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Against the Odds: An Autobiography [Hardcover]

James Dyson
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 17, 2003 1587991705 978-1587991707 2
The inspiring autobiography of James Dyson, the countryÂ's leading entrepreneur and inventor, and how he succeeded against all the odds. Dyson's freewheeling account of his struggles, failures and successes is interspersed with his insights on how to turn an inspired idea into a household name. Also includes an updated chapter that reveals the details of the latest TOP SECRET Dyson appliance. Against the Odds will inspire engineers, inventors, and entrepreneurs and appeal to readers around the world.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

James Dyson is an inventor and the founder of Dyson Appliances. He invented the Dual Cyclone, the country¿s biggest selling vacuum cleaner. He is also a board member of the Design Council. He lives in Malmesbury, Wiltshire.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Texere; 2 edition (April 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587991705
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587991707
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,102,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Edison Lives Today October 1, 2004
The story told here, an autobiography, is one of the most inspiring that I've read in a long time. Dyson is an inventor and industrial designer who has taken his bagless vacuum cleaner from the garage to a huge enterprise. I loved this story and wound up really admiring the man. His distinctive approach to industrial design, his perseverance and gutsy self confidence enabled him to show that even in the world of huge multinationals, with all their central research laboratories, there are still opportunities for the lone inventor to make it, big-time.

I especially enjoyed the part about the early development of the machine, in which he made something like one version per day for over three years, varying things one at a time, measuring everything to exhaustion, all the while sinking further and further into debt. Edisonian it was, but sometimes that is the only way--the quest for the quick breakthrough emphasized by modern industrial managers can be a real obstacle to progress. I've seen it at work first-hand.

The book is rather lavishly produced with ten pages of glossy photos, many of them in color, supplemented by many sketches and drawings. The big margins and the attractive typeface on acid-free paper combine to make a very pretty book, worth owning.

This is the sort of book that once you put it down, you feel better about the world, the striving of man-the-builder, and realize that, even in England, things can get better.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An entrepreneur's struggle and testimonial January 14, 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a great story of a stubborn, possibly cantankerous, designer turned manufacturing entreprenur. It was a real page-turner and I couldn't put it down.

This Brit took on the vacuum sweeper industry worldwide and now is introducing washing machines that may be technologically superior -- just like his sweepers. He has invented and introduced several products to the world.

Here's what you can get from this book:

1) A humorous story of entrepreneurial struggle and then success,

2) Dyson's rules for product design,

3) Dyson's rules for start-ups for manufacturing companies,

4) Some great words to improve your vocabulary (he's British remember),

5) Lessons in patents and the lengths to which you will have to defend them,

6) How entrenched product manufacturers will buy companies to squelch a superior technology to keep it off the market,

7) How your wayward son who goes off to study art may actually end up richer than you.

8) How to protect yourself from unscrupulous competitors (are there any other kind?)

Most important of all are his rules for design and for startups.

His basic rule for coming up with new products goes like this:

Find a durable consumer product that every household buys. Find out what bugs people about this product. Use technology to dramatically improve its performance -- preferably find the technology in other industries. Look for new materials providing superior durability. Prototype, prototype, prototype. Test, test, test. Then design outward for style and ergonomics (Form follows function.) Don't listen to others. Don't hire consultants. Market and manufacture it yourself.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This book is subtitled "an autobiography," but it isn't really about James Dyson, the man. It is about James Dyson, the inventor and designer who conquered the vacuum cleaner market. The difference? Dyson includes everything that might explain his success as an inventor, but gives only limited attention to his personal or interior life. Dyson briefly mentions some crucial points, like the strain his ongoing travels put on his marriage, or his wonderment at his companies' many lawsuits, but if you're seeking a man's inside emotional story, this isn't it. However, if you're looking for an exciting account of an inventor who proceeds, as Dyson puts it, in an Edisonian fashion, read this book. We recommend it to anyone engaged in design, engineering, marketing or innovation. The stories it contains, especially the descriptions of inspiration or frustration - are refreshing in this theoretical age, as is his advice on creating and marketing innovative products. Dyson's book proves that a vital place still exists for individual vision and old-fashioned perseverance.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read October 31, 2003
I just finished reading a really great book that I think that anyone would enjoy. The name of the book is "Against the Odds" and the author is James Dyson. I bought my copy from book has everything and was hard to put down. It is a recent (2002) well written fascinating autobiography of Dyson who took huge risks and overcame tremendous difficulties to rise from poverty to become Sir James and a billionaire by inventing the very successful cyclonic vacuum cleaner and other products. The book is about innovation, what makes people resist innovation and act against their own interests, business principles and organization, marketing in different cultures, education, etc. and is a great story especially when you are in need of a little inspiration. Read what he did when he was told "Your product can't be any good because if there was a better way to make a vacuum cleaner, Hoover would have already done it".
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Story of a Stunning Product, and Inventor
I got this book because I have seen James Dyson on many advertisements for his famous vacuum cleaner and recently I found that he was a Billionaire. Billions from a vacuum? Read more
Published 3 months ago by Joseph G. Wick
5.0 out of 5 stars The story of how Dyson did it.
Super inspirational, a must read for everyone. Dyson has a never give up mindset, and despite flopping school he went out and created a storm. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Roy
5.0 out of 5 stars Dogged Persistence.
Awesome book showing what is takes to succeed. It is amazing to see how many times James failed in his journey and how he kept on going. Read more
Published 7 months ago by R. Minton
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a compelling real life story of unremitting persisitence that...
I always wanted to know how Dyson did it and this gives a very personal story of a human journey that I can recognise and identify with - except that he makes so many more mistakes... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Dr Keith Alexander
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Read
Even if the book holds no relevance to what you do or want to do you can't help but feel inspired to do something after reading this. Read more
Published 13 months ago by aks001
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard to like
Dyson: Both the book and the man are hard to like. In the book the author comes across as both petty and mean. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Quikwitt
5.0 out of 5 stars Dyson - What a Guy!
I'm working with a company founded by a "Dyson-like" person. For him it is an affirming story of trial/error/learning/redirection & success.
Published on April 25, 2012 by Jon Schrotzberger
5.0 out of 5 stars Be an engineer, designer and entrepreneur all in one
"Against the odds" is an apropos title. What we now celebrate as the "overnight success" and "the genius" of Dyson products is anything but, and this is the book that tells this... Read more
Published on January 1, 2012 by Ilya Grigorik
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read!
Being interested in innovation and entrepreneurship I was looking forward to reading this book, and I was not disappointed at all. Read more
Published on June 29, 2008 by E. M. WOLERY
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Inspiring
His tenacity in getting the cleaner to market is a lesson for us. Many of his observation such as - Engineering is a state of mind, only by remaining as close as possible to pure... Read more
Published on May 17, 2008 by R. Pokkyarath
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