Nobodies to Somebodies: How 100 Great Careers Got Their Start

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Penguin, 2005 - Business & Economics - 233 pages
4 Reviews
Peter Han cofounded a software company soon after college and sold it a few years later. By any measure he was already successful, but he still was curious about how others found long-term meaning in their work. So he set out to learn what a diverse group of influential “somebodies” had done back when they were still “nobodies.”

Nobodies to Somebodiesis based on Han’s interviews with one hundred fascinating people who figured out how to find and pursue big opportunities. They span a wide range of fields, including politics (former Senator Bill Bradley), business (Reebok CEO Paul Fireman), acting (John Lithgow), activism (Sierra Club president Larry Fahn), writing (Tom Clancy), science (Nobel Prize physicist Anthony Leggett), and the nonprofit world (Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp).

Han synthesizes fourteen big lessons that anyone can apply, including:
• Pay the rent first, conquer the world later
• Become the big fish by mastering the small pond
• Learn when to stay and when to go

Nobodies to Somebodiesblends inspiring stories with the proven wisdom of one hundred somebodies who haven’t forgotten what it was like to be nobody.


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Review: Nobodies to Somebodies: How 100 Great Careers Got Their Start

User Review  - Lucas - Goodreads

Enjoyable read. Conventional Hypothesis 1: "They inherited their success. Someone gave them a free ride directly, or they were deterministically pointed toward success after being brought up with ... Read full review

Review: Nobodies to Somebodies: How 100 Great Careers Got Their Start

User Review  - Jason - Goodreads

Good premise. Mediocre book. While the book offers plenty of valuable insights for professional success, the book loses its impact in the final half as the author stretches to illustrate his points. Good editing and a tighter focus on fewer subjects would have greatly improved this book. Read full review


Five Paths to Enlightenment
Run Toward Yourself Not Away
Pay the Rent First Conquer the World Later
Become the Big Fish by Mastering the Small Pond
LessonS Learn When to Stay and When to Go
Learn How to Stay and How to Go
Dont Let Old Plans Get in the Way of New Opportunities
LessonS Work Hard Work Smart and Work Some More
Go Crazy in the Office but Stay Sane at Home
If Theres Magic in Success It Lies in Willpower
Things Dont Have to End Where They Begin
Closing Thoughts
Appendix A Capsule Biographies of the TOO Leaders
Appendix B Basic Question Guide for Interviews with Leaders

Be Productively Competitive
Find the Social Animal Within

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About the author (2005)

Peter Han, a thirty-year-old Harvard graduate, has written for The New York Times, The Houston Post, and the Associated Press. He currently works for Microsoft.

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