What Would MacGyver Do?

In the late 1980s, millions of us tuned in to witness Angus MacGyver’s ability to always find a creative way to get out of a jam.

Regularly finding himself in an impossible life-or-death situation, he managed to come out on top through grit and resourcefulness. Instead of panicking, he’d simply figure out a way to solve the complex problem with the limited resources at his disposal, often relying on the bare necessities — duct tape and his trusty Swiss army knife.

MacGyver’s ability to conquer tough obstacles by improvising and being scrappy led the creative founder of Method — the cleaning products company with the motto of “people against dirty” — to embrace his ingenuity as one of their five core cultural philosophies.


The phrase “What would MacGyver do?” serves as a guidepost for decision-making and helped the company rocket to more than $100 million in revenue. The saying also has been embraced by others, with T-shirts and signs readily available for sale online.

Having worked with nearly 100 start-ups throughout my career, I see a consistent pattern. In the incredibly challenging process of building something out of nothing, entrepreneurs are delivered more obstacles, brick walls and setbacks than you can imagine. The difference-maker between the ones who flourish and the ones who wilt is raw, gritty determination. It’s a refusal to accept barriers combined with the creativity to figure it out.

In your business or career, you’re likely facing big challenges, too. The landscape only continues to become more competitive and complex each day. Instead of succumbing to these roadblocks, put yourself in MacGyver’s shoes. How would he tackle the challenge at hand? How would he use the limited resources at his disposal to figure out a solution instead of licking the wounds of defeat?

It doesn’t take a superhero or fictitious TV character to be resourceful. Each of us has the ability to inject this same creative problem solving into our own lives.

Often the most powerful solutions come not from an abundance of money, time, people and other resources, but from a fresh, imaginative approach that developed from being resource-constrained. Worry less about what you don’t have, and instead use the tools currently available to give your challenges a smackdown.

The next time you’re facing an overwhelming obstacle, MacGyver it! It’s certainly better than getting MacGyvered yourself by the competition.