FRESH IDEAS.
HAND-CRAFTED WEEKLY.

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

 

Quick reads, powerful results.

A Five-Minute Morning Ritual to Radically Boost Your Creativity

These days, there are more tips for your morning routine than there are menu items at your local diner (I’ll take the artisanal, gluten-free, low-carb, egg white and seared free-range, low-sodium pomegranate frittata sandwich, please). Rituals to boost your energy, metabolic health, mindfulness, and peak performance abound, but could you also set up your day […]

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Busting the Five Myths of Creativity

Mention the word creativity, and people begin to squirm in their chairs. The very thought can prompt anxiety, fear, and doubt — even in the most accomplished professionals. At the same time, we know that innovation is mission-critical in these disruptive times. As many competitive advantages of the past have become automated or outsourced, creative problem solving and […]

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Overpromise

We’ve heard it a hundred times. “Under-promise, and over-deliver.” It’s one of those truisms that appears indisputable, right up with “the customer is always right” and “the early bird gets the worm.” But as one who enjoys balking traditional approaches, I respectfully disagree. To me, this false wisdom encourages mediocrity. It grants permission to make […]

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The Math of Worrying

Think about how much time you spend fretting about what might happen.  Those deer-in-the-headlights moments are not only agonizing but they are profoundly unproductive. With each minute you spend in a state of worry, you’re robbing yourself of the opportunity to contribute to your own success and the world around you. The funny thing about […]

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The 7 Sins of Mediocrity

Since ancient times, we’ve been fascinated with the seven deadly sins that lead people astray. Gluttony, greed, and lust (among others) have certainly been the downfall of many. But lurking in the shadows lie traps just as sinister. While less overtly treacherous, these sins befall most of us at various times in our lives. They […]

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The Anatomy of an Idea

We often think of human creativity as an act of wizardry; a mythical talent bestowed upon a select few directly from the heavens. But I prefer a more scientistic approach. Instead of waiting around for a lightning bolt of creative genius, let’s dissect an idea in the same way you dissected that formaldehyde-soaked toad in […]

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39 Quotes on Innovation, Creativity, and Performance

As we work to learn, grow, and thrive, let’s learn from the legends. Here are 39 of my favorite quotations from the giants of business, art, music, and innovation. I hope you guzzle and share these powerful nuggets of wisdom…

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Becoming Backable

Getting someone to take a chance on you is one of the most important steps to achieving success in both business and life. Yet mastering the art of persuasion is often overlooked and misunderstood. Alexander Fleming, the inventor of penicillin, was especially bad at communicating his discovery, despite it being one of the most important […]

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How Tiny Bubbles Led to a $28 Billion Cost Savings

Each year, over 50,000 large vessels travel the oceans to move people and cargo through the turbulent seas. While a solid ship gliding through malleable water should be… well… smooth sailing, it turns out that intersection between vessel and water is anything but smooth. As the giant metal structures plow through the ocean, friction and […]

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This Dish Isn’t Very Good

As consumers, we’re besieged with puffery. Brands shout at us, boasting they have New York’s #1 pizza, the world’s best coffee, America’s favorite car, or the best blue jeans in the universe. But these hollow claims fall flat with our exceptionally well-developed BS detectors. In sharp contrast, one creative restaurateur took the opposite approach. The […]

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What Everyday Innovators Can Learn From Fresh Salsa

Words like ‘innovation’ and ‘disruption’ can feel overwhelming and out of reach. Too often, we think an idea must change the world or have a billion-dollar value in order to count. Instead of establishing an impossibly high minimum threshold, let’s think of innovation more like fresh, delicious salsa: mild, medium, and spicy. A flavor option […]

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Innovation Swapping

Behind only water, concrete is the second-most used material on our planet. It’s low cost, durable, and beneficial in a variety of construction applications. As our population continues to swell, demand is expected to skyrocket. But there’s a problem. As useful as concrete may be, the production of this sturdy material is responsible for eight […]

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Boost Results With Rule 105

In our professional lives, our days consist of delivering value in one form or another. Depending on your craft, your deliverables may take the form of a research report, sales presentation, prospecting outreach, email response, customer interaction, financial model or legal brief. Or maybe you build handmade wooden furniture, corned beef sandwiches, or industrial drill […]

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What We Can Learn From The Relics of the Past

I tend to get reflective at the start of each new year. I was thinking how different our lives were just 10 years ago, and those differences were striking: Ten years ago, we still thought Zoom was a verb. Plastic straws seemed totally fine, and teenagers smoked instead of vaped. There was no DoorDash, Shipt, GrubHub […]

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Let It Go

Queen Elsa, the lead character in Disney’s smash hit Frozen, was haunted by her past. As the plot unfolds, she gains the courage to let go of her previously held beliefs in order to break free and discover her true self, culminating in one of the movie’s most memorable songs, Let it Go. As we enter 2021, […]

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The Innovative Connection Between a Children’s Hospital and the Ferrari F-1 Pit Crew

The Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children is one of London’s most respected healthcare institutions. Despite their long history of success, hospital leaders wanted to explore new ways to improve patient safety and decrease medical errors. In their efforts to deliver the best possible outcomes, they turned to a surprising source of inspiration. It turns […]

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A Powerful Lesson from Netflix’s ‘Queen’s Gambit’

One of the few truly great things to come from the Pandemic Age is Netflix’s incredible new mini-series, The Queen’s Gambit. The show tells the story of Beth Harmon (brilliantly portrayed by actress Anya Taylor-Joy), who transforms from orphan to world champion chess master. The binge-worthy show was so gripping that within four weeks, it had […]

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What Yoda Got Wrong

One of the most famous quotations cited ad nauseam by business leaders, parents, and gym teachers happens to be dead wrong. Yoda, the sage Jedi master, professes thoughtful and inspired wisdom and is admired by millions as a limitless source of meaningful insights. In fact, some of his quotations are among my all-time favorites including: “Truly wonder, the […]

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Getting in Alignment

This past week, I began a four-month endeavor. Regrettably, it isn’t a grand effort to combat climate change or eradicate social injustice. Like millions of others, I decided to use modern technology to align my teeth with the hopes of improving my slightly crooked smile and boosting dental health. The aligner company’s process has me wearing plastic aligners […]

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A Tale Of Two Unusual Words

From juicy gossip to salacious reality TV shows to our combative political landscape, some strangely take pleasure in other people’s misfortune. For some reason, we might feel better when others miss the mark. This childish emotion is known as schadenfreude, a German word that Merriam-Webster defines as “enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others.” The root cause […]

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You’re More Creative Than You Think

In a recent experiment at the University of Sydney in Australia, neuroscientists gave 128 volunteers a puzzle to solve that can only be conquered with creativity. The subjects were asked to connect nine dots, arranged in three rows of three, using just four straight lines and without lifting their pens. This is a classic creativity […]

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Eat Your Popcorn with Chopsticks

We effortlessly perform the same morning ritual – rushing the kids off to school, gulping down the usual coffee, taking the standard route to work. When visiting our favorite restaurants, we gravitate toward the same menu items instead of trying something new. We listen to our favorite musical artists on repeat and then binge-watch our […]

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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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