FRESH IDEAS.
HAND-CRAFTED WEEKLY.

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

 

Quick reads, powerful results.

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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The Economics of Originality

Several original works by Picasso, van Gogh, Cezanne and Renoir are worth more than $100 million each and continue to appreciate at a rapid pace. “Salvator Mundi,” a 600-year-old painting by Leonardo da Vinci, sold for $450 million in 2017, making it the highest amount paid for a painting in history. Collectors appreciate the artistry and groundbreaking […]

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The Creative Secret of Jazz Musicians

Jazz legends like Miles Davis and Charlie Parker are known for their stunning solos, which appear to be individual acts of artistry. The Picassos of their craft, we envision the creative process to be a lonely one. Yet even the greatest jazz musicians develop their ideas in a collaborative process, co-creating their works of art […]

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The Next 20 Feet

Driving your car through a dense morning fog, your visibility is about the same as trying to read a textbook through wax paper. Even with your fancy LED fog lights, the intersection that’s less than a block away is nothing more than an opaque blur. In this scenario, just like in life, you have a […]

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The One Year Test

In stressful times, it’s easy to get derailed by matters that might be viewed as trivial under ordinary circumstances. A colleague shows up late to a Zoom call, the client changes her mind mid-stream, the boss unleashes an unnecessary rant. These infractions can dampen our work productivity on a normal day, but their impact can […]

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You Can’t Cut Your Own Hair

Scott Cunha, the celebrity stylist for Kendall Jenner and Nicole Richie, doesn’t cut his own hair. Neither does Kiyah Wright, the two-time Emmy award-winning stylist whose clients include Tyra Banks and Jennifer Hudson. Mara Roszak cuts for Emma Stone, Olivia Wilde, and Brie Larson, but not for herself. The physical mechanics of a haircut make […]

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Instead of your glass half-full, try it completely empty

“If you view the glass as half-full, you’re an optimist,” the old saying goes. “But if you see it half-empty, you’re a flat-out pessimist.” We take this metaphor to be a truism, pushing ourselves to see our cups as full as possible. But what if we’d be better off with a completely empty cup? It […]

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Where’s Your What-If?

Spending a good chunk of my days researching human creativity, I landed on a strange phenomenon. What-if questions, one of the hallmark techniques of innovation, can also serve to extinguish imagination depending on where they are used. Oddly, the same framework can both ignite creativity or quell it, subject to where it is placed in the invention […]

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The Often-Overlooked Step That Can Boost the Quality of Your Work

We generally think that a great work product – especially an artistic effort – is imagined, conceived, and launched simultaneously. But the notion that a single, smart idea can immediately turn into a brilliant final version has the same logic flaw of a newborn baby popping out of the womb with a college degree. In fact, one of […]

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Random Acts of Creativity

It turns out, this past Saturday was National Creativity Day. Who knew? While I think it’s terrific that we have a holiday to celebrate the universal human gift of imagination, it made me think that everyday should really be National Creativity Day. We’ve been led to believe that for something to count as creative, it […]

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