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Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion Hardcover – June 12, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover (June 12, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159184634X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591846345
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Zweig’s stint as a fact checker at a magazine no doubt inspired him to look closely at the unsung, behind-the-scenes workers he calls the invisibles. They disappear into their work on two levels, the devotion to excellence and the fact that the more flawless their work, the less it is noticed or recognized. Zweig profiles several individuals who are highly skilled and essential in their jobs but relatively unknown. Among them are the guitar technician for Radiohead, the lead engineer of the tallest skyscraper in China, a cinematographer, and a UN interpreter. He focuses on three traits of the invisibles: no need to be recognized, meticulousness, and a high sense of responsibility. Zweig touches on philosophy, religion, and psychology in exploring the satisfaction derived from work exceptionally well done in contrast to the noisy self-promotion now prevalent. He offers historical context for our current obsession with attention-getting via social media and the Internet and uses the profiles to offer some quiet and thoughtful space to consider the inner value of high-quality work. --Vanessa Bush

Review

“It's a refreshing point of view, written with the precision and detail of the magazine fact checker Mr. Zweig used to be.” 
-The Wall Street Journal

“An encouraging salute to the world behind the scenes, where the ‘Invisibles’ allow the show to go on. Journalist Zweig suggests, with considerable merit, that, in our culture of wanting it all, we have forgotten the hard work of getting there…In Zweig’s fascinating world, the limelight doesn’t hold a candle to the satisfaction of hard work well done.”
-Kirkus

“Zweig’s stint as a fact checker at a magazine no doubt inspired him to look closely at the unsung, behind-the-scenes workers he calls the invisibles….[He] touches on philosophy, religion, and psychology in exploring the satisfaction derived from work exceptionally well done in contrast to the noisy self-promotion now prevalent…and uses the profiles to offer some quiet and thoughtful space to consider the inner value of high-quality work.”
-Booklist

"A fascinating tour of the hidden landscapes on which human society actually operates. This will change the way you see the world and, hopefully, your place within it."
-Douglas Rushkoff, bestselling author of Present Shock
 
"Invisibles is a one-book cultural revolution, fighting the current cultural tide toward narcissistic self-promotion with the truth that real satisfaction is often silent."
-Jean Twenge, bestselling co-author of The Narcissism Epidemic
 
"Top Business Book to Read in 2014: Invisibles explains why some of the world’s most talented, accomplished people choose to fly under the radar… It’s a clarion call for work as a craft: for generously sharing knowledge without hogging credit and prizing meaningful work above public recognition. An excellent book."  
-Adam Grant, Wharton professor and bestselling author of Give and Take
 
"The genius at the top doesn’t make their team look good. It’s a great team that makes the guy at the top look like a genius…and Invisibles proves it."
-Simon Sinek, Optimist and bestselling author of Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last

“An interesting and important book. It takes us a step closer to understanding how we can be happier and lead more meaningful lives. We can all benefit from the examples of Invisibles.”
-The Buffalo News
 
“The Radical Power of David Zweig’s ‘Invisibles’ . . . precise and insightful.”
-Flavorwire
 
Named one of the “20 Best Books of June”
-iTunes
 
“Invisibles perform key tasks without seeking credit. And they’re in high demand.”
-The New Republic
 
“The great workers who get no credit in a self-promotion obsessed world.”
-The Washington Post
 
“There are high-functioning invisibles in all factions of the economy, and they operate almost in defiance of the prevailing wisdom that self-promotion and self-regard bordering on narcissism are the way to get noticed.”
-Maclean’s
 
“The wisdom of this advice is undeniable.”
-New York Magazine
 
“Zweig challenges the pervasive notion that the people who spend the most time getting others to pay attention to them win.”
-Fortune

More About the Author

David Zweig is a writer, lecturer and musician based in Brooklyn, New York. His latest book, Invisibles, is about the power of embracing anonymous work in a culture obsessed with praise and recognition.

He has released two critically acclaimed albums, All Now With Wings and Keep Going. Both albums charted on college radio playlists and garnered accolades for Zweig, with the press calling him a "symphonic pop prodigy."

Zweig's debut novel, Swimming Inside The Sun, a modernist bildungsroman about identity and self-consciousness, was released fall 2009. It quickly gained notice with a rave review from Kirkus calling it a "terrific debut from a talented writer."

