The Art of Being Unreasonable
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.
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.
The Art of Being Unreasonable
The Art of Being Unreasonable
I am unreasonable.
It's the one adjective everyone I know - family, friends, associates, employees, and critics - has used to describe me.
Occasionally, some of them have also called me crazy or nuts. But they've all told me at some point that I was being unreasonable because my goals were unrealistic, my deadlines couldn't be met, my ideas were far-fetched, or my approach trampled on the conventional wisdom.
But I believe that being unreasonable has been the key to my success. In this book I want to show you how applying unreasonable thinking can help you achieve goals others may tell you are out of reach, just as it has for me.
Over the past six decades I have had four careers: accounting, homebuilding, retirement savings, and philanthropy. I became the first person to build two Fortune 500 companies from the ground up in two different industries. The $6 billion I earned in business is now being used to help reform public education in America, assemble two world-class art collections and make them widely accessible, and provide critical start-up funding for cutting-edge biomedical research.
What gives me the most satisfaction is that all my careers have demanded that I meet people's essential needs - helping them realize their dreams of homeownership and a secure retirement, educating their children, experiencing great art, and living a healthier life. Each has also required me to be quite unreasonable - to have outsized ambition, discipline, energy, and focus and 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 conventional wisdom that too often keeps people from even attempting to achieve their goals.
Through my careers there has been one constant: a paperweight on my desk, a gift my wife, Edye, gave me some time after we were married in 1954. It sat on the tiny desk in a shared office in Detroit, Michigan, where, as a young CPA, I first envisioned starting the local homebuilding business that would become KB Home. It made the trip to Los Angeles, where it rested in my new office with a view of the Pacific Ocean at my retirement savings company, SunAmerica. Today, Edye's gift sits on the pale wood desk where I oversee The Broad Foundations' wide-ranging philanthropies. My office walls may be covered with art by Jasper Johns and photographs of the interesting people I have met during my career, but time and again - as it has so often over the years - my gaze goes to Edye's paperweight and its inscription, a quote from George Bernard Shaw: "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends upon the unreasonable man."
You could say Edye and I got married because I was unreasonable. After a friend gave me Edye's phone number, I called out of the blue and asked her to dinner. She had no idea who I was and couldn't even remember my friend. She said yes only because her mother pressured her into it. I drove to her house one Saturday night and hoped that she wouldn't slam the door after seeing my big ears and goofy grin. Lucky for me, she didn't. Only a few dates later I proposed, promising her my vision of a great future: our own home, two kids, two cars, and maybe a vacation once a year to Florida.
Edye's yes was my greatest piece of good fortune. Our marriage remains Exhibit A in my case for the value of being unreasonable. In love and in business, if you know what you want, you have to go for it.
Being Unreasonably Unreasonable
I didn't stop being unreasonable once Edye and I were married. Sometimes it made me harder to live with than I needed to be. I hadn't yet rea