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In Pursuit of Elegance

Do you ever get the feeling something is missing? In the best instances, it often is.

"Grand elegance comes not out of control, but from chaos," said Matthew May when I spoke to him about his amazing new book, In Pursuit of Elegance: Why the Best Ideas Have Something Missing. 

It goes on sale May 19.  Get your copy as soon as it hits the e-shelves of Amazon. Not only is it a beautiful string of stories leading from one provocative insight to the next, but also Matt has some profound contributions to the way we think about life, the world around us. 

There are lessons in this book for anyone who is seeking to innovate in today's crucible of economic distress. Drawing on the wisdom of a wide array of professionals May lays out principles that are immediately applicable to current challenges. The collection of minds he exposes us to, through his own experience, is as remarkable as it is useful, from a neuropsychiatrist specializing in how to unlock debilitating brain patterns to a famous visual artist known for his particularly satisfying renditions of random spills, from a traffic-investigator and engineer to the CEO of a manufacturing company who runs his organization without structural hierarchy. One has the feeling that May is introducing us to the future through an entertaining and educational theme park of ideas.

In Pursuit of Elegance is wonderfully readable. Matt has organized elegance around four simple principles and elaborated on each in ways that stimulate the mind. I picked up the book on a Monday evening and each night I supped on a single chapter, marveling at how Matt lifts the covers to reveal the under workings of elegance. By Friday I was looking at the world through new lenses.

Part of the pleasure is how he puts every day life under the microscope and comes up with eye-opening gems that penetrate the mystery of common experience: why the last episode of the Sopranos was one of the most discussed events in television history, what about the iPhone makes it so attractive, why Sudoku is habit-forming.  We all want to know these things, even if we didn't realize it until we began reading the stories. Once started, you can't let up.

So, here you have a tour of new ideas just in time to help us see new patterns and figure out how to wring elegant solutions from the grand mess we are in. Buy a copy for yourself and then some. Send 100 copies to Wall Street, 1000 to Main Street, 635 to Congress and one to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, DC.

- Seth Kahan, Visionary Leadership