Book Review - The One Thing

Book Review: The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

The One Thing
Score: 7.8/10

  • Amount of Content 7/10
  • Value of Content (Usefulness) 8/10
  • Originality of Content 6/10
  • Relevance of Content (To a Product Designer) 10/10
  • Entertainment Level 8/10
  • Inspiration 8/10
  • ** Length of Read category eliminated from all future reviews**


It’s been a while since I did a book review and since I just finished The One Thing, here we go! This book is all about the idea that understanding how to simplify, prioritize and focus is the difference between success and mediocrity. Taking it a step further, Keller and Papasan focus on helping the reader identify the single most important step in moving toward his or her goals. The book is loaded with context and anecdotes to back up this claim and makes a very strong case. I enjoyed this book quite a bit, but to do a proper book review, we need to dive deeper. Let’s go!


Amount of Content

240 pages are plenty to communicate the idea behind The One Thing. I’ve read some other reviews where readers complained that the book was overcomplicating a simple idea. I see where they’re coming from, but I don’t necessarily agree with that. I mean, I can tell you that ‘E = MC^2’ because I know it’s true. That doesn’t mean I can explain it to you and for a book to explain that concept to me, I’m sure it would take quite a few pages. Just believing in or knowing (the value of) The One Thing, isn’t enough. Context is necessary and with plenty of examples, the authors make sure readers understand how to apply and implement the idea. I think there’s a decent amount of content in this book which supports the simple, singular message. I give it a 7/10 

Value of Content

This book gets an 8/10 for value. I feel this way because I feel that the information in this book is factual and easy to implement. It doesn’t take much time to realize that having a singular focus and understanding how to always identify what you should be doing next is incredibly valuable. I think it’s very applicable to everyone regardless of experience, profession or resources.


Originality of Content

To say that the ideas within The One Thing are original would be a bit of a laugh. I think this book is trying to remind people how to undo much of the damage we’ve brought upon ourselves. Constantly trying to do more thing, do things faster, do things simultaneously and being reactive to the constant barrage of stimuli has taken its toll on our ability to be productive. The authors do challenge a lot of modern conventional thoughts about success and productivity, so for that, they get some originality points. Overall, I give the book a 6/10. 


Relevance of Content

Call me a fool for offering a perfect score, but The One Thing gets a 10/10 for being appropriately relevant today. It’s incredibly useful and relevant to just about anyone with aspirations.  



I listened to this book rather than read it. I listen to lots of books to fit my lifestyle. The author was good and I did find it pretty entertaining. Not hilarious or over-the-top inspiring, but certainly good. I give it an 8/10  



8/10 for inspiration. This book did inspire me to narrow my focus and schedule out time in my planner differently. I took action which means it must have been pretty inspiring. There are a few good examples and being reminded of how anyone who’s become great at something is a good source of inspiration. 


Final Thoughts

The One Thing is really a book for anyone. Seems silly to say, but I can’t think of a scenario when it wouldn’t be appropriate for someone to read or listen to. It’s simple to follow, very fact-based and effective. Since I’ve began taking a ‘One Thing’ mentality, I’ve seen improvement in the skills I’m trying to improve upon. I’d be surprised if anyone who likes reading about self-improvement or achievement would not enjoy this book. 


The Verdict

Buy and read it or listen to it.