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Invisibles: Celebrating the Unsung Heroes of the Workplace

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An inspiring look at the hidden stars who perform essential work without recognition In a culture where so many strive for praise and glory, what kind of person finds the greatest reward in anonymous work? Expanding from his acclaimed Atlantic article, “What Do Fact-Checkers and Anesthesiologists Have in Common?” David Zweig explores what we can all learn from a modest gro An inspiring look at the hidden stars who perform essential work without recognition In a culture where so many strive for praise and glory, what kind of person finds the greatest reward in anonymous work? Expanding from his acclaimed Atlantic article, “What Do Fact-Checkers and Anesthesiologists Have in Common?” David Zweig explores what we can all learn from a modest group he calls “Invisibles.” Their careers require expertise, skill, and dedication, yet they receive little or no public credit. And that’s just fine with them. Zweig met with a wide range of Invisibles to discover first hand what motivates them and how they define success and satisfaction. His fascinating subjects include... • a virtuoso cinematographer for major films. • the lead engineer on some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers. • a high-end perfume maker. • an elite interpreter at the United Nations. Despite the diversity of their careers, Zweig found that all Invisibles embody the same core traits. And he shows why the rest of us might be more fulfilled if we followed their example.


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An inspiring look at the hidden stars who perform essential work without recognition In a culture where so many strive for praise and glory, what kind of person finds the greatest reward in anonymous work? Expanding from his acclaimed Atlantic article, “What Do Fact-Checkers and Anesthesiologists Have in Common?” David Zweig explores what we can all learn from a modest gro An inspiring look at the hidden stars who perform essential work without recognition In a culture where so many strive for praise and glory, what kind of person finds the greatest reward in anonymous work? Expanding from his acclaimed Atlantic article, “What Do Fact-Checkers and Anesthesiologists Have in Common?” David Zweig explores what we can all learn from a modest group he calls “Invisibles.” Their careers require expertise, skill, and dedication, yet they receive little or no public credit. And that’s just fine with them. Zweig met with a wide range of Invisibles to discover first hand what motivates them and how they define success and satisfaction. His fascinating subjects include... • a virtuoso cinematographer for major films. • the lead engineer on some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers. • a high-end perfume maker. • an elite interpreter at the United Nations. Despite the diversity of their careers, Zweig found that all Invisibles embody the same core traits. And he shows why the rest of us might be more fulfilled if we followed their example.

