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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
When we set about to make changes in our lives or our business, we often try to isolate and focus on a narrow area that needs transformation or change. According to Faisal Hoque and Drake Baer, authors of Everything Connects, that is not necessarily the best approach. They advocate a holistic approach - because Everything Connects. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Everything we do is in some way connected to everything else.

The book is presented in three parts. Part One focuses on "When, Who and How we are". So the first thing we must achieve is a better understanding of ourselves and how we see the world. According to the authors, we don't really see the world as it is, we see our ideas about the world. We all strive to become experts in our respective fields. But as an expert, we can become rigid in our thinking. We need to develop a beginner's mind - to be able to see many different possibilities. If we take a holistic approach to business/life, we are focused on creating long term value.

There is a very profound idea presented in this section. "Entrepreneurship is taking ownership of one's economic well-being." The authors go on to say, "Although it's hubris to think that one has complete control over one's experience, it is martyrdom to think one has none."

Part One of the book goes into many very interesting, fresh and at times challenging ideas about our self-awareness, how we view the world. The authors offer some very insightful points for the reader to consider. Our self-awareness is the foundation for the rest of the book. If you don't get the "who" we are correct, there is no chance of getting the remaining correct.

Part Two deals with the structures and performing of innovation. Again, the authors makes a strong point that what is standing in the way of innovation is our mindsets - the way we think about things. Take the example of Blockbuster. According to the authors, Blockbuster could not innovate because they were focused on what they did, not on the value they created for the consumer. The authors point out companies that could not (or would not) innovate but they also point out several examples of companies that totally mastered the art of innovation.

Part Three starts with a wonderful quote. "There's an old Chinese saying that when you've made it 90 percent down the path, you're halfway to your destination." Part Three deals with recognizing how long it takes to accomplish anything worthwhile.

You cannot tell a plant to grow, you can only provide the conditions that allow growth. Likewise we cannot tell our direct reports to develop and grow, we can only provide the conditions that support growth and innovation.

This is a delightful read. It is full of wisdom and insights. And there are lots of practical, actionable concepts included in the book. At the end of each chapter is a summary to the most important takeaways.

The writing style is engaging. There was a lot of research conducted in the process of writing the book. There are substantial notes at the end of the book and a recommended reading list.

The book is very entertaining and enlightening. A real pleasure to read.

I was provided a review copy of this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2014
I've always been a firm believer in "good values lead to value creation." Reading "Everything Connects" helped me ground my personal ideology with a strong theoretical and practical foundation and then some.

The writing style is easy-to-read and approachable. Both authors, Hoque and Baer, present the material with humor, thoughtfulness, and humility. I am a slow reader and started reading the book on my commute to work. I was surprised when I got off at my destination that I had read 60 pages in a single sitting. My compliments about the writing style are only eclipsed by my response to the content.

While it is established early on that target audience is entrepreneurs, the book redefines and recontextualized the term to mean "anyone who takes ownership of their economic well-being." And in that sense, the ideas and values expressed by the authors are applicable to any discipline, any industry, and any profession. One particularly memorable example is the discussion of Molly Crabapple, a painter-illustrator-entrepreneur-activist, who leveraged her network, current technology, and business acumen to be an artist making six-figures.

