80+ Quotes from Upgrade: Taking Your Work and Life from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Rana Florida

...we customize every project to meet our clients’ needs. This taught me the importance of flexibility, of being able to adapt to different situations across constantly changing contexts. It was vastly different from my first job in corporate America, in which I was an executive in an advertising agency whose major client was Chrysler and that delivered a set suite of products and services. The joy of my role today is the constant challenge, the learning and discovery. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 6

We decided early on not to box ourselves in. We had a data engine, research, and expertise to share. How we delivered it - whether as a half-day workshop, a year long engagement, a strategy report, a contest, a new program, a media campaign, or an online tool kit - would be tailored to the client's needs and resources. Each project was vastly different in scope, size, and deliverables. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 7


Not once did we say, ‘No, we don’t do that,’ or, ‘Sorry, we don’t offer that.’ We took each opportunity as an adventure, a challenge to expand the business model and grow professionally. Often, after conference calls and meetings with potential clients, we’d gather and say, ‘What did we just promise we could deliver? We’ve never done that!’ Then we’d laugh and say, ‘We’ll figure it out,’ and, ‘Whoa, do we have some work to do!’

- Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 7


As massive as the shift from my father’s world was, it was easy to understand and accept; what was startling to me was that in just the short span of time between the rise of Gen X and the advent of the Millennials, our work styles and lifestyles changed even more. Whereas I was taught to go to graduate school, fit in, excel, and get a corporate job, wearing a suit every day except on casual Fridays, people just a few years younger than I was were seeking jobs at tech firms not because all of a sudden they had an interest in technology but because those firms were worlds away from typical formal corporations. They let workers be themselves and offered work environments that were less rigid, more open, and more creative and innovative.  - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 8

While you put in late hours at the office to slowly climb the ranks, you look around and see others rolling out of bed whenever they want, buying front-row tickets to the Jay-Z convert or Yankee or Miami Heat games, working from the comfort of their homes or the fun of the local coffee shop on their state-of-art Apple device. They are constantly buying the latest pumped-up kicks, the season’s expensive designer bang, the newest red-soled shoe, or the coolest pair of new skinny jeans. They have access to a network of top professionals, including celebrity doctors, architects, and designers.  - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 10

While I was mining Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for advice on how to get ahead, I was also feeding my soul with Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. On the one hand, Good to Great, Who Moved My Cheese?, Made to Stick, and Drive; on the other, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Tropic of Cancer, The Fountainhead, and Catcher in the Rye.  - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 11

We no longer live in the separate silos of home, office, and vacation time. People are Skypeing and FaceTiming clients from parks, from home, and from airport gates. Creativity is everywhere, and it reflects the way we live, work, and play. The most successful among us design and integrate every facet of their lives. These individuals have strong visions and strong voices and build flair, resilience, and confidence into their plans. When the path swerves, they turn too, and they never take their eyes off the goal.  

- Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 15

The reality is that the majority of us don’t think about how we can optimize our lives. Instead of developing a real strategy based on where we want to go in life and why, we just slog through in a state of what I like to call managed dissatisfaction. We are doing okay; we are managing to get by but with an underlying tinge of unhappiness. Certain peaks, to get by but with an underlying tinge of unhappiness. Certain peaks, like an annual vacation, a new car, or a slight promotion at work, lift like an annual vacation, a new car, or a slight promotion at work, lift our spirits for a while, and we ride the peak. But before we know it, the wave has crashed and we are washed up on shore, longing for the next big wave to come through.  - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 18

Most of our decisions, he said, are circumscribed by what he called “bounded rationality.” We have limited information and cannot possibly consider every option and alternative; plus, we are influenced by emotion and by our peers. We choose the first solution that works, that satisfices (satisfy/suffice), thus sacrificing the best for what’s “good enough.”  - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 19

Whether it is travelling more; taking cooking, skiing, or tango classes; or launching a new company, we put all these things off till later in life, and that makes no sense whatsoever. Do you really want to wait until you’re 65 to go scuba diving in New Zealand or on a shark-feeding expedition in Tahiti, to take yoga classes in Bali or go backpacking in Fiji? We just don’t feel we have the time or resources to risk a stable job to indulge ourselves. But it is ludicrous that we don’t do these things now, when we are young and healthy. Why do we set ourselves up to live this way? I’m not saying life should be one big indulgent vacation, but life really doesn’t have to be so freaking hard.  - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 20

Ask yourself an easier question: What life would you live if you were given $500 million tomorrow?  - Rana Florida, Upgrade.png

“Your job is killing you. If you sit at a desk for more than four hours a day, you increase your risk of death from any cause by nearly 50% and boost your risk of heart problems by 125%.”

