HOBOKEN, NJ.- 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 countrys 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) 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 everythingthe best values, the best investments, the best peopleand 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 movers 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 Broads 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, hes 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 Angelesall 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 Broads 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 cant be done. Of course not becomes you automatic response. You grow fearful of making mistakes. You rely on conventional wisdom because thats what everyone else does, and theres safety in consensus, writes Broad. All of my careers have required me to be quite unreasonableto 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.