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Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations

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A field guide to the twenty-first century, written by one of its most celebrated observers

In his most ambitious work to date, Thomas L. Friedman shows that we have entered an age of dizzying acceleration--and explains how to live in it. Due to an exponential increase in computing power, climbers atop Mount Everest enjoy excellent cell-phone service and self-driving cars are taking to the roads. A parallel explosion of economic interdependency has created new riches as well as spiraling debt burdens. Meanwhile, Mother Nature is also seeing dramatic changes as carbon levels rise and species go extinct, with compounding results.

How do these changes interact, and how can we cope with them? To get a better purchase on the present, Friedman returns to his Minnesota childhood and sketches a world where politics worked and joining the middle class was an achievable goal. Today, by contrast, it is easier than ever to be a maker (try 3-D printing) or a breaker (the Islamic State excels at using Twitter), but harder than ever to be a leader or merely "average." Friedman concludes that nations and individuals must learn to be fast (innovative and quick to adapt), fair (prepared to help the casualties of change), and slow (adept at shutting out the noise and accessing their deepest values). With vision, authority, and wit, Thank You for Being Late establishes a blueprint for how to think about our times.

486 pages, Hardcover

First published August 23, 2016

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About the author

Thomas L. Friedman

59 books1,649 followers
Thomas L. Friedman is an internationally renowned author, reporter, and, columnist—the recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes and the author of six bestselling books, among them From Beirut to Jerusalem and The World Is Flat.

Thomas Loren Friedman was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on July 20, 1953, and grew up in the middle-class Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. He is the son of Harold and Margaret Friedman. He has two older sisters, Shelley and Jane.

In January 1995, Friedman took over the New York Times Foreign Affairs column. “It was the job I had always aspired to,” he recalled. “I had loved reading columns and op-ed articles ever since I was in high school, when I used to wait around for the afternoon paper, the Minneapolis Star, to be delivered. It carried Peter Lisagor. He was a favorite columnist of mine. I used to grab the paper from the front step and read it on the living room floor.”

Friedman has been the Times‘s Foreign Affairs columnist since 1995, traveling extensively in an effort to anchor his opinions in reporting on the ground. “I am a big believer in the saying ‘If you don’t go, you don’t know.’ I tried to do two things with the column when I took it over. First was to broaden the definition of foreign affairs and explore the impacts on international relations of finance, globalization, environmentalism, biodiversity, and technology, as well as covering conventional issues like conflict, traditional diplomacy, and arms control. Second, I tried to write in a way that would be accessible to the general reader and bring a broader audience into the foreign policy conversation—beyond the usual State Department policy wonks. It was somewhat controversial at the time. So, I eventually decided to write a book that would explain the framework through which I was looking at the world. It was a framework that basically said if you want to understand the world today, you have to see it as a constant tension between what was very old in shaping international relations (the passions of nationalism, ethnicity, religion, geography, and culture) and what was very new (technology, the Internet, and the globalization of markets and finance). If you try to see the world from just one of those angles, it won’t make sense. It is all about the intersection of the two.”

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,480 reviews
Profile Image for Diane.
1,080 reviews2,653 followers
August 2, 2017
I couldn't finish this book. The author's writing style comes across as really precious, and the chapters are bloated because he repeats himself a lot.

The points I was beaten over the head with before I finally gave up were:

* Technology is changing quickly! Life moves fast! It's important to find time to pause and think about things. Okay, pause is over -- life is moving fast again!

* 2007 was an amazing year! The iPhone! Twitter! The spread of Facebook! More phone applications! Totally amazing! Lots of technology and change! So much amazingness! 2007 whoo-hoo!

* Did I mention how awesome 2007 was? And how fast things are changing?

Big sigh. I'm leaving this unrated because I think Friedman makes some good points about the pace of technology, but his writing style just irks me.

After posting this review I remembered that Goodreads launched in 2007, so that is worth a whoo-hoo.
Profile Image for Fergus, Quondam Happy Face.
969 reviews17.6k followers
May 26, 2023
The Machine watches… and takes note of our every word.

Each change in our demographically changing personal and social identities is duly recorded and used to create NEW and more inclusive social identities.

The Machine is only that - but our future freedom depends on what we say publicly right.NOW. So says Thomas Friedman.

And he is right on the money…

Friedman is a prolific writer. An eminent futurist and commentator on modern life, he writes banner political essays for the New York Times.

He is not afraid to wrestle in an enlightened and urbane manner on short notice with current issues, and risk getting caught in the ensuing crossfire.

A brave and prolific man - but perhaps a bit too prolific...

Because that’s a grievous temptation of writing: not listening to the inner voice of discretion, urging brevity.

It’s almost as if the Daemon which, as Harold Bloom postulated drives our North American writers, can never be silenced - once invoked.

And reading this incredibly dense book, I sorta start to feel that way about Friedman.

Don’t get me wrong - we NEED reassuring and competent voices at our present point in history, when crisis seems to follow crisis with growing alacrity (an observation Friedman takes as epochally symptomatic here).

But I believe we all need peace and quiet outside of the rising tumult. That’s part of my next point.

And, for now, compare my Kindle notes with what I’ve said about the book already. I’ve left out a lot of his accelerating thesis - which admittedly caught me up but only makes me dizzy - you’ll notice.

