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Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Paperback]

Greg McKeown
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
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Book Description

17 April 2014

Have you ever found yourself struggling with information overload?

Have you ever felt both overworked and underutilised?

Do you ever feel busy but not productive?

If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is to become an Essentialist.

In Essentialism, Greg McKeown, CEO of a Leadership and Strategy agency in Silicon Valley who has run courses at Apple, Google and Facebook, shows you how to achieve what he calls the disciplined pursuit of less. Being an Essentialist is about a disciplined way of thinking. It means challenging the core assumption of 'We can have it all' and 'I have to do everything' and replacing it with the pursuit of 'the right thing, in the right way, at the right time'.

By applying a more selective criteria for what is essential, the pursuit of less allows us to regain control of our own choices so we can channel our time, energy and effort into making the highest possible contribution toward the goals and activities that matter.

Using the experience and insight of working with the leaders of the most innovative companies and organisations in the world, McKeown shows you how to put Essentialism into practice in your own life, so you too can achieve something great.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Virgin Books (17 April 2014)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0753555166
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753555163
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Greg McKeown writes, teaches and speaks around the world on the importance of living and leading as an Essentialist. He has spoken at companies including Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn,, Symantec, Twitter and VMware and is among the most popular bloggers for Harvard Business Review and LinkedIn's Influencer group, as well as the cocreator of the popular course Designing Life, Essentially at Stanford University. He collaborated on the Wall Street Journal bestseller Multipliers and serves as a Young Global Leader for the World Economic Forum. Greg holds an MBA from Stanford University. Visit

Product Description


"Greg McKeown's excellent new book is a much-needed antidote to the stress, burnout and compulsion to "do everything," that infects us all. It is an essential read for anyone who wants to regain control of their health, wellbeing, and happiness" (Arianna Huffington)

"Do you feel it, too? That relentless pressure to sample all the good things in life? To do all the 'right' things? The reality is, you don't make progress that way. Instead, you're in danger of spreading your efforts so thin that you make no impact at all. Greg McKeown believes the answer lies in paring life down to its essentials. He can't tell you what's essential to every life, but he can help you find the meaning in yours." (Daniel H. Pink, author of TO SELL IS HUMAN and DRIVE)

"Entrepreneurs succeed when they say "yes" to the right project, at the right time, in the right way. To accomplish this, they have to be good at saying "no" to all their other ideas. Essentialism offers concise and eloquent advice on how to determine what you care about most, and how to apply your energies in ways that ultimately bring you the greatest rewards" (Reid Hoffman, co-founder/chairman of LinkedIn and co-author of the #1 NYT bestseller THE START-UP OF YOU)

"Essentialism holds the keys to solving one of the great puzzles of life: how can we do less but accomplish more? A timely, essential read for anyone who feels overcommitted, overloaded, or overworked-in other words, everyone. It has already changed the way that I think about my own priorities, and if more leaders embraced this philosophy, our jobs and our lives would be less stressful and more productive. So drop what you're doing and read it." (Adam Grant, Wharton professor and bestselling author of GIVE AND TAKE)

"As a self-proclaimed "maximalist" who always wants to do it all, this book challenged me and improved my life. If you want to work better, not just less, you should read it too." (Chris Guillebeau, NYT bestselling author of THE $100 STARTUP)

Book Description

Life is fast and full of opportunity. This is your guide to eliminating the nonessential in order to do something truly great

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
By Robert Morris TOP 100 REVIEWER
As I began to read this book for the first time, I was again reminded of an Einstein observation - "Make everything as simple as possible but no simpler" -- as well as of Greg McKeown's previous book, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, in which he and co-author Liz Wiseman juxtapose two quite different personas whom they characterize as the "Multiplier" and the "Diminisher." Although they refer to them as leaders, assigning to them supervisory responsibilities, they could also be direct reports at the management level or workers at the "shop floor" level.

Multipliers "extract full capability," their own as well as others', and demonstrate five disciplines: Talent Magnet, Liberator, Challenger, Debate Maker, and Investor. Diminishers underutilize talent and resources, their own as well as others, and also demonstrate five disciplines: Empire Builder, Tyrant, Know-It-All, Decision Maker, and Micro Manager. They devote a separate chapter to each of the five Multiplier leadership roles.

