FRESH IDEAS, HAND-CRAFTED WEEKLY

Inspiring thoughts on innovation, growth, leadership, creativity, transformation, and disruption. Quick reads, powerful results.

When We Stop Doing The Things That Made Us Great

Last weekend, I went to one of Detroit’s most celebrated Italian restaurants. I’d been years ago and anticipated the same exquisite experience. Known for their impeccable service and inspired dishes, I was expecting them to nail every detail like they had in the past. Yet the very things that made them successful had obviously been […]

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The Hard Part

Whether you are running a startup, building a relationship, or rebuilding a community, there’s an easy part and a hard part. One requires less work in the moment while the other unlocks the potential of your efforts and concurrently is your playground for personal growth. Those comfortable things that require little thinking, risk, or effort […]

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You’re Always Auditioning

Think how you shined during the interview where landed you your job. You were prepared to impress, fully engaged, and leaning forward with enthusiasm. Acutely aware that you were being evaluated, you made sure your answers were crisp and your questions were thoughtful. Simply put, you were ON. Unfortunately, that moment is the brightest some […]

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One Word That Will Change Your Entire Outlook

As busy people, we often sprint from one obligation to the next. The mandatory client meeting, the business lunch, the kid’s soccer game… all while keeping your seven social media streams up to date, your boss happy, and your family fed. In the modern age, we can feel overwhelmed with all the things we just […]

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Making Mistakes

In school, we’re taught that mistakes should be avoided at all costs. We learn that getting something wrong somehow means that we’re wrong as a human beings, that each mistake translates to a lower self-worth score. These dreaded slip-ups can be so hurtful that we learn to recoil from the very thought of stumbling, much […]

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The Mother of Dragons

Spoiler Alert! (if you haven’t caught up on GOT, stop reading and JUMP to “SPOILER START” below) Wow. How incredible that the woman who built her career on kindness and empathy turned every heartfelt follower to ash this week. The power of the loyalty that she built was, prior to this week, unstoppable. Her motives […]

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The Last 10%

I was nearing the end of my three-mile run (I’m no marathon candidate), and was feeling awful. Tired, hot, sore, and ready to throw in the towel. Looking at the fitness app on my phone, I realized that I only had 10% remaining. As much as I wanted to quit, I forged ahead and completed […]

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Leadership Lessons from the Most Feared Jazz Song Ever Written

Ask any jazz aficionado about the most challenging jazz standard ever written, and you’ll likely get a knowing smile followed by two simple words: Giant Steps. The tune, composed and performed by legendary saxophone genius John Coltrane, has sent chills down the spines of would-be performers since its release nearly 60 years ago. Performed at […]

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How Google Kills Ideas to Drive Killer Innovation

According to its tombstone, Trendalyzer was a data trend viewing platform that lived a happy life from 2007-2017. Latitude, a location-aware feature of Google Maps, was just over 4 years old before it was euthanized in 2013. Fabric, a platform that helped mobile teams build better apps, was sentenced to death after only one month […]

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Nine Simple Pre-Game Questions to Maximize Business Results

There’s an old saying in the boxing world: “Champions don’t become champions in the ring, they are merely recognized there.” The implication, of course, is that hard work, day after day, in the cold gym is what enables a fighter to win. This makes sense in many areas of life. “Sweat more in practice, bleed […]

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Lifelong Kindergarten

Peeking into a typical kindergarten classroom, you’ll see a vibrant setting of creativity and collaboration. The colorful setting is messy, playful, and expressive as students smile with delight and their imaginations run free. Unfortunately, the creative wonder we experience as small children often declines in each subsequent year as we confront the world’s difficulties. It’s […]

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Is Your Work Environment a Greenhouse or a Prison?

A friend of mine’s passion is growing orchids. We’re talking perfect, exotic, contest-winning orchids. To get the best results, she does her work in a greenhouse. An environment that is perfectly situated to maximize growth. It fosters the ideal conditions for the natural act of creation. It’s pretty obvious that orchids grow better in a […]

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11 Leadership Lessons from Jazz Musicians

For over 40 years, I’ve proudly worn the title of jazz guitarist. Deeply passionate about the art form, I performed my way through college and continue to savor the delicious melodies of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Dizzy Gillespie. Ironically it was jazz – not B-school – that gave me the foundation to win in […]

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You’re Always Interviewing

You hardly slept the night before and arrived to the meeting 25 minutes early. You were wearing your favorite outfit and were fully prepared to put your best foot forward. No, I’m not talking about your first date, but rather that job interview that landed you your gig. Think about how you were fully present, […]

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Plant Seeds. Protect Saplings.