Now, I believe it is all well and good to buttress hypotheses with facts, but isn’t Friedman missing a key point?

I mean, you can talk about new tendencies till the cows come home, and say Point A is where we are now and perhaps we’re headed to this Point B, but if in doing so you “transvalue all values”, then, my friend, NO ONE really knows where we’re going - face it.

Even Jacques Derrida mixed things together at times, but he, at least, knew some things are good and some things are bad - it’s like the scent that clings to the glass of an empty perfume bottle when it’s empty.

And Friedman admittedly remains an optimist even after he’s discarded the meaning of living in the sense of past times - the scent remains on the glass, you see.

But the tenets of this book don’t smell pretty to me.

That scent, you see, is gonna go the way of all flesh some day - especially if we’re only concentrated on seeing the challenge of doing everything Faster, Easier and Better as the reason we’re here.

Just because a way of life is getting NEWER and MORE IMPROVED doesn’t mitigate the unfortunate human proclivity for corruption.

So before we all do like advanced bodhisatvas and plunge into the stream, let’s make one thing clear.

Let’s not go so fast as to trash the traditional values of good and evil. Let’s not get so caught up in Progress that we forget the lessons of history. Let’s not lose our heads, in other words.

There are limits even to liberalism.

DNF this one. It took me further and further down a blind path, and I don’t like it when that happens. I get where we can change modern reality by our words, but the book STILL adopts a fatalistic face,

If you can’t sit back now and then to get the lay of the land, you’re lost.

This was a well-documented, liberal-minded treatise, but it didn’t give me a warm ‘n fuzzy feeling about it...

Cause if we’re not sure where we’re going, folks, why’re we going there?
144 reviews5 followers
December 30, 2016
Some people don’t like Tom Friedman. He is a liberal-progressive on most issues, he works for the liberal New York Times, and he is not a fan of Donald Trump. In this book he identifies three trends that are causing the Age of Acceleration. These trends are not credible among many conservatives and two, globalization and global warming, are down right unpopular. Friedman offers some sound advice for readers early in the book—drop the ideology and labels, already! Focus on facts and realities and work for a better world from these observable foundations. By doing this, he attempts to shed his own biases, not always successfully, and present a case for the new world we are in and the difficult demands we all face if we are to survive and thrive in such a world.
Without going into the details and spoiling the suspense, here is what Friedman does. He shows how the confluence of rapidly improving technology, globalism, and climate change are altering the shape of our world faster and in so many different ways that the political, social, and economic systems can’t adjust fast enough to keep up. This inability to adjust is part of human nature and inherent in each one of us. The resulting disruptions are creating political, economic, and social upheavals, large and small, throughout the world. Many of the disruptions hold much promise for improving the world and the human condition and others may mark our world for near or far term, steady or rapid destruction.
Friedman laughs at those who see globalization solely in terms of manufacturing and the trade of durable goods—the exact way it was viewed during our last political season. It is, instead, globalization through the electronic transmission of information, training, financial transactions, education, and the movement of mere chatter and talk. The altering of trade deals can’t turn back the clock on this globalization, no matter how many Indiana manufacturing jobs President-elect Trump saves. It is too late. This globalization is rapidly expanding and will continue to do so whether or not the United States is part of it.
Climate change is occurring regardless of the debate over whether it exists or not according to Friedman, and the results are turning parts of the world upside down. While most Americans are wrongly focused on the migration of foreigners from the Middle East in to Europe, Friedman shows that fully two thirds of this migration doesn’t involve Middle Easterners at all. Rather, climate change (drought in this case) and failing states in Africa are the source of most of these migrants. Terrorism reigns in these areas, there are no jobs, there is no future and with nothing to lose, people are voting with their feet and heading to the safety of Europe. They have nothing to lose in doing so since their own lives are worthless where now live. Globally, the ‘sweet spot’ of the earth’s current climate is disintegrating. This sweet spot has provided the most human-hospitable climate in recorded history. It is dissolving away now.
True to the subtitle of the book, Friedman optimistically believes technology, globalization, and the newly invested power available to anyone with a reasonable education and a smart phone can assist the human race in devising ways of making collaborative decisions that will handle all of the modern accelerations, including climate change.
How does Friedman know this? By going back to his roots, to St. Louis Park, Minnesota, the community that raised him. In the final chapters Friedman chronicles how this suburb of Minneapolis-St. Paul evolved from a white, anti-Semitic bastion into a progressive, polyglot, and nurturing community in the three decades following World War II. The transformation was difficult, but the community’s leaders recognized the necessity of this transformation. It is a story of progress created by visionary leaders, a growing middle class, good jobs, and a solid school system. Most importantly, it is the story of people continuously working together to overcome problems. Partisanship, prejudice, and impossible were not part of St. Louis Park’s lexicon. Today the community still strives and thrives. As the mayor pointed out to Friedman, school bond measures continue to pass, 70% to 30% despite the fact that only 15% of the people have kids in schools, but one indicator of the continuing success of the community.
Friedman isn’t a wide-eyed dreamer. The antidote to being overwhelmed by change is human cooperation and interaction geared toward the common good. The selfish, narrow-mindedness characteristic of the ultra partisanship of modern American politics has no place here. Friedman shows how this cooperation and interaction worked and is still working in St. Louis Park, despite the massive changes to the community and its people since Friedman left it over forty years ago. You may not agree with all that he says, but Friedman offers one path for us to productively control our own destinies. It is clear that our elected national level officials no longer have the structures and the will to govern in this new age.
Profile Image for Susan.
2,640 reviews598 followers
December 19, 2016
Subtitled, “An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations,” this book has a lot to say for those of who were born, and grew up, before the internet in particular. The author is a journalist and he argues that his job is to understand a complex subject, so he can help his readers understand it. He also argues that many people feel, “fearful or unmoored,” in these changing times. Technology, globalisation and climate change, he argues, are all accelerating in pace, while our society, workplaces and politics are changing.

