FRESH IDEAS, HAND-CRAFTED WEEKLY

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

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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Boost Your R-Factor

Sitting down with a group of close friends, you share the ups and downs of life. You discuss the horrible day you had last week, and the absolutely terrific meal you enjoyed last night. As the chat ensues, the things that are discussed are those that merit conversation. Those things that are remarkable… that have the […]

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The 4 Must-Have Ingredients of a Winning Speech

Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired a generation with his powerful “I have a dream” address. JFK, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton reached the highest office in the land, in part by delivering moving speeches. TED talks have vaulted unknowns to celebrity status based on their ability to deliver compelling and inspiring messages. Simply put, great […]

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The Chief Startup Officer

Organizations are generally led by a predictable C-suite of traditional roles with traditional responsibilities. The Chief Executive Officer reads reports from her Chief Financial Officer about the work of the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Sales Officer. The Chief Technology Officer and Chief Human Resource Officer team up with the Chief Marketing Officer to deliver […]

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What Rambo Can Teach Us About Achievement

The four Rambo films, released between 1982 and 2008, famously depicted John Rambo, a member of the US Army Special Forces known as the Green Beret. Throughout the films, Rambo singlehandedly outwits his opponents, adapts to changing circumstances and achieves at a super-human level.   While the movies glamorized his brute strength, the real-world Green […]

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What’s Your Training Schedule?

There’s an old saying in the boxing world: “Champions don’t become champions in the ring; they are merely recognized there.” The implication, of course, is that the hard work of winning happens during an intense training regimen. The blood, sweat, and tears on the gym floor; the relentless planning for every possible scenario; the sacrifice […]

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The Museum of Failure

In the Swedish City of Helsingborg, failures exist at an alarming rate. Just across the river from Denmark, the community isn’t actually screwing up but rather celebrating failures from around the globe. History was made when The Museum of Failures opened to the public in June. Colossal innovation failures -from the Apple Newton to the […]

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A Life-Changing 2.97%

We all know we should exercise. And read more. And eat less. We should be more kind, should be more punctual, should give more back to our community. We should do dozens of things, but who has the energy? In fact, there are so many shoulds in life that we’re overwhelmed and frustrated trying to tackle them all. In my case, no matter how hard I try, I’m often left with feelings […]

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Here’s What Happened When a Brilliant Entrepreneur Got Ticked

Chris Riley was ticked. Caught in a speed trap near his office in Coral Gables, Florida, the officer flagged Chris down like he was a hardened criminal. Yes, he was speeding…but not by much. Since he forgot his proof of insurance, the total cost for his minor infraction was over 500 bucks. Seething, his only […]

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Four Powerful Questions

It’s often said that the most successful people focus more on the questions they ask than the statements they make. Asking the right questions can unlock volumes of knowledge, wisdom, and insight. Yet we’re often so busy telling, that we miss out on the power of asking. While this applies to communication with other people, I’m referring […]

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How One Pizza Delivery Inspired the Nation

Benjamin Houston was having an especially rough night. As a Domino’s Pizza delivery driver in Flint, Michigan, it had been a tough road. The fact that Benjamin is deaf made his situation even more challenging. It all came to a head on July 15, when his car broke down on a delivery run near midnight in a […]

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Planting Seeds

How do you know if you’ve accomplished something today? What should you measure if you didn’t deliver something measurable? In an era of dashboards, metrics, and key performance indicators, should every ounce of your energy be directed at hitting near term deliverables? In studying the behavior of the most successful people, I’ve noticed that they […]

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7 Powerful Lessons from Ancient Japanese Wisdom

As we search for new approaches to our biggest challenges, we often seek the latest-and-greatest tactics from the hottest, cutting-edge research on performance. It feels like there’s a brand new management approach, tech tool, or leadership style on a daily basis. Yet sometimes we can progress even more by learning from those before us.    […]

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Efforts vs. Results

Imagine that a loved one is on the operating table in a life-or-death situation. You and your family gather in the waiting room waiting with bated breath for the doctor to communicate the results of this life-saving procedure. When the surgeon finally arrives, you don’t want to hear about how hard she and her team labored. You don’t want to hear that she “gave […]

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