Against the Odds: An Autobiography

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Product Description

The inspiring autobiography of James Dyson, the country?s leading entrepreneur and inventor, and how he succeeded against all the odds. Dyson's freewheeling account of his struggles, failures and successes is interspersed with his insights on how to turn an inspired idea into a household name. Also includes an updated chapter that reveals the details of the latest TOP SECRET Dyson appliance. Against the Odds will inspire engineers, inventors, and entrepreneurs and appeal to readers around the world.

Customer Reviews:
  • A Must Read!
    Being interested in innovation and entrepreneurship I was looking forward to reading this book, and I was not disappointed at all. It is well written, holds the attention, and paints the picture well of James Dyson's life and what it took for him to become a successful inventor, designer and businessman. It is full of very useful information and insights of what worked and the many things and actions that didn't work for him in his early business ventures. A very good role model for any inventor or entrepreneur looking to know what it takes to be successful....more info
  • Very Inspiring
    His tenacity in getting the cleaner to market is a lesson for us. Many of his observation such as - Engineering is a state of mind, only by remaining as close as possible to pure function of the object that beauty can be achieved, creativity does not arise by staring at an empty board etc etc is of much food for thought. Loved it. ...more info
  • An interesting read
    A good book for anyone who enjoys biographies by entrepreneurs. Not too long and not too much back patting. Some invaluable advice was shared. I came away with a good appreciation of the struggle to survive and then succeed....more info
  • Best book to read about the business process
    I've read many books on business, having started and now running a successful business for 12 years, this book describes EXACTLY what it is like to start/run your own business. There are a host of books out there on the theoretical aspects of business, i.e. business plan, financing (blah blah), however they don't touch on the essence of this completely nerve racking, friendship killing, desperate struggle of a process. Starting a business, is not a journey it's an odyssey. Reading Dysons book takes you along for the ride. I can't say this book is for everyone, simply because so few people choose this direction to follow and succeed, but if you do, this book should be read many times. It will also give hope to the person of average intelligence, as I believe, Dyson conveys he is not a genious, he simply doesn't give up, ever. ...more info
  • Awesome
    I work for Dyson US and this book is something we give to every new employee. When I got my copy I read it in about 8 hours- I couldn't put it down! It's a great "story" and although he speaks mostly about the "invention" process and the obstacles he faced, you still get a great feeling for who James is as a person. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did....more info
  • Stories of an Innovator: Building the Better Vacuum Cleaner
    This book is subtitled "an autobiography," but it isn't really about James Dyson, the man. It is about James Dyson, the inventor and designer who conquered the vacuum cleaner market. The difference? Dyson includes everything that might explain his success as an inventor, but gives only limited attention to his personal or interior life. Dyson briefly mentions some crucial points, like the strain his ongoing travels put on his marriage, or his wonderment at his companies' many lawsuits, but if you're seeking a man's inside emotional story, this isn't it. However, if you're looking for an exciting account of an inventor who proceeds, as Dyson puts it, in an Edisonian fashion, read this book. We recommend it to anyone engaged in design, engineering, marketing or innovation. The stories it contains, especially the descriptions of inspiration or frustration - are refreshing in this theoretical age, as is his advice on creating and marketing innovative products. Dyson's book proves that a vital place still exists for individual vision and old-fashioned perseverance....more info
  • An entrepreneur's struggle and testimonial
    This is a great story of a stubborn, possibly cantankerous, designer turned manufacturing entreprenur. It was a real page-turner and I couldn't put it down.

    This Brit took on the vacuum sweeper industry worldwide and now is introducing washing machines that may be technologically superior -- just like his sweepers. He has invented and introduced several products to the world.

    Here's what you can get from this book:

    1) A humorous story of entrepreneurial struggle and then success,
    2) Dyson's rules for product design,
    3) Dyson's rules for start-ups for manufacturing companies,
    4) Some great words to improve your vocabulary (he's British remember),
    5) Lessons in patents and the lengths to which you will have to defend them,
    6) How entrenched product manufacturers will buy companies to squelch a superior technology to keep it off the market,
    7) How your wayward son who goes off to study art may actually end up richer than you.
    8) How to protect yourself from unscrupulous competitors (are there any other kind?)

    Most important of all are his rules for design and for startups.

    His basic rule for coming up with new products goes like this:

    Find a durable consumer product that every household buys. Find out what bugs people about this product. Use technology to dramatically improve its performance -- preferably find the technology in other industries. Look for new materials providing superior durability. Prototype, prototype, prototype. Test, test, test. Then design outward for style and ergonomics (Form follows function.) Don't listen to others. Don't hire consultants. Market and manufacture it yourself. You can learn any subject in 6 months (I think that's a little quick but the point is well made). Keep improving (Japanese style Kaisen) once you have developed your new product (he's developed many improved models once he went into production).

    I really enjoyed this book and recommend it heartedly. I wondered though if Dyson wasn't a bit too cantankarous for his own good. I often wondered why he ended up in so many lawsuits and business deals gone awry. Were all his competitors ruthless? Or was he difficult to establish business relationships with? We will never know, and perhaps it's not that important. But there's lots to learn by reading this book. I understand he has another book, self-published, just on the design and invention aspects and I hope to get that book also. I'll check with the wife to see if we need another sweeper. He says they really suck. In fact it sucks up to three times more than competitors. Well, that's his humor not mine.

