FRESH IDEAS, HAND-CRAFTED WEEKLY

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

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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The Mark of a Professional

Visually, we can see the difference between grainy amateur photography and the vibrant work of a professional. There’s a big leap in skill and performance between a minor-league ballplayer and someone who makes it onto an MLB team. The same is true in business, where the true professionals capture the lion’s share of rewards while […]

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The 3 Big Lessons from the Collapse of Toys ‘R’ Us

“I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us Kid…” Remembering the first few bars of that catchy jingle brings me back to the dreamlike wonder of exploring what seemed liked endless aisles of enchanting toys. As kids, we were transported to a magical place, filled with possibility. It didn’t matter if you […]

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Signs of Creativity

When Texas realtor Ellis Young wasn’t getting any traction on one of his home listings, he changed the For Sale sign to include the phrase “NOT HAUNTED.”  Traffic immediately picked up, but some neighbors complained. Wanting to play nice with others, he then changed the sign to read “GLUTEN-FREE HOME.” As you can imagine, traffic increased […]

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Yearning, Learning, and Earning

When you take a hard look at your compensation, you probably focus on the tangible rewards. You total up your base pay, bonus, commission, stock options, benefits, and perks to calculate your total comp. But I’d suggest there’s another element to compensation that is one of the most important components of all… your Learning Income. If […]

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Columbo’s Curiosity

Long before Law and Order, Lieutenant Columbo was the detective that TV fans adored. Running from 1968-1990, millions hung on the edge of their seats waiting for each Columbo mystery to be solved by our lovable hero.   Columbo’s secret of cracking the case had nothing to do with fancy DNA tests, web searches, or advanced surveillance. […]

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The Power of Funerals

For most of us, the idea of a funeral is rather morbid. The somber gathering reminds us of our own mortality and vividly frames the notion that ‘nothing lasts forever.’ As compassionate human beings, we do whatever’s possible to extend human life, a core tenant of a civilized society.    But in the business world, […]

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Three Innovations and a Challenge

As the pace of innovation continues to accelerate, bold new creations will pave the way for breakthrough success while disrupting the laggards who cling to the past. We all see the obvious examples of innovators such as Apple, Netflix, and Uber. But I love finding and learning from those lesser-known stories of business artists who […]

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The Batman Effect

In an important battle to defeat the evil Lex Luthor, you can’t imagine Superman sitting it out because he’s feeling too drained. Wonder Woman wouldn’t cut short an epic battle for justice because she already gave all her energy at the office. Yes, our heroes may have special powers, but the thing we admire most […]

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Become a ‘First Responder’ to Blaze Past Your Competitors

In emergency situations, the brave men and woman who race to the scene save lives. They respond with burning urgency, doing everything possible to get to the job fast. Realizing that every second counts, they employ systems, processes, and training regimens to reach their duties with no delays or distractions.    Don’t you wish your […]

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Stand Up and Stand Out

A recent employer asked job seekers the following riddle: “You are driving along in your car on a wild, stormy night. You pass by a bus stop and you see three people waiting for the bus: 1. An old lady who looks as if she is about to die. 2. An old friend who once […]

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Forget Resolutions. Try This Instead

Each January, millions of people resolve to a slew of lofty commitments. We resolve to save more, eat less, improve our relationships, and hit the gym. The idealistic goals span from fitness to career; family to community. Yet the vast majority of these well-intentioned targets are abandoned early, only to be revived for a short […]

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31 Tips to Reach Your Next Level of Greatness

We’re all trying to reach that next level of greatness – in our careers, families, and communities. But in today’s hyper-competitive world, achievement isn’t such an easy thing. In an environment of dizzying speed and exponential complexity, how can we take our game to world-class? How can we reach our full potential? Having spent 27 […]

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The Ferris Bueller Trap

As individuals in the developed world, we each make around 30,000 decisions per day, according to fellow author and keynote speaker Michael Veltri. Ranging from small choices such as which hand to use when grabbing a napkin, to much larger ones such as how to draft a proposal to win that big new client, the choices […]

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The Quality Shared by Detroit, Finland, and the Best Entrepreneurs

In the first week of 1940, the Finnish Army remarkably advanced into Russia and seized territory while at the same time withstanding brutal attacks by their foe on other fronts. Extraordinary considering they were out-manned by nearly 20 to 1, had far less sophisticated equipment, and enjoyed only a fraction of the training. Their ability […]

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A 4-Step Formula to Create Freakishly Loyal Customers

We each have that one company we’ve hired that is absolutely fantastic. It may be your landscaper, favorite restaurant, retail store, airline, parts supplier or marketing firm. Think about that company for a minute, and you’ll start to smile. “They just get it,” you say to yourself. You’d never consider switching to a different provider, […]

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My Great Hotel Caper

Arriving at my hotel in Bowling Green, Kentucky after 1:00am, I couldn’t wait to get some rest. I’d been in six cities in the last three days, was running on way too little sleep, and had a 6:30am meeting the next day. So imagine my surprise when I entered the small, boutique hotel and found the front desk […]

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Two Ways to Kill Your Company

Heart disease and cancer are the top two causes of death for people living in the United States. Together, these killers account for almost 50% of all lost lives each year. Researchers, physicians, and scientists toil away at these two deadly foes, working diligently to find a cure and reduce their fatal impact.   Yet […]

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