- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Currency (September 18, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451498291
- ISBN-13: 978-0451498298
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 46 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Imagine It Forward: Courage, Creativity, and the Power of Change Hardcover – September 18, 2018
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“If there is one skill that more individuals and companies need to hone it's imagination. And if there is one person who can teach us how to do it, it’s Beth Comstock. Woven together through her own journey, Comstock offers us simple and practical steps on things we can all do to prepare ourselves for the future…or even invent it.”
—Simon Sinek, Optimist and New York Times Bestselling Author of Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last
“Beth Comstock has written a wonderful book, full of excellent insights and lessons from her hugely successful career. She has recently been elected to the advertising all of fame, and after reading this you will know why. This book is of great value to almost virtually any leader and her stories and examples are told in a breezy way that makes it a joy to read.”
—Phil Knight, founder of Nike and New York Times Bestselling Author, Shoe Dog
“Imagine It Forward is like having a coach on your shelf to help you lead forward. Beth shares her lessons on summoning candor, courage and action to make meaningful change happen in any organization.”
—Kim Scott, New York Times Bestselling Author, Radical Candor
“This book is full of wisdom about how to thrive in a bureaucracy—and then transform it into an innovation machine. Beth Comstock is one of the most effective and admired executives of our time, and she tells the engrossing inside story of how she rose to the upper echelons of GE and spearheaded a sea of change.”
—Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Originals, Give and Take, and Option B with Sheryl Sandberg
"Beth Comstock is just as creative and bold in her approach to writing a business book as she is in running a business. Unafraid to get candid and personal, unusually generous in sharing her insights, this is a book for anyone who wants to see around corners — and to vanquish the fear that holds them back from acting on what they see."
—Susan Cain, Author, Quiet
“This book is a rare gift... an honest, behind-the-scenes look at power, success and influence, combined with vulnerability and practical advice. A book you won't soon forget.”
—Seth Godin, Author, Linchpin
"Imagine It Forward offers an experienced look at how nonlinear, ever evolving change saved one of America’s oldest, most traditional companies and brought it into the digital, socially conscious, irreverent era we now live in. Beth Comstock’s account of her unconventional career at a very conventional corporation, General Electric, is frank, funny and spot on about the need to abandon the top-down methods of the past in favor of greater collaboration, disruption and prioritizing the needs and wants of customers and consumers over profit."
—Joi Ito, Director, MIT Media Lab & Author, Whiplash
"Beth is a true force of smart, practical, and most of all, inspiring executions in the new business world. There are few people who I think 'get it,' and she’s at the top of that list."
—Gary Vaynerchuck, Entrepreneur & Author, Crushing It
"Imagine It Forward offers good examples of teaching bravery not perfection -- in education and work. Beth offers valuable lessons that should help readers challenge themselves to risk more in pursuit of a better future for themselves and their organizations."
—Reshma Saujani, Founder & CEO, Girls Who Code
“Beth Comstock has a track record of innovating, leading, and being an agent of change. In Imagine It Forward, she proposes thought provoking ways to envision your future and build strategy around it.”
—Sophia Amoruso, New York Times Bestselling Author and Founder, #GIRLBOSS
"If you want easy and comforting answers about how to lead organizational change, this book isn’t for you. Beth Comstock’s masterpiece will make you squirm. She weaves together her rare experience, brilliance, humility, and commonsense to show how leaders can navigate the inevitable messiness and setbacks—and build organizations that are imaginative, resilient, and sane."
—Robert Sutton, Stanford Professor and author of bestsellers including Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less (with Huggy Rao)
About the Author
Beth Comstock is the former Vice Chair of GE, where for twenty-five years she led GE's efforts to accelerate new growth. She built GE's Business Innovations and GE Ventures, which develops new businesses, and oversaw the reinvention of GE Lighting. She was named GE’s Chief Marketing Officer in 2003. She served as President of Integrated Media at NBC Universal, from 2006-08, overseeing the company's digital efforts, including the early formation of Hulu. She is a corporate director of Nike. Written about and profiled extensively in the media, from the New York Times to Forbes, Fortune and Fast Company, she has been named to the Fortune and Forbes lists of the World's Most Powerful women.
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Imagine It Forward had the potential to be a significant and important book. Beth Comstock was the Vice Chairman of GE and worked there for more than 27 years. Many of those years were through significant transformations and changes. I came to this book with that background and expectation – I would learn something from someone who has lived in the trenches at the most senior executive levels.
Instead, the book is 300+ pages of the world according to the author told from their personal perspective. This is a memoir. It is less of a business or leadership book. The book occasionally treads into ‘tell all’ territory with its personal and not always flattering descriptions of GE leaders. The result is entertaining if you know the author or the people involved. Ultimately the book does not deliver insight into how to be a leader or what it was like to be at the center of making major decisions and change.
If you are a professional, looking to learn from another professional, then you may find little in this book. If you worked or followed GE and wanted to learn more about life on this inside, then it might be entertaining, but the book is rather one sided and contains limited reflection.
I cannot recommend it for a number of reasons.
The author was one of the most powerful business professionals in the world. According to the author they are responsible for creating major initiatives at GE, many of which did not fully deliver. Other business professionals is in similar circumstances provide an analysis and reflection on the lessons they learned. This book has a modicum of this, but too often the author sums up a multi-million-dollar disappointment with the phase “Your winning, until you’re not.”
The subject of this book is the author, not GE or the events that happened there. The book is written almost exclusively in the first person from an individual perspective. There are no other major voices. This is what makes it a memoir rather than a business book. This is underscored by the prominent use of the first person (me, I and my) that gets in the way of the story. It was so noticeable, that tallying the use of “I” in the chapter on Reinvention resulted in its use 337 times over 26 pages.
If this book is the author’s platform to establish themselves as a business guru, then it needed more introspection and advice. That is not to say that there is no advice, but it is limited to what others have said about being willing to be disruptive, find people who will ignite the organization – sparks – and stick to your guns. There should be more here, particularly given the topics discussed like environmental sustainability (Ecomagination), enterprise entrepreneurship (Fast Works), corporate venturing (GE Ventures), etc. These things are getting rolled back as GE seeks to reposition itself, so insight as to what happened and what was learned would be invaluable.
This book may be seen by some as after the fashion of Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg. The author is a very senior business woman. Where Lean In was written for the reader to help them understand the challenges of the professional world, backed by insights from others and made personal and accessible from Sandberg’s experience, this book does not have this. There are occasional references to the challenges of being a professional woman, but they are fleeting.
These comments are about the book and the reader’s reasonable expectations for learning from a senior business executive. I am sure that this negative review will be drowned out by many 5-star reviews and even perhaps comments about this piece. A review is an expression of opinion and from my perspective, with the lens of expecting a book that would help the reader learn from a business leader about business leadership it is one star.
Part how to succeed in business,
Part practical guide for navigating the contemporary fast paced world of global business.
She does a great job of tying disparate ideas and concepts together. She also demystifies different sectors, including government, corporate , fast paced early stage technology fueled companies.
Her generous spirit and human qualities come through her personal stories and experiences .
The sections : Self Permission, Discovery , Agitated Inquiry, Story Craft, and Creating a New OS take you on clear and full journey .Honesty ,fear, courage ,leadership, and risk are among the topics areas we need to understand to artfully navigate our own path . There is enough practical advice and templates to do the work yourself like writing and rewriting your own story , and also how to fess up to mistakes and having the courage to move beyond ideas of perfectionism that hold so many of us back.
I recommend this book highly