- Shoshana Berger, Upgrade, p. 39


After watching my nieces’ and nephews’ working styles, something occurred to me: Why don’t most classrooms have bean bags, sofas, and floor space to roll around in? What’s to stop kids from learning while they’re standing, wiggling, jumping, or lounging? Children are literally bursting with energy, but early on, our schools slowly damp the enthusiasm out of them. Is it healthy for them to repress all that boundless energy for hours a day, five days a week, with only minor breaks during recess to run outside and play? - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 41

Think about the type of environment you need to thrive, whether it is at home or at the office. What kind of physical space do you need to get the most out of you? What kind of physical space do you need to get the most out of you? What kinds of people, leaders, and networks do you need to surround yourself with to be engaged and motivated? What kinds of tools and resources do you need to most fully optimize your potential? What learning and personal development do you need to grow? These may seem like simple questions, but the implications of your answers may well be profound.” - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 41

“When I looked around, however, I became frustrated as I didn’t see any other examples of success veering from this path. So my first step was to put myself in an environment to see the change so I could be the change. I knew I had to surround myself with other people who were creating their own opportunities instead of waiting around for opportunities to magically fall into my lap.” [my friend] did just that, leaving her suburban home for the Big Apple. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 42

Our garages are jam-packed with stuff, and our basements and closets are filled with unnecessary things that we continue to clutter our lives with. Open your closet or walk down to your basement if you have one and take a look at all the things you’ve acquired...Things we think we’ll need on a rainy day,, when we throw a party or some “what if?” happens. We enslave ourselves to consumerism; we can’t help it. We are surrounded by television, ads, and media that force-feed this glossy lifestyle to us 24/7 - Rana Florida, Upgrade.png

So, I concluded, from here on out, I am never purchasing another thing [for gifts]...I am buying them experiences: tickets to the basketball game, the basketball game, the opera, the ballet, a concert, an event, the science center, a performance, an airline ticket, or even a dinner gift card. I am going to spend that money on fun things that  friends and family and I can enjoy together. We need to place more value on experiences than on things. At the end of our lives, we treasure our memories more than our things. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 46

It was so refreshing to hear a successful political and business leader admit that he needed to marshal the resources around him, that he couldn't do it alone. Drawing on Illy’s advice, once you have your vision on paper, the next step is to plan and act using every resource at your disposal. Friends, family, and colleagues can all help move your vision forward if you clearly communicate it to them and engage them along the way. If you have a goal and communicate it clearly and display your passion about achieving it, it is amazing how many people will support you and help you get there. Most of us are inspired by others’ passions and want to jump on board to help the cause. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 51


If You Can’t Find Your Own Way, Join Someone Else’s

If after you’ve thought about it, your piece of paper is still blank, think about all the people or organizations whose missions pique your interest and consider getting on board with one of them.

- Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 51


You see, unlike my husband, who is passionate about one thing --cities-- of Diamandis, who is passionate about space exploration, I tend to dabble in a lot of different things. But when I tried to name the one thing I knew best, the one pursuit that I was truly passionate about, I was disappointed. No matter how hard I tried, I came up empty. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 56

I had worried that my passions weren’t passionate enough, and then all of a sudden I realized that doing things that gave me moments of happiness and joy was enough. - Rana Florida, Upgrade.png

Agassi told me how he compensated: “By making it part of a larger project for which you do feel passion. When I realized that I wasn’t born to play tennis, that I was made to play tennis, I searched for other things to which I felt more deeply and emotionally connected. Like education. I thn make tennis part of that work. Anyone can do this with any job. If you don’t love the task at hand per se, make it about your family, make it about serving others, make it about simply being conscientious. Make it about something other than your own fleeting wants and needs, work at it with everything you’ve got and then stand back- the results will be magic.” - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 60

Now it’s time to take out that piece of paper again. Underneath your personal vision statement, write down 10 things that make you happy: anything from cooking to cycling to spending time with your kids; from gardening, reading, playing the guitar, fishing, painting, jet skiing, and volunteering to help the elderly. Make the list. Once you have all 10 things down, prioritize them from great to good.