Zweig has been invited to lecture at universities, academic conferences, and corporations around the U.S. and the world. As a freelance journalist, his pieces have appeared in a variety of publications, including The Atlantic, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. More at davidzweig.com

Customer Reviews

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Invisibles is a great example.
Amazon Customer
The author -- a former 'invisible' magazine fact-checker -- weaves several interesting disparate examples together to form an insightful whole.
Dave English
It is timely, thought provoking, and a fast read.
S. Power

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 12, 2014
Format: Hardcover
As the host of a podcast for project managers and leaders, I'm regularly looking for resources that are helpful yet easy to miss. Invisibles is a great example. I found this to be a great read, filled with ideas and examples that are helpful to those who lead projects and teams.

David is a gifted writer who weaves each story in a way that keeps you glued to the narrative while delivering the most important points with great clarity. I never knew there were wayfinders and had no clue of how the perfume industry works. But beyond the intriguing backstories, David illustrates the power that comes from loving the job itself, of striving for excellence and mastery instead of applause.

In our self-promoting mania where people fight to get their minutes of fame, Invisibles is a satisfying, refreshing dose of well-researched perspective.

I strongly recommend Invisibles for your summer reading list. And I recommend the book's website which contains many intriguing follow-on examples of Invisibles at work.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Whether you're the type of employee who thrives on attention - or one of those invisible workers who prefer to do their jobs in anonymity - this book should be a fascinating and enlightening read. It certainly was for me. Until I read it, I wasn't aware that so many critical products and inventions, even some I use everyday, could depend so much on those who go unheralded.

I was relieved to discover that this book isn't a compilation of research studies and dry descriptions of the type of people who make up "the invisibles". Instead, most of the chapters focus on specific people who have similar traits: they don't seek external rewards or attention, are meticulous, and enjoy having significant responsibilities.

So who are they and how do they shape the world? Well, there's Jim Harding, a "wayfinder" who helps design the cues, from the shape of signs to the type of lettering used on them, to help travelers find their way through otherwise confusing airport terminals. Or David Apel, the perfume designer who has helped create some of the most successful perfumes and men's colognes for Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss, Tom Ford, and Puff Diddy. Consumers may know the scents but not the man behind them.

And then there is Dennis Poon, a structural engineer who is responsible for ensuring the structural integrity of buildings where thousands of people enter and exit every day. Or Wilkins Ary, an interpreter who works at the United Nations, and whose job is crucial for helping representatives from various countries understand the finest nuances of sentences spoken in other languages.

I was particularly intrigued by the information indicating that all of us might benefit from picking up some of the skills of those whose work often goes unrecognized.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Hande Z on July 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This is not a book for egomaniacs. It is the opposite - it glorifies those who work hard and stay out of the limelight. It is about a breed of professionals like structural engineer Dennis Poon, a specialist in designing the structural strength of super-high buildings. Most people do not know him whereas they might know the architect. Another example is David Apel who creates fragrances for the big name fragrance houses.

The idea of this book is not just to contrast the two conflicting personality styles, but also to show which the author David Zweig, thinks is the more admirable. He believes that modern culture inclines towards self-promotion and almost everything we do must have a self-promotional angle to them; but this is what reduces the value and quality of what we do.

This is a book in praise of humility and conscientiousness - qualities of professionals.
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Format: Hardcover
In an article that appeared in The Atlantic (March 12, 2012), "What Do Fact-Checkers and Anesthesiologists Have in Common?", David Zweig explained why some people choose professions where accomplishments go unheralded. They are what he characterizes as "Invisibles" insofar as recognition and (especially) praise are concerned, preferring to work on the given work at hand.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Zweig's coverage. I could have selected hundreds of brief excerpts. Here are five:

o Three Defining Traits of Invisibles: Ambivalence toward recognition, meticulousness, and savoring responsibility

Zweig: "The Invisibles are not an exclusive group; they are simply at the far end of a spectrum we all live within. We are all Invisible to varying degrees, in different ways, and in different contexts. The elite professionals I will spotlight in this book, however, show that living at the apex of this continuum, that truly embodying these traits, directly links with success and fulfillment." (Page 13)

o Giulia Wilkins Ary and other members of the elite Interpretation Service at the United Nations

"Without her and her colleagues, diplomats from around the world would not be able to communicate with each other...Wilkins Ary hears one language, interprets it into another language in her head, then speak the new language [begin italics] while at the same time continuing to listen to and interpret the next lines of the original language [end italics], a practice known as simultaneous interpretation...
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