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Confessions of a Radical Industrialist: Profits, People, Purpose--Doing Business by Respecting the Earth [Kindle Edition]

Ray C. Anderson , Robin White
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $7.99
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Book Description

In 1994, Interface founder and chairman Ray Anderson set an audacious goal for his commercial carpet company: to take nothing from the earth that can't be replaced by the earth. Now, in the most inspiring business book of our time, Anderson leads the way forward and challenges all of industry to share that goal.

The Interface story is a compelling one: In 1994, making carpets was a toxic, petroleum-based process, releasing immense amounts of air and water pollution and creating tons of waste. Fifteen years after Anderson's "spear in the chest" revelation, Interface has:

-Cut greenhouse gas emissions by 82%

-Cut fossil fuel consumption by 60%

-Cut waste by 66%

-Cut water use by 75%

-Invented and patented new machines, materials, and manufacturing processes

-Increased sales by 66%, doubled earnings, and raised profit margins

With practical ideas and measurable outcomes that every business can use, Anderson shows that profit and sustainability are not mutually exclusive; businesses can improve their bottom lines and do right by the earth.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1994, after reading Paul Hawken's The Ecology of Commerce, carpet mogul Anderson decided to make his carpet company Interface, established in 1973, the first company to achieve 100 percent sustainability, a massively successful effort that has made him a sought-after business consultant (clients include Walmart) as well as an environmental hero. Sustainability, argues Anderson, makes just as much business sense as it does a liberal crusade, and he even makes absorbing reading out of the process that transformed his operations. Interface developed processes for recycling old carpets, invented a leased carpet program (too much ahead of its time, admits Anderson), utilized the work of indigenous peoples, switched over to solar and other alternative energy sources, reduced water use and contamination, and, in 2007, even managed to achieve negative net greenhouse gas emissions. What is even more impressive is that Interface achieved this globally-not just in the U. S.-while growing profits. Unfortunately, Anderson is far less compelling when he turns his focus from Interface to leadership strategies, stumbling through the banalities of corporate spirituality and the Golden Rule. Still, the story of Anderson's commitment to green practices and the wild success he achieved is fascinating, instructive, and very timely.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Highly inspirational...Essential reading for anyone, whether lay, student, or practitioner, interested in business success today and in the environment."--Library Journal (starred review)

"Fascinating, instructive, and very timely."--Publishers Weekly

"Ray Anderson with his team has transformed Interface, Inc. in one of the best cases of sustainability. All employees led by him were committed with the 'climb of Sustainability Mountain', as he says, and believed the challenge was possible. Throughout the book, Anderson reinforces that the concept  'I have financial success or I have environmental success' is not true and I truly believe in it. Besides all the skepticism, he shows us that everybody, from the CEO to the homeowners, can be part of this movement of building a new society. This is the main role of this book: to prove this is possible!" - Fabio Barbosa, President, Grupo Santander Brasil

"Ray Anderson is a personal inspiration for me and for anyone trying to find their way in this new world of green business.  He may be ‘radical’ but he’s also a profit-seeking businessman. Confessions tells an amazing first-hand story of a personal and business transformation, a journey  from being a cold-eyed capitalist to being…a cold-eyed capitalist, but just with a much larger perspective on what profitable really means.  Ray has found a new path that’s good for the planet and great for his business.  He’s showing the world how it’s done yet again." - Andrew Winston, environmental strategist, author of Green Recovery and co-author of Green to Gold

“If we had a lot more businessmen like Ray Anderson, the planet would be neither bankrupt or overheated. He is a hero, and this book makes clear why!” - Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy

“We are in desperate need of hope in...

Product Details

  • File Size: 1075 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (September 15, 2009)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #664,318 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A third option for the climate change debate December 28, 2009
Eight years ago, I attended a presentation given by Ray C. Anderson in Ottawa. His demeanour, notably calm, did not get in the way of his message. He did not thump the pulpit like a garden variety demagogue, nor did he machine gun the audience with statistics. Seldom has been the case when I've walked away from a conference speech so impressed by a man given the weight of his words.

As with all essential issues of the day, factions have divided into two opposing groups, neither one seemingly interested in swaying the other's position, as though the only options for climate change are denial or support. The levels of vitriol and obfuscation lower a very necessary debate to the very shameless tactics used to stalemate tobacco, gun control, abortion and gay rights issues. Lost in this bludgeoning of public discourse's most basic principles is the requisite sophistication to step back; to seek a third option.

Mr. Anderson, by virtue of being one of the few - though growing number of - industry leaders to implement a large scale sustainability program, offers an insider's perspective on his company's creative, can-do culture that has made Interface Inc. an irrefutable example of what can be done when the distraction of warring words is set aside; of the focus and determination needed to be at once a profitable as well as environmentally responsible corporate citizen. And as if that wasn't enough, Mr. Anderson gives us an intriguing vision for an overdue overhaul of industrial assumptions seldom challenged or updated since the 18th century.

This book, so important in its description of a comprehensive and sensible approach to industrial sustainability, has garnered so little attention from the mainstream press. Nor have I seen it among bestseller lists.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical and Detailed November 1, 2009
By Rug EMT
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This provides strong evidence that when upper management gets excited about something other than purely profit-driven business pragmatics, socially- and environmentally-beneficial results occur along with reasonable corporate growth. "Confessions..." nicely rounds out readings such as Esty and Winston's "Green to Gold," McDonough and Braungart's "Cradle to Cradle," and Epstein et al's "Making Sustainability Work...," adding the details of how it can be done from a manufacturing viewpoint (and how hard it is), which is only briefly summarized in the other works and that don't have the personal "been in industry, done it" perspective that Anderson brings. While it's somewhat self-serving (but deservedly) and a little condescending in its treatment of Anderson's competitors, that pales in comparison to the vision that is detailed and how well his company stuck to it. This is a good, can-do kind of road map applicable to driving the cultural change goals that support environmentally sustainabilty, and is straight from the heart of industry.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This is the most important book for business leaders that I have read in over ten years.

