Why your most punished traits are actually your greatest assets

p 1 companies fire employees for these personality traits but maybe they should be getting bonuses

Innovation. It’s a phrase so central to success in enterprise that it’s virtually talismanic. It brings to thoughts photographs of Nikola Tesla slaving away in his Shoreham, N.Y. workshop, or Jobs and Woz cobbling collectively the primary Apple pc in a Cupertino storage.

Innovation is the engine that powers the economic system, mints unicorns, and billionaires, and provides us manufacturers which have turn out to be verbs: Google, Uber, Zoom. Nearly all people in each enterprise needs to be an innovator—or, no less than, is aware of the First Commandment of recent enterprise: innovate or disappear.

Whereas company leaders know innovation is their lifeblood, many don’t actually know do it. Linda Bernardi, a technologist, entrepreneur, speaker, and coauthor of the books The Inversion Issue: Tips on how to Thrive within the IoT Financial system and Provoke, says when she takes questions from her audiences, half are from keen however pissed off senior executives pleading to know the key method. “They ask me, ‘Linda, how do I innovate?’” she tells us. “It’s stunning {that a} mind-set that ought to be the core of many firms’ success remains to be such a thriller.”


Honestly, it’s no thriller. The company world has at all times been a stew of contradictions. Most leaders are preoccupied with match, the concept hiring people whose character and values click on into their tradition like Legos is the important thing to constructing a tribe of warrior-poets who’ll carry them to a billion-dollar market cap.

In the meantime, lots of these C-suiters speak like they’ve Apple’s “Suppose Completely different” advert copy about rebels and troublemakers tattooed on their forearms. They ache to be swashbuckling, Branson-esque visionaries who outline eras, transmogrify markets, and squirrel away sufficient inventory choices to purchase a non-public island whereas they’re at it.   

The underside line is that firms are determined to turn out to be extra modern. Within the latest BCG Most Modern Firms survey, the share of firms reporting innovation as a top-three precedence jumped ten proportion factors to 75 %, the biggest year-over-year enhance within the fifteen years of the survey. However should you’re main a type of organizations, you would possibly really feel trapped between conformity and innovation. You may’t have each, however which do you select? 

In additional than fifteen years of working our award-winning branding company, we’ve seen a sample. Organizations that constantly show fearless creativity and set the tempo of their business usually have leaders who don’t play effectively with others. They’re obsessive, oppositional, audacious, and socially maladroit. Nonetheless, they’re additionally wired to see past the constraints of the current, problem typical knowledge, and break what ought to be damaged. For all their quirks and sharp elbows, they method issues and options with blinding originality. 

We name such folks the Uncommon Breed. That’s who to decide on. 

The Uncommon Breed

Uncommon Breeds worth fact and individuality over conformity. They are out of the atypical and outspoken, unapologetically transferring in a single course whereas the herd strikes within the different. Uncommon Breeds are those who notice visions different folks insist are unattainable. They insurgent in opposition to business-as-usual and by no means let “the way in which issues are” get in the way in which of “the way in which issues might be.” Their nerve and creativeness open up wealthy veins of alternative for others. Though they’ll make some folks uncomfortable by saying what others received’t, Uncommon Breeds additionally present up daily as the very best, most impactful, most trustworthy variations of themselves, inspiring these round them to do the identical. 


Uncommon Breeds are folks whose defining traits mother and father, academics, mentors, and managers have lengthy derided as vices. As a substitute, we reframe them as virtues, and in our e-book, Rare Breed: A Information to Success for the Defiant, Harmful, and Completely different, we establish seven of them:

  1. Rebellious. Folks with zero tolerance for what doesn’t work, who push in opposition to authority, precedent, and the phrase of consultants to see how onerous they push again. 
  2. Audacious. Brimming over with hubris and the sense that they’ve capabilities others lack, they’ll gleefully dare the unattainable, particularly should you inform them it’s unattainable.
  3. Obsessed. They’re those who work 72 hours with out sleep, scribble equations on the partitions of the bathe, agonize over punctuation…and create greatness. 
  4. Sizzling-Blooded. Folks with passions that run so deep nothing else issues. They’re activists, champions, avengers, and folks you don’t need to cross. 
  5. Bizarre. Nerds. Geeks. Habitués of maker gala’s, comedian cons, and silent movie festivals. They see the world from odd angles and thru unusual filters and are typically sensible. 
  6. Hypnotic. Folks with disconcerting ranges of charisma, who discover it straightforward to sway and spellbind others as much as—and generally, past—the purpose of manipulation.  
  7. Emotional. Carrying their hearts on their sleeves, these are the empaths, those who weep at everybody’s ache but in addition discover pleasure within the small issues. 