In Essentialism, McKeown focuses on what must be done to increase what is essential to an organization's success - as well as to an individual's success - by reducing (if not totally eliminating) whatever is not essential to such success. I agree with him: Almost anyone in almost any organization (whatever its size and nature may be) can choose how to expend time and energy; reduce/eliminate "noise" and clutter, preserving only what is exceptionally valuable; and decide which few trade-offs and compromises to accept while rejecting all others. Essentialists have what Ernest Hemingway once characterized as a "built-in, shock-proof crap detector," one that is especially reliable when detecting their own.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book 22 Jun 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Greg very beautifully portrays the virtue of essentialism in our personal lives and businesses. The many examples he gave in the book are very relevant.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cut the garbage out of your life!!! 25 Jun 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
An absolute gem!!! Potentially life changing! Teaches you practical techniques to 'cut the garbage' & focus on what's important! Buy it
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book! 22 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very well written and full of practical, eye-opening points made by the author. Strongly recommend for everyone to read, refine and restructure their life to the principles of essentialism.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Putting YOUR First Thing First 9 Jun 2014
By clahain
Format:Kindle Edition
Corporate cog, small business owner, artist, or harried stay-at-home parent--we all have big goals we'd like to pursue if we could just find enough time in the day. The number one piece of advice offered by teachers, mentors, life coaches and time management gurus? Prioritize. Sounds great. But how does one do that when faced with a never-ending list of must-dos?

According to author Greg McKeown, the first thing to dump is the list.

A "priority," he says, is ONE thing. The First thing. Discovering what your First thing is--and how to structure life so that you're able to focus on it--is what ESSENTIALISM: THE DISCIPLINED PURSUIT OF LESS is about.

The concept is simple enough: Do less but do it better. Yet, as we know, simple doesn't mean easy. There's nothing easy about admitting to your boss that you cannot possibly do justice to project he's set on your desk when there are three other ones demanding your attention. It isn't easy to give up your bowling league, your online gaming group, and your book club to finally finish that novel you've been writing since college. And it's downright excruciating to say to your kids: will it be karate, soccer OR drama? Because mom and dad need their time, too.

What McKeown proposes is a radical re-think of how we design our days and focus our attention. ESSENTIALISM is directed to the corporate world, but the ideas and suggestions are easily adaptable for those in public service, the self-employed, students or those looking to make the most of a hobby they're passionate about. It really is up to each of us how far we want to take this philosophy--from solving a particular problem (How do I plan a wedding for 500 AND sleep AND not lose my job?
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4.0 out of 5 stars A helpful compendium of advice 22 July 2014
I borrowed this from the library, having seen Michael Hyatt rave about it on his blog. I was not disappointed. It is a highly useful compendium of advice to help busy people focus. I have many demands on my time; this is an important skill for me, and one I am not always good at executing, because it involves swimming against a tide that assumes someone like me should be busy and have a finger in many pies.

If there were one area where I think the book could be improved, it is that in a few of the chapters there are insufficient real-life illustrations of the principles being expounded. That said, most chapters are fine in this respect.

I am aware that I could collect a number of McKeown's articles from the web as other reviewers have said, but for me it is handy to have all this together in one place. So my library copy is going back today, and I am ordering a paperback for my bookshelf.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading 23 Jun 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Great book, well worth a read - it's gives plenty of advice on how to re-assess your life to help you focus on the really important things.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best business and life books I've read
Unlike most books on this theme, Essentialism doesn't seem to preach or give magic beans to solve your issues. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Nell
2.0 out of 5 stars If you can't decide between a business meeting or the birth of your...
all the usual suspects (Ghandi, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet etc) are shoehorned into this book to somehow bolster the obvious trope that being really busy is bad and doing important... Read more
Published 7 days ago by wittyslogan
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Guide to Essentialism
A really interesting book. This explodes the idea of what is essential and appropriately doesn't waffle on.
Published 18 days ago by A. M. Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, good tips to do less and achieve more
Great read find it hard to put down with useful practical tips. Really enjoyed this book which will hopefully help me to do less but achieve more!!
Published 22 days ago by Patricia Muotto
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple and very effective
I read the book over the course of a week about a month ago and I am now in the process of reading it again ! Read more
Published 27 days ago by Devonshire823
5.0 out of 5 stars Good easy read
Excellent book, with a number of sensible advice!
Published 27 days ago by Meera Abbott
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read for anyone who knows less is more
While it might go in a little longer than it's essential self, the message is clear and excellent with good examples. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Steve Walker
4.0 out of 5 stars start of a long transformation journey
If you are intrigued by the idea of "how less could be more", Essentialism:The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown is a must read. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Murat Yesildere
3.0 out of 5 stars Bit predictable
Bit of a predictable book, reusing evidence from some 'real' researchers. Rather than regurgitating other peoples work and summarising it here it would have been good to read... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Steve Rayment
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