30 review for Invisibles: Celebrating the Unsung Heroes of the Workplace

  1. 5 out of 5

    Leticia Supple

    The Invisibles is the second book I've "read" in my automobile university this year. It has powerfully reshaped my relationship with my own work. Invisibles is about anonymous work. It presents case studies of a range of invisibles, from piano technicians, to engineers of skyscrapers; from guitar techs to perfumiers and fact checkers. This work is a fascinating exploration of the nature of today's society - one that has a race to the bottom of the most famous, friended, linked, visible. And it di The Invisibles is the second book I've "read" in my automobile university this year. It has powerfully reshaped my relationship with my own work. Invisibles is about anonymous work. It presents case studies of a range of invisibles, from piano technicians, to engineers of skyscrapers; from guitar techs to perfumiers and fact checkers. This work is a fascinating exploration of the nature of today's society - one that has a race to the bottom of the most famous, friended, linked, visible. And it discusses in depth the nature of satisfying and happy work. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that time when you're in a flow state is usually when you forget about being visible, and are just immersed in your work. And also perhaps unsurprisingly, and reflective of many philosophies through the ages, studies show that people who do invisible work are more satisfied and are happier with their lives than those who are visible. Invisibles discusses key attributes of invisible workers. Elements like meticulousness, a tendency towards extreme planning, a sense of internal satisfaction for work well done, a sense of alignment of purpose... all of them are part of the invisibles' lives. As someone who has nearly always done invisible work, particularly in my professional life as an editor, publisher, ghostwriting copywriter, and strategist, all of this resonated with me. It brought me to a clear understanding of my own discomforts in life. It made me question: Do I really need to build a large company? Can I just focus on the work and still be amazingly successful? Can I do what is important to me - to connect with and improve the lives of others - without being highly visible and needing to be a professional speaker, flaunted on the Famous Circuit with thousands of fans? The answer is, no I don't need to build a big company. Yes, I can still be amazingly successful if I just focus on the work. And yes I can still do what resonates without having to be on the public circuit. In fact, of nearly all the great people held up as inspirational, they were invisibles. Albert Einstein was an invisible. So was Tesla. So was Jobs. There are many, many more of them. And interestingly, once you let go of the idea that you need to be in front of people, life is just easier. Invisibles makes valid and important points about the nature of social media; of balanced society; of the fact that personal branding is a whole lot of unnecessary bullshit (my words, not his); of the fact that the race to the bottom (for that's what constant attention-seeking does) is neither important or valuable, and that it ultimately will be part of the downfall of society. It's a massive claim, but it's one with which you are inclined to agree after reading Zweig's arguments. Perhaps a measure of this book's message is that it really did help me to rethink my position in relation to visibility, and whether or not it's important to me. And ultimately, I decided that it isn't important - and that other things are more important. If you have a similar reaction after reading this book, then arguably the author has achieved his aim. There is enormous power in invisible work. Let's celebrate it, and encourage it, and the world will be a happier place as a result.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    "Daddy, when I grow up, I want to be invisible." Most kids would never say such a thing, but David Zweig shows they may be missing out on the most satisfying careers of all. Most of us don't value the things we can't see. "Out of sight, out of mind," the old saying goes. But that doesn't mean they're unimportant. In fact, some of the most essential jobs in the world happen behind the scenes. That's the premise of ""Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion." Th "Daddy, when I grow up, I want to be invisible." Most kids would never say such a thing, but David Zweig shows they may be missing out on the most satisfying careers of all. Most of us don't value the things we can't see. "Out of sight, out of mind," the old saying goes. But that doesn't mean they're unimportant. In fact, some of the most essential jobs in the world happen behind the scenes. That's the premise of ""Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion." Think "Wayfinding" sounds unimportant? Think again. Walking through an airport without carefully planning by a wayfinder like Jim Harding would become an exercise in panic and frustration. Ever heard of "simultaneous interpretation?" Probably not. But without gifted interpreters like Giulia Wilkins Ary, international diplomacy would come to a grinding halt. With a background in fact-checking, the author began to notice that behind every great enterprise, there were people quietly doing their job, far away from the spotlight, who were absolutely essential. He calls them, the "Invisibles." "The invisibles, as I define them (really, as they came to be defined through my research), are highly skilled, and people whose roles are critical to whatever enterprise they are a part of" (p. 7). In fact, about the only time they become "visible" is when their job is done poorly. Zweig identifies three common traits across his research. Invisibles will have (1) ambivalence toward recognition; (2) meticulousness; and (3) savoring of responsibility. Often, the only time they get recognized is when something goes wrong. This book was not only interesting and fun to read; it was thought provoking. Am I content to remain invisible? Who are the invisibles that could use a simple word of appreciation? Are we raising the next generation to value the things that matter most?

  3. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    This book was mentioned in something I read recently and it sounded interesting (I assume it was Akiko Busch's How to Disappear but I'm not certain). Zweig theorizes about people who shun the limelight and work behind the scenes, supporting others and excelling at their area with quiet proficiency. After explaining his theory he creates portraits of "invisibles" in different fields, some more interesting to me than others. I've always wondered how simultaneous interpreters work - and Zweig had t This book was mentioned in something I read recently and it sounded interesting (I assume it was Akiko Busch's How to Disappear but I'm not certain). Zweig theorizes about people who shun the limelight and work behind the scenes, supporting others and excelling at their area with quiet proficiency. After explaining his theory he creates portraits of "invisibles" in different fields, some more interesting to me than others. I've always wondered how simultaneous interpreters work - and Zweig had the rare opportunity to interview and shadow a brilliant interpreter at the United Nations - I just wish he'd taken fuller advantage of the opportunity to explore this - I want to read a full book about this woman! (The chapters are pretty short.) Also somewhat surprising was to observe Zweig lauding specialists and bemoaning that most of us have become generalists today, after reading David Epstein's Range in which the drawbacks of specialists are described. (As a book indexer I'm definitely in the category of Invisibles, but I'm also an inveterate generalist.)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Roger K.