Another notable feature of the book is the sensitivity and humility of the authors towards race and culture. It reaffirms the core message that positive connections and humanism reinforce long-term gain and shape a better company. Both authors draw from a deep well of knowledge, from meditation practices to interviews with contemporary CEOs, to ancient proverbs. As the title suggests, "Everything Connects" investigates the contexts that currently exist to form meaningful bridges. On a personal note, it was refreshing to read about shifting capitalism away from efficiency to humanism.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed "Flow" and anyone who yearns to integrate of technology and humanism in both their personal and professional lives.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2014
Everything Connects connects a myriad of ideas on innovation, organization, leadership, creative destruction, motivation and sustainability. Faisal Hoque & Drake Baer throw in examples from history (e.g. Leonardo da Vinci), modern businesses (Yammer, Amazon, UPS), while mixing it with mindfulness, the book’s common denominator. Combined with a loose, somehow not that structured approach can keep you puzzled or distract at times. The avid reader of modern business and management books will come across the ideas of Daniel Pink (motivation), Adam Grant (give & take), Schumpeter (creative destruction) once again. The authors push to embed Buddhism’s mindfulness and other spiritual themes into your business practice to invoke more creativity in this connected world, and find some peace of mind in this fast paced society full of disengagement and dispersed work teams. The book’s core message can be summarized in: Think of your origins, lead & inspire, add value to society.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 21, 2014
In the 21st century, the businesses and leaders that succeed are a difficult mix of creativity and flexibility on the one hand, and long-burning value on the other hand. In their new book, Faisal Hoque and co-author Drake Baer explain how these seeming opposites are actually connected … in fact, everything is connected. And they explain how to make it happen, for you as a leader, and for your team.

If you want a quick read, don't get EVERYTHING CONNECTS – instead, pick up one of Faisal Hoque's other books, which follow the more traditional format for the business market. If you are willing to take a journey that may truly change you and the people you lead, this book is for you. EVERYTHING CONNECTS reminds me of some philosophy and theology textbooks I read for college, except that it didn't put me to sleep – it is a deep read, but it is very practical, relevant, and exciting in the face of today's economy of disruptive innovation.

The more we understand the mental and emotional causes of innovation and creativity, the better we can lead ourselves and our team to make progress that matters. EVERYTHING CONNECTS will move you a long way down that road.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 9, 2014
There is not a better writer on workplace productivity and psychology out there than Drake Baer (the co-author of this book). I first met Drake when he was writing at Fast Company and have been following his stuff for several years since. His insights have directly translated into how I think about work, how I think about relationships and how I make decisions. I had the privilege of getting breakfast with Drake a few months ago--a supposedly short meeting that rolling into a two or three hour conversation. I was also lucky enough to have Drake briefly contribute to Betabeat.com (New York Observer) where I am an editor.

It's not surprise to me that Drake and Faisal have worked together to create an excellent and deep book about connection and innovation and creating lasting value. It combined Faisal's experience in business and as an author with Drake's cutting edge understanding of the latest research and science. In this book they lay out 1) how to find your bearings in a world disrupted by innovation 2) how to find the right mindset for success and creativity 3) how to optimize your work environment 4) how to embrace constant and continual change. And of course finally, they show how these four things connect. Because, as they say, Everything Connects.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2014
Everything Connects
How to Transform and Lead in the Age of Creativity, Innovation, and Sustainability
Faisal Hoque, Drake Baer
McGraw-Hill Professional

Everything Connects examines changing the behaviour of leaders, through finding holistic solutions to problems in leader’s lives and in the organisations they work in. It does use one particular strategy, rather draws on different disciplines of organisational theory, management theory, neuroscience, psychology, spirituality and self-improvement, believing that everything it connected, thus a multi discipline approach is required.

It is written in three parts. Firstly discovering when, who, and how you are, thus allowing us to gain a better understanding of ourselves. Second part examines the personal experiences, cultures while applying it to innovations and leading. The final part looks at values, decisions and finding ideas.

Drake and Faisal have combined their understanding of business and psychology for this book. Everything Connects contains research to support their various ideas and theories, and allow the modern businessperson to find balance amongst ideas on innovation and sustainability, leadership and motivation.

While it is an interesting read, I felt they have not considered all the elements that contribute to the modern leader, and their slant to spirituality is biases, or perhaps just disagrees with mine. Not that I am disconnecting spirituality as a contributing factor, just their particular brand.

Overall, there are elements and ideas that the modern leader will take from this book, to place into action in their own lives.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2014
Whether you are an intrapreneur or entrepreneur, authors Faisal Hoque and Drake Baer provide keen insight plus a roadmap for how to adapt in the new "connective" world in which we work, play and interact. Highly recommended as it's a fun, inspiring and fast-paced read. Put it at the top of your list.
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on July 22, 2014
The caterpillar grows 100 times its size from birth to the point at which it enters the cocoon. It does this by focusing on only one thing, eating everything it can. When it emerges from the darkness of the cocoon as a beautiful butterfly, it flies around looking after its own comparatively modest needs. In the process, the butterfly pollinates other flowers and creates abundant growth.