    This book should be required reading at all business schools.

    John Dunbar
    Sugar Land, TX...more info
  • Edison Lives Today
    The story told here, an autobiography, is one of the most inspiring that I've read in a long time. Dyson is an inventor and industrial designer who has taken his bagless vacuum cleaner from the garage to a huge enterprise. I loved this story and wound up really admiring the man. His distinctive approach to industrial design, his perseverance and gutsy self confidence enabled him to show that even in the world of huge multinationals, with all their central research laboratories, there are still opportunities for the lone inventor to make it, big-time.

    I especially enjoyed the part about the early development of the machine, in which he made something like one version per day for over three years, varying things one at a time, measuring everything to exhaustion, all the while sinking further and further into debt. Edisonian it was, but sometimes that is the only way--the quest for the quick breakthrough emphasized by modern industrial managers can be a real obstacle to progress. I've seen it at work first-hand.

    The book is rather lavishly produced with ten pages of glossy photos, many of them in color, supplemented by many sketches and drawings. The big margins and the attractive typeface on acid-free paper combine to make a very pretty book, worth owning.

    This is the sort of book that once you put it down, you feel better about the world, the striving of man-the-builder, and realize that, even in England, things can get better....more info
  • Astonishing perserverance
    This man had it SO HARD in business, was STABBED so often - and had only SHREDS of money, yet he perservered and created a business fortune of over $750 million. This book can be like a medicine of fortitude to anyone, in business or not; more inspiring than any Sylvester Stallone Rocky movie. This deserves best-seller status and probably will never get it, because it is seen as a business book, instead of its greatest power - to motivate ordinary folks, like he was, to perservere against all viciousness and make a personal dream into a bustling reality. Get the book and read it next weekend....more info
  • A Great Read
    I just finished reading a really great book that I think that anyone would enjoy. The name of the book is "Against the Odds" and the author is James Dyson. I bought my copy from book has everything and was hard to put down. It is a recent (2002) well written fascinating autobiography of Dyson who took huge risks and overcame tremendous difficulties to rise from poverty to become Sir James and a billionaire by inventing the very successful cyclonic vacuum cleaner and other products. The book is about innovation, what makes people resist innovation and act against their own interests, business principles and organization, marketing in different cultures, education, etc. and is a great story especially when you are in need of a little inspiration. Read what he did when he was told "Your product can't be any good because if there was a better way to make a vacuum cleaner, Hoover would have already done it"....more info
  • exceptional
    A wonderful story, well-written about a tireless inventor who overcomes great difficulties to create a very successful business, doing it "his way". Proof of his genius is that almost every American vacuum cleaner manufacturer has shamelessly knocked off his design. Shame on them. Bravo to James Dyson! Write another book Mr. Dyson....more info
  • a must for all designers
    How creativity can also be learned outside Design Schools, business can also be learned outside business schools?..... How the real world is a great place to learn whatever one desires to learn? and How with patience, persistance and preserverance can one develop oneself into a revolutionary designer and a successful enterprenuer? is what this book is dealing with.

    Unique and an inspiring way of "walking through" a lifestory of a successful struggle....more info

  • A Man Of Genius: James Dyson
    James Dyson is one of only two men ever honored with having the vacuum cleaner they invented named after them. James Kirby and James Dyson Jim Kirby did not work for the Kirby Company - so the Kirby vacuum was not really his. Mr. Dyson designed new technology, perfected it, manufactured it, and successfully sells it all over the world. This book details the struggles of the 'average' man who has a brilliant idea and is constantly knocked down with every turn. That the Dyson vacuum exists at all is a miracle, as this book clearly illustrates. Mr. Dyson's personal battles to see his invention brought to life are fascinating and horrifying at the same time. How could one man survive so much rejection and yet triumph in the end? This book has all the elements necessary for transformation into a wonderful movie. A loveable lead character, constant uphill battles for justice, and a satisfying ending that will make you want to know more about this brilliant and wonderful man who has changed the way we look at cleaning our homes. For the first time in the 100 years of the vacuum cleaner, it finally works the way it should. Without a Bag....more info
  • The triumph of tenacity, self-belief and good ideas.
    How did James Dyson bring about a revolution, in an industry that has been producing a product which works the same way as it did over a hundred years ago, and still sales in it's millions? By thinking out of the box, not being dissuaded by people who couldn't change their mind sets and by continuing on to build a business that employs people who are encouraged to think differently. This is the story of how a man learnt to be a designer, engineer, inventor and international businessman. It's a superb read, well written with a gripping plot. A handbook for future revolutionaries!...more info
  • The triumph of tenacity, self-belief & good ideas.
    How did James Dyson bring about a revolution, in an industry that has been producing a product which works the same way as it did over a hundred years ago, and still sales in it's millions? By thinking out of the box, not being dissuaded by people who couldn't change their mind sets and by continuing on to build a business that employs people who are encouraged to think differently. This is the story of how a man learnt to be a designer, engineer, inventor and international businessman. It's an superb read, well written with a gripping plot, the stuff of revolution!...more info