    This book is worth reading just for the captivating dives into the lives of a wayfinding expert, perfumer, UN interpreter, rock band guitar technician, skyscraper lead structural engineer, and piano technician. All of these folks live out of the spotlight, yet their work is essential to how our world works. The writing provides great detail and really gives you a feel for the work and why these experts enjoy it. The attempt to tie all of this into an overall theme feels a little forced. The cultu This book is worth reading just for the captivating dives into the lives of a wayfinding expert, perfumer, UN interpreter, rock band guitar technician, skyscraper lead structural engineer, and piano technician. All of these folks live out of the spotlight, yet their work is essential to how our world works. The writing provides great detail and really gives you a feel for the work and why these experts enjoy it. The attempt to tie all of this into an overall theme feels a little forced. The cultural analysis did not ring true, either of US culture or comparison to other cultures. While I agree with all three elements he recommends (ambivalence to recognition, devotion to meticulousness, and savoring responsibility), I see these traits exhibited by people that struggle to survive in all areas of the world. That gets to the biggest flaw of the book - the title. While these folks are not in the spotlight, the real Invisibles are the people doing the low-wage work that are at best ignored, at worst scorned. Fast food worker, hotel housekeeping, cashiers, and many other professions are even further slighted when we refer to people with six-figure salaries as "Invisibles". A better term would have been "linchpins", but that is already taken. :)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Addy

    I got wind of "Invisibles" because the author was doing a profile on one of my favorite cinematographers, Robert Elswit. He is a handful of successful (but less-known) experts David Zweig spotlights in a book about the virtue of keeping a low profile and grinding it out 'til you're the best of the best. Take Elswit, for example—he's a true artist, a consummate technician, very respected in the industry, an Oscar winner—yet hardly anybody knows about him, unless you're a filmmaker or cinephile. T I got wind of "Invisibles" because the author was doing a profile on one of my favorite cinematographers, Robert Elswit. He is a handful of successful (but less-known) experts David Zweig spotlights in a book about the virtue of keeping a low profile and grinding it out 'til you're the best of the best. Take Elswit, for example—he's a true artist, a consummate technician, very respected in the industry, an Oscar winner—yet hardly anybody knows about him, unless you're a filmmaker or cinephile. That's kind of Zweig's point. The fact that it takes him a whole book (with half dozen hit-or-miss biographies) to make it is a bummer. Zweig easily distills his agenda only a few of pages in (be meticulous, be focused, be passionate, just do the work and success will follow)…while the remainder of the book is only as interesting as the people the author profiles.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Miri

    Really enjoyed this exploration of the jobs people never know about until something goes wrong, like data analysts for intelligence agencies (9/11), the people who design election ballots (the 2000 election in Florida), or fact-checkers (weapons of mass destruction in Iraq). I learned about several professions I'd never heard of, or thought about as professions. Wayfinding, for example, is the profession that designs public spaces like airports in a way that (hopefully) enables people to navigat Really enjoyed this exploration of the jobs people never know about until something goes wrong, like data analysts for intelligence agencies (9/11), the people who design election ballots (the 2000 election in Florida), or fact-checkers (weapons of mass destruction in Iraq). I learned about several professions I'd never heard of, or thought about as professions. Wayfinding, for example, is the profession that designs public spaces like airports in a way that (hopefully) enables people to navigate them—and you specifically never think about the design unless it's bad. Zweig interviews someone who develop scents for celebrity perfumes, Radiohead's guitar technician, a piano tuner for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, a UN interpreter, a cinematographer, the engineer of a "supertall" building in China, among others, and seeing what these people actually do is surprisingly fascinating. I was attracted to the premise of this book because this is exactly the kind of thing I find really interesting. My own job is an invisible one—people generally don't go to the library and think about the person who put on all those labels and entered that information into the online catalog—and I quite like that. I don't like being the center of attention, but I do like knowing I'm part of something important. That's what Invisibles do. In many cases they do get recognition, especially within their own profession, but that's never the reason they do what they do; they're motivated by curiosity, or passion, or something else that's internal. And if their jobs didn't get done, most of our society would cease to function. The book itself is put together pretty well, although I was surprised by small mistakes and design inconsistencies that seemed to increase in the second half. You can tell Zweig is just personally fascinated by this stuff, which in my case made it easier to ignore any stylistic problems, because I am too. Definitely would recommend.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jean-Daniel Veer

