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Unsafe Thinking: How to be Nimble and Bold When You Need It Most

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Learn how to take the bold yet intelligent risks that will help you thrive in business--and in life.

How can you challenge and change yourself when you need it most? We're creatures of habit, programmed by evolution to favor the safe and familiar, especially when the stakes are high. This bias no longer serves us in a world of constant change. In fact, today, safe thinking has become extremely dangerous.

Through stories of trailblazers in business, health, education and activism, and leveraging decades of research into creativity and performance, Jonah Sachs reveals a path to higher performance and creativity for anyone ready to step out of their comfort zone. He introduces troublemakers willing to challenge corporate culture like the executive who convinced CVS to drop its multibillion-dollar tobacco business. She now leads the pharmacy giant. Readers will get firsthand accounts of breaking from the status quo from a Nobel prize winning doctor who nearly got himself thrown out medicine, a two-time NBA championship coach who brought joy back to his team by tuning down the focus on competition, a CEO who rebuilt her reputation and life from the ashes from one of the biggest flops in internet history and a Colombian mayor who started an incredibly successful career of political reform by mooning an angry crowd.

Unsafe Thinking
is full of counter-intuitive insights that will challenge you to rethink how you work. You'll learn:
Why your area of deep expertise is often where you'll find your biggest blind spots Why anxiety can be fuel for creativity When to trust intuition and when to challenge it How collaborating only with those that share your values stunts your creativity How to build an organization that embraces intelligent risk. An inspiring and accessible read, Unsafe Thinking has the power to change both the way you approach your work and your life.

223 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 19, 2018

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About the author

Jonah Sachs

8 books18 followers
Jonah Sachs is an author, speaker and viral marketing trailblazer whose work helped spur the 21st century values revolution. Sachs’ pioneering new approaches to digital media were critical in bringing the ideals of social change—such as equity, empowerment, responsibility, transparency, and advocacy—to the forefront of business and popular culture.

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5 stars
58 (25%)
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100 (43%)
3 stars
56 (24%)
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16 (6%)
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Displaying 1 - 28 of 28 reviews
Profile Image for Vlad Olaru.
24 reviews4 followers
December 17, 2018
What a wonderful, thoughtful book on thinking. Well written, with just the right amount of anecdotes and examples from different fields. The author really took its job seriously with this work and managed to deliver a comprehensive perspective on what it means to think safely, why we often do it and why we could all benefit extensively from more unsafety in our lives.

This is great starting point to many other people who've takled the problem from different angles, throughout history.
Profile Image for Jamie Bowen.
751 reviews21 followers
May 29, 2018
When you're looking for inspiration, where do you go? Do you look back at your history and find the answer, find the safe thinking? This book sets out to challenge yourself and rather than be straitjacketed with old thinking, be creative and think of a new, better way. Some great real world examples in this book, particularly Steve Kerr the NBA coach. The book is split into six parts, Courage, Motivation, Learning, Flexibility, Morality and Leadership. Each chapter then looks into each aspect with real world examples, at the end of each chapter you have a page for key takeaways.
Profile Image for Robert.
130 reviews1 follower
November 28, 2018
I enjoyed this book as it was a brief look at the concept of looking at things a new way. I found a lot of value in the short, actionable chapters full of advice on how to create an environment to think differently.
Profile Image for Ian Stewart.
53 reviews8 followers
July 10, 2018
Pretty decent summary on what it feels like to take risks, how to lean into that anxiety, making space for creative thinking, and protecting it. A little too surface level for me. I was looking for a deep dive and not something as broad. The best parts were the stories and anecdotes but i didn’t find enough of that either. Still pretty decent though.
199 reviews3 followers
May 23, 2019
An engaging discussion on motivation, stepping beyond our biases and generating creative ideas. Am reading it again already; there's so much to learn from it and conventions to break out of!
Profile Image for Jorė.
189 reviews11 followers
June 8, 2018
Not everyone manages to go deeper into this topic, but this is an exception that makes reading nice and engaged.
We know creative thinking brings results. However, most of the workplace environments and life in general doesn't support creativity. Refuse to conform and you will be punished - no matter you are in school, business or government. Why on earth question the well established truths or, even worse, break them?
It's a well researched book, that joins scientific research with nice real world cases. Why they are nice? because I'm tired of reading the same three stories everywhere. There is a pile of fashionable stuff, like how one could not add Kahneman or Tetlock to a book about thinking? But that makes sense and does the job, so all is good.
We all need to push our thinking out of the common sense and this is a very good guidebook on how to. Plenty of nice insights, and food for thought (and action)
Profile Image for Adarsh Appaiah.
24 reviews
November 20, 2018

When I picked up this book I did not have high expectations. However I was hoping that the book would have atleast a few new ideas to tickle your brain. Sadly there were none.

Part of the disappointment could be internal - since I have read quite a few books in this genre. However, a significant part does rest with the author. The examples provided are stale and repetitive. The elaboration of these examples areas written in an elongative manner. It could have been more concise.

I generally hilight key points while reading books for my reference. I found hardly any in this book.

Would recommend skipping this one. There are plenty of other books with similar messaging.
Profile Image for Himanshu Modi.
187 reviews22 followers
April 22, 2021
I didn't really know what to expect from this book. I mean, balancing risk is an inherent part of every decision we have to take. So did I really want the book to make me less risk averse? Or share some mind boggling statistics that humans are fundamentally too conservative and how to not fall in that trap? Or give a framework on how should risk be measured more correctly?