Keep that list handy and review it constantly to ensure that you are always focusing on ways to incorporate these things into your life. Try to find a way to incorporate the top 2 into your daily life, the top 4 into your weekly life, the top 6 monthly, the top 8 quarterly, and all 10 annually. You’ll be surprised how much happier you can be when you spend your time doing what you like. Yes it really is that simple. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 60

On average, kids smile 400 times a day. Adults? Twenty times a day. - Rana Florida, Upgrade.png

When I asked Robinson what schools and businesses can do to encourage creativity, he answered, “Everything. Creativity is a practical process, and we can learn how to be more creative. I said that creativity is putting your imagination to work. A more formal definition is that creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value. Creativity is a process. Often the ideas we start from are not the ones we end up with. They evolve as we work on them, and the dynamics of this process can be learnt and practiced. Creativity involves generating new ideas. They don’t have to be new in the history of humanity, but they do have to be new to you. There are techniques to question old ideas and generate new ones. Creativity also involves judgment in deciding what works and what does not. These techniques can be taught in schools and businesses. The first step is to recognize how important it is to do that and to treat them as seriously as we do literacy and numeracy.” - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 64

People who say no dampen down ideas and spread anxiety. I know I don’t enjoy being around them. Their energy is negative; they are what I call Debbie Downers. Not only do they say no in their professional environments, but I see them carry the mantra through their personal lives as well: “No, I don’t want to try that new restaurant.” “No, I don’t want to go to that event or that new exhibit. Why would I want to do that?” In science a positive and a negative equal a zero. So to overcome the effects of a negative person, you need two positive people. Negative people are a huge drain on businesses too. Their constant stream of rejection is toxic to new discoveries and ideas in the work environment, and, frankly, they are a drag to be around.” - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 68

Many of us will just stop worrying on a crazy idea or a new project due to outside discouragement. But Dan Gilbert advises that it’s not us, it’s them. One of his 27 lessons is: “People who are constantly negative, pessimistic and cynical are not spewing their venom toward you or your ideas. They are talking about themselves. Never forget that.” - Rana Florida, Upgrade.png

We need to feed the inner child in us that yearns to be creative, the one that was squelched into conformity years ago. What better way to this than to give yourself a recess. We all loved this playtime as children, but so few of us will give it to ourselves. We try to get a lot done in a day and feel that goofing off on the playground is a waste of time. But it’s important to find a playground for our bodies so that we can unleash our minds.
Tennis has been my recess. Even though I didn’t start playing the game until my early twenties, being on the tennis court brings me back to my childhood. I can yell at the ball, jump around, run, fall, scream, wail, laugh, and have fun. Most of the time I play outdoors on clay courts under the sun. I get sweaty and hot, and the clay dust coats my legs; I feel like I did when I was a kid, spending a long day at the park.
Best of all, I’m not checking e-mail, tweets, texts, and phone messages. When I get off the court and back to my normal workday, I feel recharged, and ready to take on more work and tackle challenges in a more optimistic way. It also helps spark new ideas.

- Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 72


Bergland also notes that Albert Einstein claimed to have thought up the theory of relativity while he was riding his bicycle, adding “Anyone who exercises regularly knows that your thinking process changes when you are walking, jogging, biking, swimming, riding the elliptical trainer, and so on. New ideas tend to bubble up and crystallize when you are inside the aerobic zone. You are able to connect the dots and problem solve with a cognitive flexibility that you don’t have when you are sitting at your desk. This is a universal phenomenon, but one that neuroscientists are just beginning to understand.” - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 73

Now, when people say no to me, it gives me the fuel to try that much harder. When an editor of a prominent media outlet told me that I couldn’t be contributor, it gave me the drive to prove her wrong. I landed a blogger position at the Huffington Post, which had 35 times the unique viewers! - Rana Florida, Upgrade.png

Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO, the design firm that created the first mouse for Apple and the second mouse for Microsoft, had this to say: “For me, changing context is often the best way to encourage new ideas. Travel helps.” changing your environment and seeing new places truly does open up your thinking and offers new ways of looking at the world. Not only seeing new places and experiencing new cultures but the very act of getting you moving and out of your routine helps. It opens your eyes and mind to fresh new ideas in ways that watching a movie or reading a book about a new place often can’t do. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 79

For thousands of years, people believed the earth was flat. The Renaissance astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus proved otherwise in the 1500s, but his theory debated for another century. A mind that is open to new ideas is the key to moving forward. - Rana Florida, Upgrade.png

Find your creative juice and incorporate it into your personal and professional lives. If you are stuck in a rut, push yourself outside your comfort zone. Whether it is travel or a new environment or context, find what motivates you to look at things differently. If you are a leader mentoring others, find ways to encourage and reward creativity in the workplace. Don’t squelch new ideas and discourage others by telling them their ideas are nuts. Pushing the boundaries of the status quo will lead to learning, new discoveries, and personal growth. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 81