Of course, we have always lived in a changing world and we have to adapt to it. It is fairly obvious that Friedman preferred earlier times, wishing to take time out to reflect and pause. I agree with much of what he writes, about needing time to reflect and to live in our community and not online. The internet is a wonderful thing, but you need to take what you need from it and ignore the more unpleasant aspects. In the same way, you do not want to live your life online, becoming detached from reality and I do my utmost to protect my children from the all pervasive aspects of social media and online influence. This is a sensible call to slow down, relax and live at your own speed. I do not think everything new is negative, but I would agree that it is not all positive…

Profile Image for Sarah.
70 reviews6 followers
July 18, 2017
To put my thoughts on this book rather bluntly, I felt the concepts were fantastic but the execution was horrendous. Friedman opens the novel by introducing the three main accelerations that the world is facing: technology, globalization, and climate change. All very valid. The book goes on to discuss in VERY lengthy detail the minutiae behind these accelerations. There were times in my head that I was screaming OKAY I GOT IT ALREADY.

Once each of the concepts is laid out Friedman goes on to discuss how these three major forces are colliding and what it means for human society. I felt the ideas introduced in this section were very real. Some of these ideas are not comfortable to think about and because I was pushed into that uncomfortable space I was able to take away a lot in terms of how I view the world, what is going on in my day to day life, as well as public policy. In some respects it was a real eye opener on how interconnected everything is whether we want to admit it or not. It also made me reflect on my personal views on everything from education to climate change.

While these concepts and thought provoking material were excellent the book completely fell apart for me in the last third. It turned into some weird and long winded trip down Friedman's memory lane in Minnesota. The constant name dropping and over worked examples were excruciating to get through. It left me thinking what the heck was the point of this? Don't get me wrong, Friedman was certainly trying to make a point on how communities respond to different challenges, but it got SO lost in the overall execution of the section.

Ultimately, this book made me think long and hard on a lot of topics that I thought I had figured out. In fact it completely swayed my opinions on a few key issues; however, the overall rambling and beat you over the head detail really detracted from how good this book could have been. It really left me wondering how much more impactful this book could be if a good editor had the chance to remove a third of the novel in order to drive home a very clear and concise message.
Profile Image for Katia N.
585 reviews658 followers
February 7, 2017
The book is certainly ambitious in its scope: it sets out the forces which are driving the world and how it would effect the future. To summarise its main idea, we entered the era of acceleration and exponential change in our environment: 1) technology 2) nature 3) market forces. But being humans we cannot adapt to the changes so quick. So we have to learn how to do it.

It is not a bad book, but I had an impression of a half baked cake. I allowed myself to use the metaphor as Mr Friedman is consistent and proficient metaphors' user. And he repeats his favourite ones constantly. I personally felt it is excessive, and even slightly patronising. For example: "Mother Nature's killer apps" used for the adaptability mechanisms in the natural environment - sounds a bit far-fetched and unnecessary for me. Plain English would suffice. And there are a lot of them.

I did not enjoy the repetitiveness of language and flair for labelling the phenomena ("the time of accelerations", "life long learning", "Mother Nature" etc). If the book was directed on the students at high school, I would understand. But it came across like unnecessary simplification for me.

You can see the natural reporter - huge amount of lengthy quotes from conversations with different people and other books. When he talks himself (the reason I was reading the book) he sometimes is not very convincing; especially, when he talks how the humans are supposed to adapt and what they need to change in their behavior. I did not feel the originality of thinking there.

The first part about technology is relatively informative. But there are so many names of well known companies and their bosses that it reads occasionally like a bunch of product placements (IBM, AT&T, Apple to name a few).

There is a small part of the book devoted to the policies he would suggest for America. That was interesting, but not very well developed section. And i could not find the reasoning for his optimism (which forms the part of the title) apart from general belief in human nature and local communities.