    I identify a lot with this type of person. The trouble I have is that I am not formally trained in the skills that I possess. I know formal training is less and less valued in the business environment, but I still feel out of shape. It got me thinking about not using the "perfectionist" label and opt for other adjectives that aren't tainted as this one is. The conclusion is somewhat lacking in my opinion (let's stop being so individualistic). I identify a lot with this type of person. The trouble I have is that I am not formally trained in the skills that I possess. I know formal training is less and less valued in the business environment, but I still feel out of shape. It got me thinking about not using the "perfectionist" label and opt for other adjectives that aren't tainted as this one is. The conclusion is somewhat lacking in my opinion (let's stop being so individualistic).

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    The book I thought this was going to be and the book that it actually was were not the same book. I hoped for a book that had a connective thread running through it that enabled readers to learn from the "invisibles" highlighted. This book, however interesting the individual profiles might have been, didn't provide meaningful insights into the lives of these "invisibles" that a reader could take and use. The book I thought this was going to be and the book that it actually was were not the same book. I hoped for a book that had a connective thread running through it that enabled readers to learn from the "invisibles" highlighted. This book, however interesting the individual profiles might have been, didn't provide meaningful insights into the lives of these "invisibles" that a reader could take and use.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Ferguson

    Zweig’s core idea is that the happiest workers don’t fit modern, corporate structures well. They find innate reward in work which is meticulous, meaningful and challenging. This means that reward structures which are based on flattery, structural power, symbolic power,and even money do not work well as motivators. To support his idea, Zweig interviews people who work in roles that meet these three criteria. The interviews are, of themselves, interesting, as people unlock some of the inner element Zweig’s core idea is that the happiest workers don’t fit modern, corporate structures well. They find innate reward in work which is meticulous, meaningful and challenging. This means that reward structures which are based on flattery, structural power, symbolic power,and even money do not work well as motivators. To support his idea, Zweig interviews people who work in roles that meet these three criteria. The interviews are, of themselves, interesting, as people unlock some of the inner elements of their profession. A UN interpreter discusses the crushing physical stress caused by the cognitive load of simultaneous translation. The tuner for concert pianos explains how there is no right way to tune a piano, and how he carefully reworks the instrument so that it suits each player. A structural engineer explains how he makes the vision of the architect into a functional object. Even without Zweig’s overarching argument, the book would be worth reading just for these. The degree to which Zweig proves his thesis is arguable. I think his problems are mostly semantic. If her had called his group something other than “invisibles” he’d be fine. One of the directors he interviews has an academy award. One of the roadies he talks to is famous among music aficionados. This doesn’t really break his argument, if you accept that invisibles are only hidden from the general public, not from people who are amateur enthusiasts in an appropriate field. Recommended for managers, people who work this way, and those who find this sort of modern anthropology fascinating. This review first appeared on book coasters

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shawnrobinson

    The overall concept of this book peaked my interest as I was looking for something that expanded my knowledge of the world around me. The fact that the book provided some thoughtful provoking text was a great addition to the experience. I do believe that chapters 1-6 were the most interesting as the author delved into detail on a number of people who deal with aspects behind the scenes (i.e. "Invisibles") in professions one doesn't typically know a great deal about (e.g. UN speech translators, p The overall concept of this book peaked my interest as I was looking for something that expanded my knowledge of the world around me. The fact that the book provided some thoughtful provoking text was a great addition to the experience. I do believe that chapters 1-6 were the most interesting as the author delved into detail on a number of people who deal with aspects behind the scenes (i.e. "Invisibles") in professions one doesn't typically know a great deal about (e.g. UN speech translators, perfume experts). But after chapter 6, the book tends to get a little repetitive almost as to fill space to justify a larger book, which was a little bit of a let down and is a trend I have seen lately. However, the conclusion was worth finishing as the author successfully provided thought provoking thoughts for the reader to take with them on how to treat folks like described in this book or how one can achieve like they do. Overall rating - 4/5 (5/5 is too much and 3/5 is too little)

