New Releases

The Misfit Economy: Lessons in Creativity from Pirates, Hackers, Gangsters and Other Informal Entrepreneurs

June 19, 2015


Alexa Clay and Kyra Maya Phillips' new book is already being touted by some as one of the best of the year.

The Misfit Economy has already been named one of the best business books to read in 2015 by The Telegraph and the Huffington Post, and the Financial Times says, "For those wanting a fresh perspective on business practices or working lives, this is a snappy introduction to a new way of thinking."

There are countless books that chronicle the creativity and ingenuity of successful start-ups, young game changers from the Silicon Valley and visionary CEOs—but what about the innovators who are working on the fringes of the global economy? In The Misfit Economy, Clay and Phillips look outside of the traditional business world to find unique models for innovation and entrepreneurship from some not-so-model citizens. They travel from the street markets of Sao Paulo to the rubbish dumps of Lagos and the flooded coastal towns of Thailand. They interview Amish camel milk farmers, slum dwellers, computer hackers, dissidents, and inner city gang members. They find that, across the globe, diverse innovators operating in the black, grey, and informal economies are developing solutions to a myriad of challenges. And they prove that there's a lot we can learn from them.

A fascinating and surprising book with a truly memorable cast of characters, The Misfit Economy outlines five key principles that can be gleaned from these "misfits." Clay and Phillips illustrate how start-ups, business leaders and entrepreneurs can apply these principles to everyday situations.

Five Key Principles for Unleashing Your Inner Misfit:

  1. Hustle: "Hustle is about spotting an idea and going for it... A true hustler takes destiny into his own hands, using whatever tools he has at his disposal, propelling himself forward with an irrepressible will to succeed and determination to survive."
  2. Copy: "We believe this form of collective innovation is intrinsic to the creative process and that this spirit should be harnessed in the formal economy, to accelerate the diffusion of innovation and to help avoid the establishment of monopolies."
  3. Hack: "The principle of hack is about taking on the establishment to change it for the better. Hack is also about getting to know a system intimately in order to more effectively take it apart."
  4. Provoke: "The temporary worlds created by the provocateurs spark dialogue in our mainstream culture and create the conditions for innovation to occur."
  5. Pivot: "When we talk about the meaning of 'pivots' within the Misfit Economy, we are referencing personal pivots—the experience of enacting a dramatic change in the course of one's life to pursue greater fulfillment and inspiration."

You can learn more on the authors' website at


Alexa Clay is a storyteller and leading expert on subculture. She is the cofounder of the League of Intrapreneurs, a movement to create change from within big business and the Founder of Wisdom Hackers, an incubator for philosophical inquiry. Alexa initiates projects through the collective The Human Agency, which aim to create communities of purpose around the world. Formerly, she was a Director at Ashoka, a global nonprofit that invests in social entrepreneurs. When not operating in the world as Alexa, you can find her playing the Amish Futurist, an alter ego bringing Socratic inquiry to the tech scene. She is a graduate of Brown University and Oxford University.

Kyra Maya Phillips is a writer and innovation strategist. She is a director of The Point People, a network based consultancy focused on innovation and systemic change. Previously, Kyra worked as a journalist for The Guardian, where she focused on environmental reporting, and at as a consultant at SustainAbility, a London based think-tank and consultancy. She grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, but is now based in London, where she lives with her husband and son. She is a graduate of The London School of Economics.

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