An astrophysicist who helped land Mars rovers shares some tips for launching your own big project.
Varol’s polymathic background—rocket scientist, law professor, public speaker—makes him an engaging guide for this book, which cannily blends memoir, pop science, and self-help manual. Many of his insights come directly from his experience at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, working on the team that successfully landed two rovers on Mars in 2003. For instance, the plan to send two rovers instead of one speaks to the need for redundancies in a process; the use of inflatable balloons to land the rovers spotlights how effective solutions require escaping we’ve-always-done-it-this-way mindsets. Throughout, the book is peppered with counterintuitive but sensible commentaries about working with teams, testing rigorously, and embracing failures. “We must expose ourselves to failure regularly,” he writes. “Each crisis becomes training for the next one.” Varol thoughtfully selects his anecdotes from outside his own experience, with a mind toward showing how even the brightest scientists can slip into complacency. The Challenger and Columbia disasters, for instance, revealed how engineers dismissed sustained evidence of problems as mere data points. In a way, the author is almost too good at his job; he so effectively relates space-program history that his comments about how it can provide help for your business feel modest and tacked-on. He also discusses the private rocketry work of Elon Musk with an enthusiasm that borders on hagiography. On the whole, the book is an effective and good-natured effort to remind readers that everybody has mental ruts and would do well to escape them with the help of other people, even made-up ones: “Build a mental model of your favorite adversary, and have imaginary conversations with them,” suggests the author. Talking to yourself never sounded so sane.
A charming and insightful airplane read on innovation.
"Smart and witty, Varol's masterful analysis explains complicated scientific principles and connects them to ordinary life for a mainstream audience."—Publishers Weekly
"Varol's polymathic backgroundrocket scientist, law professor, public speakermakes him an engaging guide for this book, which cannily blends memoir, pop science, and self-help manual...A charming and insightful airplane read on innovation."—Kirkus Reviews
"The scientific method of observing, developing a hypothesis, testing it and revising as needed has survived centuries for a reason: It works. And, as bona fide rocket scientist Ozan Varol shows, that approachplus boundless curiosityis handy whether you're designing a Mars lander or figuring out what to have for dinner."—Discover Magazine
"But reading this encouraging book is one small way to help counter a downward trend and enrich America's psyche. Today, America longs for people with this very can-do attitude. Varol's optimistic look at the past can become America's present and future."—The Epoch Times
"Thinking like a rocket scientist is not rocket science! Packed with witty writing, insightful advice, and invigorating stories, this must-read book will change the way you see the worldand empower you to change the world itself."—Susan Cain, New York Times-bestselling author of Quiet
"When the stakes are high, the unknowns are threatening, and the problems seem insurmountable, you need a superhero which means you need Ozan Varol. He'll show you how to master the cognitive skills of a rocket scientist. And by the time you finish reading his endlessly fascinating book, your thinking will be bigger, better, and bolder."—Daniel H. Pink, New York Times-bestselling author of When, Drive, and A Whole New Mind
"This is not just an engrossing readit's bursting with practical insights. Ozan Varol's dazzling debut might change how you approach problems. Houston, this book has solutions."—Adam Grant, New York Times-bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take, and host of the TED podcast WorkLife
"You're smarter than you think. Ozan Varol makes a compelling case for each of us to level up and to contribute at a level we've talked ourselves out of."—Seth Godin, New York Times-bestselling author of This Is Marketing
"I love Ozan Varol. He's a brilliant mind, a warm and kind heart, and the exact type of spirit we need putting resilient vibes into the world right now."—Neil Pasricha, New York Times-bestselling author of Book of Awesome
"Ozan Varol is like Nassim Taleb meets Daniel Kahneman."—Clara Shih, Board Member of Starbucks; CEO of Hearsay Social
"Ozan Varol is one of my favorite thinkers on thinking. If you liked Smartcuts or are a fan of Farnam Street, you'll LOVE Think Like A Rocket Scientist. The fun stories and clarity of writing makes this manual on thinking bigger and better a pleasure to readand I dare say it'll change your mind."—Shane Snow, Bestselling author of Smartcuts and Dream Teams
"If you looked up the word 'polymath' in the dictionary, you may see a picture of Ozan Varol."—Nir Eyal, Bestselling author of Hooked and Indistractable
"In this new book, Ozan Varol provides a toolkit for making better decisions (and 'giant leaps'!) even in the midst of a turbulent environment. After reading it, you might be inspired to take your own moonshot."—Chris Guillebeau, New York Times-bestselling author of The $100 Startup
"The rocket scientists I know are technical, of course. But they are also among the biggest dreamers the world has ever seen. Ozan Varol has written a fascinating, practical, and mind-expanding book about how we can all benefit from thinking like a rocket scientist. This book will make you look at the world with a different lens and will help you make your own seemingly crazy moonshot a reality."
—Julian Guthrie, New York Times-bestselling author of How to Make a Spaceship, The Billionaire and the Mechanic, and Alpha Girls
"A wonderful booka sort of vade mecum of critical thinking."—Barbara Oakley, co-creator of Learning How to Learn, the world's most popular online course
"Perfectly captures the spirit of being 'responsibly irresponsible,' an essential trait for moonshot takers the world over."—Obi Felten, X, the moonshot factory (formerly known as Google X)