Overall, I could not say I did not enjoy the book, but I could not say I have become wiser as well.
Profile Image for Dan Graser.
Author 4 books102 followers
November 28, 2016
As an avid reader of Friedman's column and his books, this (unfortunately to me) amounts to quite a disappointment especially given the quality of his output. The subtitle of the book, "An optimist's guide to thriving in the age of accelerations," is hugely misleading. What he does a fantastic job of is displaying the massive changes of technology that impact day-to-day life for working Americans. His subsequent discussion of the impact of climate change is also very deeply felt, though for most will likely offer nothing they haven't been aware of for some time. What he never does, throughout the entirety of this book, is give a reason to be optimistic! Perhaps that's for the best, as I personally see no reason to be, but this book feels massively disjointed as a result. His finest section, towards the end of the book, is his description of a hypothetical party founded by Mother Nature dubbed, "The Making the Future Work for Everybody," party which has the appropriate mix of far-left and far-right positions to provoke both into serious discussion. A very informative exposition on technology, extensive discussion of changing global economic and cultural conditions, and a conclusion using his idyllic upbringing in Minnesota that does nothing to tie any of this together. There is a large amount of information here but as a large work of cultural and political study there isn't much holding this together. If this is truly an, "optimist's guide to thriving," then the most remarkable thing is how low the bar for optimism has been set.
Profile Image for Andrew.
556 reviews160 followers
October 13, 2016
So many books have purported to explain technology, the twenty-first century, and social change.

This may very well be THE one.
Profile Image for Stephen.
647 reviews2 followers
March 20, 2017
TL;DR: I can't recommend this book for someone in the tech field or who follows technology news with any regularity. However, if you are not as familiar with technology products released from 2007 to 2016 (how are you reading this from your cave?), and are interested in how technology has shaped the world and may continue to shape the world, then you may enjoy slogging through this (in my opinion) overly long book. Although, be forewarned the last 1/3 of the book diverges into a discussion on climate change and then a nostalgic memoir from his time in Minnesota.

------- Further Thoughts Below-------------

I have to say, I did like some parts, mainly a few nuggets of insight here and there about companies I haven't heard of and how they are innovating in their respective space, or some small detail about companies I already am fairly familiar with. However these brief moments were few and far between an overly long book that could have been cut down by 33% at least.

Mike Zickar's review here on goodreads summed up my feelings fairly well: "A bit of a schizophrenic book.... the first 2/3rds of the book that is a mixture of classic Friedman, talking about the role of technology in bringing the world together along with the increased anxiety that technology has caused by bringing about fundamental shifts in our economy ... then the book veered into a meandering reflection of Minnesota and his childhood and how the world would all be better if we adopted some of the norms and practices that were espoused when he grew up there. It's not that I didn't like this section (or respect the Minnesota ethos) but it seemed like almost a totally different book. I felt like an editor should have really cut down some of the trips down memory lane to better focus on tying this material to the main thesis of the book. Or cut it nearly all out and use this as the basis for a new Friedman book."

Mostly though, I came to realize I'm not as much of a fan of Friedman's writing style, even though I do remember liking "The World Is Flat" when I read it long ago. What I don't like about it, is it seems written more for my Grandfather than for my generation. He talks down to the reader as if they just stepped off an alien spacecraft or have just walked out of the wilderness and are discovering technology and the internet for the first time. For example, his excitement that you can buy a TV at walmart.com and the order is processed in miliseconds. Yes, if this was 1990 that would be quite the feat worthy of major discussion, but in 2017? Admittedly it is his thesis that 2007 was a year of disruption where key technology driving today's innovation was developed, but to me, it came off as rehashing dated material. Also some of the products or companies that are elevated to a pedestal could be seen as but momentary blips in Internet history (e.g., periscope). Perhaps I am not the target audience as I occasionally follow tech blogs and news and am relatively current on new technology as its released, but if you are also relatively current on the current state of technology you may find yourself very bored in many sections as excitedly tries to introduce the reader to as goes through various 2007 technology products.

Additionally he seems overly patronizing at times as well as including a number of deliberate name drops and side tangents used to (seemingly) give support to his perceived authority. Seemingly, he is always jetting around the world or having lunch with some famous individual and makes sure to include their mention.

