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Publisher's Summary

The true story of how an unlikely leader helped inspire a team of rocket scientists to achieve the near impossible: landing a 2000-pound rover on Mars.

Few organizations solve as many impossible problems as NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and nobody knows more about leading rocket scientists to unlikely breakthroughs than Adam Steltzner.

As the phase lead and development manager for EDL (entry, descent, and landing) of the Curiosity rover to Mars, Steltzner spearheaded the creation of one of engineering's wackiest kluges - the sky crane, which allowed the heaviest rover in the history of space exploration to land on Mars unscathed.

Steltzner is no ordinary engineer. His path to leadership was about as unlikely as they come. A child of beatnik parents, he was a daredevil and avid mountain biker, breaking 32 bones before squeaking through high school. He blew off college in favor of work at a health food store and playing bass in a band. After an interest in the movement of the stars led him to enroll part time at community college, Steltzner discovered an astonishing gift for math and physics. Within years he got his PhD and ensconced himself within the offbeat Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA's decidedly unbureaucratic cousin, where success in a mission is the only metric that matters.

The Right Kind of Crazy is the story of the teamwork, drama, and extraordinary feats of innovation at the Jet Propulsion Lab that culminated in landing the rover Curiosity on Mars in 2012. It also weaves Steltzner's professional life - centering on the 10 years he and his team spent planning and then executing the landing of the rover - with his unlikely journey from academic underachiever to rocket scientist.

Along the way listeners will learn about what makes effective teams, how to stay on task for the long haul, and strategies for solving incredibly complex problems. The Right Kind of Crazy is a book for anyone striving for excellence.

©2016 Adam Steltzner and William Patrick (P)2016 Penguin Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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  • Story

Wasn't what I was hoping.

I'd give this book a solid "C-" rating overall. I picked it up hoping it'd be an exciting story primarily about the team, the decisions, and the process of how a complex NASA mission comes together.

The book had some of that, but not enough. There's a fair amount of biography that felt a bit unnecessary, arrogant, or seemed forced (like what motivational quites he claims to have written on his college physics exam equation sheets). Parts seem contradictory (bashing what he calls transition points from NASA Langley, but never seems to acknowledge his own designs had 100 transition points, etc.). Overall, the book came across too similar to a politician, who wrote a book to "write down his version of history."

Perhaps I'm biased. As a scientist who's got no current connection to NASA, I was hoping to pick up a book that'll turn my eyes to the heavens in wonder. I almost stopped listening when it became clear that feeling would never come.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Very interesting with practical advice

Very rarely does story telling and leadership lessons come through in one book. Adam put it all together and ignited a passion for the engineer in me to challenge my curiosity.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Loved it!

I wasn't sure what to expect. Was it going to be a technical looking at EDL? But it turned out to be a technical work and a great motivational. Seeing how problems were solved and technical challenges overcome was refreshing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Rob
  • Ottawa, ON, Canada
  • 09-07-16

For space AND business geeks

I'm not often planning a 10-year mission to land a Mini Cooper-sized UFO on a hostile planet like Mars but the lessons Steltzner suffers through while doing just this can be applied to every day life. I'm a space and business geek...this satisfies both sides of that coin.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Engaging

Good mix of lessons in problem-solving, teamwork, and leadership. The subject-matter of Mars landings keeps the story engaging.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Challenge to Curiosity and Creativity

Steltzner spins a good story. He can be a little full of himself, but his audacious, inquiring spirit is contagious. Good insights into problem solving and team building.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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All that craziness expected

The book taught me about a lot of points of life as professional. Specially related to the common goal. Which drives to success of the project and the leading aspect of human nature for connections in the ongoing activities.
Highly recommended for those who are willing to be an executive some day.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Excellent recount of an amazing story

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes - Interesting story of leadership and management faith

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Right Kind of Crazy?

When Nasa finally approved rover on a rope

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Russell
  • Durham, New Caledonia
  • 01-20-16

Right Kind of Crazy is Right Kind of Book

If you could sum up The Right Kind of Crazy in three words, what would they be?

Inspiring Insightful Human

What did you like best about this story?

From first word to last, Right Kind of Crazy paints a picture of human potential and our drive to reach it, only to find there is even more potential on the other side then we ever realized. It compels the listener onward, to understand what happens when we're scared of discovering our potential and what happens when we go for it, eyes wide open because our curiosity says we have to. And throughout, this narrative unfolds to reinforce how much more potential there is when we come together in order to do great things. The fact that all of this unfolds in the context of interplanetary exploration is just icing on the cake...

Have you listened to any of Christopher Grove’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Have not, but after this one, looking forward to hearing more of his work.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

What a great gift to kick off 2016. Thank you.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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team leadership 101 and awesome space crafts.

Great book about curiosity to learn more, being a team and cool entry-descent-landing tales from Mars.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful