FRESH IDEAS.
HAND-CRAFTED WEEKLY.

Inspiring thoughts on innovation, growth, leadership,
creativity, transformation, and disruption.

 

Quick reads, powerful results.

Spike with Creativity and the Results Will Make You Tipsy

Melissa Tavss grew up in the ice cream business. Her family had been making gelato for years, first in Italy and later in the U.S. It was possible to eke out a living selling traditional ice cream in the old country, but the modern competitive landscape was giving Melissa some major heartburn. How could she […]

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A Lesson That Both Presidential Candidates Should Embrace

In the most polarized and combative election season in modern history, it’s easy to get jaded. As the insults fly, the parties and candidates spend their efforts vilifying each other rather than searching for common ground. Out with decorum, in with a street brawl. Unfortunately, both sides remain focused on the bad in one another. […]

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Think Outside The Pool

Fiona Fairhurst was facing a challenge. The competitive swimmer was in charge of Speedo’s R&D division and charged with inventing a new swimsuit for Olympic athletes to help them win in their ultra-competitive sport. Prevailing wisdom at that time was to make swimsuits as small and smooth as possible. If you’ve ever seen the cringe-worthy dad […]

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Change One Word To Boost Creativity

We’ve all suffered through the misery of a typical brainstorm session. Flat, mediocre ideas tend to carry the day as the breakthroughs remain elusive. An incremental idea here. An obvious cliché idea there. Short on inspiration, the suggestions lack originality and potency. The culprit of bad brainstorm sessions is the deadly cocktail of fear mixed […]

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Exactly What We Need

Last night, I read a wonderful story to my four-year-old twins, Avi and Tallia. The book, Caps for Sale and the Mindful Monkeys by Esphyr Slobodkina, tells the story of a peddler who ends up with 16 unwanted monkeys in his backyard. After complaining that the monkeys won’t go away, the peddler’s friend Essie provides sage advice: […]

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The Frogger Principle

Charles married Diana, the Iran hostage crisis ended, and the Post-It note was born. But the thing about 1981 that I’ll remember most: Frogger. One month before my 11th birthday, the iconic arcade game came to life and I was hooked. Often blowing off homework, friends, food, and semi-regular bathing, Frogger was my compulsion. Despite graphics that […]

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The Unusual Suspects

London’s Savile Row is a historic street that’s home to many of the world’s finest suit makers. For over 200 years, discerning gentlemen travel from around the world to order handmade suits and clothing from expert tailors on this famous street. It’s been a boys’-only club for generations…until now. Enter Phoebe Gormley who decided to […]

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Are We Living Through Horrible Times? Maybe.

To say we’re living in a strange era would be an understatement akin to saying Amazon is just an online retailer. This week alone we witnessed a massive hurricane, devastating wildfires, the unyielding pandemic, pervasive racism that spurred civil unrest, protests from professional athletes, and economic uncertainty. To top it off, we’ve experienced the most […]

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The Economics of Originality

Several original works by Picasso, van Gogh, Cezanne and Renoir are worth more than $100 million each and continue to appreciate at a rapid pace. “Salvator Mundi,” a 600-year-old painting by Leonardo da Vinci, sold for $450 million in 2017, making it the highest amount paid for a painting in history. Collectors appreciate the artistry and groundbreaking […]

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The Creative Secret of Jazz Musicians

Jazz legends like Miles Davis and Charlie Parker are known for their stunning solos, which appear to be individual acts of artistry. The Picassos of their craft, we envision the creative process to be a lonely one. Yet even the greatest jazz musicians develop their ideas in a collaborative process, co-creating their works of art […]

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The Next 20 Feet

Driving your car through a dense morning fog, your visibility is about the same as trying to read a textbook through wax paper. Even with your fancy LED fog lights, the intersection that’s less than a block away is nothing more than an opaque blur. In this scenario, just like in life, you have a […]

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The One Year Test

In stressful times, it’s easy to get derailed by matters that might be viewed as trivial under ordinary circumstances. A colleague shows up late to a Zoom call, the client changes her mind mid-stream, the boss unleashes an unnecessary rant. These infractions can dampen our work productivity on a normal day, but their impact can […]

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You Can’t Cut Your Own Hair

Scott Cunha, the celebrity stylist for Kendall Jenner and Nicole Richie, doesn’t cut his own hair. Neither does Kiyah Wright, the two-time Emmy award-winning stylist whose clients include Tyra Banks and Jennifer Hudson. Mara Roszak cuts for Emma Stone, Olivia Wilde, and Brie Larson, but not for herself. The physical mechanics of a haircut make […]

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Instead of your glass half-full, try it completely empty

“If you view the glass as half-full, you’re an optimist,” the old saying goes. “But if you see it half-empty, you’re a flat-out pessimist.” We take this metaphor to be a truism, pushing ourselves to see our cups as full as possible. But what if we’d be better off with a completely empty cup? It […]

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Where’s Your What-If?

Spending a good chunk of my days researching human creativity, I landed on a strange phenomenon. What-if questions, one of the hallmark techniques of innovation, can also serve to extinguish imagination depending on where they are used. Oddly, the same framework can both ignite creativity or quell it, subject to where it is placed in the invention […]

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The Often-Overlooked Step That Can Boost the Quality of Your Work

We generally think that a great work product – especially an artistic effort – is imagined, conceived, and launched simultaneously. But the notion that a single, smart idea can immediately turn into a brilliant final version has the same logic flaw of a newborn baby popping out of the womb with a college degree. In fact, one of […]

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Random Acts of Creativity

It turns out, this past Saturday was National Creativity Day. Who knew? While I think it’s terrific that we have a holiday to celebrate the universal human gift of imagination, it made me think that everyday should really be National Creativity Day. We’ve been led to believe that for something to count as creative, it […]

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In Case of Emergency, Break Glass

As each day of economic free fall continues, many of us are struggling to figure out what to do next. Whole industries such as professional sports, corporate conventions, and vacation travel have been frozen in time with no full thaw in sight. There are certainly some of us that need to embrace the most dramatic […]

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How a Llama Could Conquer COVID-19

As frustration continues and economic fallout mounts, we’re all getting stir crazy. When will our normal lives resume? How will our economy recover? What will be the long-term fallout of coronavirus? How soon can we expect a vaccine? World leaders and scientists scramble to answer these questions while billions of people wait, lives on hold. Nearly every laboratory on the […]

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Redefine These 8 Words to Reimagine Your Future

Too often, the words we use tell a hidden – an incorrect – story. Certain words are loaded with preconceptions that may inhibit our ability to win, grow, and thrive. Nine such words have long bothered me, having witnessed their ability to block potential and dampen enthusiasm. Let’s look at these eight trigger words, and explore how […]

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The Ultimate Customer Experience

With glimpses of hope that our economy will reopen in the coming months, it’s time to start thinking about our businesses in a post-pandemic landscape. How will the world change? How will your industry be different? How will you adapt to the new circumstances? The sheer volume of unknowns can feel overwhelming, making it difficult to even […]

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How One Musician Used a Quarantine to Become a Legend

When first hitting the scene, the now legendary Charlie “Yardbird” Parker was described as mediocre at best. His music seemed undisciplined, out of control, and fraught with mistakes. Like most musicians, Parker practiced regularly but was struggling to achieve major improvements in his playing. How, then, did Charlie Parker become the master that we celebrate today? The change […]

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How to Avoid Negative Thoughts During a Crisis

Stuck in COVID-19 isolation, it’s easy to veer into the deep end of negative thoughts. Many of us are dealing with profound, real-world challenges such as job loss, health crises, and protecting our children. The reality of the situation is difficult enough, but when we allow widespread fear and negativity to enter the picture, the […]

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How Innovation is Becoming the Cure for COVID-19

These days, I often wake up thinking it was all a dream. But by the first scan of the morning’s headlines, I realize we’re still in the zombie horror movie known as coronavirus. Just like in most low-budget cult flicks, an unlikely hero is emerging who will conquer the threat and safe the day. Her name: […]

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Can Quarantines be Productive? What to do During a Crisis.

Just before every flight departs, the safety announcement offers a specific instruction: “In the event of an emergency, please secure your own oxygen mask before helping others.” We’ve heard it so many times that we tend to tune it out, but this advice can be helpful to us all during the COVID-19 crisis. We must first […]

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A 3-Step Formula to Perfectly Communicate Your Value to Customers

As business leaders, we’re often faced with the challenge of explaining what we do. It could be in a casual setting like a dinner party, or a more formal sales presentation to that big new potential account. The problem is, most of us get it all wrong. We tend to explain what we do in the […]

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Don’t Be Afraid to Get a Little Crazy

We’re often told to follow the rules, do what we’re told, and for goodness sake, don’t make waves. But in today’s hyper-competitive economy, isn’t that a surefire path to mediocrity? Look at those that we celebrate – from Thomas Edison to Elon Musk; from Sheryl Sandberg to Tony Robbins. The ones that make history have […]

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If You Want Growth, Your Company Must Have These Three Non-Traditional Roles

From the local barbershop to the giant, multinational corporation, businesses of all shapes and sizes desperately want one thing: growth. Regardless of industry, geography, or scale, a company’s ability to grow is directly linked to the inherent enterprise value. In working closely with organizations around the world, I’ve noticed that the ones who really savor […]

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7 Surprising Things That Ultra-Successful People Don’t Do

There’s been plenty written about the habits of highly successful people. They set goals and they follow through. They learn and listen. We get it. But what do the most successful people avoid? From celebrity entrepreneurs to captains of industry, here are seven surprising things that top achievers prefer to skip: Don’t have a Plan […]

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How To Master Any Skill

No one represents mastery more than Pablo Picasso. His masterpiece Women of Algiers sold at auction in New York for over $179 million in 2015, shattering all previous records. His most famous works are instantly recognizable, and he pioneered several styles and genres of modern art throughout his prolific career. We think of Picasso’s creative […]

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