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Ten Steps Ahead: What Separates Successful Business Visionaries from the Rest of Us Hardcover – March 17, 2011
From Publishers Weekly
There™s always one visionary who has an uncanny ability to see where the world is heading and who has the moxie to forge the way. A journalist with the Wall Street Journal and Fortune magazine, Calonius argues that the trailblazers who can anticipate that trend, technology, or new business model boast unique intuition, courage, and emotional intelligence. He profiles Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, and the Wright brothers as he discusses recent neuroscience discoveries along with the behavioral research he conducted with Dan Ariely on Ariely™s groundbreaking Predictably Irrational, painting an intriguing picture of how visionaries think, work, and create. Finally, he suggests that vision can, in fact, be learned—if we train our brains to recognize and work with inspiration and perspective. An intriguing, if somewhat perfunctory, look at extraordinary thinkers and how they achieve what they do. (Mar.)
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"Ten Steps Ahead is an engaging read for lovers of good science writing and business biographies. Mr. Calonius writes with a strong personal style that is immensely readable and feels like a conversation with a friend."
-NY Journal of Books
"A former writer and editor for the Wall Street Journal and Fortune who collaborated with Dan Ariely on the best-selling Predictably Irrational, Calonius writes engagingly, spinning brain exercises and visualization wistfully in with science, and stories of visionaries. And what stories!...One of the strengths of Calonius' stories is that he's spent time with almost everyone (other than Walt Disney) he profiles in this book. He's hung out in the garage where Steve Jobs built Apple and listened to his stories of how it all began. He wined and dined with Richard Branson on Branson's houseboat, Duende, where he launched his business career. Hearing their stories second-hand through the author makes them come alive..."
-800 CEO READ --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
The word "successful" is critically important, reminding us of Thomas Edison's observation, "Vision without execution is hallucination." No one can deny what Walt Disney, Edwin Land, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, and Jeff Hawkins accomplished, not only within the business world but also in terms of the global impact they and their respective companies have had. Calonius also focuses on other visionaries such as Orville and Wilbur Wright, Henry Ford, Albert Einstein, and more recently, Richard Feynman whose achievements also indicate that the brain is a visionary device whose primary function is to create pictures.
Throughout human history, innovator thinkers can usually be divided into two classes: dreamers and visionaries. Those in either group tend to be "ten steps ahead of others" in terms of what their brains "see" but only the visionaries are driven (by forces that Calonius explains brilliantly) to make what they "see" become a reality.
Readers will appreciate Calonius' strategic insertion of insightful comments throughout his narrative. For example:
Former Apple CEO John Sculley: "Both of them [i.e. Edwin Land and Steve Jobs] had this ability to - well, not invent products but discover products. Both of them said these products have already existed, it's just that no one had ever seen them before. We were the ones who discovered them." (Page 52)
Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer on a term they defined: "Emotional intelligence involves the ability to perceive accurately, appraise, and express emotion; the ability to access and/or generate feelings when they facilitate thought; the ability to understand emotion and emotional knowledge; and the ability to regulate emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth." (Page 64)
"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, one that heralds the most discoveries, is not Eureka! (I found it!) but, `That's funny.'" Isaac Asimov (Page 73)
Andy Hertzfeld on Steve Jobs's "reality distortion field": "It's a confounding mélange of a charismatic rhetorical style, and indomitable will, and an eagerness to bend any fact to fit the purpose at hand. If one line of argument failed to persuade, he would deftly switch to another. Sometimes he would throw you off balance by suddenly adopting your position as his own, without acknowledging that he ever thought differently...We would often discuss potential techniques for grounding it, but after a while most of us gave up, accepting it as a force of nature."
Time and again, Calonius cites an example of a visionary business leader who is willing to suffer and struggle, to put everything at risk, when pursuing a dream that Jim Collins and Jerry Porras would probably characterize as a commercial-strength BHAG (i.e. Big Hairy Audacious Goal). There are countless situations in which visionaries see what no one else sees but are oblivious to the serious dangers that are obvious to everyone else.
Few of those who read this book are or ever will be a successful business visionary ("ten steps ahead") but all who read it can learn valuable lessons from the material that Calonius provides and be 3-5 steps ahead of where they were before. There are lessons about how to overcome what I characterize as "the invisibility of the obvious" in order to recognize - having developed imaging skills - the opportunities and possibilities that would otherwise be missed. Also, how to overcome resistance, rejection, and ridicule with courage and conviction. Like Tennyson's Ulysses, they are determined "to strive, to seek, to find...and not to yield." And as Calonius points out, one factor in success is under our control: "the number of at-bats, the number of chances taken, the number of opportunities seized."
I congratulate Erik Calonius on a brilliant achievement. To those who read it, I presume to suggest that there are still lots of fat juicy dragons out there roaming around. Go get `em!