FRESH IDEAS, HAND-CRAFTED WEEKLY

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

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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What Business Can Learn From Our (Nutty) Political Landscape

If there’s a silver lining in today’s polarizing political landscape, it’s the increase in activism that is sweeping our country. With intensity unseen since the protests of the 1960s, citizens are standing up for their beliefs in record numbers. Marches, protests, and rallies are a daily occurrence, covering issues ranging from gun control to equality […]

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The Honey Badger Mindset of Achievement

The Honey Badger – a hideously ugly, mean, and tough wolverine-like animal – gained fame and notoriety back in 2011 with a viral YouTube video. Narrated by a snarky commentator named Randall, the video called “The Crazy Nasty A** Honey Badger” has now been viewed over 88 million times. Hilarious and share-worthy, you’ve probably already […]

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Two Powerful (and Surprisingly Fun) Brainstorming Techniques

As many of us have realized, traditional brainstorming is a perfectly designed exercise to yield mediocre ideas. Instead of sharing our big, game-changing ideas, we tend to share the obvious, safe, incremental ones instead. The blocker here isn’t raw creativity, but rather the insidious force of fear. As public enemy #1 relating to imagination, the […]

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Back to School

As cash registers speedily ring up #2 pencils and file folders, the back to school craze is officially in high gear. Last minute haircuts, wardrobe enhancements, and new lunchboxes help ring in this time of year when students prepare to learn. New courses, new teachers, new classrooms, new possibility. The back to school ritual signifies […]

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Well-Rounded is Over-Rated

“And the award goes to… the most well-rounded person!” Said no one, ever. Achieving modestly in many areas may be what our middle school principal suggested, but it’s no way to become a history-maker. We’re led to believe we should be ‘pretty good’ at a lot of different things, but the truth is that the […]

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The Beauty of Forest Fires

The devastating fires in California remind us of our environment’s fragility and how little we can sometimes do to curtail the inevitable. They are also a symbol of power and momentum. In fact, there are few things in nature as mighty as the white-hot intensity of a forest fire. Once they gain momentum, these vicious […]

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How PepsiCo is Reinventing a Category with Bubly

Innovation is the hottest business buzzword, evoking images of bold tech startups taking dangerous risks to upend the sleeping giants. But what if you are the giant, or you’re in a traditional business such as hospital linens, automotive parts, or commercial food service? Can mature industries and businesses innovate forward, or is creativity only relegated […]

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Why the Term “Entrepreneur” Should be Replaced

Having built five startups from scratch and invested in or advised around 100 others, you could say I’m in the business of “entrepreneurship.” But I don’t think that’s the right term anymore. At all. The word entrepreneur was borrowed from the French language and implies an aristocratic polish. It conjures up images of backroom deals […]

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Lick the Screen

Steve Jobs famously said that he made the icons on the iPhone so beautiful, customers would want to “lick the screen.” By elevating a utility item (the phone) to a piece of art, history was made and cult-like loyalty was created. Reflecting on the “lick the screen” quote, I realize how he raised the stakes […]

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How “Small” Innovations Lead to Big Results

The concept of innovation can be completely overwhelming. Images of Edison inventing the light bulb or Henry Ford revolutionizing manufacturing push the idea of innovation outside the reach of us mere mortals. If we define innovation as a gigantic, change-the-world, cure-cancer type breakthrough, the concept is relegated to a select few: billionaires, mad scientist inventors, […]

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Inch-Wide, Mile-Deep

If you’re looking to buy a new knife, the choices seem limitless. A 21-function Swiss Army knife will run you around $39 bucks, less than $2 per blade. The all-purpose tool is versatile, but none of the functions represent the highest in quality. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the Ao-Ko Mizu Honyaki […]

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The “Do Different”

We’ve all been in business meetings that drone on endlessly, only to be followed with zero change, action or results. Silver-tongued bosses spouting platitudes rarely translates into meaningful transformation. In fact, many of us have become desensitized to big new ideas, because in our previous experiences, few concepts actually come to fruition. If you’re frustrated […]

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Your Second (and Most Important) Job

From Cabinet Maker to Cyber-Security Analyst, we each have the title on our business card. When asked what you do for a living at a cocktail party, the stock answer is your craft or profession. Lawyer, machine tool operator, insurance adjustor, or barista, we often identify with that primary title. Yet in this highly competitive […]

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The Three Levers of Productivity (#3 May Surprise You)

“Do more with less.” “Boost your productive output.” “Get more done, faster!” Messages around efficiency, productivity, and hard work are drilled into us from the first day of our careers. Today, these themes pound in our heads, originating from bosses, shareholders, suppliers, customers, colleagues, and family members. Most of us have internalized the demands, hearing […]

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How Cheating Led to a Creative Breakthrough

The game of Monopoly, a legendary cash cow for Hasbro, has remained relevant and compelling for over 100 years by evolving with the times. Since the first game became a hit in 1903, the company has released specialty editions including Pokémon Edition, Mega Monopoly, Electronic Banking, Star Wars, the Simpsons, and Monopoly Millionaire. With so […]

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Blimp Worthy

If you happen to be at a live sporting event and notice the iconic Goodyear Blimp flying overhead, you know that the game you’re watching matters. The blimp doesn’t fly over mediocre games played by mediocre teams. Instead, it soars exclusively over those driven to perform at the highest levels, focusing on teams and individuals […]

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Could Ford Have Dodged the F-150 Fiasco?

A fire at a key supplier has created a blaze of aggravation for the iconic automaker, Ford Motor Company. Ford made international headlines this week as the company announced a complete production shutdown of the bestselling vehicle in America, the F-150, due to a lack of mission-critical parts from a single supplier. As thousands of […]

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Never Trust a Squeaky Clean Mechanic

As you hand the keys to your baby (also known as your precious car) over to the immaculate mechanic, your heart sinks. You recoil as you see the starched white shirt, the manicured hands, and the neatly pressed pants. While he’s a poster-child for effective grooming habits, you worry if he really possesses the hands-on […]

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When Pigs Fly

North Korea, a country with whom we were recently on the brink of nuclear war, has just singed a peace accord with their nemesis (and our ally), South Korea. The two countries concluded a historic peace summit to denuclearize the peninsula and even explore unification of the two previously enemy states.   Things that we […]

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Superpowers and Kryptonite

AquaMan has the unique ability to control and communicate with sea creatures. Invisible Woman can – you guessed it – become invisible at will. In fact, each of the superheroes we grew up with and admire have one or more superpowers. Turns out that most highly successful people – both mythical and real – have their […]

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Patching the Potholes

That crunching thud is all too familiar. You start swearing like a sailor when your car dips into yet another infuriating pothole. Will this one cause another blown tire?  Did you just break an axle?   Nuisances of epic proportion, potholes are a global problem.  $3 billion is wasted annually in the U.S. repairing pothole damage […]

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Endangered Species

Endangered Species 3079. That’s the number of animals categorized as ‘very likely to become extinct’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. From the blue-throated macaw to the hawksbill sea turtle, these creatures may cease to exist in the very near future. Too bad the IUCN doesn’t create a similar list for companies, or […]

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