A book that argues that lessons in creativity, innovation, salesmanship, and entrepreneurship can come from surprising places: pirates, bootleggers, counterfeiters, hustlers, and others living and working on the margins of business and society.
Who are the greatest innovators in the world? You're probably thinking Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford. The usual suspects. This book isn't about them. It's about people you've never heard of. It's about people who are just as innovative, entrepreneurial, and visionary as the Jobses, Edisons, and Fords of the world. They’re in the crowded streets of Shenzhen, the prisons of Somalia, the flooded coastal towns of Thailand. They are pirates, computer hackers, pranksters, and former gang leaders. Across the globe, diverse innovators operating in the black, grey, and informal economies are developing solutions to a myriad of challenges. Far from being "deviant entrepreneurs" that pose threats to our social and economic stability, these innovators display remarkable ingenuity, pioneering original methods and practices that we can learn from and apply to move formal markets. This book investigates the stories of underground innovation that make up the Misfit Economy. It examines the teeming genius of the underground. It asks: Who are these unknown visionaries? How do they work? How do they organize themselves? How do they catalyze innovation? And ultimately, how can you take these lessons into your own world?
Alexa Clay is a storyteller and leading expert on subculture. She is the cofounder of the League of Intrapreneurs, a movement to create change from within big business and the founder of Wisdom Hackers, an incubator for philosophical inquiry. Alexa initiates projects through the collective The Human Agency, which aims to create communities of purpose around the world. Formerly she was a director at Ashoka, a global nonprofit that invests in social entrepreneurs. A graduate of Brown University and Oxford University, she is the author (with Kyra Maya Phillips) of The Misfit Economy.
Kyra Maya Phillips is a writer and innovation strategist. She is a director of The Point People, a network based consultancy focused on innovation and systemic change. Previously, Kyra worked as a journalist for The Guardian, where she focused on environmental reporting, and at as a consultant at SustainAbility, a London based think-tank and consultancy. She grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, but is now based in London, where she lives with her husband and son. A graduate of The London School of Economics, she is the author (with Alexa Clay) of The Misfit Economy.
“This imaginative, provocative book reveals that if we want to overcome barriers, we can find surprisingly valuable lessons underground. I never expected to learn so much about entrepreneurship and innovation from pirates and gangsters.”
– Adam Grant, Wharton professor and author of GIVE AND TAKE
"What do Somali pirates, Amish camel-milkers, and gang leaders have in common? They're all innovative—and successful—misfits in today's global economy. Think you can't learn anything from outlaws and provocateurs? This book will make you think again with engaging stories and insightful analysis of how people operating on the fringes create unique business models, and in the process transform the culture around them."
– Daniel H. Pink, author of TO SELL IS HUMAN and DRIVE
"The Misfit Economy helps us to understand the lives of those men and women who have had to depend on illegal enterprise just to get by. In this book you'll learn how the misfit economies can bring meaning to those who are hopeless, jobless, and hungry for more than a handout. You'll meet people who are just like everyone else in searching for freedom and opportunity, but aren't afraid to bend the rules of the system."
– King Tone, Former Leader of the Latin Kings, a hispanic street gang
"If you want to learn what Somali pirates have in common with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, read this book. It's a colourful guide on how to shine a light on the ingenuity that often lies in the dark depths of all types organisations."
– Rachel Botsman, co-author of What's Mine is Yours: How Collaborative Consumption is Changing the Way We Live
“For those wanting a fresh perspective on business practices or working lives, this is a snappy introduction to a new way of thinking.”
– Financial Times
A well-paced read about a unique perspective on supply and demand and those who create it. For anyone interested in business or economics—especially those who hustle.