“Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”

Adventures of a Curious Character

My book review this week is Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman by Richard P. Feynman.

Besides winning the Nobel Prize in physics in 1965, Feynman was an eccentric, larger than life character with a list of achievements and accolades that are hard to fathom. He actively worked on the development of the atomic bomb, traded ideas with Einstein, Bohr, and Nick the Greek, cracked safes guarding highly sensitive atomic secrets, played bongo drums for a ballet, along with a host of other eclectic activities and accomplishments. This is a highly entertaining book full of funny stories, technical theory, and valuable life principles.

My takeaways from this book are the principles that Feynman discovered and exemplified throughout his life. I have listed a few of them below:

  • Cultivate a never-ending curiosity about how things work.
  • Make up simple, easy to understand examples to explain complex problems and situations.
  • When presenting a topic to an audience, focus on your topic and not the audience.
  • Hard work, focused thought, and continuous learning by a dedicated few will always outperform a large organization staffed with people without these traits.
  • Resistance to innovation is cross-cultural and universal and must be overcome to be successful.
  • Everyone has “a box of tools” that are valuable. Share your “tools” freely and most people will share in return.
  • It doesn’t take a lot of effort to deliver a lecture or workshop. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to prepare for that lecture or workshop. Don’t underestimate the preparation effort.
  • Application of wisdom and science to focused daydreaming can lead to a Nobel prize!
  • Don’t be intimidated by the expertise of others. Understand the new and complicated concepts by imagining you are a student again and studying the details.
  • It isn’t the stuff, but the power to make the stuff, that is important.


Note that I have previously reviewed the following books in 2018:

  1. Tim O’Reilly’s Whats the Future and Why Its Up to Us
  2. Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art
  3. Timothy Ferriss’ Tribe of Mentors


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