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Emotional Equations: Simple Steps for Creating Happiness + Success in Business + Life Paperback – February 12, 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Rarely has a CEO bared his soul in a book as Chip Conley has in Emotional Equations. This powerfully authentic story makes for a compelling read and an invaluable operating manual for life. Chip’s stories are used to create emotional building blocks that define how we can understand and navigate our internal weather and emotions."
--Tony Hsieh, Zappos' CEO and author of Delivering Happiness

“If you want to understand (or persuade) your boss, sister, neighbor, or teenager, it helps to have an emotional equation. Chip Conley built one of the most innovative, customer-inspiring businesses of the last 20 years. He’s a leader who clearly understands the value of analyzing emotions.”––Chip Heath, co-author of Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

“Emotional Equations offers a splendid menu of rules-of-thumb for a satisfied, meaningful life. Chip Conley has tried what he advises; his equations to live by are clever, useful, and profound.”––Daniel Goleman, author of Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence

“In this remarkable book, one of America's finest entrepreneurs shares the wisdom that’s helped him find personal and professional renewal in the face of some devastating life events. Chip Conley's equations are powerful tools for helping to make our emotions work for us, rather than against us, in business and in life.”
-- Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive

“Chip Conley makes the case that great business leaders don't have to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Rather than superhuman, the best leaders––at work and at home––are simply super humans who know how to use their internal resources effectively. Emotional Equations offers practical advice so you can make your emotions work for you rather than against you."––Marci Shimoff, author of Love for No Reason

"Emotional Equations is a fresh, original guide to an authentic and fulfilling life. Every line is based on good science and lived experience and rings truthful and invigorating. There ought to be a law against successful CEOs writing such good books...where does that leave the rest of us?"––Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow

Emotional Equations is a masterpiece by a master teacher. Philosopher/CEO Chip Conley peels away the thin veneer of let’s pretend organizational life and introduces us to the very raw and tender emotional core of our human experience. While reading, I felt joy, delight, curiosity, insight, inspiration, amazement and, most of all, a much deeper understanding of my own inner life. Simple, yet profound...you really must read this book.”
-- Jim Kouzes, co-author of The Leadership Challenge

“If you’ve struggled to understand how to get control of your emotions, Chip Conley’s Emotional Equations is the book for you. Conley makes elegantly objective the subjective realm of feelings through the prism of simple mathematical formulas that offer fresh insight into how we can more effectively manage our emotions.”
-- Anne Kreamer, author of It's Always Personal: Emotion in the New Workplace

"It's incredibly rewarding to see one of my former psychology students evolve first into a very successful businessperson and then into a thoughtful observer of human nature. Chip Conley's Emotional Equations is challenging, thought-provoking, insightful, and, ultimately, very practical."
-- Phil Zimbardo, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University, author of The Time Paradox

"You may scoff at the idea that all the complexity and subtlety of human emotion can be reduced to a handful of arithmetic operations. Scoff all you want, but read the book. There is something important to be learned from every chapter. Chip Conley has written a book that is both welcoming and challenging, simple and complex, abstract and concrete. Read this book and take it to heart and your emotional life will never be the same."
-- Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice

"After Frankl's memoir, Man's Search For Meaning, got him through a very dark period, Conley concluded that its message was "despair = suffering - meaning," an elegant distillation of Frankl's insight that extremes of anguish need not destroy the soul if a sense of purpose, and of choosing the meaning of one's experiences, remains. At their best, Conley's equations prompt a revelation: by reducing an emotional problem to its core elements, you can glimpse new ways to address it. The formula provides clarity, which isn't to suggest the solution is easy." (The Guardian)

"Chip Conley gives a brilliant analysis of the absolute necessity of Maslow's hierarchical paradigm in unleashing the talent and commitment of customers, employees, owners—in fact, stakeholders. Great resource material for leaders, trainers, educators, even parents. Chip practices in his hotels what he teaches—most successfully!" (Stephen R. Covey, author, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness)

"Chip Conley presents a creative and thought-provoking new approach to running a business. He brilliantly applies Abraham Maslow's theories to management and provides insightful prescriptions that will help you gain peak performance in your company. Conley's depth and candor make this book a must-read for everyone who wants to improve their organization." (Bill George, former CEO, Medtronic and author, Authentic Leadership and True North)

"One of the best business books I've read. A unique combination of organized intelligence and creative insight. I guarantee it!" (George Zimmer, CEO and chairman, Men's Wearhouse, Inc.)

"Strategy? Got one. Tactics? Check. But there's one more key element without which you won't get anywhere: Motivation. Peak will show you how to create motivated employees, customers, and investors, and tells the story of how one spectacular entrepreneur does it by treating people right—and how they return the favor." (Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief, Wired magazine and author, The Long Tail)

"Chip Conley's book is a perfect combination: part personal story, part business theory, and part how-to instruction. Peak combines head, heart, and soul for today's aspiring business leader. Don't just read this book—do it!" (Alan M. Webber, former editorial director, Harvard Business Review and co-founding editor, Fast Company)

"Conley filters his own readings in psychology and philosophy into his teachings, which may help some readers who can appreciate a rational, mathematical approach to managing their emotional lives."
(Publishers Weekly)

About the Author

Veteran CEO Chip Conley has created more boutique hotels than anyone in the world. Founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, which he grew into America’s second largest boutique hotel company, he speaks around the world on how to find meaning at the intersection of business and psychology. The author of several books, including Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow, he was named the Most Innovative CEO in the San Francisco Bay Area, which he calls home. For more information, visit EmotionalEquations.com and ChipConley.com.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (February 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451607261
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451607260
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #511,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jim Tenuto VINE VOICE on November 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Chip Conley wrote one of my favorite business books...ever...PEAK, exploring how great companies get their mojo from Maslow. Changing Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs into Transformation Pyramids for employees, customers, and investors, Conley, Founder and then the CEO of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, the second largest boutique hotel group in the country, delivered a recession-tested road map for transforming companies.

