Confessions of a Radical Industrialist

Confessions-ray-c-andersonRay Anderson is one of the most prominent business leaders in the country and his story is incredible.  Growing up, he learned to grit it out on the football field and in the classroom.  Several years later, he applied those lessons to start Interface, the world’s largest manufacturer of modular carpets.  Now, in his new book, Confessions of a Radical Industrialist, which was released late last week, Anderson challenges the business community to share a goal he set for his company: to take nothing from the earth that cannot be replaced by the earth.

If you’ve read Anderson’s previous book, Mid-course Correction, you know his story.  Anderson was tasked with giving a speech about sustainability and really didn’t have much to say.  At the same time, someone had placed a copy of Paul Hawken’s widely influential The Ecology of Commerce on his desk.  In reading this book, Anderson was hit with the magnitude of the challenge facing business.  He was also excited by the opportunity.

Since this ecological epiphany, Interface has cut greenhouse gas emissions by 82%, fossil fuel consumption by 60%, and increased sales by 66%.  Interface has doubled earnings and raised profit margins.  It’s not the kind of success story you would expect to hear, especially if you buy into partisan political issues.  What, a business makes money through environmental innovation?

Yes, Interface is successful because it’s moved beyond compliance and into a realm of innovation — something that’s provided a sustainable competitive advantage.  This is the opportunity we all face.  But every company is different and the path to Mount Sustainability may differ from industry to industry.  For this reason, grab a copy of Confessions of a Radical Industrialist, and figure out how this book speaks to you.  Here’s what you can expect:

  • Ch. 1: Mission Zero I
  • Ch. 2: The Power of One Good Question
  • Ch. 3: One Small Digression and Six Lessons
  • Ch. 4: Mountain Climbing
  • Ch. 5: Zero Waste: The First Face of Mount Sustainability
  • Ch. 6: Smokestacks and Other Relics
  • Ch. 7: Plugging into the Sun
  • Ch. 8: Round and Round They Go
  • Ch. 9: Getting out of the Breakdown Lane
  • Ch. 10: The Circle of Influence, or Love on the Factory Floor
  • Ch. 11: The Final Ascent
  • Ch. 12: On Leadership, Programs, and Policies
  • Ch. 13: Science and Skeptics
  • Ch. 14: Awakening the Mind and the Spirit
  • Ch. 15: The Next Ascent
  • Ch. 16: Every Reason for Hope

Confessions of a Radical Industrialist is published by St. Martin’s Press in an initial printing of 100,000 copies.  It’s going to be huge and we’re giving away two copies.  Don’t get left standing at the water cooler not knowing what this book is all about.

Ed. note: the giveaway has successfully concluded.

  • Anonymous

    this guy could be president

  • Justin Jackson

    First saw Ray Anderson on the Corporation ( He seems like a genuine man; his talk at TED was also inspiring.

  • Brian Krueger

    I’m working on starting an online retail company that focuses on green products. I have followed Yvon Chounaird and his success with Patagonia and the demise of Smith and Hawken at the hands of Scotts Turf. Lots of lessons to be learned. I would love to get the perspective of Ray Anderson to add to my knowledge base on the topic. Thanks for all the give aways Preston.

  • Anonymous

    Ray Anderson makes the difficult challenges sound even more difficult and even more challenging.. through thoughtful, graceful and expert personal experience and inspiration. AND.. we can believe his wisdom – as he is a walking/hiking testimonial to innovation, perseverance and success. Mount Sustainability is our greatest prospect – it is a matter of how many peaks are behind it that Ray hasn’t yet answered!

  • Anonymous

    K’m from Atlanta and I’m a LEED AP in the construction business (working for a chemical company!). I’d love to read this book!

  • Anonymous

    He transformed the carpet industry. It’s nice, and still too rare, to see a corporate leader who really gets that it’s so much more than just about quarterly profit.

  • Joe

    Regarding Confessions of a Radical Industrialist….I represent a structural insulated panel manufacturer. In the last year, we have gone to a net-zero waste goal. We have moved from nearly 20% waste to less than 5% waste. As new markets for by-products appear or are found, we hope that we will be able to get to zero waste, the face of Mount Sustainability.

    Keep up the good work. I love your blog.

  • Anonymous

    Tending toward the environment, rather than harming it, can be very valuable to individuals and to societies.

  • Brian McManus

    I look forward to reading your book. I am a late-to-the-table-Michael Crichton-dont believe-in global warming—-CONVERT…and I am looking to go green and become a radical industrialist in the context of my company and my community. I admire the evolution of Interface from the early ’70’s startup to the transformed company it is now. I hope to do same with my company.

    • Preston

      Brian, I highly recommend reading The Ecology of Commerce. It’ll change your mind. The science of climate change is a hot aspect of environmentalism, but the massive destruction and waste of resources, habitats, and the environment in general is kind of hard to realize unless you’re an industrialist or you read something like that book.

  • Anonymous

    It’s really sad that his sustainable position is viewed as “radical” in the corporate world. It just goes to show us how far down the rabbit hole our society has gone…. I would love to read it for no other reason than to somewhat restore my faith in corporate America. LOL

  • Anonymous

    Mid Course was fantastic. Looking forward to Ray’s new read.

    • Preston

      RJTAG, congrats you’re one of the winners in this giveaway. I’ll email you separately to get your address for shipping the book.

  • Shari-Lynn Campbell

    Am adding to my reading list, and very happy to have found your blog on facebook.

  • Anonymous

    It’d be great to add this to the long list of books I have to read!

  • Anonymous

    Looks like another good book!

  • Nathan Maddock

    This is what gets me excited, we can do business and be sustainable. This sounds like it would be a good read.

  • Anonymous

    My company gave me a copy of the Ecology of Commerce. Phenomenal read. Would love to get my hands on his new book!

  • Anonymous

    I’d love to read your book.

  • Anonymous

    I’m excited to read this book! Mark, Boulder, CO

  • Anonymous

    This adoption and success of sustainable practices is a perfect argument to the environmental myth that sustainability is not good for a market economy. A current college student, I frequently hear this myth quoted in the classrooms by students and professor alike. Unfortunately false beliefs and inadequate interest have left few examples of what can be if we dispel the old myths. It is going to take books like this one which give an accurate model of how this can be profitable for every company ( 66% sales profitability). I cannot wait to read this book!

    • Preston

      Ecopacker, congrats you’re one of the winners in this giveaway. I’ll email you separately to get your address for shipping the book.

  • Christian

    I am a young entrepreneur and I hope by the time I have been in the business world as long as Mr. Anderson these business practices will no longer be seen as radical. My hope is sustainability and responsible stewardship will be mainstream and the status quo.

    Thanks for giving some additional attention to Mr. Anderson and his example.

  • Heidi

    Love reading about this “new” way of doing business! And I can’t wait until this is the norm….

  • Anonymous

    I love Green Books!

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