Obliquity

  • by John Kay
  • Narrated by Erik Synnestvedt
  • 4 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A leading economist charts the indirect road to happiness and wealth.
Using dozens of practical examples from the worlds of business, politics, science, sports, literature, even parenting, esteemed economist John Kay proves a notion that feels at once paradoxical and deeply commonsensical: The best way to achieve any complex or broadly defined goal-from happiness to wealth to profit to preventing forest fires-is the indirect way. As Kay points out, we rarely know enough about the intricacies of important problems to tackle them head-on. And our unpredictable interactions with other people and the world at large mean that the path to our goals-and sometimes the goals themselves-will inevitably change. We can learn about our objectives and how to achieve them only through a gradual process of risk taking and discovery-what Kay calls obliquity. Kay traces this pathway to satisfaction as it manifests itself in nearly every aspect of life. The wealthiest people-from Andrew Carnegie to Bill Gates-achieved their riches through a passion for their work, not because they set materialistic goals. Research has shown that companies whose goal (as declared in mission statements) is excellent products or service are more profitable than companies whose stated goal is increasing profits.
In the personal realm, a large body of evidence shows that parenthood is on a daily basis far more frustrating than happy- making. Yet parents are statistically happier than nonparents. Though their short-term pleasure is often thwarted by the demands of childrearing, the subtle-oblique-rewards of parenthood ultimately make them happier. Once he establishes the ubiquity of obliquity, Kay offers a wealth of practical guidance for avoiding the traps laid by the direct approach to complex problems. Directness blinds us to new information that contradicts our presumptions, fools us into confusing logic with truth, cuts us off from our intuition (which is the subconscious expression of our experience), shunts us away from alternative solutions that may be better than the one we're set on, and more. Kay also shows us how to acknowledge our limitations, redefine our goals to fit our skills, open our minds to new data and solutions, and otherwise live life with obliquity. This bracing manifesto will convince listeners-or confirm their conviction-that the best route to satisfaction and success does not run through the bottom line.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Great material. Terrible narrator

Much has been said about the content of the book - most of it positive, and I agree wholeheartedly. What I can't understand is how no one in the entire production process stopped this narrator from using his phony voice. Think Agent Smith from the Matrix but more annoying. The shame is that the man has a great voice. If he'd just, you know, read it instead of sounding like someone doing an over-the-top newscaster impression, it would be tolerable if not pleasurable to listen to.
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- Thirdwaver

Brilliant and Underestimated

What did you like best about this story?

This is a brilliant piece of writing... John Kay is an underrated genius. This book effectively throws a monkey wrench into the gears of 99% of business / self-improvement / management philosophies out there. If you truly study the material, observe it and put it to use in your own life, you will be amazed by the results. However be forewarned; the material and subject matter is extremely intellectual and advanced... not for the lazy reader simply awaiting "the next joke." Agree with comments on the narrator, the book would have been better served if he was a bit more natural in his delivery. BUT DON'T LET THAT GET IN THE WAY OF BUYING THIS BOOK!


If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Forget what you THINK you know...


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- Amazon Customer

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-22-2011
  • Publisher: Gildan Media, LLC