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Breaking Out: How to Build Influence in a World of Competing Ideas Hardcover – May 21, 2013
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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an interesting tome on leadership as the storytelling demonstrates how breaking out’ has occurred in the past.” Product Development and Management Association
In a world overflowing with new ideas, why do some catch on and blossom, and others not? Drawing on interviews with idea entrepreneurs” (including Al Gore), Butman explains the relationship between the person who comes up with an idea and those that spread it, highlighting what it takes to make an idea popular.” Business Digest
Breaking Out is populated by a surprising crowd of creativesfrom Ralph Waldo Emerson to Eckhart Tolle, Ben Franklin to Blake Mycoskie (TOMS shoes), Mohandas Gandhi to Barack Obamathat reflects Butman’s belief that idea entrepreneurs seek to influence the thinking of others, not repress it or dismiss it. They want change, not power.’ There is no doubt that you will learn from Butman, and these inimitable idea entrepreneurs,” no matter what your message and medium.” 800 CEO READ
ADVANCE PRAISE for Breaking Out:
Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, Professor, Harvard University; coauthor, Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives
In Breaking Out, John Butman gives the marketplace of ideas the human form it deserves. He vividly explores the life history of ideas, the people who espouse them, and the world into which they are flung.”
Eric von Hippel, Professor, MIT Sloan School of Management
John Butman teaches people to better understand, develop, and communicate their core work-related passionsa very important matter.”
Maryanne Wolf, John DiBiaggio Professor of Citizenship and Public Service, Tufts University; author, Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain
In this compelling book on the emerging concept of an idea entrepreneur,’ John Butman brings to life and propels our understanding of this new cultural phenomenon, and in so doing, makes his own contribution to its role in our society. Bravo!
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Brief recap of the content:
- start by discovering the one life-defining idea that truly fascinates you, clear definition after struggling and soul-searching is key here
- continue accumulating articles, ideas, frameworks, lists around this fascination. This process can, and typically does, take years, most commonly decades
- live the idea, even if it means acting the act of Leaving (career, comfortable life pattern. geography, social structure, etc.), in the process weaving a strong personal narrative interwoven into your idea/fascination, giving it legitimacy and weight
- attempt to give life to it, i.e. make it respirate (I think animate is the more descriptive term here), through various means involving an audience (direct, indirect, hidden, secret). This among other things is achieved through two penultimate activities: writing (both short and long), and speaking
- a practical discussion on how to enact all the above
As the author freely admits, there are plenty of ideas out there; not all of them are worthy to live in what he terms "the ideaplex" a place you will get to know and appreciate as you read the book. As other reviewers have commented, the author has his own lexicon for describing how an idea goes from something swirling in a person's head to living out in the world. For me, the two terms that consistently stand out when examining my ideas are "fascination" and "the personal narrative". It may seem simplistic to think that if we aren't fascinated by an idea, why would we pay it any mind at all? The author shows us that in fact, without deep fascination and immersion in the idea, it cannot continue its path to the ideaplex. It simply won't be accepted or embraced by the ideaplex and any hope for 'respiration', i.e. having it breathe and take on a life of its own, just won't happen. The personal narrative is, I believe, a key facet to this methodology. Without the ability to describe succinctly what the idea is and why it fascinates the 'idea entrepreneur' the idea will fall short of making it to the ideaplex.
What made this book for me were the personal narratives of the interviewees. As you read, you'll feel as if you are present with the author and the idea entrepreneur as he/she relates their narrative and fascination. The author is upfront about how personal this journey has been for him in sharing these stories and ideas. And it comes through loud and clear as he explains his terminology with concrete and lively examples drawn from these personal interviews and secondary research. You'll feel as if you are present to and listening to the author's narrative and it's directed solely at you.
One aspect of the book that I think is underplayed is the role that a few key influencers have in taking an idea, building upon it and bringing it to a larger audience. I'm not disputing the author's methodology or framework in any way; i've just found in my experience that an idea will succeed or fail in part not only on it's merits, the fascination and personal narrative but how deeply committed a few key individuals are in aligning with and adding their own narrative and fascination. And I'm not speaking of friends or family either. These can be total strangers or colleagues that suddenly and inexplicably find a 'link' to the idea that is uniquely theirs and seek to reach the ideaplex in ways the idea entrepreneur could not have imagined when he or she first conceived of the idea. It still is a personal journey but one undertaken with committed support and alignment.
One last thought. I believe this book should be required reading in every business school especially those that purport to teach entrepreneurship. Case studies are great; personal narratives and a framework that helps the idea entrepreneur better understand his/her idea and its place and impact in the world are priceless. John Butman achieves this and more in this book.