There are a number of people who formed a brain trust that enabled this book. The first is Hollis Heimbouch of HarperBusiness. This book began with one of my random rants—I was meeting with Hollis (who published Multipliers) and was musing about something I’d always wondered about—When is not knowing more valuable than knowing? Hollis listened carefully and said, “That right there is your next book.” Hollis saw the promise in this book well before I did and then patiently poked and prodded me until I was ready to work on it. She not only helped germinate the idea, she collaborated with me throughout the process, offering insights, pushing me harder, and so wisely wielding her scalpel. Hollis is deeply insightful and collaborative. Every author should be so fortunate to work with an editor and publisher like Hollis. 

Hilary Benedick, my research assistant, was my constant companion through the research and writing, despite being three thousand miles away. She scoured for research, analyzed heaps of data, and served as a thoughtful sounding board. And she did it all while attending Columbia University full-time and applying to law school. She is wicked smart, as persistent as a bloodhound, as meticulous as a sushi chef, and a pleasure to work with in every way. When I grow up I want to be like Hilary. 

Jesse Boyett Anderson was not just an editor but was a Multiplier to me. Jesse’s edits made everything better—sometimes it was fixing an awkward sentence or finding just the right word. Her most important contribution, like that of great leaders, might have been showing genuine delight when I did something really well. She kept me from going astray and helped me run faster down the right path.

My research team also contributed mightily to the development of the ideas in the book. They conducted interviews, reviewed early versions of the manuscript, and pushed on the ideas. My heartfelt appreciation goes to: Elise Caruso Foster, who conducted interviews and helped think through the research data structure; Deepa Krishnan Dhaliwal, who conducted interviews and helped me flesh out the core concept early on; Nadia Laurinci, who conducted interviews and offered critical insights, Alex Peterson, who managed all the case studies; AJ Secrist, who crunched and helped me interpret the core data; and of course Hilary Benedick. 

Along the way, the following people offered important insights and resources: Anais Saint-Jude and Greg Haake at Stanford University for the Latin translations; Adam Grant at the Wharton school who pointed me to key academic research papers; David Burkus at Oral Roberts University for the research on expertise; Marc Jedel at Apple for the 49er locker-room story; Deb Giffin, Jocelyn Kung, John Hall, Heidi Brandow, and Rob Delange for their guidance on learning windows in coaching; and the numerous people who responded to surveys and polls and offered insights via social media.

My thanks also goes out to my colleagues at the Wiseman Group who taught early seminars to help refine the ideas in the book and gain insights from employees. We were aided by these early adopters who helped us better understand the ideas in action inside their companies: Rajani Ramanathan and Cheryl Porro at, Ilana Tandowski at eBay, Alison Parrin and Lisa Gevelber at Google.

There was a phenomenal and diverse set of people who reviewed various versions of the manuscript and offered thoughtful critiques and much-appreciated encouragement. Each is someone I hold in high regard: Lois Allen, Heidi Brandow, Bryan Cioffi, Sarah Dijani, Elise Caruso Foster, Chad Foster, Alyssa Gallagher, Hazel Jackson, Judy Jung, Deepa Krishnan Dhaliwal, Nate Miekels, Greg Pal, Fredrik Schuller, Rick Segal, and Mark Schwartz.

I was fortunate to work with a capable and collaborative team at HarperCollins (and beyond) who breathed life into the book: Eric Meyers who shepherded this project from editorial to distribution; Tom Pitoniak, our eagle-eyed copy editor; Kris Tobiasson, the interior designer; Milan Bozic, the exterior designer; Stuart Sharpe for the cover graphics; and Heather Drucker, the publicist. Once the book came to life, Mark Fortier lent his genius spreading the word. This entire process was made possible by Shannon Marven at Dupree-Miller, who is not only an agent but also a friend.

On a personal level, I continue to be grateful to a set of bosses who took a chance on me years ago when I was young and very inexperienced. Thank you to Bob Shaver and Elisabeth Otero for giving me a big opportunity and then to Phil Wilson, Jeff Henley, and Ray Lane for continuing to push me outside of my comfort zone. Larry Ellison, thank you for creating a culture that gave oversized jobs to under-qualified people like me. These experiences sparked my inquiry and eventually led to this book.

Fast-forwarding to the present, I am deeply grateful to my colleagues at the Wiseman Group for their support and understanding when I was more madman than Multiplier, while I was confined to my writing cave. In particular, I was greatly aided by Judy Jung for managing my schedule (and me) and protecting my creative space with both grace and loyalty. Sally Crawford bravely managed our leadership development practice and cared for our clients so I could focus on the book.

As always, my very deepest appreciation goes to my family—to Larry, my husband of twenty-seven years, for always believing in me, and to my children Megan, Amanda, Christian, and Joshua.


  • “As a company grows, nothing is more important than retaining a culture of innovation. Rookie Smarts shows how even a big company can take risks, innovate, and operate like a challenger.”
    Chairman and CEO,
  • “Wiseman (co-author: The Multiplier Effect: Tapping the Genius Inside Our Schools, 2014, etc.) provides a big boost for first-time employees and others who refuse to be bound by arbitrary limits. . . .An exciting promotion of lifelong discovery and enthusiasm as answers to routine and business as usual.”
    Kirkus Reviews
  • “Wiseman masterfully shows why novices can outdo veterans, expertise blinds us to fresh ideas, and the brilliance of newbies remains untapped. With sage insights and fascinating examples, Rookie Smarts is a must-read.”
    Wharton professor and author of Give and Take
  • “If you want to be a learning machine, improving and growing every year, this is the book for you.”
    SVP of People Operations, Google, Inc.