  11. 4 out of 5

    David

    The Invisibles sounded like a very interesting book. Getting behind Oz’s curtain should have been interesting, but Mr. Zweig has taken a brilliant concept and sanitized and then made it utterly banal. There were no interesting observations or insights into those who work behind the scenes. Readers may safely avoid this book with no worries they may be missing out on something interesting or necessary. 2 out of 5 stars

  12. 5 out of 5

    Taracuda

    Interesting profiles of talented people

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gwen

    Just read Zweig's article in The Atlantic instead I started off loving this book. I'll happily self-identify as an Invisible--I was even a fact-checker for a number of years! In the first chapter, I felt like Zweig understood me in a way most career-focused books don't. I don't particularly enjoy wide-spread recognition for my work, I'm highly meticulous, and I (sometimes) enjoy responsibility in my little corner of the world (see pg 5). I was looking forward to a book that discussed the so what Just read Zweig's article in The Atlantic instead I started off loving this book. I'll happily self-identify as an Invisible--I was even a fact-checker for a number of years! In the first chapter, I felt like Zweig understood me in a way most career-focused books don't. I don't particularly enjoy wide-spread recognition for my work, I'm highly meticulous, and I (sometimes) enjoy responsibility in my little corner of the world (see pg 5). I was looking forward to a book that discussed the so what of all of this: what does this mean for me and my career? How can I leverage this outlook on life to achieve my career goals? Turns out, this is not the book for that. After the first chapter, this was a collection of experiences: of a perfumer, of a wayfinding expert, of a piano tuner, of a guitar/sound specialist, a UN interpreter, etc. Interesting, for sure, and fleshed out Zweig's idea of what an Invisible can be, but this section needed to be shorter and building towards a "so what" that was sadly missing from this book. It seemed like Zweig was repackaging "do what you love" under a different name. He seems to ignore the fact that sometimes recognition--in the form of money--is very valuable. It's a bit tone deaf to not mention this, especially in an era of wage stagnation. The last chapter on cross-cultural understanding of Invisibles could have been a book unto itself, or at least better tied into a "so what" for this book. I would have loved a more in-depth analysis of American culture vis a vis recognition, self-promotion, "personal branding" (UGH), and the like--and what that means for the many of us who find such behaviors stressful (but sadly so important to modern American business culture). Not recommended. h/t: NY Times

  14. 5 out of 5

    Zoe

    3.5/5 stars. I randomly picked this book up after reading the subtitle of this book. I believed taking credit for your work and relentless self promotion was like way to grow in any career, there is no other way. I mean all those successful ones are famous, right? I thought of giving this book a chance and seeing what the author had to say to believe otherwise. During the course of this book, you deep dive into the lives of many different people having very very different careers. From a person 3.5/5 stars. I randomly picked this book up after reading the subtitle of this book. I believed taking credit for your work and relentless self promotion was like way to grow in any career, there is no other way. I mean all those successful ones are famous, right? I thought of giving this book a chance and seeing what the author had to say to believe otherwise. During the course of this book, you deep dive into the lives of many different people having very very different careers. From a person in wayfinding (they design airport and other buildings for easy navigation), structural engineer, a piano tuner, a nose (they come with perfume formulations for various brands and celebraties) to a manager of a rock band you get to a behind the scenes pass to their lives. By the means of these various stories, the author tries to convince us that being famous or renowned is not a sure sign of being successful. Moreover being "successful" and famous will not necessarily imply happiness. Eveey person we meet is not only good at their job i.e successful they are happy as well. Because their happiness doesn't stem from recognition and praises but from the work they do. They have perfected their skills and are just happy using it and improving it. If you are someone who would like to read about a few random careers or are looking to make a little more sense of why are you doing whatever you are doing, or simply just wondering what your work adds up to, pick this up. It's a nice casual read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Zheen