Thinking creatively leads to new ways of doing things, which lead to business success. Not so long ago, Blockbuster was the dominant player...In the 1990s a little start-up based in Scotts Valley, California, called Netflix entered the market, offering customers the ease and flexibility of dropping a video in the mail whenever they felt list it, with no late fees and no hassle. Netflix now has over 27 million subscribers and is responsible for 33% of all streaming video traffic. It has partnership deals with every major studio and network and has rights to the content of other 250 suppliers. Blockbuster declared bankruptcy in 2010. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 84

“Amplifying our creativity is the single most important task ahead of us today,” Bruce Nussbaum, professor of innovation and design at the Parsons School of Design, told me. “We face the challenges of a VUCA world - Volatile, Uncertain, Chaotic and Ambiguous - that can only be met with a creative mindset. The culture of efficiency that we grew up with can’t cope with this magnitude of cascading change. We need to acknowledge that creativity is at the core of economic value and we need to build a new Economics of Creativity.” - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 85

Diversity is both a driver of creativity - you need different kinds of people if you want to generate new and different ideas - and a selling point in and of itself, a fact to which many ad campaigns bear eloquent witness. Old, young, straight, gay, black, white - all races, genders, and ethnicities are potential consumers and expect to see themselves reflected in a company’s marketing. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 85


Creativity requires diversity; organizations and entrepreneurs must move away from the one-size-fits-all model. Embracing diversity in the workforce means welcoming young and old, straight and gay, men and women. A rainbow of different races and ethnicities equals a wide spectrum of different inputs and viewpoints: the recipe for innovation and discovery. Not only must employers embrace nontraditional workers, but they need to adapt to non traditional working styles. There’s no reason for the 9-to-5 chained-to-your-desk work style of the 1950s in today’s business climate.

- Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 85-86


Sir Ken Robinson says, “Creativity is the fruit of imagination and imagination is what makes us human. Imagination is the ability to bring to mind things that aren’t present to our senses. Through imagination you can visit the past; you can empathize with other people’s points of view and you can anticipate the future. Creativity is putting your imagination to work and it manifests in every field of human achievement. Creativity is the fountainhead of human culture and it couldn’t be more important. It’s all the more tragic that it’s so often stifled in our schools, businesses and institutions. We pay a heavy price for that.” - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 96

“Researchers in the 1990s gave this familiar, if dreadful, feeling a name: time famine. More recently, they coined a term to describe the opposite: time affluence, that elusive feeling of being rich in time. Time affluence, it appears, has real benefits in our lives. If time famine can create a state of rolling personal crisis, studies have shown that feeling ‘time affluent’ can be powerfully uplifting, more so than material wealth, improving not only personal happiness, but even physical health and civic involvement.” - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 104

Many of us say yes too many things and too many people. In his book How will you Measure Your Life? Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen makes a salient point about how great influence always comes with a catch: the more people that are who recognize and appreciate your contributions, the more people there are who are clamoring for your insights, your energy, or 30 minutes of your time. Even when you know what’s most important to you, how do you choose from among all those competing demands? - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 108

Make a list of the people you spend time with. Now make one of these three marks next to their names: a negative (-), a zero (0), or a positive (+).

A negative person is someone who drains you of energy and adds no value to your life socially, professionally, or otherwise. You know exactly who and what I’m talking about. We all have them in our lives: they just take, take, take.

A zero neither adds nor takes away value. These people always seem to be hanging around or texting: “Hey whatcha up to? I’m bored.” they are always bored. They target you and make you spend your most precious resources - time - to entertain them. These are people I consider filler.

A positive, in contrast, is someone who adds real value to your life. You are learning from this person, who is helping you move forward.

- Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 109


Businesses too get caught in the cycle to put on events without fully understanding the drain on time and resources that they cause. Ask yourself what the goal of the event is. Is there a financial benefit? Are you cultivating new clients or partners? Is it media attention and buzz you’re after? Are you conveying information to a board of directors? Are there more efficient ways to reach this goal? Learn to think systematically about the costs in time and resources versus the expected payoffs and end results. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 111

So many of us wear ourselves out racing to nowhere by saying yes to everything. We need to learn to say no too so that we can protect our time. It took years of boring events, cheap wine, and rubber chicken dinners before I figured this out. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 112


Here’s an easy way to learn to say no:
place a dollar value on your time.