Uncommon Breeds energy innovation as a result of they’re motivated by various things than the everyday worker. They care much less about becoming in, climbing the ladder, or avoiding criticism than they do about being true to themselves. Sure, they need to be appreciated and to belong, as a result of they’re human, but when being a part of the tribe means pretending to be one thing they’re not, they’ll ditch the tribe.  

This makes Uncommon Breeds your greatest assets, as a result of they’ll method design questions, technical issues, advertising messaging, or monetary conundrums from a course nobody else in your group will even suppose to contemplate. They’re your secret weapon. 

The Uncommon Breed group

However the true worth of Uncommon Breeds could lie of their energy to rework organizations with what we name the Uncommon Breed Mindset. When you’ve been a standard, by-the-book thinker all your life, you may’t simply snap your fingers and begin pondering like a changemaker. It’s irritating and it limits how modern you will be. However should you can’t develop a disruptor’s mentality, you may at all times import it by bringing Uncommon Breeds into your group. 

As a result of they spit on precedent and relish the prospect to sabotage mediocrity, these folks will take you and your group down artistic roads you didn’t even know you wished to journey. However they can even change how your group thinks—and by providing you with a contemporary framework to look by, change how you suppose as effectively. Working facet by facet with Uncommon Breeds, you’ll not solely alter limiting patterns and enhance your threat tolerance, however you may also even fall in love with outrageous risk-taking. 

Alan More durable, founding companion of Tango Financial in Vancouver, BC, agrees. As he wrote in an interview:

“Established, old-guard companies require these out-of-the-box thinkers and misfits to gas innovation. I sifted by masses and a great deal of resumes once I first began my enterprise. Hiring somebody who didn’t have the very best CV could have seemed like a foul concept on the time, nevertheless it turned out to be a smart possibility. These misfits are those who shake issues up within the assembly room with out-of-this-world concepts. They might not match the mildew. however they are out of the atypical and that’s what makes hiring the ‘incorrect’ folks factor.”

A double-edged sword

However we’re not naïve. Uncommon Breeds are sophisticated. Their virtues have a darkish facet, too. An obsessed supervisor can drive a complete division to burnout, whereas a rebellious particular person contributor may flip an orderly group into an indignant mob. 

Rachel Sklar, a founding father of The Li.st, a group of ladies, femme, and non-binary entrepreneurs, says that underneath some circumstances, such delinquent misfits can inflict actual injury, whereas the traits that make a Jobs or a Musk so admired are much less tolerated if hooked up to somebody not white and male. 

“I actually surprise how lengthy unstable geniuses who aren’t white males final in numerous workplaces? Do they depend as unstable as soon as they get to the highest, or are they simply the boss? Steve Jobs casts an extended shadow because the archetype of this—and I undoubtedly love my iPhone—however there’s a spectrum of hurt that these folks trigger.”

What’s the answer?

So, how do you harness the unimaginable potential of Uncommon Breeds with out stressing your tradition or sending your buttoned-down workers scurrying for the exits? Dr. Denise M. Rousseau, H.J. Heinz II a professor of Organizational Habits and Public Coverage at Carnegie Mellon University, says one resolution is to recruit for expertise, after which handle no matter package deal of wierd mannerisms that expertise comes wrapped in.

“I’d begin with this—does anyone carry particular abilities? What does it take to faucet these abilities in the event that they’re a nerd or they’ve Asperger’s or they’re an delinquent individual, or they don’t bathe and received’t bathe? They could be presenting some expertise, so begin with the expertise. That’s the most vital factor organizationally: ‘This individual brings one thing to us.’”

“Take the one who is gifted, nerdy, troublesome, smelly, oppositional, disruptive at conferences,” Rousseau continues. “However boy, after they ask a query, you go, ‘Wow.’ We want these folks. The thought is that we channel them, however we shield the remainder of the group from their extra disruptive or delinquent tendencies. There are complete departments in tech firms made up of people that are high-functioning Asperger’s, and so they’ve acquired typically anyone from HR or a neighborhood line supervisor who helps them relate and represents their work to the remainder of the group. Suppose channel. Suppose dealer. You’re creating an island of misfit toys.”


There’s that phrase once more. Misfit. It was once one thing firms prevented, the agent of chaos, the sq. peg within the spherical gap. However should you’re looking for innovation’s secret ingredient, then discovering individuals who don’t match, received’t conform, and are prepared to talk up and stand out is perhaps the important thing to every thing. Conformity isn’t what you want.

You want the Uncommon Breed.