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Thank You for Being Late summary

Thomas L. Friedman

An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations

4 (41 ratings)
14 mins

Brief summary

In Thank You for Being Late, Thomas L. Friedman explores how our world is changing with rapid advances in technology, globalization, and climate change. He urges us to take the time to pause, reflect, and adapt in order to keep up with these shifts and create a more resilient future.

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    Thank You for Being Late
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    The age of acceleration began in 2007, launching an era of constant adaptation.

    Do you remember what 2007 was like? You might not have realized it, but that year was a turning point in human history. In fact, a great disruption occurred in 2007, in which three accelerating forces – technology, markets and climate change – all ramped up.

    By way of example, 2007 was the year the iPhone hit shelves, when Twitter reached a global scale and when Airbnb was created in a San Francisco apartment. Not only that, but from January 2007 to December 2014, mobile data traffic through AT&T’s national wireless network rose by over 100,000 percent!

    A useful theory to explain this remarkable transformation is Moore’s Law, which holds that the processing power of microchips will double approximately every two years, a  truly astounding rate of growth.

    In 2007, the technological acceleration described by Moore’s law contributed to, and coincided with, accelerations in the market, evidenced by increased global commerce, rapidly growing social networks and an information tsunami. At the same time, mother nature was experiencing an acceleration in the form of climate change and population explosions.

    So, what does that all mean for life on Earth?

    Put simply, it means that this is a time of constant adaptation. If prior epochs of history were characterized by occasional destabilization, the modern world is one of near-constant destabilization; humans must constantly reevaluate their ecosystem, remaining agile in order to adapt to a rapidly changing world.

    That doesn’t mean you can’t attain stability in today’s world. But rather than a static stability, you can expect a dynamic stability, like the one you experience while riding a bike. It’s not the kind of stability that lets you stand still, but it will keep you afloat if you stay in motion.

    It sounds tough, and living in this state will require adaptation – but while it may not be natural, it’s the reality humans now face. In the blinks that follow, you’ll learn more about the specific forms of accelerations at hand and how you can keep pace in a world that’s moving faster than ever.

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    What is Thank You for Being Late about?

    Thank You for Being Late (2016) is all about acceleration – of the economy, of technology and of our environment. These blinks explain why the world is moving at an increasingly rapid pace, outlining the dangers this trend can bring as well as what we stand to gain from it.

    Best quote from Thank You for Being Late

    In a poll conducted by the Boston Consulting Group in 2015, 38 percent of respondents said they would rather give up sex for a year than give up their mobile phone.

    —Thomas L. Friedman
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    Who should read Thank You for Being Late?

    • Global citizens and leaders
    • Students of political science, economics and media
    • Anyone concerned about the where the world is heading

    About the Author

    Thomas L. Friedman is a reporter, columnist and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner. He is currently a foreign affairs columnist for the New York Times and is the author of such other books as From Beirut to Jerusalem, The Lexus and the Olive Tree and The World Is Flat. 

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