Book Review by Taylor Berrett
When it comes to helping people unlock innovation in their own lives, there are few people who seem more qualified than Ozan Varol. Varol is an accomplished astrophysicist responsible for helping the most recent Mars rovers land safely on the surface of the red planet. He also has backgrounds in law and public speaking, which combine with his scientific experience and achievements to create a book that’s compelling, insightful, and inspiring— Think Like a Rocket Scientist: Simple Strategies You Can Use to Make Giant Leaps in Work and Life.
Many of the insights contained in the book are drawn directly from his work on the Mars rover teams that landed two different vehicles on Mars back in 2003. For example, he relates how the reasoning for sending two rovers even at such increased expense— the importance of redundancy— can be applied to a wide range of personal and business decisions.
Turning Silicon Valley Hallmarks on Their Heads
Ozan Varol’s charismatic approach and willingness to go against the grain mean that Think Like a Rocket Scientist may be better titled: Think Like a Rebel Rocket Scientist. Throughout the book, he takes many popularly used expressions and business tips and turns them inside out. For example, while he acknowledges that creative work exposes us to failure on a regular basis, he believes and argues quite convincingly that the Silicon Valley ideal of ‘celebrating’ failure at every turn can lead us astray. After all, in his line of work, failure can mean an astronaut loses his or her life or an organization loses billions of dollars.
Varol also isn’t afraid to find inspiration in recent headlines and popular figures, most notably Elon Musk and his obsession with private rocketry and space exploration. These anecdotes and diversions help add color and interest to a book that’s already an engaging read.
The Bottom Line
Overall, Think Like a Rocket Scientist may not be brimming with lightning-bolt insights that will transform the way you live, but it’s an insightful and enjoyable look into the mind of an innovator. There’s certainly much to learn and draw inspiration from in the fascinating life of Ozan Varol, and he thoughtfully chooses the events and experiences that are most likely to connect with readers of all backgrounds. Think Like a Rocket Scientist may not turn you into a NASA innovator, but it will sure make you feel like one during and after reading.