All in all, in many ways the book seems a combination of numerous short NYTimes articles or Blog posts and would perhaps have been better served in that format as a large part of the specific technology disruption products and companies he discusses have already faded out into obscurity or are replaced by their 2.0 improved version.
Profile Image for Brad Boyson.
50 reviews3 followers
November 27, 2016
I wanted to like this book so much. Thomas Friedman's track record of insightful, intelligent, anti-academic, universally popular narratives weaving together disparate ideas is legendary. However this book falls well short of his previous. I struggled to find any one idea that wasn't already common knowledge or previously articulated by Friedman; many sub themes were clearly rehashes of successful chestnuts being re-purposed as cliches. The introduction by Friedman practically confesses to the reader to be prepared for a lack of anything on par with his previous works.
Profile Image for Monica Kim | Musings of Monica .
509 reviews534 followers
August 14, 2018
Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. — Thomas L. Friedman, Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations
Thomas L. Friedman’s “Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations” turned out to be a tremendously profound reading experience, and also happened to be a powerful complementary to Brené Brown’s “Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone.” I didn’t plan on it, just wanted to start the month with a nonfiction, but these two books unexpectedly go hand-in-hand, both so good, important, and timely. I highly recommend you check both books out. It’s going to be two of the most important books you’ll read this year. You cannot afford to not read these two books, it has valuable wisdom, information, and wake-up call, I find it absolutely crucial to be living in the 21 century.
This was a challenging read because of its size, scope, and content. So much information to soak in, I read slowly and paused in between & reflected as I went. I have an ADD, so big books are always bit challenging for me to stay focus, this book definitely took all my brain power. I really enjoyed it, It’s an ambitious, compelling, informative, and well-researched, and thought-provoking book on our fast-paced society & tumultuous political landscape and how do think, cope, live, and thrive in the midst of it all.
I really like the title of this book. In the beginning of the book, author shares how he came up with the title of the book. He frequently eats breakfasts with interesting people to basically, “kill two birds with one stone,” combine eating with people so that he gets most of each day. During this meetings, people are frequently late and apologized to him for being late, in which he found himself replying, “thank you for being late” because he realizes that it’s those few precious moments alone that he was able to fit in some quiet time for reflection, to gather his thoughts, or work on an impending problem, giving away the idea for the title of the book.
In this book, Friedman introduces us to three major factors contributing to the accelerated pace & growth: technology, globalization, and climate change – all accelerating at once, and these accelerations are transforming five key realms: the workplace, politics, geopolitics, ethics, and community. I obviously can’t go in depth because of limited space, but Friedman basically states that we humans cannot keep up with accelerations, but we also cannot offer to stay behind. What we can do is, try to make it work for us by adapting, but we also need to learn to pause & reflect.
Friedman packed so much in this book, it definitely could’ve been condensed and still get his ideas crossed. And he leans far left, so it might not be for everyone, although I think there’s something for everyone. I don’t agree with everything Friedman states in the book, but I’ve learned so much. And we really need to take care of ourselves more than ever. In this fast-paced society, it is important more than ever to learn to balance staying on top while taking the time to absorb what’s happening around us & for reflection. I think this is a must-read for the 21st century living!
Profile Image for Jeff Sutherland.
Author 24 books421 followers
December 29, 2016
The world as we know it started in 2007. That's when Facebook really got going, the iPhone and Android were launched, Twitter and Github got started ... That's the year I started doing consulting and training on Scrum full time and it is when Friedman realized his earlier book "The World is Flat" was totally out of date!

So I'm still reading and it looks like a better book than his previous work. Will update later.
Profile Image for Murray.
Author 1 book10 followers
March 7, 2017
Thomas Friedman is more than a brilliant journalist; he also happens to be a shape-shifter who is looking out for the good of the planet and his fellow man. With a keen understanding of matters both foreign and domestic, geopolitical and social, and, especially, technological, Friedman not only clearly sees the challenges that we face, but he also expresses them with prose that is easy to understand and digest.

Each Friedman book that I've read has inspired me to think beyond life on a local level, and this book is no different. His explanation of Moore's Law, whereby the march of technology has accelerated to the point where we must constantly re-educate ourselves, is both interesting and scary. In truth, sections of this book are scarier than any Stephen King novel. Especially the chapters about climate change. What makes Friedman's insights so interesting is that he provides reasonable solutions to the problems that we face. It's up to us to follow them.

"Thank You For Being Late" takes an interesting turn in the last 120 pages, where Friedman writes about growing up in St. Louis Park, a suburb of Minneapolis. His elegiac portrayal of the town of his youth is more than nostalgic; he makes a strong case for why the society where he grew up can serve all of us well.
Profile Image for Dick Reynolds.
Author 15 books37 followers
May 28, 2017
This is one book the president should read. OK, so he doesn't read. Maybe one of his trusted advisors could summarize the chapters about Mother Nature for him. Bottom line, Mr. President: Global Warming is NOT a hoax.
Profile Image for Anil Swarup.
Author 3 books633 followers
September 6, 2017
"Thank You for being Late" is not in the same genre as "The Lexus and the Olive Tree". Nor is it as seminal as "The World is Flat". Yet it has the class of Thomas Friedman written all over it. It is extremely well researched, thought provoking and, hence, makes a lot of sense. He discusses revolution that is being caused by technology that is also making the world flat through globalization. But he is distressed at the discontent that pervades human existence despite the comforts arising out of technological advancement.
"We need accelerated innovation in so many realms, and it can only happen with sustained collaboration". This statement sums it all. The author calls for "leadership that can promote inclusion and adaptation". This is perhaps a reaction to what is actually happening around him in his own country and also across the Atlantic. He is clear that "we will get the best of these technologies only if we don't let them distract us from making these deep human connections, addressing these deep human longings, and inspiring these deep human energies". He goes on to add that "It's not cancer. It's no heart disease. It's isolation. It is the pronounced isolation that so many people are experiencing that is the great pathology of our lives today'. Isolation is the problem.
Thomas Friedman mentions a way forward and in doing so he suggests what Nelson Mandela did to South Africa. " There is no better way to change a culture than having a leader who surprises supporters and opponents by rising above his history, his constituencies, and his pollsters, and just doing the right things for his country".
Is Donald Trump listening?
Profile Image for Gwen.
140 reviews1 follower
November 28, 2016
Good overview of accelerating change. A guide? Missing inclusive innovative social systems approach to avoid leadership blind spots.

Friedman did a good job of describing the in-between nature of how the acceleration of technology, climate change and growing interconnectedness contribute to a general sense of unease because the rate of change is leapfrogging past our ability to adapt. While his 30,000 foot view provides a solid frame for reflection in the first 3/4 of the book, his "return to Minnesota" perspective was long on nostalgia and short on being a "guide to thriving".