Say you make $75/hr. Now figure out how much time you spend each week dropping off dry cleaning, going to the bank, and grocery shopping. Let’s say it’s 10 hours. Then add up all the other obligations you’ve said yes to: the dinner party on Friday, the birthday lunch on Sunday - and don’t forget about the time you spend preparing for them, picking the right outfit, the hostess gift, and the birthday present. Let’s say that’s another 10 hours: 20 hours x $75 = $1,500.

You just spent $1,500 on stuff you don’t want to do! Would you pay someone $1,500 to run these errands for you? Probably not, so why do you sell yourself short? Learning to say no to things that feel like a chore or an obligation is the key. Outsource errands by hiring a high school or college student for a lot less and find a better use for your time.

- Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 112


These are my AAA lists:

Daily List - I don’t put more than three things on this list because I have to be realistic about how much I can accomplish in a day

Weekly List - I have about 5 - 10 important things on it

Monthly List - These are things I need to get to but not urgently.

I keep an annual list, too: What are those 12 things over the next 12 months I want to accomplish professionally and personally? Sort of like someone’s New Year's resolutions. I look at these lists about 20 times a day. If someone says don’t forget this, I just add it to one of them; it goes in and goes out. The big mistake people make in life is to focus on what’s urgent,  not on what’s important (my dad taught me that). - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 115

As for emails, I have a system where I use auto rules and folders. If my name is on the cc line, it doesn’t go into my in-box. Same with newsletters and listservs. They go into specific folders that I give low priority to; I get to them when I can. I used to have 500 emails in my inbox, and it was a complete nightmare. This makes a big difference. - Rana Florida, Upgrade.png

Josh Patrick, the founder and principal at a financial advisory services firm, told The New York Times, “One of the things we constantly told employees was the following statement: ‘You are the expert at your job.’ It took several years for some of our people to actually believe it. But I’ve used this mantra in my business life ever since. The key is that when you make this change, you stop telling people what to do and you start asking them their opinion about the best way to get something done. This can produce all sorts of benefits.” - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 124

I’ve had bosses who didn’t just want to control my professional time but wanted to be included in my personal life and hang out with my friends and me outside the office. I’ve had bosses who wanted me to give them home and fashion makeovers and who wanted me to host parties with them. I always gave in a bit, thinking this surely was my way to the top. It wasn’t. The more time I gave, the more time they took. - Rana Florida, Upgrade.png

I’ve never had an employer who believed in this system. All of them assumed that if you’re not sitting at your desk for long hours, you’re not really working. Sometimes exactly the opposite is the case. Rather than sneak out early and risk the piercing looks of colleagues and bosses, many an efficient worker will ride out the last hour or so of the day at his or her desk, playing around with Facebook or instant chatting with friends. Being productive does not translate to being busy. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 125

Whether it is your landscaper, assistant, new partner, trainer, dentist, dog walker, or baby-sitter, use these five tips to lay out the parameters of the engagement. Make your expectations clear early in the first meeting and constantly remind this person of them if he starts to slip.
Clearly state the value proposition (I am exchanging X for Y)
Set the boundaries (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 10 to 11a.m. start for five weeks)
Set goals and expectations (If I don’t see XX results in XX time frame…)
Use incentives (if you are successful in getting me to my goal in number 3, I will sign on for additional sessions, pay a bonus, and so on)
Establish a failure clause (if you are late or do not meet our goals, you own me a free lesson or our contract will end)
Mike Rosenwald writes, “At least 15% of a typical office worker’s day is spent on email, and 5% of emails received are replies to all, according to data from VoloMetrix, a Seattle start-up that tracks, minute by minute, how its clients’ employees use technology at work.”
- Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 142

An additional important point that I learned from Pozen: “Avoid rereading your e-mails. I am a great believer in the OHIO principle: Only handle it once. When you read an e-mail, decide whether or not to reply to it, and, if you need to reply, do so right then and there. I have found that about 80% of all e-mails, whether internal or external, do not require a response. Don’t let these extraneous communications clog your inbox and waste your time.” - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 145

The sports field is where most of us first experienced the true essence of collaboration or teamwork. Collaboration mean engaging with others in work or life to accomplish a shared goal. Whether it was basketball, baseball, volleyball, or football, the team understood that to win the game, it had to leverage all the skills of the various positions. In basketball, the center calls the shots and leads the plays, the forwards drive the ball to the basket, and the guards excel at passing and long shots. Players are positioned, traded, and honed for their strengths as part of a bigger purpose. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 151

In a Fast Company article, Lydia Dishman writes, “Collaboration. It’s a $1 billion industry, according to an ABI Research study on worker mobility and enterprise social collaboration. And it’s projected to grow to $3.5 billion by 2016.” No wonder so much ink has been spilled on this business buzzword, covering everything from starting it (hint: build trust), to doing it better with social platforms, to using it as a way to achieve that holy grail of business: innovation. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 152

