The Art of Being UnreasonableBy all measures, Eli Broad has led an amazing life.

He’s the only person to have started two Fortune 500 companies – KB Home (originally known as Kaufman and Broad), and SunAmerica.

Along the way he’s become a billionaire (with a b) and a philanthropist. He continues to be a major influence in the art scene in Los Angeles by donating his own money and raising money from others; and spearheading campaigns to build the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Plus he founded The Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and three stem cell research centers.


So what are his secrets to success?

Be unreasonable.

That’s how he says people describe him.

Or as George Bernard Shaw says:

“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.”

After reading his fast-paced book with bite-sized info/motivational chapters, you’ll see that by that definition, Eli is unreasonable. But based on results and world view, I’d have to say this is one of the more reasonable business biographies I’ve read, but the “Art of Being Reasonable” is a not as good a title as the “Art of Being Unreasonable,” which is published by John Wiley.

Well played, Eli.

So what are his key points?
1. Set high goals and don’t let people tell you that you can’t achieve them.
2. Do you homework.
3. Leverage your assets.
4. Take reasonable risks.
5. Defy conventional wisdom.
6. Treat your employees well and motivate them by challenging them.
7. Form alliances and listen to people.

For me, the best chapter was called “Why Not?: The Powerful Question.” We’ve all seen this before, as is in why can’t I do x? But this one rang with authenticity because of the personal case studies and examples. And so much better than the “fake it until you make it” theory found in other books, which were written by non-billionaires.

Also, the chapter on “The Value of Being Second” was a real sceneshifter. This isn’t the Avis vs. Hertz story retold. This shows that when you add value and service you can displace the leader. Well played, Eli.

The best line in the book is attributed to television pioneer David Sarnoff who said “Competition brings out the best in products and the worst in men.” LOL! Eli said competition does bring out the best in people.

All in all, a good book, as Eli shares the benefit of his unconventional thinking.