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Fundamentally Different by David Friedman

In Fundamentally Different, Friedman uses stories and examples from his 27 years of business leadership experience to make clear the connection between values and success in a way that’s as enjoyable to read as it is insightful.

Is organizational culture just a New Age obsession that distracts us from the real work of business?  What role do values play in organizational success?  How can we create greater consistency between the values we say are important and the ones that actually show up in the routine behavior of our people?   What’s the most important common denominator found in all dysfunctional organizations, and how can we avoid it?

In his new book, Fundamentally Different, David Friedman provides the answers to these questions and more.  You’ll learn:

  • The 8 keys steps the most successful companies use to institutionalize their values
  • Why listening can actually have more impact than speaking
  • What a “filter” is and how it affects everything we believe to be true
  • The 5 components of good decisions
  • The role of curiosity in increasing effectiveness
  • Why “rebar” is the key to creating lasting change

With his compelling logic and easy-to-understand style, David shares the most important insights he learned during a 27-year business career in which he led one of the most unique and successful companies in his industry.  Captured in his self-styled Fundamentals, this collection of wisdom is so simple, yet powerful, that you’ll wonder why the principles he describes aren’t more commonplace in every organization across America.

But David’s Fundamentals aren’t just about business.  They’re a guidebook for life.  And like so many other people who’ve already embraced them, you’ll no doubt find your life enriched by their practice.

Read an excerpt!


Work from the assumption that people are good, fair, and honest.

Kindness begets more kindness. Trust begets more trust. We believe that most people genuinely want to do the right thing. Act out of this belief.

If I have a favorite Fundamental, this might just be it. I think it’s because this Fundamental always reminds me of the tremendous impact that our point of view has on how we treat other people and, in turn, how they react to us. A simple shift in our point of view has enormous potential to alter the outcome of events; and yet, so few people recognize this influence and, as a result, so many fail to seize the opportunity it presents to create success.

The Role of Filters 

To fully appreciate the power of this Fundamental, we need to first take a closer look at the way in which “filters” influence our perceptions. When I use the word “filter,” I’m referring to a conceptual device that alters the way in which we receive sensory data. For example, when we put on a pair of eyeglasses, the lenses alter the way in which our eyes see objects, which then alters the way our brain processes the images and how we perceive the world around us. But this notion is not limited to just our vision.

We also have filters in how we listen. While our listening filters are created in our minds and may not be physical, they have the very same role in influencing our perceptions as does a pair of eyeglasses. Let me show you a couple of examples to illustrate what I mean.

Imagine that you attend a lecture on economics presented by the head of the Economics Department at Princeton University. In the introduction, you learn that he has a PhD from Harvard, has published nine books, has been an advisor to two Presidents, and has won a Nobel Prize for his work. What influence do you think the knowledge of his credentials has on how you hear his message? Undoubtedly, your perception of his credibility is likely to cause you to believe much of what he says.

But now let’s change the scenario just a bit. Suppose you see this very same man, shabbily dressed, standing on a milk crate in New York City’s Central Park with a megaphone in his hand, proclaiming his theories about what’s happening to our economy. The words that come from his mouth may be identical, but the way you process them and the validity you assign to them would be entirely different!

How about this one? Let’s suppose that your son is a good high school baseball player, wanting to improve. Your neighbor, who’s been coaching Little League for years, offers to give him some pointers about batting. How might your perception of his advice be different if you learned that he was a former major league ballplayer? Can you see the role that your filter plays in influencing how you perceive the very same information?

Here’s the key point I want you to see. Once we recognize that we all have filters and acknowledge the role these filters play, we can begin to see how what we believe to be true in a situation may not be the only way of seeing it. In fact, if we choose to use a different filter, we might actually see the entire situation in a different light.

Read the reviews!

“30 years of helping hundreds of entrepreneurs build successful companies has taught me that great cultures don’t just happen.  They’re built, like cathedrals, block by block.  This book is as good a blueprint as you’ll find anywhere.  David Friedman has not only done it, but he has a unique gift for explaining just how you can do it as well.” 

–  Carter Schelling, Creator of “The Market Leader Strategy” seminar on DVD

Fundamentally Different gives us the straightforward rules that guided Friedman’s company to extraordinary excellence and results.  I am inspired by his ideas and methods and plan to adopt them at my company.  Friedman belongs with Tom Peters and Stephen Covey as “must read” business authors.”

– J. Mark Baiada, Founder/President, Bayada Nurses

Fundamentally Different is just that—different from the countless books I’ve read over a career in leadership spanning four decades.  David Friedman manages to cut through the theoretical and deliver practical, easy to understand principles for building a winning team.  Fundamentally Different should be required reading for all leaders.”

– Edward J. Damm, Chairman of the Board, ACCU Staffing Services

How does a philosophy major with virtually no finance, marketing, or management education go on to become an award-winning business leader?

To understand that, you have to understand David Friedman’s approach to life. While he’s always been known for his discipline and his relentless work ethic, what sets David apart, more than anything, is his curiosity and his philosophical nature.  He’s a student of business, and of life.  Quite simply, he’s a thinker.  And that thoughtfulness has influenced his entire career.

“I never felt my lack of formal business education was a limitation,” says David.  “I always thought of it as an asset.  Not being saddled with traditional thinking, at every stage of my career I felt free to follow my instincts – even when it led to what some might consider to be unconventional approaches.”

From the beginning, David saw RSI not as an insurance agency, but as a generic customer service business.  He was curious to learn what made a service organization great and he was quick to apply what he was discovering.  Under David’s leadership, RSI became the standard by which not only other insurance agencies were measured, but service companies in other industries as well.

He also became fascinated by leadership and organizational development.  From Open Book Management to The Collaborative Way, David developed a deep appreciation for the power of organizational culture.  While he may have had an instinctual knack for leadership, it was his philosophical nature that prompted him to search for underlying principles he could more easily teach to those around him.

In fact, David is a natural teacher.  He has a remarkable ability to explain even the most difficult concepts in ways that anyone can easily understand.  Ever the philosopher, David not only sees the subtleties and nuances of complex issues, but he has a true gift for communicating his insights with amazing clarity.  His recent book, Fundamentally Different, is perhaps the greatest testament to this gift.  As you read it or listen to it, you’ll no doubt see both the philosopher and the teacher at his best.

Visit the author online at www.djfriedman.com or www.Fundamentally-Different.com. You’ll find his blog at http://djfriedman.com/blog/.

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