Friedman's illustration of current technological and social tools contained good nuggets as examples. My advice for advancing his "guide to thriving" would be to evolve the notion of community. There are examples of social systems that provide road maps for including more people beyond traditional community leadership roles of political leaders, chamber of commerce types, educators, etc. in creating new solutions. William E. Smith's "The Creative Power: Transforming Ourselves, Our Organizations and Our World" as well as Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer's "Leading from the Emerging Future" are both good examples of such natural systems designed to create community like benefits while learning together solving complex problems.

Complexity and the rate of change widen the gap between leaders and the problems they are responsible for addressing. CEO's collaborating isn't a bad thing, but it's an incomplete system.
Profile Image for Mbgirl.
244 reviews8 followers
September 25, 2017
I very much savor and hang onto the observations and admonitions of such sages as Tom Friedman. Loathe to stand by, his grassroots in St Louis Park spurred him to great imaginings and desires to make this place a better one. He explains in great details in what ways technology urges us not to be left behind, and is balanced in his warning that though empowering and facilitating lives the human touch is something of just as great import. The most promising jobs of the future are ones involving both science and compassion/empathy ( I think I'm part of that equation).

Love the head nod to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Love too how he speaks firsthand of his own upbringing in MN and how that lent to what is significant and impactful in this age of acceleration.

Clever missed appointment date that was the impetus for this title.
Observations are made without any acerbic overtones. May not necessarily agree with all of his points, but I think he posits them intelligently.

Love technology, love people. Pluralism must be embraced in order for civilizations to move forward and be optimized. Contrasts and culls much of his own decades worth of reporting work in Washington with what I would call the best of intentions toward humankind and the future.
Profile Image for Mike Zickar.
347 reviews3 followers
February 8, 2017
A bit of a schizophrenic book. I loved the first 2/3rds of the book that is a mixture of classic Friedman, talking about the role of technology in bringing the world together along with the increased anxiety that technology has caused by bringing about fundamental shifts in our economy. Friedman, an eternal optimist, has some great stories to tell and great advice on how we should as a country and as individuals adapt to this new reality. 5 stars for this section of the book. . .

And then the book veered into a meandering reflection of Minnesota and his childhood and how the world would all be better if we adopted some of the norms and practices that were espoused when he grew up there. It's not that I didn't like this section (or respect the Minnesota ethos) but it seemed like almost a totally different book. I felt like an editor should have really cut down some of the trips down memory lane to better focus on tying this material to the main thesis of the book. Or cut it nearly all out and use this as the basis for a new Friedman book.

So, overall, an enjoyable read (or listen in my case), but sometimes a good editor can make a big difference.
Profile Image for Mehrsa.
2,234 reviews3,657 followers
December 15, 2017
I know we're supposed to hate on Friedman and he makes it so easy sometimes with his ridiculous optimism and warmongering etc, but this book was pretty good. It was optimistic certainly, but it was also a nice cataloguing of where we've come from and where we're going and the crossroads we're standing at. Friedman also happens to be a great writer with high levels of access to important figures, which make for really cool stories and interviews.
Profile Image for Юра Мельник.
309 reviews29 followers
October 30, 2018
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun (Pink Floyd).

Томас Фрідман розпочав свою кар’єру журналіста у середині 70-х років озброєний друкарською машинкою і знанним арабської мови. Друкарська машинка змінилась на пейджер, пейджер - на телефон, телефон - на лептоп, лептоп на смартфон. І ось Томас уже успішний колумніст ряду найвпливовіших американських і світових медіакорпорацій. Він успішно увійшов у світ надшвидких технологій ХХІ століття. Всупереч тому, що нині мало не кожен ком’пютер достатньо кваліфікований, щоб написати газетну статтю, люди мають колосальні можливості впливу на інформаційний простір та глобальну економіку, і справа не лише в індивідуальних якостях, а і в потужній силі громад.
У розгляді глобальних проблем сучасності автор, далекий від власного прикладу, покладається на гнучку аналітику і фокусує нашу увагу на тому крихітному відрізку часу, коли на Землі вибухнула технологічна Наднова, потягнувши за собою глобальні перетворення, адаптуватись до яких багатьом із нас здається не під силу.
Оця рятувальна ідея "вчитися впродовж усього життя" може здатись вам недосяжною та утопічною, але таке вже життя. Наш мозок укомплектований достатньо для того, щоб зробити цю утопію реальністю. Ну, напевне.
Якщо вас непокоїть розмір книги, дрібний шрифт, або згадування в тексті ІДІЛ і Дональда Трампа, то не робіть поспішних висновків. Цей конвеєр авторського репортажу читається на диво легко і швидко. Автор певною мірою підводить нас до думки, що не так вже і суттєво - запізнитись із прийняттям рішень про ваше власне майбутнє, а от цю книгу можна прочитати прямо ЗАРАЗ, тоді ви точно встигнете туди, куди планували.

(мрії про безхмарне майбутнє)

And the first one now, will later be last, for the times they are a-changin' (Bob Dylan).

(тривожний бекграунд...)
Profile Image for Adam Shields.
1,658 reviews87 followers
December 20, 2016
Short Review: I generally like Friedman's writing style (very story focused) and his world view (tech obsessed, culturally aware and globally focused). He is definitely susceptible to the charge of being a technocrat and maybe even naive about tech and the global economy being net positives.

