarkably productive during their lifetime. In determining what it is that made them productive, Rank looks at these people from the combination of  vantage points that consider:

  •  the persons biography
  •  the understanding of cultural context in which they lived in
  •  the person's methods to produce results

Although there is no one thing or magical bean that is that answer we all hope for, Rank does a magnificent job of conveying the sources of their creativity and productivity through factual accounts of their life habits, such as sleeping, organization of their working hours, goals for which they strove, degrees of tenacity and how they maintained their determination and inspiration. 

 The well-researched factual information is dotted with intriguing anecdotes from information gathered from those who witnessed the lives of these amazing people and found it necessary and valuable to document it or pass on the information. These stories combined with the facts makes for very interesting reading.  He also refers to the same methods that come from our modern day philosophers, such as episodes from the sitcom, Seinfeld. Such references bring the ideas of productivity to a very comfortable, understandable and entertaining level.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book from cover to the author's kudos and notes at the close of the book. This book won’t give you key to success, but it will give you clues that you may find useful in fashioning your own notches in your own key to help open that door.

This book, for its content, is relatively low cost and can be found at:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00WWJ14XE/ 


This book was given to me as a gift in exchange for my honest review of the book. I only review products that I use myself, and always give an honest opinion. All  opinions are my own.

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