Be Fearless by Jean Case: Summary, Review PDF

The book Be Fearless offers readers an inspirational look into what it takes to change the world. 

Jean Case draws from her own experiences with game-changing technology as well as those she admires in business, exploration, and philanthropy. 

Jean Case demonstrates that the most influential people in history all share one significant quality: fearlessness.

You may still be wondering if you should read the book. This book summary will tell you everything about this book so you can decide if it is worth your time.

At the end of this book summary, I’ll also tell you the best way to get rich by reading and writing

Without further ado, let’s get started.  

Be Fearless by Jean Case Book Summary

Lesson 1: Big Bets can also start with you looking ahead and making predictions that contradict conventional wisdom.

At some point in your life, you have probably been upset about something and been told, “That’s just the way it is!”

Some people believe that you can not change things because everyone else accepts them as they are. However, there are courageous people who challenge these norms and prove that things can improve if we put our minds to it.

David Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal are two examples of such people. When Gilboa finally realized he needed new glasses, he was shocked to learn they would cost him nearly $700. He concluded that there must be an affordable way to buy quality glasses.

Most people think that to get glasses, you always have to go to a store, get examined and spend hundreds of dollars on lenses and frames. However, Blumenthal had previously worked with a group called VisionSpring, which helped people in developing countries by teaching them how to get eye exams and run retail stores that sell glasses at prices that are within reach for people living on less than $4 a day.

That’s why, with just $2,500 in seed money, Blumenthal and Gilboa set out to create Warby Parker, an online service that offered a fancy selection of eyeglasses for $95 a pair. Everything they offered for sale sold out within the first month, and a waiting list of 20,000 people quickly formed, proving that selling glasses online is a viable business model. With a current market capitalization of $1.75 billion, dozens of retail stores and nearly 1,400 employees, Warby Parker is a major player in the optical industry.

A big bet can help you think outside the box and challenge your preconceptions in the process.

In the 1990s, some business owners did not see the point of having a website or even an email address. It’s hard to imagine life before the Internet.

The author was a visionary in the 1980s when she went to work for the company that would later become America Online. She was not discouraged by the many people who were confused by her decision.

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Lesson 2: It is not possible to achieve greatness without taking a few risks.

You prefer to stay in your usual routine, do not you? And who does not? While it’s true that you can do good work in your comfort zone, that does not mean you can create truly groundbreaking work. You need to put yourself in an uncomfortable position if you want to make a difference in the world. And that brings us to the second principle of fearlessness: do not be afraid to take risks.

If everyone just tried to make their lives as comfortable as possible, we would not be this far today! Or think of all the wonderful things we would miss out on if we only dedicated ourselves to projects we were sure we could successfully complete. Not exactly captivating, is it?

Being the only person of your own gender or ethnicity in the workplace is an unsettling experience, as many women and minorities can attest. It’s not just the discomfort of being an outsider, but also the great responsibility that comes with knowing that your art represents an entire population.

Although the author is grateful for the opportunity to serve as the first female president of the National Geographic Society, she also acknowledges that she is indebted to Eliza Scidmore, who was the Society’s first female board member in 1892.

For all her accomplishments, one of Scidmore’s distinguishing features is that she willingly took the risks associated with the pioneering role.

At age 19, she graduated from Oberlin College in the first all-female class. She then used the money she earned writing a newspaper column under the androgynous pseudonym E.R. Scidmore to embark on the journey of a lifetime.

As early as 1885, 75 years before Alaska was officially annexed by the United States, she boarded a steamer bound for that territory. Once there, she tackled the Herculean task of writing the first guidebook for the region. This paved the way for Scidmore to become the first female writer and photographer for National Geographic, a role that took her to exotic places like India, China, Indonesia, Russia and Korea.

One can only speculate how challenging and risky such travels may have been for Scidmore, a single mother of two living at the end of the nineteenth century. She lived at the end of the nineteenth century. But she felt compelled to make a difference in the world and was willing to accept the inevitable hardships.

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Lesson 3: It is important to take advantage of the efforts of others and avoid regrets by accepting challenging opportunities.

To be successful today, it is helpful to know the contributions of pioneers like Eliza Scidmore.

While making a difference in the world is never easy, that does not mean you have to start from scratch every time. Even a creative genius like Thomas Edison knew the importance of building on previous work.

The common perception of Edison is that he was a genius who frequently had “Eureka!” moments when brilliant ideas like the light bulb just popped into his head. Edison himself admitted that he was “more of a sponge than an inventor” This was because he had a keen sense of the advances that others were making and the ways in which he could bring his own resources and expertise to bear to improve those developments.

A more modern example is Justin Knopf, a fifth-generation farmer who has adopted no-till. No-till allows farmers to leave more of their soil undisturbed. That’s helpful because soil erosion and topsoil blowdown are still a problem today, just as they were in the Dust Bowl days. Having learned the importance of preserving nutrients in the soil, Knopf was intrigued by the possibility that this method could help him do that.

When he began testing, his yields increased exponentially, and the results were nothing short of spectacular. Knopf generously shared his knowledge and is now considered a pioneer of the no-till movement.

Making changes to your routine can be scary, but if you want to live life without remorse, start taking some calculated risks. Usually, people later deeply regret not taking risks in their lives, rather than the opposite.