The mighty redwood grows to over 350 feet tall and can live 2,500 years. Like every tree, even the gigantic redwood begins as a sapling. In the redwood’s case, that sapling may take up to 400 years before it reaches its true potential. Imagine the impatient landowner, scoffing at a puny redwood sapling after only […]

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Reimagine

Ayal Lanternari was facing the same angst and frustration that millions of other parents endure. His infant son was crying for food in the middle of the night, creating an agonizing moment for both dad and child while the bottle was heating to the proper temperature. Since baby milk can’t be microwaved or heated directly […]

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Fender Guitar’s Rules of Groundbreaking Innovation

Since Leo Fender started making guitars back in 1946, the Fender name has become synonymous with musical innovation. The iconic brand has outfitted countless music legends with their precious axes, and has set the standard with instantly recognizable inventions including the Stratocaster, Telecaster, and Jazzmaster. Today, Fender is the largest guitar manufacturer in the world. So why […]

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Do It Anyway

Born in 1914 in Austria, actress Hedy Lamarr was the personification of glamor. Discovered for her beauty in her teens, she dazzled audiences from the silver screen for decades. At 19, she raised eyebrows by doing what is believed to be one of the first nude sex scenes in a movie. The film was banned […]

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Why a Culture of Innovation is the Only Path to Sustainable Growth and Success

You’ve fine-tuned your processes, extracted every drop of cost from the system, and are meeting basic customer needs. In the previous era of business, strict managerial controls may have been enough, but today running a tight ship is table stakes. If we’re honest with ourselves, business as usual likely poses an existential threat – sooner […]

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The 14 Rules of History-Making Teams

It’s often been said that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” The notion is that the belief system – or core operating principles – of an organization are what matters most at the ground level. These core beliefs guide everyday decision-making, behavior, and responses to challenges. Clearly defined core values permeate every corner of a company, […]

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Lady Gaga’s First Song; Picasso’s First Painting

At the age of four, Lady Gaga wasn’t bringing down the house for 30,000 roaring fans. In fact, Stefani Germanotta didn’t even become the Gaga we know until she’d studied and practiced music for years. Just like every other kid who picks up an instrument, she took up piano and plunked out an uneven version […]

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Skip the Resolution; Go With a New Year’s Theme instead

The last week of December marks the creation of uncountable New Year’s resolutions. By the end of next month, however, the vast majority will be broken. So many of us resolve to change, only to have those commitments meet an untimely death. A single, small temptation can lead us astray, causing us to conclude that […]

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The Tyranny of Good Enough

Your chicken salad sandwich wasn’t bad, really. It was ‘good enough.’ The service wasn’t speedy, but also wasn’t horribly slow. It was just good enough. The environment was a bit messy and a tad dirty, but didn’t justify a call to the Health Department. “I guess it was good enough,” you mutter as you leave […]

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The Power of Surprise and Delight

Following the polite knock on my hotel room door, I was stunned. “Just a little something to welcome you to our hotel,” said the smiling and well-appointed young man as he placed it down on the desk in my room. The beautiful display included a chocolate guitar, hand-dipped strawberries, and a few other candies. Along […]

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Heads Down vs. Heads Up

We’ve all heard people in the business world proclaim that they are “heads down” on a project. Or that they are unable to explore new opportunities since they are “heads down in execution mode.” Consider, for a moment, the advantages of being “heads up” instead. Let’s compare the two states of being: Heads Down Focused […]

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Setbacks: Game Over or Game On?

What do Oprah Winfrey, Mick Jagger, and Jeff Bezos have in common? They are all incredibly successful, true, but they also have each suffered more than their share of knockdowns. Every great leader – from Gandhi to Galileo, from Beethoven and Zuckerberg – has stumbled. Those that make history also endure adversity. A common quality […]

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A Simple Approach to Boost the Appeal of Your Product or Service

If you have a burning headache, you’ll do whatever it takes to subdue it. If it’s 3:00 am on a cold, snowy night and you are out of pain killers, you’ll bundle up, drive to a 24-hour pharmacy, and desperately pay nearly any cost to alleviate your pain. Vitamins are a different story. They are […]

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What’s Your Firebird?

In 1953, a team of the most creative designers and engineers at General Motors set out to make history. Their task: invent the prototype car of the future. Unlike their mass-production counterparts who focused on streamlined operations, cost control, and maximizing profits, the dreamers on the Firebird project were charged with pushing the boundaries of […]

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Metrics That That Matter

With our national focus on productivity and financial gain, we carefully measure Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and other metrics related to our economic outputs. Yet as our economy remains strong, our nation suffers greatly in other categories. Suicide rates have skyrocketed in recent years, while the opioid crisis has torn apart families and communities. Venom […]

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We’ve Been Banksy’d

The demure art world felt shockwaves over the last week as the dramatic news broke. The mysterious street artist known as Banksy made history when his painted work self-destructed minutes after being purchased for $1.4 million at a Sotheby’s auction. Immediately following the thud of the closing gavel, the audience stood in bewilderment as the […]

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