This is a metaphor used by John Mackay founder of Whole Foods Market, in his book on “Conscious Capitalism,” (reviewed in this column,) business at its most moral, and most profitable. This is a fitting introduction to this book, “Everything Connects,” which complements Mackay’s work by focusing on how you achieve this “consciousness.” How you do well in business, by doing good.

Much of how we talk about business is unfortunate. Business is a “rat-race,” where there is only one winner, but he is still a rat. Business is “dog eat dog,” where people will do anything to be successful, even if they do harm to others.
If this were necessarily true, successful business people should be ashamed for being successful. It is not true. Superb books such as Mackay’s and this book, “Everything Connects,” tell a decidedly different story.
The idea that everything connects is referring to the four principle spheres of business. These are the leader, the people in the organization, the ecosystem that encompasses the business, and the customers that it serves. The performance of any of these spheres has a profound effect on all the others.
For example, leaders who focus singularly on output might well find that scaring staff can be useful for short -term productivity. However, if you require staff to make better products or offer a better service you have to manage them with the awareness that your “human resource” is a sentient resource. People are complex and acutely sensitive. All staff bring their personalities, histories, aspirations and fears to work. Everything is connected.
The Stanford Project on Emerging Companies, a longitudinal study, showed the correlation between of the employment practices of nearly 200 young Silicon Valley firms and their subsequent performance. Qualitative factors such as culture and the way people within an organization relate to one another predicted the quantitative. The qualitative factors correlated to the company’s chance of being listed on a stock exchange, and once listed, being able to grow. Everything is connected.
The profit a company makes is tangible, and can be represented on a spreadsheet. What causes profit creation is not tangible. Profit is invariably the results of the subtle, private, personal experiences, and choices of the people participating in that process.
Think of times you have chosen to work from home, (or would have if you could have,) rather than in the office. You made this choice because the environment at home was more conducive to deep thought than the office.
“Your environment is a tool; just as you need the right tool for the job, you’d do well to find the right environment for the job,” say the authors. This is just one example of the myriad of factors that affects productivity and creativity and that requires managerial attention. Everything is connected.
“Work for the long term,” is a recurring theme in the book and an indispensable component of an effective worldview.
The demands of shareholders to meet growth expectations, too often leads to a short-termism that profoundly damages the company for the long-term. Last week a friend told me that her company was offering early retirement to many senior people. I presume that they will be replaced by less expensive, but far less experienced younger people. This will certainly benefit the results in the short-term, but severely prejudice it in the long term. Short-term fixes such as curtailing training, cancelling marketing, and postponing research will produce the same long-term damage.
“Any transaction has short-term and long-term consequences… Short-term consequences will often be quantitative, and long-term ones will be qualitative. A sustaining, holistic organization is conscious of both.” Everything is connected.
The skill that goes into producing a product or service is experienced directly by the user. To achieve a superb output, the performance must masterful. It is for this reason that leaders need to “curate” talent. Curating involves gathering the right people, at the right time in their lives, in the right combination of talents required to produce. The client’s experience is a function of the leader’s ability to “curate” talent.
The author argues cogently that most sustainable way to create value is to invest in your own and your people’s capabilities, as individuals, and as parts of organizations. The investment they talk of is more than taking a course and learning theories and practices. It extends to our own mental experiences, our social interactions, and our philosophy of life. Doing exceptional work requires a holistic, long-term view, and engaging with “mindfulness and authenticity.”
At the heart of the insight of this book, is you, the individual, in your role as leader. Your beliefs, thoughts, behaviour, and values will undoubtable affect the decisions you take, and the willingness and ability of your staff to give of their best.
One of the primary forms of the self-investment proposed by the authors is “mindfulness meditation.” A Wake Forest University study indicated that this religion-neutral activity improved cognition after only four days of training. A University of California - Santa Barbara study found that meditation increased working memory and reduced mental wandering.
To achieve a higher level of consciousness is to see the role of business as a force for good in the world. For the betterment of all - leaders, the people in the organization, the ecosystem that encompasses the business, and the customers that it serves, changes are required. What this practical book describes is how to effect those changes.
Phil Libin, the CEO of Evernote, makes the point that humanizing our working lives is a “sufficiently epic quest” to make it worthy of our total dedication.
Readability Light -+--- Serious
Insights High -+--- Low
Practical High -+--- Low
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Faisal Hoque wrote this book with assistance from Drake Baer. He acknowledges that "we now live in a time of creativity, innovation, and sustainability -- for these are the skills organizations need to be continually adaptive." He then suggests there is a three-part question hidden within the need for continued adaptability: "Which kind of psychological practices predict creativity, which social behaviors predict innovation, and which organizational structures lead to the sustainability of all these things?" The information, insights, and counsel he provides in this book are in response to that question.