I've heard Ray and many others speak. I've read dozens upon dozens of books on similar topics. I've been to conference after conference. But, rarely have I seen in such plain and clear terms a concrete case for how we can meet the goals of sustainability.

While others tell us what's wrong . . . Ray Anderson shows us how to do it right. And, most importantly, he tells us through experience and proven data how we can profit and do well by doing good. Love this book. It is a must read for anyone in business today.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every industrialist should read this (and then some)... October 16, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Ray Anderson's memoir is a clear and thorough review of his and Interface's (his corporation) journey up Mount Sustainability. Interface is transforming itself from an extension of the petrochemical industry to a truly sustainable corporation aiming at a zero footprint.
I think this memoir illustrates what can be done when you set a seemingly impossible goal and you take it on with intellectual honesty and ingenuity. I think Interface's and Anderson's transformations are an inspiration for personal change as well.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Book December 25, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've read about Ray Anderson in Natural Capitalism and several other books and articles over the years, so I wasn't sure what more I'd get from reading his book, but it has been a tremendous pleasure to do so. I've found the details of his transformative work at Interface to not only be fascinating from an ecological and business perspective but also to inspire me to look more closely at my own company and how we can transform. If a carpet company can do it, surely an educational company can as well. Thanks to Ray for his vision, his company's tremendous work, and this fantastic book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every Business person should read this April 20, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I first heard of Ray Anderson in the documentary "The Corporation". He seemed to be well meaning, but I thought it was all talk, till I researched him and found that he was one of the rare breed of people who practice what they preach. If only more business owners were like him- stewards of resources. The book is interesting and a very easy read. I recommend it for every business student.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Read September 22, 2011
By KR20
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've heard a lot about Interface and Ray Anderson, but never looked much into it. I had to read this book for a class, but I'm glad it was assigned. It also came at a fitting time period with the recent passing of Anderson. The book is super easy to read and has a lot of good information. It's the best way to get a closer look at why Interface is revolutionary.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful discussion of a potential paradigm shift
Ray Anderson writes a compelling story of turning a wasteful, oil-thirsty business, Interface, into a nearly carbon-neutral business in a few decades. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Brad
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Persuasively written by a man with the vision required, but not realized in our nation.
Published 8 months ago by Robert Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars A very inspiring book with a down to earth guide ...
A very inspiring book with a down to earth guide for leaders on how to approach a sustainability program and strategy.
Published 8 months ago by Rey
5.0 out of 5 stars Who knew?
The concept of a "radical industrialist" is presented in an understandable manner by one of its purest proponents. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Michael S.
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting book from someone in the trenches.
I found this book to be inspiring and offering hope for our future. I am sorry that Mr. Anderson did not live longer to spread the message that industry can find new ways operating... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Martin Gonzalez, PhD
5.0 out of 5 stars OK, Having read it, I've bought 3 more copies as gifts
Not the newest sustainability book, but should be required reading for anyone who wants to get sustainability done in a corporation.
Published 15 months ago by Carol Baroudi
5.0 out of 5 stars Must-read for sustainability professionals
This is a really good book if you are interested in sustainability. Ray Anderson tells the story of how his company (Interface Flooring) began making efforts to "go... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Mike
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring
Very boring book I had never seen...regret to buy this book and really want to refund. Can I refund or send to landfill?
Published on April 11, 2013 by Yuen Ying Ki
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is invigorating!
It's an emotional, riveting way to introduce systems thinking into your corporate viewpoint. Love it! I would definitely recommended this book.
Published on March 28, 2013 by CAP10K10
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very eye opening book about sustainability
A must read for anyone involved in lean or sustainability groups at thier companies. It is amaizing how a carpet company has made such improvements. If they can we all can.
Published on March 12, 2013 by Edward I Francis
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More About the Author

The story is now legend; the "spear in the chest" epiphany Ray Anderson experienced when he first read Paul Hawken's, "The Ecology of Commerce" seeking inspiration for a speech to an Interface task force on the company's environmental vision. Fifteen years and a sea change later, Interface, Inc., is more than half way to it's target of "Mission Zero," the journey no one would have imagined for the company, or the petroleum-intensive industry of carpet manufacturing, which has been forever changed by Ray's vision. His Georgia-based company, Interface, Inc., was recently ranked number one in a GlobeScan survey of sustainability experts. The once captain of industry has eschewed his luxury car for a Prius and built an off-the-grid home, authored a 1998 book chronicling his epiphany, "Mid-Course Correction," and has a new book chronicling his journey, "Confessions of a Radical Industrialist," published by St. Martin's Press. He has become an unlikely screen hero in the 2004 Canadian documentary, "The Corporation" and was named one of TIME International's "Heroes of the Environment" in 2007. He's a sought after speaker and advisor on all issues eco, including a stint as co-chairman of the President's Council on Sustainable Development and as an architect of the Presidential Climate Action Plan, a 100 day action plan on climate that was presented to the Obama Administration.

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