If you have information, it is your obligation to share it with others.” I once heard this powerful statement, and it stuck with me. As individuals we will be motivated to work harder when we feel valued and respected and fully-vested in our work, not when we are being treated like a cog in the system. - Rana Florida, Upgrade.png

In a recent article at Fast Company, Erika Andersen talks about the new definition of generosity. Giving one’s time, knowledge, feedback, and mentorship is the difference between being a good leader and a great one.
“We tend to think of generous people as those who share material wealth,” she writes “giving to charity,, buying expensive gifts, or taking the in-laws out for dinner. In business, we think of generous leaders as those who provide a way for their people to share materially in the success of the company - through raises, profit sharing, or a bonus system. All of these things can be good, but they are only part of true generosity. Truly generous leaders share the wealth on many levels. For example, they are quick to give others credit for their good efforts and new ideas. They’re also generous with their knowledge, sharing information with those who need it and teaching others around them how to do what they themselves do well. They are generous with their faith in people; they tend to assume best intent (although they are not naive) and believe people are generally innocent until proven guilty.” - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 159

Andersen goes on, “The generous leader, having provided the information necessary for success, gives people the authority and autonomy to act on that information. A leader who is fully generous shares both the power to make decisions and the responsibility for dealing with the consequences of those decisions. She shares the resources necessary for people to recover from mistakes and failure. Finally, she is generous with feedback. She take the time to notice what her staff is doing or not doing, think about what’s great and what’s not, and share with them her observations.” - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 159


In a way, collaboration is leadership. Organizations that harness the capacity of several contributors have a competitive advantage.

- Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 160


If you want your organization to succeed or want to achieve success personally, you need to think of leadership as a collaboration in which you utilize people for their strengths. This approach will engage and inspire your team to work harder, be more productive, and be more involved. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 160

Tapscott says, “I don't buy arguments that collaboration is undermining creativity. Collaboration is based on self-organization, decentralized power and knowledge and freedom of action. Collectivism is based on coercion and centralized control. Whereas communism stifled individualism, mass collaboration is based on individuals and organizations working to achieve shared outcomes through loose voluntary associations.” Tapscott adds that such successful collaborations include Wikipedia and even an uprising like the Arab Spring, which we enabled to a great degree by social media. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 161

Grant McCracken says that the jeans maker Levi Strauss & Co. missed out on a $1 billion worth of sales when it ignored the hip-hop trend. “Culture matters for reasons good and bad,” he observes. “First, it is the place to discover advantage, opportunity, and innovation.”... Don’t miss out on opportunities to upgrade your business or life because of lack of collaboration. Successful collaboration comes in all shapes and forms. A wide range of contributors is readily available and wants to add value. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 161

You have to surround yourself with partners who complement your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses. I realized that the different perspectives and skill sets that the team members bring to bear contribute value to all of our projects. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 165

Several others have caught onto the trend that a collaborative approach to idle capacity is a great business strategy. There are even books on this business model, including What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers and The Mesh: Why the Future of Business Is sharing by Lisa Gansky. Collaboration not only leverages the skills of a team, but in its new forms it can even minimize waste. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 166

Whether you have a small business, work in an organization, or are evaluating your personal goals, you can benefit immensely by having the right strategic partners. The first step is to identify the areas in which you need help; only then can you look for the right partner. Investing the time up front to clarify your goals is key. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 168

I asked Maier what qualities he looks for in his collaborators. “Integrity, expertise, an appreciation for tradition, and a genuine interest in working with other people,” he said. “I also look for a strong aesthetic point of view, because I enjoy working with people who bring a compelling perspective to the table.” - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 168

As much as we hate to admit, we can’t do it all ourselves, and so collaborations are essential. They allow several benefits, including the following:
They provide better deliverables by using people for their strengths to compensate for your weaknesses
They bring more resources to the table
They allow for idea exchange

They expand your work into other areas
They introduce new insights and discoveries
- Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 171

Think about what happens when five people of similar background, age, sexuality, race, religion, education, and profession sit around a table to offer their perspectives on a new initiative. It is likely that they will reach consensus very quickly. Then think about having five completely diverse people sit around the same table, discussing the same thing. Instead of five 30-year old executives who went to the same university and grew up in the same neighborhood, imagine that there are five people who vary greatly in ages, from young to old, who are black and white, French and Turkish, gay and straight, Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, and atheist. I imagine that the conversation would be much more interesting, heated, engaged, and eye-opening. When different perspectives interact, you’re much more likely to learn something new. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 173