This is a book that spends an awful lot of ink on the negatives of the world. But it is still an optomist's guide and that is another thing that I like about Friedman, he is still an optimist, not because he is uninformed about the world but because it is a natural part of the way he looks at the world.

This is a book about the perfect storm that facing us because of the increasing change in the areas of computing (primarily automation, big data, mobile capacity and miniaturization), globalization of the markets and ideas, and climate change.

The last third of the book is more personal. He tells some of his own story. How technology and global forces have changed his job as a journalist. And how the community where he grew up influenced his life. That ending is the inherently optimistic conclusion. Not that dealing with change is easy, but that it can be done.

My full (nearly 1500 word) review is on my blog at http://bookwi.se/thank-you-for-being-...
Profile Image for Michael Huang.
828 reviews37 followers
July 5, 2018
The book has roughly two parts. The first explains some confluence of changes in today’s society and the second tries to paint one way forward in addressing the challenges resulted from these changes.

The changes of today’s world contains 3 parts: acceleration of science and technology; the increasingly global interactions; and the climate changes. The challenges brought by the confluence of these three factors are multiple. For instance, global outsourcing and robotics will make many jobs disappear; climates change already made many people from the poorest places becoming global refugees that armed with cellphones can quickly adapt. (Interesting case in point: when the French government changed the policy to not turn away boats with handicapped people, overnight all newly arrived boats have wheelchairs on them.) In such a fast paced new world, our human institutions — especially government— appear outdated and ill equipped to deal with the challenges.

The second part gives us hope that we may be able to meet those challenges. Friedman gave an account of the places he grew up in Minnesota and how the community is strong, inclusive and not as ideologically divided as the national government is today. If we let local institutions to experiment with potential solutions and spread the findings nationally, the US is in a good position to rise to the challenges.

These ideas have been brewing in his mind for a while, but they only gel together when the author slows down and contemplated—sometimes because his meeting partners are late, hence the title.

Friedman is a good synthesizer that can pull information from multiple sources and try to explain their interconnectedness to an average joe. If you’ve read his earlier books you know his style. But, as a reporter/columnist, his primary mechanism of understanding issues is through interviews. There is something that I can not quite articulate yet about reporter-written treatises on complex issues that are slightly off putting. Maybe it’s the second hand nature of the information, maybe it’s the over abundance of quotations of off the cuff comments of experts that do not use the same rigor in writing an essay than in answer interviews questions. In any case, both the diagnosis of the source of problems and the offered solutions seem a bit oversimplified. To be fair, Friedman does not claim he will be spot on and he is only contributing to the conversation.
99 reviews
April 27, 2017
I found the best part of this book to be the first 60%, the parts where he describes the accelerations taking place in nearly all aspects of life today because of technology (microchips, internet, social media and the "cloud"). Friedman also makes a compelling case for heightened concern for the effects of climate change by describing its impact on African continent and its population. For me, all the good the book had to offer, was diluted when Friedman attempts to bring the issues he's described down to human levels by describing his upbringing in Minnesota.....homely but not necessary or compelling. All in all, I've recommended the book to many of my friends and associates because it brings the big problems of today down to the level that most can understand.
Profile Image for Fred Forbes.
966 reviews49 followers
November 25, 2017
Want to understand much of what is taking place in the world? Pick up a copy as the author tracks the speed and acceleration of technology, globalization and severe climate change. These have altered our circumstances far faster than previously in history and the solutions offered by our leaders tend to be simple, futile, and unrealistic.

While there is a bit too much padding in places, in general it is quite a readable text and the solutions offered to help us adapt to a rate of change that is quite frightening and frankly, beyond the capabilities of many are quite sensible and pragmatic, which frankly makes me doubt they will ever be enacted before far greater damage is done by our dysfunctional political system.
Profile Image for Elena.
130 reviews40 followers
February 16, 2017
I liked very much about 40% or the content and struggled from boredom (annoyance?) from about 10-20%. The rest was just OK. Overall I liked the experience. I like to follow memorial-like journeys in the form of long books. And even if some parts of those journeys seem irrelevant (and too pompous?) to me, I am still grateful to be exposed to something other than what I enjoy enormously (tales about technological advances, especially optimistic ones). I guess I will still pick up the next book of this author but will prioritize them somewhat down.
Profile Image for Rod Zemke.
853 reviews9 followers
February 20, 2017
This is book is really divided into two parts. The first part addresses the incredible changes that have taken and continue due to advances in technology. The second part address what it will take to deal with these rapid changes and Friedman does it in a most interesting way. To find out his prescription, you will have read the book.
Profile Image for Geoffrey.
54 reviews8 followers
November 5, 2017
Finally managed to finish reading Thank You For Being Late by Thomas Friedman (author of The World is Flat). It’s been a bit of stop-and-go for this book, picking it up only during weekends.

I’ve decided to take a more conscientious approach in jotting down my own thoughts and certain interesting passages, not only because this book touches upon a number of important and thought-provoking topics, but also to make sure my reactions, however fleeting, are given a chance to be put on paper (or at least into the cloud).

The book, as I noted in a couple of reading notes along the way, touches upon the three forces that Friedman believes have the largest impact on the 21st century - technology, globalization, and climate change & biodiversity loss, and the acceleration we are all experiencing around us, at once.

