Synopses & Reviews
What do fact-checkers, anesthesiologists, U.N. interpreters, and structural engineers have in common? When they do their jobs poorly, the consequences can be catastrophic for their organizations. But when they do their jobs perfectly . . . they're invisible.
For most of us, the better we perform the more attention we receive. Yet for many Invisibles”skilled professionals whose role is critical to whatever enterprise theyre a part ofits the opposite: the better they do their jobs the more they disappear. In fact, often its only when something goes wrong that they are noticed at all.
Millions of these Invisibles are hidden in every industry. You may be one yourself. And despite our cultures increasing celebration of fame in our era of superstar CEOs and assorted varieties of genius”theyre fine with remaining anonymous.
David Zweig takes us into the behind-the-scenes worlds that Invisibles inhabit. He interviews top experts in unusual fields to reveal the quiet workers behind public successes. Combining in-depth profiles with insights from psychology, sociology, and business, Zweig uncovers how these hidden professionals reap deep fulfillment by relishing the challenges their work presents.
Zweig bypasses diplomats and joins an elite interpreter in a closed-door meeting at the U.N., where the media and public are never allowed. He ascends Chinas tallest skyscraper while its still under construction, without the architect, guided instead by the projects lead structural engineer. He even brings us on stage during a Radiohead concert, escorted not by a member of the band, but by their chief guitar technician.
Along the way, Zweig reveals that Invisibles have a lot to teach the rest of society about satisfaction and achievement. What has been lost amid the noise of self-promotion today is that not everyone can, or should, or even wants to be in the spotlight. This inspiring and illuminating book shows that recognition isnt all its cracked up to be, and invisibility can be viewed as a mark of honor and a source of a truly rich life.
“It's a refreshing point of view, written with the precision and detail of the magazine fact checker Mr. Zweig used to be.”
-The Wall Street Journal
“An encouraging salute to the world behind the scenes, where the ‘Invisibles allow the show to go on. Journalist Zweig suggests, with considerable merit, that, in our culture of wanting it all, we have forgotten the hard work of getting there…In Zweigs fascinating world, the limelight doesnt hold a candle to the satisfaction of hard work well done.”
“Zweigs stint as a fact checker at a magazine no doubt inspired him to look closely at the unsung, behind-the-scenes workers he calls the invisibles….[He] touches on philosophy, religion, and psychology in exploring the satisfaction derived from work exceptionally well done in contrast to the noisy self-promotion now prevalent…and uses the profiles to offer some quiet and thoughtful space to consider the inner value of high-quality work.”
"A fascinating tour of the hidden landscapes on which human society actually operates. This will change the way you see the world and, hopefully, your place within it."
-Douglas Rushkoff, bestselling author of Present Shock
"Invisibles is a one-book cultural revolution, fighting the current cultural tide toward narcissistic self-promotion with the truth that real satisfaction is often silent."
-Jean Twenge, bestselling co-author of The Narcissism Epidemic
"Top Business Book to Read in 2014: Invisibles explains why some of the worlds most talented, accomplished people choose to fly under the radar… Its a clarion call for work as a craft: for generously sharing knowledge without hogging credit and prizing meaningful work above public recognition. An excellent book."
-Adam Grant, Wharton professor and bestselling author of Give and Take
"The genius at the top doesnt make their team look good. Its a great team that makes the guy at the top look like a genius…and Invisibles proves it."
-Simon Sinek, Optimist and bestselling author of Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last
“An interesting and important book. It takes us a step closer to understanding how we can be happier and lead more meaningful lives. We can all benefit from the examples of Invisibles.”
-The Buffalo News
“The Radical Power of David Zweigs ‘Invisibles . . . precise and insightful.”
Named one of the “20 Best Books of June”
“Invisibles perform key tasks without seeking credit. And theyre in high demand.”
-The New Republic
“The great workers who get no credit in a self-promotion obsessed world.”
-The Washington Post
“There are high-functioning invisibles in all factions of the economy, and they operate almost in defiance of the prevailing wisdom that self-promotion and self-regard bordering on narcissism are the way to get noticed.”
“The wisdom of this advice is undeniable.”
-New York Magazine
“Zweig challenges the pervasive notion that the people who spend the most time getting others to pay attention to them win.”
“Its a refreshing point of view, written with the precision and detail of the magazine fact checker Mr. Zweig used to be. The values he champions are those that could surely benefit our society (and economy) more than our current obsession with personal status.” —The Wall Street Journal
An inspiring look at the hidden stars who perform essential work without recognition
In a culture where so many strive for praise and glory, what kind of person finds the greatest reward in anonymous work?
Expanding from his acclaimed Atlantic article, What Do Fact-Checkers and Anesthesiologists Have in Common?” David Zweig explores what we can all learn from a modest group he calls Invisibles.” Their careers require expertise, skill, and dedication, yet they receive little or no public credit. And thats just fine with them.
Zweig met with a wide range of Invisibles to discover first hand what motivates them and how they define success and satisfaction. His fascinating subjects include...
a virtuoso cinematographer for major films.
the lead engineer on some of the worlds
a high-end perfume maker.
an elite interpreter at the United Nations.
Despite the diversity of their careers, Zweig found that all Invisibles embody the same core traits. And he shows why the rest of us might be more fulfilled if we followed their example.
About the Author
DAVID ZWEIG has written for The Atlantic, The New York Times, and Slate, among other publications. He has presented his research about how media and technology affect self-perception at numerous universities and academic conferences. This is his first nonfiction book. He lives in Brooklyn.