Collaboration rests on the premise that you believe you can learn by listening to others, that everyone on your team has something to contribute. Give this experiment a try. Approach someone you would never think to approach about a problem or initiative you have at work that you are trying to sort through. Ask your mother, for instance, or someone from outside the industry. Ask someone from a different country; ask an eight-year-old. Jot down their answers and see if you learned anything. See if you gained a new perspective on the situation by getting a broad range of inputs. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 174

We like the high intensity, the rush of energy and excitement when we see someone else take terrible chances. But when it comes to ourselves, we are content to sit on the sidelines, afraid to risk our reputations, our money, our relationships, or physical injury. However, we have to realize that embracing uncertainty can open doors and be the way to an upgraded life. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 180

They had a steep learning curve, one of the founders noted, and they learned some of their most valuable lessons by making mistakes. One of the partners chimed in at that point, saying, “Making mistakes has been the most important thing we’ve done.” You could put those words on a plaque and hang it on the wall of many successful businesses - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 181

Assessing and accepting risk takes a lot out of you emotionally; it causes fear and confusion. Physically, it can lead to stress and fatigue. But it’s part and parcel of upgrading your life: we have to calculate what’s at stake and what’s the potential reward and be careful to not over inflate it but at the same time not be so timid that we throw important opportunities away. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 183


Most organizations do not foster a culture of risk and outside-the-box thinking. Risk is not something that is embraced at the workplace. People keep their heads down. They’re afraid to take risks as it may lead to failure, and that’s not rewarded. They want to keep their jobs. That hurts them more than they know.
- Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 187


Taking this idea one step further, Mario Batali says risk taking is essential. When I asked him what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, he said, “It seems to be smart people who are not afraid to be creative and are not averse to independent thinking or risk.” - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 187

Risk taking isn’t the same thing as heedlessness and I learned early on the hard way. Successful business people and creative artists aren’t reckless; they don’t spend their days jumping out of airplanes. They may be fearless, but they’re focused at all times. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 188

Moving to a new city, falling in love, buying a house, starting a new job, launching a business, having a child - all of them are built on unknowns. But if their potential return is more than a half-day buzz, go for it. The worst that can happen is failure, and we’re all bound to fail sometimes. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 188

Why aren’t you living the life you want to live? What’s holding you back from your upgrade? For most people, it is simple fear of failure, which paralyzes them, preventing them from unleashing their full potential and moving forward. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 189

Ken Robinson observes that you can’t learn or create anything new unless you first open yourself up to the possibility of being wrong. We learn through trial and error, by making mistakes and analyzing them. That is how scholarship works, as well as science: you put your idea out there, you test it, and you make your data available to other people so that they can test it too. You have to have thick skin; being challenged and criticized is an integral part of the game. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 189-190

In his profile of Sara Blakely in The Startup Playbook, David Kidder relates that “when she was a little girl, her father would ask her, ‘What did you fail at today?’ He made it clear that failure was an indication that you tried something. It was a good thing. That’s a profound idea, and it speaks against many of the assumptions of our success-based culture.”  - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 190

Most people see sports stars or singers and actors rise to fame and fortune and don’t realize how much time and effort they invested before finally making it. It took Perry years of singing to small crowds in churches and bars before she got a record label to sign her. Then it took another five years to get a record out.  When she finally did, it had five hit singles on it, outpacing Madonna and John Lennon and earning her a Michael Jackson-like level of superstardom. But there were lots of closed doors, naysayers, and rejections along the way- Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 192

Mark Cuban’s advice to me was, “You need to be brutally honest with yourself. You can’t be a dreamer. You have to be able to focus on doing the work to prepare and execute on your ideas rather than dreaming about what might happen. And you can’t be afraid of failing. It’s amazing to me that some people who have no problem jumping out of an airplane cower at the idea of starting a business because they might fail.”  
- Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 192

Robinson advises us to just get over it. He says, “I once asked a scientist who’d won the Nobel Prize for chemistry how many of his experiments failed. He said most of them. But failure, he said, isn’t really the right word. Science is about finding out what doesn’t work in the expectation of discovering what does. Trial and error is at the heart of all creative processes. If we want to promote creativity and innovation we have to honor and accept mistakes, false starts and dead ends.  - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 193

Far too many of us waste too much effort and emotional energy dwelling on past failures instead of pushing forward. Our internal monologues can hold us back. People make excuses, saying they don’t have enough time, money, or connections. A harder truth is that they may be as afraid of success as they are of failure. Andre Agassi told me, “Failure is lonely, success is lonelier.”  - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 194

But then [Andre Agassi] went on to say, “Don’t think about it. Don’t dwell on it. Don’t treat it as anything more than a blip, which is the same way you should treat early failure. Success and failure are so often the result of outside factors, things beyond our control, so you need to keep your mind on the few things you can control. Learn to love the process, the work, and disconnect your ego from the results. The earlier you learn this, the more peaceful you’ll be, and peace, not success, it the goal.”  - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 194


Between that first job as a hostess and my position as CEO of the Creative Class Group, I held 13 other career positions.  

- Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 195


As someone wise once said, “What do you do when your dreams don’t come true? Find a new dream.”  I’ve taken that advice to heart ever since. When one door closed, I saw it as an opportunity to knock on another. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 195

Creative thinker Mera Rubell told me, “Examining failure objectively can lead to many worthwhile lessons. I believe that success can only be achieved when we recognize failure as a spark for change - only then can we hope to realize our life’s ambitions.”  - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 195

“Failure and persistence,” [Carter Kustera] began, “are mainstays for anyone who wants to achieve something in particular in life. This is not limited to creative people, only creative people often attempt many more things that have never been done before and so they meet more obstacles, backlash and resistance. I have had many of these moments in my life and career but as I and many others have learned, the longer you stick with something, the greater chance you have of succeeding.”  - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 196

[Carter Kustera] still fought on. “From the time I thought of the idea to the time I finally got my break was 5 years and 50 meetings later,” He told me. His break came when Bed Bath & Beyond liked his product. “I ended up producing a successful line of home decor and refrigerator magnet mirrors as well as other products. What I learned was that if you want something bad enough you will find a way to make it happen.  - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 197

Getting rejected over and over again somehow gives some people the fuel to work harder. Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, said his manuscript was turned down by 26 out of 27 publishers. The book has now been translated into 35 languages and make the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Businessweek bestseller lists. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 197

According to statistics from the Small Business Administration, about a third of small businesses fail within year 1 and close to half fail by year 5. It is a highly risky proposition. And restaurants, with a failure rate between 60% to 80% in the first three years, represent even bigger risks. - Rana Florida, Upgrade.png

How do you know when it’s time to walk away? The singer Nelly Furtado told me, “If the momentum is lost, the chemistry soured, or the relationship broken beyond repair, I usually walk away. If you are not having fun anymore, it’s simply not worth it.” - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 205

I have a hard time walking away from a project I’ve invested time, money, and resources in, not because of pride or shame, but because I like to see the end results of my work; I have an almost irresistible desire to see any project through from beginning to end. But when a relationship is so sour that you are turning into a person you wouldn’t want to spend time with, that’s when you know you have to walk away. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 205

Architect Peter Marino puts it more bluntly. When I asked him when it’s time to walk away from a project, he told me: “When either the client is totally unreceptive to my ideas, or he/she stops paying!” - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 205

Success does not happen overnight, and change is often scary and tumultuous. But if you stop and dedicate some time to thinking about these simple strategies and act on them, you could be living a better, more fulfilled, and more purposeful life. - Rana Florida, Upgrade.png

“I don’t know, but I just saw her and was listening to her in awe, thinking that’s how I envision my life! She is me, only better!”
I tried to reason with her, saying that for her it wasn’t about the resources or the time. Both women were in the same socioeconomic class. It’s about envisioning the life you want to live and making it happen. But within just a few minutes, she rattled off a bunch of reasons - excuses, really - why she couldn’t do any of these things...We are still great friends, but nothing has changed. My good friend lets the minutiae of life set the pace. Her upgraded life will stay on hold as long as she keeps making excuses. - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 208

Well, why shouldn’t that be you? You don’t have enough money? The truth is, we all have enough resources at our disposal to upgrade our lives. Small changes such as consolidating your credit card points can get you a first-class seat. Small changes in work and in life can lift you from a state of managed dissatisfaction to an enjoyable ride and greater happiness and fulfillment. Why should upgrades be reserved for a privileged few? - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 211

Most of us think it’s wise to save our points for a major trip sometime in the future. Wrong! Your time is now. Before you know it, some major changes will happen - the company will declare bankruptcy or merge, and your points will vanish - the same way your life will pass you by while you wait for the right time or for more resources. Our time is finite; be sure you’re living your upgraded life today, not tomorrow! - Rana Florida, Upgrade, p. 211

Source: Florida, R. (2013). Upgrade: taking your work and life from ordinary to extraordinary. New York: McGraw-Hill.