Honestly, I am not sure. But I took the plunge. See... me being "unsafe" already. Probably didn't even need to read the book.

A big gripe I have with the book is that there's no mind model that a reader can really adopt. The "unsafe thinking" is just a phrase which has been sliced and diced and a flow has been built to write the book. There are plenty of stories shoehorned which supposedly illustrate the point being discussed. But its a hard sell. A lot of times, I didn't think the story conveyed the point that the author was trying to make. But then that's the thing about stories, they can make any point the author wants it to make. Besides, the stories are really irrelevant to most of us. Unless you plan to chart the course of Nile in Africa, or need to administer a crime ridden city. These stories were truly interesting. I had fun reading about them. But... trying to make a model out of them was too much of a reach.

It was an easy read overall - so I am not too stressed about having read this book. But I don't think I took away much from this.

Profile Image for Chris Gaither.
36 reviews2 followers
September 2, 2018
This well-written and meticulously researched book challenges everything we think we know about innovation. I went to college with Jonah Sachs and have watched him build a remarkable storytelling business, and I continue to be impressed by his willingness to question how creativity thrives. Through compelling anecdotes, “Unsafe Thinking” shows how courageous leaders allow themselves to feel and be shaped by their fears; constantly explore and update their thinking; challenge and test their intuition; and surround themselves with uncomfortable perspectives. They also solicit ideas from the edges of the conversation and allow a group’s genius to emerge. Jonah organizes the book into six sections: Courage, Motivation, Learning, Flexibility, Morality, and Leadership. And he very helpfully includes key takeaways at the end of each to make learning as simple as possible. I’ll return to this book over and over for guidance during my career.
12 reviews
January 19, 2022
A good read on how to think creatively and in times of adversity.

Here's my condensation of the book in 5 bullets (excerpt from https://ashonthegrid.wordpress.com/20...

- Regardless of how adverse and time-bound a situation is, take a break and think of a solution in a state of low arousal.
- The ideal situation for growth is when skill meets solvable challenge.
- Too much or too little expertise hinders creativity. As expertise increases, it is more important to bring in an outsider’s perspective.
- Keep a keen eye for things that is not known to everyone. These are rare sparks that appear in conversations which mostly discuss known facts.
- Develop counterintuitive thinking by talking freely to people who disagree with you. Keep an open mind and be ready to flex or alter values if needed.
12 reviews4 followers
July 31, 2019
I liked the book as it reminded me of things that I've tried to learn from other books(critical thinking, achieving flow, leading by listening, heuristics etc). In a big part, it was a shortened version of Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking fast and slow" and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's "Flow". But there were also some ideas I hadn't seen before about leading and problem-solving.
I'd still rate the book highly as it was written in an easy way, had key points brought out separately and made me think hard about myself and my behaviour.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
136 reviews5 followers
December 2, 2019
“Emotions are data that need to be explained.... The more we project an air of expertise, the more often we’re wrong and the slower we are to learn. And though we may fear nobody will follow us if we admit to fallibility, research indicates that people prefer humble leaders.” ~ Unsafe Thinking: How to be Creative and Bold When You Need It Most, Jonah Sachs
Profile Image for Waseem Abunnadi.
63 reviews4 followers
December 19, 2021
The book introduces a new concept which is nice. The lesson here is basically that one should not be afraid to take risks or try new ideas. It also encourages being humble and approachable.

My favourite quote was:
“Those words sounded very different coming from a sweaty man who had just proved in public that he couldn’t dance than they would have coming from the emperor at the podium.”

11 reviews
December 2, 2022
I like the way Jonah framed his instances and the way he shows examples how some of the most useful tools we use now were created by those who broke the rules, saw the world through a different lens and believed in themselves. He also broke down the inefficiency of bureaucracy and authority figures.
Profile Image for Andy Iakobson.
26 reviews1 follower
January 3, 2019
There's nothing particularly groundbreaking in the insights (it's a good summary of existing research and some interesting personal stories), but it's well-structured and written to be quite actionable.
49 reviews1 follower
December 28, 2021
I only read this begrudgingly for a class—and then it turned out to be rad. Some powerful insights on mindset and whatnot. Not just for evil capitalists... I might recommend most highly to educators, actually.
136 reviews1 follower
July 28, 2018
Thought provoking. How to think outside of your own box and involve others.
Profile Image for Jenny.
191 reviews8 followers
September 14, 2018
Interesting idea, but nothing seemed actionable in the advice. I realized I just wasn't interested in reading anymore about 40% through.
112 reviews
July 8, 2022
Inspiring read, filled with stories of business innovators who took chances to build a better way.
Profile Image for leonardo suarez.
28 reviews2 followers
July 24, 2021
I remember starting this book at the airport. my flight was delayed by four hours. I was hungry af and couldn’t be bothered to pay too much for food. so, to minimize my suffering, I picked up this book as a pastime...

there are no new ideas on it. Sachs basically gathered some psychological insights to make his (good) point on how to think “outside of the box”. overall, a rewarding book. not too much, but surely not worthless
Displaying 1 - 28 of 28 reviews

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