    The good The book offers an interesting, fresh perspective on how and why some people (invisibles) do their work. They do meticulous work and seek reward in doing the work itself, not in being recognized. These people are allegedly more satisfied with their life and offer more value to the economy than their attention-seeking, self-promoting counterparts. The bad Unfortunately, I found the book to be longer than necessary. I also felt that it was not as well-researched as I would have liked. It almo The good The book offers an interesting, fresh perspective on how and why some people (invisibles) do their work. They do meticulous work and seek reward in doing the work itself, not in being recognized. These people are allegedly more satisfied with their life and offer more value to the economy than their attention-seeking, self-promoting counterparts. The bad Unfortunately, I found the book to be longer than necessary. I also felt that it was not as well-researched as I would have liked. It almost felt like he has written a book just to write one, not because he actually had something great to offer. In addition, there were lots of events being narrated e.g. encounters with people he interviewed, with excessive descriptions of objects and actions. If I wanted to hear things like that, I would be reading fiction. Conclusion You're not going to enjoy this book as much as you would reading fiction. Hearing about the concept is worth it, though, and for that I recommend reading everything but skimming the parts where he describes the interviewee's jobs in detail.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion by David Zweig is a book extolling the benefits of mastering one’s craft, even in the absence of outside recognition and rewards. Zweig’s definition of an invisible involves three primary traits: They eschew recognition, they are meticulous to a fault and they eagerly embrace responsibility. The best part of Invisibles are the invisibles themselves. Zweig found a number of incredible people with extraordinary jobs who a Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion by David Zweig is a book extolling the benefits of mastering one’s craft, even in the absence of outside recognition and rewards. Zweig’s definition of an invisible involves three primary traits: They eschew recognition, they are meticulous to a fault and they eagerly embrace responsibility. The best part of Invisibles are the invisibles themselves. Zweig found a number of incredible people with extraordinary jobs who are mind-boggling adroit at performing their work. One invisible is an interpreter for the UN who can listen to one language and speak in a different language at the same time. Invisibles falters when Zweig takes center stage. Zweig too frequently inserts himself into the story of the invisibles which only serves to muffle rather than amplify their voices. Additionally, Zwieg’s descriptions of the technical details of the invisibles’ work comes off as clumsy and serves to confuse rather than clarify complex processes and procedures. Invisibles is well worth a read, but would have benefited from the author taking his own advice.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bookish Jen