I agree with Hoque that thinking and being holistic as well as humanistic are among the keys to personal growth and professional development. They are also among the keys to helping others to do so. I also agree that everyone and everything can be connected, directly -- or at least indirectly -- and that having more and better connections creates more and better opportunities. However, that is true only if (HUGE "if") connections are constantly nourished and, when necessary, protected by those involved. This is true of teams but also of companies and even societies and connections are more important now than ever before, given the nature and extent of breakthrough technologies that enable almost unlimited interactivity between and among almost anyone...anywhere...anytime.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Hoque's coverage.

o The Qualitative Is the Quantitative (Pages 12-17)
o Enabling Technology: The Game Changer (22-28)
o The Need for Better Tools (33-37)
o So What Is Mindful Meditation? 39-42)
o Taking Responsibility (51-53)
o How Einstein Managed Time, and, Time, Stimulation, and Success (67-71)
o Keystones to Building Partnerships (71-74)
o Three Mini-Profiles: Amazon, Nike, and IKEA (85-88)
o Finding the Platforms That Are Already There, and Platforms Connect with Ecosystems (89-95)
o Blockbuster, Yammer, and Petrified Organizations, and, Connectivity Predicts Success (108-114)
o Organizing with Talent Clusters (118-124)
o The Actors: Role as Performance (131-134)
o Love Your Colleague? (143-147)
o Where the Individual Meets the Organization (157-161)
o Rooting Out Ideas: Cultivating Curiosity (177-181)
o Meeting the Blueprint (199-202)
o Da Vinci's Ever-Growing Value (222-229)

I commend Faisal Hoque and Drake Baer on their lively and eloquent as well as rigorous and substantive narrative. They invite their readers to embark upon a journey of discovery to obtain self-knowledge they do not now possess. There are dots within each of us that need to be connected, some of which need to be connected externally as well. The stronger people become, the stronger their connections with others will be. Individuals as well as organizations and even nations can achieve the transformation to which the book's subtitle refers. Ultimately, the value of the material will be determined by how well each reader absorbs, digests, assimilates, and then applies what has be learned. Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine can do full justice to the abundance of material provided in this volume. However, I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of it.
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on March 17, 2014
I loved this book for being so readable while not dumbing down all of complexity that faces different types of organization. One of the most useful sections for me was the organizational model types (STAR, Commitment, etc.)--this framework was really helpful in recognizing some of my own biases in employee recruitment and management. After finishing it, I bought copied for my entire team; I'm finding having a shared literacy around the concepts explored to be immeasurably helpful for our working relationships.

I also love the opening section about innovation and efficiency not being opposites but potentially having opposing structures to optimize for each.

To get to the review's, title, however, the most compelling piece was the use of such a variety of case studies and stories, from Hindu myths to Schumpeter's concept of creative destruction to Da Vinci to new startups. I felt the authors struck a great balance of the timeless/timely in their choices.
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