Book Review: “Ten Steps Ahead” by Erik Calonius

by | Jan 10, 2018 | Entrepreneurship, Reviews, Self Discovey, Taking Action

Ten Steps Ahead by Erik CaloniusTitle: Ten Steps Ahead: What Separates Successful Business Visionaries from the Rest of Us
By Author: Erik Calonius
Publisher: Portfolio

Available through Amazon in hardback and Kindle editions. You can find it at other online and offline booksellers, as well.

Summary of Ten Steps Ahead

Erik Calonius, a former Wall Street Journal correspondent, explores the lives of such luminaries as Richard Branson and Steve Jobs through the lens of psychology and cognitive science. This book seeks to answer what makes the mind of these business visionaries different from everyone else. Can science peer behind the veil and explain the process of how these successful business builders think and make the leaps that propel them forward?

What I liked about Ten Steps Ahead

Ten Steps Ahead is easy to understand. Using metaphor, simile, analogy and anecdote, Calonius gracefully explains modern mind science and how it can simplify the process that business visionaries go through to make leaps such a Virgin Galactic and the iPad.

Calonius gives the reader a firm base for understanding how psychology and cognitive science got to where it is now. He shares the pertinent historical landmarks that paved the way to the modern comprehension of the mind, helping the reader appreciate the stepping-stones that lead to our current understanding of how the mind works.

From that point, he builds on this base, alternating between explanations of scientific understanding and real-world stories of business visionaries illustrating those points. The author draws from personal experience interviewing many of the entrepreneurs discussed, as well as a wealth of other writings about and by people such as Richard Branson, creator of Virgin Records, Virgin Airlines, and Virgin Galactic; Carlo Rubbia, Nobel Prize-winning physicist; and Steve Jobs, the visionary behind such world-changing products such as the Apple computer, iPod, and iPad.

Being a science geek, I particularly enjoyed how Calonius synthesized the abundance of knowledge about the human mind and how it works, from neurotransmitters that influence and control our emotions, to childhood experiences that shape the way we see the world, in a way that is accessible and easy to understand.

And he doesn’t just discuss the positives of being a visionary. He also covers the limits and failures of vision: how as much as it can take entrepreneurs to grand success, it can also lead them down a rabbit hole. Having vision is not a guarantee of success every time; many visionaries have had setbacks or made false moves.

Finally, after detailing all the ways that visionaries are special and process information differently than most, The author gives you hope. Visionaries aren’t freaks of nature, anomalies that ordinary people can’t possibly hope to emulate. As it turns out, vision is something we can all cultivate and learn to harness in our own lives.

What I didn’t like about Ten Steps Ahead

Frankly, I really enjoyed reading the book an don’t have anything I can come up with that I didn’t like.

What I’d Love to See in the Second Edition

Since the author shows that vision is attainable by anyone, it would have been nice to see some actionable steps the reader can take to nurture their own vision.


Ten Steps Ahead is an engaging read for both lovers of good science writing and business biographies. Calonius writes with a strong personal style that is immensely readable and feels like a conversation with a friend.


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[one_fifth_last] grey star [/one_fifth_last]

NOTE: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. If you’ve read past book reviews, you’ll know that I don’t pull my punches when I believe they are warranted. I also try to provide balanced information so you can make your own decision to read or not read the book, even if you disagree with my opinion.


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