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The Art of Being Unreasonable: Lessons in Unconventional Thinking

ISBN: 978-1-118-17321-3
208 pages
May 2012
The Art of Being Unreasonable: Lessons in Unconventional Thinking (111817321X) cover image
Unorthodox success principles from a billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist

Eli Broad's embrace of "unreasonable thinking" has helped him build two Fortune 500 companies, amass personal billions, and use his wealth to create a new approach to philanthropy. He has helped to fund scientific research institutes, K-12 education reform, and some of the world's greatest contemporary art museums. By contrast, "reasonable" people come up with all the reasons something new and different can't be done, because, after all, no one else has done it that way. This book shares the "unreasonable" principles—from negotiating to risk-taking, from investing to hiring—that have made Eli Broad such a success.

  • Broad helped to create the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and The Broad, a new museum being built in downtown Los Angeles
  • His investing approach to philanthropy has led to the creation of scientific and medical research centers in the fields of genomic medicine and stem cell research
  • At his alma mater, Michigan State University, he endowed a full-time M.B.A. program, and he and his wife have funded a new contemporary art museum on campus to serve the broader region
  • Eli Broad is the founder of two Fortune 500 companies: KB Home and SunAmerica

If you're stuck doing what reasonable people do—and not getting anywhere—let Eli Broad show you how to be unreasonable, and see how far your next endeavor can go.

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Foreword MICHAEL BLOOMBERG ix

Acknowledgments xiii

1 The Art of Being Unreasonable 1

2 Why Not? The Powerful Question 7

3 Forget Conventional Wisdom 14

4 Do Your Homework No Matter How Much Time It Takes 23

5 The Value of Being Second 31

6 How to Work 24/7 and Still Get 8 Hours of Sleep 38

7 Bright and Young Is a Winning Combination 44

8 Risk 53

9 How to Get Results 58

10 Leverage 64

11 Marketing 71

12 Investing 79

13 Negotiation 85

14 The Logic of Being Logical 94

15 I Ain't Nothing but a Hound Dog 100

16 Is That the Best You Can Do? Motivating People by Challenging Them 109

17 Competition 116

18 It's Better to Be Respected Than Loved 124

19 Giving Back 133

20 Education: Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste 139

21 The Unreasonableness of Art and Artists 147

22 Reflections and Second Thoughts 156

Appendix Eli Broad Career Highlights 166

Index 178

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Eli Broad is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and the founder of two Fortune 500 companies, KB Home and SunAmerica. He is an internationally known art collector and museum patron and has been profiled on 60 Minutes, in Vanity Fair, and in the New York Times for his role in the creation of Los Angeles cultural institutions, including the Frank Gehry–designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and The Broad, a new contemporary art museum he and his wife Edythe are building in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. He and his wife have been the driving force behind a genomic medicine research powerhouse—the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT—and three stem cell research centers in California. He is a life trustee on the boards of MOCA, LACMA, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York and is regent emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution.

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May 02, 2012
Eli Broad, One of America’s Leading Entrepreneurs and Most Generous Philanthropists, Shares How to Master The Art of Being Unreasonable and Create Extraordinary Success

Reasonable people come up with all the reasons something new and different can't be done, because, after all, no one else has done it that way. Eli Broad, the founder of two Fortune 500 companies in completely different industries and one of the country’s most generous philanthropists, has turned reason and convention on its head as he accomplishes the impossible in business and philanthropy.   

In his new book, The Art of Being Unreasonable: Lessons in Unconventional Thinking, (Wiley; May 2012; Hardcover & ebook; $24.95; 978-1-1181-7321-3), with a foreword by Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, Broad reveals the secrets behind the unreasonable principles that have made him a success. From understanding the “value of being second” to embracing the thrill of taking a risk, from his insights into investing to his tips on effective negotiation, Broad shares the insights and practices that have propelled him to the top.

The Art of Being Unreasonable not only describes how Broad has done it, but also the lessons anyone can take from his business, philanthropic and civic accomplishments and apply them in their own lives to accomplish more than they ever thought possible.. Broad explains how to ask unreasonable questions, pursue the untried, relentlessly revise expectations upward, be restless, and most important, seek out the best in everything—the best values, the best investments, the best people—and the best in yourself. He also discusses valuable advice for approaching “unreasonable” decisions and ventures, including how to:

  • Do your homework, no matter how much time it takes
  • Study a first mover’s failures for clues to success
  • Stay unemotional and disciplined
  • Motivate employees with money and higher expectations, not  just praise
  • Be a philanthropist, regardless of how much money you have
  • Spread the wealth and leverage good works

There's one common theme in all of Broad’s activities:  he runs away from conventional wisdom at every opportunity as he has worked to make life better for people.  His approach helped him build two Fortune 500 companies, KB Home and SunAmerica, and amass $6 billion he is now using to create some of the greatest contemporary art museums, scientific research centers, and K-12 education initiatives. Of course along the way, he’s been celebrated and criticized, but he insists, “You've got to be ready for that if you're going to do anything big.”

The book also shares how his unreasonable thinking led to many of his civic and philanthropic successes, such as:

  • Raising the funds to build the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, founding the Museum of Contemporary Art, funding the Broad Contemporary Art Museum at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and creating The Broad, a new museum being built in downtown Los Angeles—all as he works to make Los Angeles a cultural capital.
  • The funding and creation of leading-edge scientific and medical research centers that have quickly become innovative leaders in genomic medicine and stem cell research, most notably the Broad Institute of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • The creation of a full-time M.B.A. program at Broad’s alma mater, Michigan State University, where he and his wife also funded a new contemporary art museum on campus to serve the campus and Central Michigan.

“Too often, age and experience become an excuse for accepting the status quo without questions. Instead of asking ‘Why not?’ you become overwhelmed with all the reasons something can’t be done. ‘Of course not’ becomes you automatic response. You grow fearful of making mistakes. You rely on conventional wisdom because that’s what everyone else does, and there’s safety in consensus,” writes Broad. “All of my careers have required me to be quite unreasonable—to have outsized ambition, discipline, energy, and focus to have the confidence to ignore people who said I couldn't do it. If this book does nothing else, I hope it helps you silence the voice of unconventional wisdom that too often keeps people from even attempting to achieve their goals.”

Click on the the Audio/Video tab to see Broad's interview with BusinessWeek about the housing marketing, his concerns about the economy and his new book.

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