FRESH IDEAS.
HAND-CRAFTED WEEKLY.

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

 

Quick reads, powerful results.

WARNING: These 17 Questions Will Result in Dangerously High Levels of Creativity

What is this thing made of? What’s missing? What was the thinking and context that led to its initial creation? Why did this work in the past? What’s different today? How has the customer’s or user’s (internal or external) needs changed since this was originally conceived? What are the core rules, truisms, traditions or beliefs […]

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Three Little Big Ideas

(1) THE BAD IDEA With so much pressure to discover the perfect idea, we can easily get stuck. Instead, try thinking up the worst ideas you can imagine. Stupid, impractical, illegal, or downright lousy. That’s right, conduct a Bad Idea Brainstorm. After you exhaust your bad thinking, review the list and see if you can […]

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Three Little Big Ideas

(1) FOXCONN OR FENDI? Foxconn, a Taiwanese contract electronics manufacturer, rang up $179 billion in sales last year by a relentless focus on cutting costs and creating huge volumes of non-sexy stuff to sell to other companies. Fendi, on the other hand, is an ultra-luxury brand that hand-makes bespoke apparel, shoes, timepieces and fragrances, selling […]

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Three Little Big Ideas

(1) IDEA CHIPPING When staring down a big problem or opportunity, most of us try to solve the challenge by seeking out a single, gigantic, perfect, silver-bullet solution. But when that idyllic answer doesn’t appear from the heavens, we throw in the towel. Instead of trying to conquer all at once, try Idea Chipping instead. See if you can […]

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Three Little Big Ideas

(1) PLAN Z The great majority of us live our lives playing it pretty safe. Then to be even safer, we craft and scrutinize and ruminate over our Plan B’s – that game plan for what we’ll do if everything goes wrong. Flipping that around, why not also craft a Plan Z? Your Plan Z is […]

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Three Little Big Ideas

(1) THE ALL-AT-ONCE TRAP When tackling a big problem or seizing a juicy opportunity, we instinctively try to solve the challenge with one, gigantic, perfect idea. Problem is, those silver bullets can be elusive and we end up freezing or quitting when perfection fails to magically appear. Instead of the all-at-once approach, try discovering a […]

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The One Question Effective CEOs Ask Themselves Everyday

Jaws dropped last week when readers devoured The Wall Street Journal’s annual CEO compensation report. Despite the pandemic-savaged economy, Paycom Software founder and CEO Chad Richison hauled in a whopping $211 million in 2020. Robert Kotick, CEO of the video game maker Activision Blizzard, came in second place with $155 million, while Regeneron CEO Leonard Schleifer scored $135 million. […]

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Awesome, Dude

Most of us have experienced that chills-down-your spine feeling of awe. The texture of handmade al dente pasta at La Darsena, an outdoor café in the lakefront town of Como, Italy. The dangerous acrobatics of a Cirque du Soleil performance during a hot Montreal summer. For me, seeing my newborn twins—Avi and Tallia—make it through […]

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A New DaVinci Code

I never had a dog growing up. In fact, for years I didn’t really understand what all the fuss was about. Pets seemed messy, expensive and illogical. And then my wife Tia and I found the smallest yorkie you could imagine and I discovered a new partner-in-crime. My little sidekick with a big name… DaVinci. […]

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What Your Brain And Your Lawn Have In Common

When we hear stories about world class creators like Lady Gaga or Lin Manuel-Miranda, or ultra-successful entrepreneurs like Elon Musk or Sara Blakely, we immediately think these people must have some special gift that we normal folk are missing. As if the skies opened for a brief moment and the gods anointed a chosen few […]

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An Open Letter—A Sperm’s Advice on Improving Your Odds

Hi, my name is Samuel J. Sperm Jr. I know you’re hoping to have successful innovation up there, so I figured I’d drop some wisdom. If human conception is the ultimate act of invention, I’m clearly a qualified expert since my entire life’s focus is on that one thing. I don’t play golf, watch reruns, […]

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How a Forced Experiment Led to a Faster Commute

When news of the labor strike broke, commuters were furious. London’s Underground, affectionately known as the “tube”, is the subway system responsible for transporting millions to their destination each day. So when some routes were shut down during the 2014 strike, commuters were forced to find alternative ways to get to work. Since Underground passengers […]

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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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