As an example, consider what happened to Kodak. With a market share of about 70% in camera film before the turn of the millennium, the company was unrivaled. The company could have switched to digital film production to grow its business, but instead it chose to maintain its current market share. Digital camera sales surpassed film camera sales by 2003, and in 2012 Kodak filed for bankruptcy. The conclusion is obvious: if you do not want to regret your life, you have to take risks.

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Lesson 4: To turn your setbacks into successes, you need to think about what went wrong and how you can improve in the future.

While most people do not throw a party to celebrate a project’s failure, you may be surprised to learn that many industry-changing innovators actually view failure as a positive thing. They know that setbacks are often an essential part of the process and that they are always lurking behind the scenes of any success story. So the third rule of being fearless is to give your setbacks meaning.

A positive attitude toward setbacks is an excellent first step toward success. Thomas J. Watson, the founder of IBM, once said that if you want to succeed, you have to fail twice as often.

If the author’s Case Foundation, which supports high-risk, innovative projects, did not experience failures, that would be a red flag. If the goal of any project is to break new ground, some missteps are to be expected.

Remember Astro Teller, the researcher at X-lab? He not only accepts setbacks, he expects them. In an TED talk titled “The Unexpected Benefit of Celebrating Failure,” Teller talked about how at X, you try to make a project fail by proving your central assumption wrong If you are not able to come up with a truly original concept, chances are you have.

Keeping the end goal in mind is another effective strategy for learning to accept setbacks as inevitable steps along the way.

Warren Buffett is widely regarded as one of the richest and most successful people in history. Buffett, a highly influential investor, has built his career on the principle of investing in companies with sustainable success. He ignores current fads and trends. Instead, he is interested in companies that can stand the test of time.

It is interesting that Buffett can be considered a late developer. Most of his wealth was accumulated after the age of 50, and he earned as much between the ages of 83 and 87 as he did in the first 60 years of his life.

It was Albert Einstein who said, “Failure is success in progress” If you have spent your life trying to avoid failure, you are missing out on what is really important: Pursuing your dreams and growing from the experiences that inevitably led to setbacks.

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Lesson 5: Always try to broaden your perspective, get rid of prejudices and form unnatural alliances.

The author and her husband take a road trip across the country in an RV every year. Not only does this give her the opportunity to see breathtaking scenery, but it also allows her to meet people she might never have met otherwise. In other words, these trips help her practise the fourth principle of fearlessness by forcing her out of her comfort zone.

As a first step, it is important to broaden your perspective and step out of your comfort zone to get a more accurate picture of the world and free yourself from prejudices and misconceptions.

For example, many people believe that cities like Pittsburgh and Detroit in the United States are dying and should be avoided. But if you were to visit these places, you could see with your own eyes that exciting things are happening there.

Ford and Uber, for example, are both investing heavily in Pittsburgh because of the city’s innovative work in automated driving. Companies in biomedicine, robotics and alternative energy are also thriving in the city.

In Detroit, another city on the upswing, promising new collaborations are emerging between the private and public sectors, all with the goal of reviving the city’s economy. Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert has moved his company’s headquarters to the Motor City. The company has invested heavily in the city’s real estate and startup scene and employs about 17,000 people.

The key to your future success may lie in an unlikely alliance, and you’ll only find it if you think outside the box.

To illustrate, in 2010, NASA and Lego formed an unlikely partnership that used Lego sets aboard the International Space Station while students and teachers interacted with astronauts through a customised lesson plan. NASA hoped that through this collaboration, some of these students would fondly remember their astronomy lessons and be inspired to pursue careers in the field.

The Ebola pandemic in West Africa in 2014 is another good example of this principle. The protective suits available at the time had serious flaws. They were cumbersome to put on (requiring 30 different hand movements) and provided only partial safety. So who prevailed when Johns Hopkins University issued a call for a more effective design? A professional tailor who specialised in bridal fashion! Sometimes the best answers are hidden, but you’ll never see them unless you venture out of your comfort zone.

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Be Fearless by Jean Case Book Review

Be Fearless by Jean Case is a great book I’d like to recommend to anyone who is interested in inspirational stories. If you spend some time digesting the ideas, it might make a positive impact on your life.

The world needs more courageous people who are willing to risk everything to help humanity and end global hunger and poverty for good. Since any revolutionary idea requires a willingness to take risks, learn from failure, and step out of your comfort zone, change requires courage.

Embracing and celebrating differences is another strategy for expanding your horizons. According to a 2018 report published by McKinsey, companies with a lack of racial and gender diversity performed worse than those with greater diversity. In addition, research has shown that companies led by women perform better than those led by men. Yet despite these promising statistics, only 10% of venture capital funding goes to companies founded by women or people of color.

About The Author

Jean Case founded America Online in the 1990s, which introduced many people to the internet for the first time. 

As CEO of the Case Foundation since 1997, she helps others find funding to realize their breakthrough ideas. 

In addition to serving as the first woman Chairman of the National Geographic Society, she is on the boards of several other philanthropic institutions, including Georgetown University’s Beeck Center for Social Impact & Innovation.

Further Reading

If you like reading the book Be Fearless, you might also like reading the following book summaries:

Buy The Book: Be Fearless

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