As a schoolboy in Norfolk, England, a young Sir James Dyson could never have imagined that the hours he spent appreciating art and doing long-distance running at the Royal College of Art in London would lead him to become one of the greatest designing influencers of his time.
In his new book, Invention: A Life, Sir James Dyson delves into the many failures he encountered in his life and career, but equally the many successes that came of his missteps – all decisions that led to his founding of the world-renown company Dyson Ltd.
This is not a book about business, but rather education, mentorship, and self-reliance. Invention: A Life celebrates the unknown and encourages stepping into it and uncovering entrepreneurism.
“I hope that I might encourage more young people to become engineers, since the world desperately needs their ingenuity.
Young people have brilliant ideas and are unafraid to pursue them. I have witnessed what miracles they can achieve, from improving the environment to finding cures for life-threatening diseases. I also believe that it is when design, engineering and science are combined with new, different, or even naïve thinking, that intractable problems become solvable. This is why I believe that scientists and engineers – and young people generally – are best placed to solve the world’s biggest problems. They have more than words, they have solutions.
I’ve reflected that my life has been defined by learning through doing. I believe in the importance of education and the need to be both practical and cerebral – unafraid to get your hands dirty to test something empirically to understand it properly. Also, since everything changes all the time, experience is of little use – far more valuable is a mindset of constantly wanting to improve things and not letting the fear of failure get in the way,” Sir James Dyson said.
From his beginnings with inventor and entrepreneur Jeremy Fry, developing the ‘Sea Truck’, to his more recent inventions of the cyclonic vacuum cleaner and Supersonic hairdryer; discover who and what inspired Dyson on his journey – from rurality to reaching global status.
Invention: A Life focuses on the future. As Dyson once was, a young mind with ideas, he writes about the importance of creation. “We must keep inventing, questioning and disrupting. Like any engineer looking at their latest product, we should never be satisfied,” he said. In our careers, as in our lives, we will encounter obstacles, and ultimately failures, but that should only drive us forward and motivate us to be better. Where Dyson’s very own commercial products like the Contrarotator washing machine, the COVID ventilator, The Dyson EV (electric car), and many more failed; many, many great technologies succeeded. In fact, it’s highly likely that there be one in your home right now.
“When I graduated from the Royal College of Art, I assumed it would become easier over time, fifty-two years later I can assure Dyson graduates that I am no better for my experience. The big change for me is that I now have a team of the best engineers and scientists around me. We share the same belief in pioneering our own way, harnessing radical technology to make better products; we have the same determination to overcome problems. It is their ideas that have built Dyson into a global technology company and working with them is a very fulfilling way to spend one’s days.”
This is a story of design, humble beginnings, life, and importantly, the future.
Invention: A Life by James Dyson is published by Simon & Schuster and is now available at Booktopia, KMART, Dymocks, QBD and independent booksellers.