    We live in a world where if you aren’t constantly grabbing the brass ring of attention, then you don’t exist. We see this is business (Donald Trump), politics (Sarah Palin), academia (Camille Paglia), show business (the Kardashians), sports (Dennis Rodman) and media/punditry (Ann Coulter, Al Sharpton). And in my corner of the Internet there are countless of bloggers who seem more interested in branding themselves via social media than writing actual interesting, informative or entertaining posts. We live in a world where if you aren’t constantly grabbing the brass ring of attention, then you don’t exist. We see this is business (Donald Trump), politics (Sarah Palin), academia (Camille Paglia), show business (the Kardashians), sports (Dennis Rodman) and media/punditry (Ann Coulter, Al Sharpton). And in my corner of the Internet there are countless of bloggers who seem more interested in branding themselves via social media than writing actual interesting, informative or entertaining posts. They have nothing to say and say it all the time. In our “Look at me!” culture, we loathe the idea of being invisible. We think of an invisible person as a mindless drone, slaving away at a nothing job, wasting the best years of his or her life in some sterile cubicle, “working for the man.” But for writer David Zweig, there are countless people working very important jobs requiring various talents, skills and experience. We don’t know their names, but they are quite impressive. And Zweig gives them their due in his wonderfully detailed and enlightening book, Invisibles: The Power of the Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion. Invisibles are found in all kinds of industries like entertainment, architecture, engineering, graphics and design, diplomacy, media, cosmetics and fragrances, and medicine. Their work is vital, interesting and often benefit society. And instead of seeking fame and fortune, invisibles just keep on doing their work. According to Zweig, invisibles share three significant traits: Ambivalence toward recognition, a meticulousness approach to work, and relishing responsibility in all its forms. Invisibles are often quite well-regarded in their various professions and many of them have won notable awards for their work. However, to invisibles it’s the work that is truly rewarding. Invisibles are meticulous about what they do; they remain focused on excellency, constant improvement and doing a task to the best of their abilities. Invisibles don’t shy away from responsibility; they thrive on it. They know countless people rely on their labor so they are committed to getting things done right. Zweig devotes several chapters to these invisibles and I found myself fascinated. When you spritz on your favorite fragrance do you think about the time and effort that went into making the fragrance smell the way it does? David Apel is a fragrance designer, also known as a “nose,” and he has created some of the most famous and best-selling fragrances on the market. Jim Harding is a “wayfinder.” What’s a wayfinder you wonder? Well, if you’ve been through an airport you’re probably familiar with Mr. Harding’s type of work. Mr. Harding designs the “cues,” which include signage that help us navigate through places like airport terminals. Mr. Harding’s work includes choosing certain graphics and typefaces that lessen our confusion. As someone who gets confused going from the couch to the fridge, thank you Mr. Harding. Guilia Wilkins Ary is fluent in several skills and works as an interpreter at the UN. Ms. Wilkins Ary hears a certain language, interprets that language in her head, and then speaks a completely new language while continuing to listen and interpret the original language. Ms. Wilkins Ary’s amazing skills are vital to diplomacy and maintaining peace amongst nations. Robert Elswit is an Oscar-winning cinematographer for the movie “There Will Be Blood.” He has also worked on such as like “Michael Clayton,” “Good Night, and Good Luck,” “Syriana,” and “The Bourne Legacy.” You may not know his name, but you if you’ve seen these movies, you know his work. Mr. Elswit is responsible for giving a film a certain “look” through lighting, diffusion filters, camera lens choices, camera movements and other special effects. Do you wonder how skyscrapers stay standing? It is people like Dennis Poon who guarantee the structural reliability of tall buildings so countless people can work on even the highest office floor and not worry about the building tumbling over even in the mightiest of winds. And then there is Pete Clements, who goes by the nickname Plank. Plank is a technician for the rock band Radiohead. He makes sure the drum kit, guitars, amps and other effects are in working order when Radiohead performs. During one concert, lead singer Thom Yorke may use up to 12 guitars. Plank tunes these guitars before and during a concert. If a guitar isn’t tuned properly, well, it might lead to many disappointed Radiohead fans. Zweig’s praise for the invisibles comes from a legitimate place. Zweig once worked as a fact check for Conde Nast. Fact checkers do just that, check facts to make sure an article’s data, quotes and other bits of information are truthful before a publication goes to print. Fact checkers probably stave off plenty of libel suits but for the most part they are, yes, invisible in the multi-media world. In addition to profiling several Invisibles, Zweig also covers the very American idea of self-promotion and living in a world where our Facebook profiles and our Tweets define us more than our actual work and output. There is nothing wrong with a bit of self-promotion in moderation, but some people get so wrapped up in the idea of being a “brand,” that their work suffers and this can harm their careers, not enhance them. Invisibles is a vital book that reminds us of the importance of hard work, talent and skill, responsibility and experience, and should especially be read by people who think they are solely defined by their Facebook profiles, Twitter feeds, and Pinterest boards. Now stop posting your selfies on Instagram and get back to work. Originally Published at The Book Self: http://thebookselfblog.wordpress.com/...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mahesh

    In this modern day culture of self-praise and self-promotion, David Zweig provides an excellent reminder that there are select individuals in a variety of fields who are really at top of their game but wish to go un-noticed by preference. Who would really think of Way-finding as a field when going through airports or really think about the structural engineer when looking at super high-rises or really think about the master perfumer when buying a Calvin Klein or Hugo Boss perfume or really think In this modern day culture of self-praise and self-promotion, David Zweig provides an excellent reminder that there are select individuals in a variety of fields who are really at top of their game but wish to go un-noticed by preference. Who would really think of Way-finding as a field when going through airports or really think about the structural engineer when looking at super high-rises or really think about the master perfumer when buying a Calvin Klein or Hugo Boss perfume or really think about the real time language translators at United Nations who are really critical for the functioning of that world body or really think about the professional guitar tuner at a sold out Rock Concert. If you are looking for that one thought provoking book for this summer's read, do consider Invisibles.