If you are expecting Conley's latest offering, EMOTIONAL EQUATIONS, to be more of the same you may be disappointed. In fact, he has an emotional equation for that: Disappointment = Expectations - Reality. In fact, Conley has written an ambitious, courageous book that is a logical extension of the emotional intelligence he displayed in PEAK.

This is a genre-busting work...it's a business book, no it's a self-help book, no it's a psychology text, no it's faith based. It happens to be all wrapped into one.

Conley explores emotions in a fresh way, using mathematics to tap into a deeper understanding. This is a thought provoking book, best read when you have the time to explore and consider your own reactions and feelings.

Here are some of the equations:

Happiness = Wanting What You Have/Having What You Want (division)
Regret = Disappointment + Responsibility (addition)
Authenticity = Self-Awareness x Courage (multiplication)
Wisdom = The Square Root of Experience (my personal favorite, and a bit of higher order math)

The book is divided into four major sections, "Dealing With Difficult Times", "Getting to Most Out of Your Work Life", "Defining Who You Are" and "Finding Contentment." Feeling anxious? Go to that chapter. Curious about Integrity? There's a chapter for that as well.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was intrigued by the book's premise - working with equations in a mathematical way. However, the author simply proposes relationships that seem fairly arbitrary; it's not clear why some relationships are set up as they are.

Additionally, the formulas might clarify the concepts for some readers, but don't really introduce anything new. The equations seem to make these ideas more simplistic rather than generate insight and thought.

Conley illustrates with some examples of news stories from the media. I am always a little skeptical when writers take stories as written; for instance, in writing about Lisa Nowak, the failed astronaut, he refers to the stories about her driving with NASA-issued diapers. Some reports suggest these details were exaggerated and it's not clear why we need them anyway. He goes on to say that jealousy = mistrust/self-esteem. That's a fairly arbitrary decision; why mistrust? why not wishful thinking? And hasn't the role of self-esteem been questioned? Most important, what new insights do we get from setting up the challenge as an equation?

Maybe I'm asking too much of the book but when I see a premise formulated in terms of mathematics, I expected some rigor of thinking.

I'd rather have learned more about Conley's own experiences and background, where he'd have something truly unique to offer.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The principles of emotional intelligence have long informed my coaching and consulting work. I've seen emotional intelligence attached to all kinds of things and used in all kinds of ways, but equations? I just couldn't see the connection. And, being math aversive, I wasn't sure I wanted to know, but, still, I couldn't resist picking up Chip Conley's Emotional Equations. And then I couldn't put it down.

Conley has created a series of what I might call formulas rather than equations that make it easier to understand what constitutes seventeen emotional responses. Understanding the components makes it easy to see what needs to be reinforced or changed to shift an emotion. Consider the difference between disappointment and regret. Conley writes that Disappointment = Expectations - Reality, while Regret = Disappointment + Responsibility. I found these two equations very helpful in considering how to help clients better understand how to shift these negative emotions. If one considers the role of reality in disappointment, it becomes much easier to engage in an exploration of how we each define reality - and whether that definition holds true. As Conley explains the equation, it becomes clear that he is not suggesting that we all set low expectations, but, rather, that we periodically reflect on them and adjust as needed. In a similar fashion, the difference between accepting an unsatisfactory outcome and being mired in regret can be adjusted by examining one's perception of responsibility for that outcome.

I expect to come back to this book many times. I've already recommended it to everyone I know. I'm glad that my curiosity led me to read this and I'll end with my favorite equation - Curiosity = Wonder + Awe.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I don't like the title Emotional Equations. I started off as a Physics major and grew used to equations being very precise mathematical formulations. Then I got a Ph.D. in business from an Ivy League University and winced when I saw my professors desperately trying to quantify phenomena that were diffuse and inherently unquantifiable. More precisely - pardon the jargon - they took cardinal and ordinal data and pretended it was interval data so they could run regressions and fancy statistical manipulations on them. It was all smoke and mirrors and gave them the illusion that they, too, were deserving of the same respect accorded to the scientists. I was a professional market researcher for many years so I know whereof I speak.

So some of Chip's "equations" make immediate intuitive sense - such as (Despair = Suffering - Meaning) - even though it is hardly a mathematical formulation. Others, such as Regret = Disappointment + Responsibility leave me scratching my head.

I came up with my solution and am passing it on to you. Forget about the darn "equations" and trying to figure them out and simply read the book. Each chapter will give you great insights into the left hand side of the purported equation. That is where Conley has a great deal to contribute. He was/is an enlightened manager who believes that business stands - or should stand - for much more than the maximization of profits. Profits are a by product of filling a social need well and serving the customer - not a primary goal. He has struggled to act on this philosophy and weathered two of the greatest downturns in the recent history of the hospitality industry in California, so his story is worth listening to. Some of this is in his earlier book PEAK and I highly recommend it.
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