He notes, for example, that in 2000, advances in technology made connectivity fast, free, easy and ubiquitous, and in 2007, made complexity fast, free and easy but also invisible, were in fact inflection points in our modern history that have blown apart our work place and our society at large, beyond anything we’ve seen since the Industrial Revolution blew away the guild-based workplace.

Friedman states that changes we are experiencing in this age of accelerations are in many ways happening faster than most of us in the industrialized and developed world can comfortably adjust, and it is many times tougher for the less connected, less open part of the world to adapt. Social media, while it has made human interaction seemingly faster, more convenient and information sharing more instantaneous, has also presented challenges that have profoundly impacted the political and economic environment and social dynamics around the world.

For example, he notes five critical challenges facing today’s social media in the political arena:

1. 1. We don’t know how to deal with rumors
2. 2. We create our own echo chambers
3. 3. Online discussions quickly descend into angry mobs
4. 4. It becomes really hard to challenge our opinions
5. 5. Today our social media experiences are designed in a way that favors broadcasting over engagements, posts over discussions, shallow comments over deep conversations.

We tend to talk at each other instead of talking with each other.

Friedman spends three-fourth of the book laying out the big issues facing all of us, globally, in this age of accelerations, yet the solution he proposes which he dedicates a good portion of the last few chapters, is a need to promote resilience and propulsion via innovation in the building of healthy communities.

He takes us back to his hometown of St, Louis Parks, Minnesota, and walks us through how this small town has, with the resilience of its communities, its emphasis on education and cooperation, its openness to changes in economic, social and demographics, has anchored its success over the last five decades.

Most of the issues Friedman identifies and analyses, with the help of experts in respective fields, are not new. However, it is worthwhile to ponder whether the acceleration we all experience in the world around us, in particular in the last 10 years, is causing a fundamental change, or have already caused a fundamental change in this society we all live. Social media now play a critical role, perhaps even disproportionate role in politics, in business and finance and beyond. We’ve seen global, regional and national level politics become overtaken by extremists with moderates’ voices being quickly drown out. Yet we have seen local governments (in New York, California in the US, regional, provincial even city governments in Europe) take on more prominent roles in defining and enacting more moderate and effective policies amidst stalemates on the same issues at a national or international level. Communities are gaining more power and influence derived from people feeling more anchored and more trusting of their communities than their national or federal governments.

In dealing with the much larger issues identified and described in the first 300+ pages of this book, we need to pause and focus on building a stronger tie to our immediate surroundings, our communities. Hope lies in all of us.

Profile Image for Deepak Rao.
117 reviews27 followers
June 23, 2017
We are living in the age of accelerations and three of these accelerations i.e. in technology, globalisation and climate are the subjects of discussion in this book. Friedman, whose last book I read was The World's is Flat, says that there's a Black Elephant(Elephant+Black Swan) in the room and it's about time we addressed it. Due to immense technological progress in the 20th and 21st century in general and last decade in particular, our social and legal norms have fallen way behind the technological requirements leading to immense stress and disorder in the society. There's a need for governments and institutions to supplement the AI with IA(Intelligent Assistance and Intelligent Assistants). As the jobs will keep moving up in the skill requirements , lifelong learning is the only way to meet the challenges of future. Citing an example from his own life and his hometown of St. Louis, Minnesota, Friedman exhorts everyone to build trust in the communities as an adhesive to keep them from coming apart. Social media, according to the author, can play an important role in achieving "freedom from" but fails miserably in bringing about "freedom to". How we as a society are able to fare in this era of accelerations will determine the future of not just the mankind but of the whole planet itself.

Long time back I had read a book on a similar theme "Future Shock by Alvin Toffler" and after having read this book, I can see both books in a perspective. Of course, Future Shock is not a contemporary book as it was written in 1970, its importance can't be underestimated. Infact, the ideas mentioned in Future Shock are radical, original and fresh. This is not to say that Mr. Friedman has written a derivative piece but he himself has stated in the introduction to the book that he likes to translate from English to English, that is putting existing ideas in a more coherent and lucid form. And to that end, this book serves its purpose.
Profile Image for Alfred Haplo.
286 reviews45 followers
June 5, 2017
Highly recommended. Published Nov 2016, the contents still very much relevant on the acceleration and inter-dependency of technology, climate change, globalization. In a world of Hurry, Hurry, Hurry, some things still work better when mulled over slowly like a proper review. Rambling notes taken in the running updates will suffice as pseudo-review for now.

EDIT June 5, 2017 Washington Post. I want to be this guy - re Friedman's analogy of being in the eye of the storm. Or, in this case, mowing the lawn.

Profile Image for Dana Stabenow.
Author 125 books1,908 followers
February 17, 2018
Friedman's premise here reminds me very much of the series of articles James Fallows wrote for The Atlantic magazine called Journeys Across America (https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/...). He and his wife Deb flew all over the place looking for communities that worked, and they found them. The message is clear: America doesn't work from the top down anymore, and only by creating, building and enabling communities from the ground up to embrace all facets of those communities from business to education to public, private and service sectors will we survive as a viable nation.

You don't have to be as optimistic as either one of them but it's too soon to quit, is their common point.
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