  19. 4 out of 5

    TFN

    The stories behind these 'invisible' professions make for some interesting moments, and if Zweig could have stuck closer to his subjects, his book would have been far more enjoyable. Instead, he inserts himself at every moment (or the persona he's created for this text) as if he's an intrepid, earnest, somewhat naive explorer in this venture (which in and of itself is a tad grating). Unfortunately, that persona also comes across at various junctures as moralistic and preachy (while often claimin The stories behind these 'invisible' professions make for some interesting moments, and if Zweig could have stuck closer to his subjects, his book would have been far more enjoyable. Instead, he inserts himself at every moment (or the persona he's created for this text) as if he's an intrepid, earnest, somewhat naive explorer in this venture (which in and of itself is a tad grating). Unfortunately, that persona also comes across at various junctures as moralistic and preachy (while often claiming he's not) as well as rambling and unfocused. For someone writing about the invisible roles in the professional workforce and advocating against the striving for self-promotion, Zweig, in a moment of unintentional irony, cannot keep the limelight off his own character for more than a few pages. Too bad he couldn't get out of the way of his own book to let his subjects better shine.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Adrian Timar

    I liked that the author explained the idea that "invisibles" (people that do great work without getting recognized for it externally) share a few traits with real examples for each one. The main attributes can be summarized as: -they get motivated by the the quality of the work done -are ambivalent to recognition -are meticulous -enjoy responsability What I found a bit overdone were the music and Rolling Stones references he kept making. He was a musician after all, but I still think they could have I liked that the author explained the idea that "invisibles" (people that do great work without getting recognized for it externally) share a few traits with real examples for each one. The main attributes can be summarized as: -they get motivated by the the quality of the work done -are ambivalent to recognition -are meticulous -enjoy responsability What I found a bit overdone were the music and Rolling Stones references he kept making. He was a musician after all, but I still think they could have been kept a bit down.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chetan Vashisht

    Very enjoyable read. Good examples of how people who dedicate themselves to a craft can achieve greatness without recognition. Felt like I was reading "Smarter, Faster, Better" again. In the world of social media and microcelebrities, this book shows us that there is still hope. To be truly successful, one must learn to get happiness from the journey itself rather than the recognition for completing it. Very enjoyable read. Good examples of how people who dedicate themselves to a craft can achieve greatness without recognition. Felt like I was reading "Smarter, Faster, Better" again. In the world of social media and microcelebrities, this book shows us that there is still hope. To be truly successful, one must learn to get happiness from the journey itself rather than the recognition for completing it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Elle

    This was an interesting read. It's non-fiction. It has to do with an area that is near and dear to my heart, motivation. It removes the extrinsic motivators such as money and fame and focuses on what it is we really do love to do without them. This is an excellent argument on the benefits of intrinsic motivation. This was an interesting read. It's non-fiction. It has to do with an area that is near and dear to my heart, motivation. It removes the extrinsic motivators such as money and fame and focuses on what it is we really do love to do without them. This is an excellent argument on the benefits of intrinsic motivation.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Abdurhman Saed

    Most of us don't value the things we can't see. "Out of sight, out of mind," the old saying goes. But that doesn't mean they're unimportant. In fact, some of the most essential jobs in the world happen behind the scenes. That's the premise of ""Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion." Jul 17, 2014 Stephen Most of us don't value the things we can't see. "Out of sight, out of mind," the old saying goes. But that doesn't mean they're unimportant. In fact, some of the most essential jobs in the world happen behind the scenes. That's the premise of ""Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion." Jul 17, 2014 Stephen

  24. 5 out of 5

    Catricia

    The writing is a little dry and has a hint of the taste that newspapers have - which is to be expected, since the author comes from a media background. However, despite its wordiness at times, this book has literally changed my life. I would highly recommend it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    CatReader

    This was an interesting and thought-provoking read about people with fascinating behind-the-scenes jobs who derive much satisfaction from their work. A refreshing and rare entry into the anti self-promotion genre.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Heidi Rothert

    I liked the comparison and the blatant disregard for the self-absorbed.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Boh

    Loved this book and think it relates on so many levels to the profession of pharmacy...

  28. 5 out of 5

    DouG Molidor

    In the age of Influencers, it's the one's who don't do it for the glory that are the most critical to society. This book is a great exploration of some of those roles. In the age of Influencers, it's the one's who don't do it for the glory that are the most critical to society. This book is a great exploration of some of those roles.

  29. 5 out of 5

    A. Kunyita

    As an invisible, I felt vindicated listening to this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Tadlock

    A great book for a generation obsessed with fame and attention. Loved learning about all these incredible hidden professionals who enhance the world through their anonymous excellence and passion.

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