Business Titan Teaches Art Students How To Be Unreasonable

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Eli Broad, founder of two Fortune 500 companies, offers life lessons in unconventional thinking to graduating students at Otis College of Art and Design.

Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, CA
L.A.'s First Professional Art School - Educating Creative Professionals for Nearly 100 Years

L.A.'s First Professional Art School - Educating Creative Professionals for Nearly 100 Years - Otis College of Art and Design - 9045 Lincoln Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90045 - 310-665-6800

Artists and designers are truly master problem-solvers . . . We need your creative vision, your unconventional thinking, and your unreasonable approach to solve the world’s social, economic, and political challenges.

Civic leader, philanthropist, and art collector, Eli Broad spoke to an audience of over 2000 people, including over 300 young creative professionals and their families, during commencement ceremonies at Otis College of Art and Design. Viewers around the world tuned in from 20 different countries to watch the live video stream. “Civilizations are not remembered by their business leaders, but by their artists,” he said. “You have a different way of looking at the world . . . You enrich our world through your creativity and vision.”

“Artists and designers are truly master problem-solvers,” said Broad. “It’s how you approach every project, client, assignment, or challenge. Apply those same critical skills to the broader world outside your door.”

Admitting he did not remember much about his graduation in 1954; being “so eager to get out into the working world,” Broad offered a quote from the great playwright George Bernard Shaw as his guiding inspiration for over 50 years:

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

Distinguishing between what it means to be artlessly unreasonable and artfully unreasonable, Broad confessed he started out in life artlessly unreasonable, relaying an amusing story of how he was fired from his first job after asking for more money. This experience led him to start his own accounting practice, and in time he came to realize the benefits of his unconventional approach.

Broad emphasized three guiding principals for those wishing to master the art of being unreasonable:

1.    Ask a lot of questions.
2.    Take risks.
3.    Give back.

“The most powerful question is why not?” he said. “That’s what you need to ask when someone tells you it can’t be done. By definition artists and designers are ‘why not’ thinkers. You do what no one else would think to do. You tackle with brutal honesty the social issues of your time.”

Broad underscored his conviction that clinging to safety is more irrational than taking risks, and he urged students to be proud of betting on themselves.

In closing, Mr. Broad stressed how important it is to give back. “You don’t have to have money to give back. You have time, expertise, skills, ideas, and other resources that can serve others . . . We need your creative vision, your unconventional thinking, and your unreasonable approach to solve the world’s social, economic, and political challenges. And I promise you, the more involved you are, the richer the rewards, and the more satisfying your life will be.”

Otis College of Art and Design graduated 285 B.F.A. students and 36 M.F.A. students with expertise in disciplines ranging from Architecture, Graphic Design, Digital Media, Writing and Communication Arts, to Product Design, Toy Design, Fashion Design, and Fine Arts. The 2012 class had the highest number of graduates with honors in the nearly 100-year history of Otis.

Class Marshal, Javier Meabe (Toy Design), has joined Mattel; and Valedictorian, Alexandra Vay (Digital Media), joined Disney Interactive Media Group, where she interned for two summers.

About Otis College of Art and Design
Founded in Los Angeles in 1918, Otis College of Art and Design prepares diverse students of art and design to enrich the world through their creativity, their skill, and their vision. The College offers an interdisciplinary education for 1200 full-time students, awarding BFA degrees in Advertising, Architecture/Landscape/Interiors, Digital Media, Fashion Design, Illustration, Graphic Design, Product Design, Painting, Photography, Sculpture/New Genres, and Toy Design; and MFA degrees in Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Public Practice, and Writing. Continuing Education offers certificate programs as well as personal and professional development courses. Additional information is available at http://www.otis.edu.

“The Art of Being Unreasonable,” by Eli Broad, is available in print or e-book formats at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and 800ceoread.

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John Axtell, Media Relations
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