FRESH IDEAS, HAND-CRAFTED WEEKLY

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

Making it ‘Grape’ Again

Avery’s Beverages – a company founded in a red Connecticut barn over 100 years ago – was struggling. When Sherman Avery started making handcrafted soda back in 1904, he wasn’t facing the crushing competitive pressure of industry giants like Coca-Cola and Pepsi. The root beer and ginger ale he made didn’t need a celebrity endorsement […]

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The Red Zone

As football teams chase championship glory in their post-season battles, they practice diligently to deliver peak performance.  Coaches help players break the game down into specific components, developing strategies for offense and defense, the ground game and the passing game, kickoffs and returns. When a team arrives within striking distance of the goal line, traditional […]

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The Wonkavator

Willy Wonka: “Going up? This is an ingenious invention that I call the Wonkavator.” Grandpa Joe: “It looks like an elevator to me.” Willy Wonka: “Yes but elevators only go up. The Wonkavator goes up, down, sideways and every other which way you can think of going.” Charlie Bucket: “Wow.” When Willy Wonka and the […]

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Innovation out of Thin Air

Excited to arrive in Hong Kong, your enthusiasm quickly wanes. Your eyes and lungs burn from the smog, as air pollution levels have reached record highs in this cosmopolitan city. The dense haze lingers in the air as children crave to see a rare blue sky. First looking for fresh ways to market their goods, […]

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A Cunningly Creative Cannonball

Kevin Bull was facing the challenge of his life. A successful stock trader and entrepreneur, Bull trained hard and finally made it as a walk-on to pursue his dream: to compete on national TV as an American Ninja Warrior. The other contestants were more athletic, more experienced, and better prepared. The odds were simply not […]

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How a 5 Minute Ritual Can Fuel Your Success

You wake up in a fog and brush your teeth while still half asleep. Dread fills you as you prepare for another soul-crushing day. As you sit in endless traffic, anxiety consumes your thoughts. You worry about that upcoming meeting and anticipate the disappointment on your son’s face when you’ll arrive late to his ballgame […]

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Symbols and Rituals

itualsIn the coastal town of Nanaimo, Canada, police are issuing tickets at an astonishing rate. The tickets are not recognizing the wrongdoing of rule breakers, however. Instead, “Positivity Tickets” are being issued to kids caught in the act of doing something good such as wearing a bike helmet, doing their homework, or crossing the street […]

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5 Personalities Your Company Needs

Typically, leaders build teams based on job title: CTO, CMO, VP of Engineering, Director of Sales. While functional leadership roles must certainly be filled, slotting talented people into an org chart will never unlock your company’s fullest potential. By thinking of your team only in terms of roles, you risk building a group with homogeneous […]

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Blowin’ in the Wind

Shy of becoming leader of the free world, winning a Nobel Prize is one of the greatest achievements imaginable. The prestige, economic rewards, and permanent place in history are the stuff dreams are made of. Millions of scientists, artists, and humanitarians devote their life’s work to chasing this highly coveted award. But not Bob Dylan. […]

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View Frustration as a Magnet of Opportunity

You have a work flight. After rising early and fighting through the joys of rush-hour traffic, you’re treated to an especially long TSA line. You catch some emails while you wait in security and then again as you’re delayed 85 minutes at the gate. You’d planned to go through your presentation during the flight, but, […]

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Play Up

When I started my first company many years ago, I met with a local bank to explore a business loan. I had no idea what I was doing and could have easily been dismissed by the mid-level banker I visited. But instead of a cold rejection, Jennifer was warm and gracious. She extolled the benefits of […]

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Unexpected Teachers

Zipping around the globe, I often find myself in the back of a taxi or an Uber. I used to painfully ruminate in frustration – sitting in traffic is a total waste of time, after all. But a few months back, I decided to look up from my mobile phone and strike up a conversation […]

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Overcoming Your Inner Critic

“Stop pushing yourself,” your angry four-inch tall shoulder-Devil whispers in your ear. “Let’s blow off the day and hang on the couch. You’ll never amount to much anyway.” We all have that inner voice – the negative one that whispers fear, guilt, and laziness into our ears. The voice that tells us to take a […]

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The Two Must-Have Beliefs of History-Makers

What do world-class athletes, prolific artists, and business titans have in common? What traits are shared by Picasso and Jay Z, Mark Zuckerberg and Leonardo DaVinci, Serena Williams and Mozart? I’ve been reflecting on this a lot recently, becoming increasingly curious to discover the commonalities of the most successful people in history. What makes a […]

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An Unlikely Business Makeover

What organization offers the absolute worst customer experience? National Customer Shame surveys list utility companies and budget airlines, wireless carriers and shipping companies. But the overwhelming winner: The good old DMV, The Department of Motor Vehicles. When you imagine walking in for your soul-crushing visit, you’re instantly filled with dread. Long lines, rude service, bleak environment. The […]

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Force Fields

Lasers pound their target with high velocity, but the starship remains unfazed.  A force field protects our heroes from the vicious attacks of evil intruders, allowing them the opportunity to save the universe from impending doom. Force fields sure work great in Sci-Fi movies, but what about in reality?  The aircraft manufacturer Boeing was recently […]

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Doing Well by Doing Good

We’re taught as children to extend a helping hand to those in need, but few of us follow this sage advice as the pressures of life kick into high gear.  What sounds good in theory is rarely practiced, especially when self-interest is the driving force. By nature, The Olympic Games are about achieving personal bests.  […]

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The Mañana Trap

I was recently enjoying lunch with a group of executives at a multinational corporation, discussing the workplace differences of various cultures around the world. One leader jokingly told me that in South America, where he oversees several offices and factories, there’s a running joke around the term “mañana” (“tomorrow” in Spanish). He teased that when […]

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The Mindset of High Achievement

In an effort to get ahead in our careers, we test out new leadership tactics like we change our clothes. Whatever the current fad – from Lean Processes, to Management by Objective, to Agile Leadership – it’s easy to get sucked into the next promise of get-successful-quick. The truth is, one simple mindset has stood the […]

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Moonshots

This past Thursday, Alphabet (Google’s parent company) conducted their quarterly earnings call. The company’s ability to grow and basically print money wasn’t unexpected at all, since they deliver exceptional performance with stunning regularity.  What drew controversy was the amount of money the company lost in the quarter on moonshots, projects that could be game changers […]

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The Netflix of Fitness

Yony Feng is exactly what you’d imagine when thinking of a whiz kid software engineer. After earning both his Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Computer Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, he quickly moved to the heart of Silicon Valley. In high demand for his masterful computer skills, Yony served in top positions for […]

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The Disruptive Innovation Behind Pokémon GO

In an explosive combination of creativity, cutting-edge technology, and brilliant marketing, Pokémon GO has become a global craze in less than a week. The new portable game from Nintendo uses a technology called Augmented Reality, which allows a player to interact with the real world instead of just their screen. Game play involves discovering and […]

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Where’s the Beef?

Your mouth waters as you stare at the plate in front of you. You size up a sizzling, juicy burger, grilled to perfection. Charred top, juicy center, enchanting smell. That first bite sends your taste buds into a state of pure joy. Truly one of the best burgers you’ve ever gobbled. Except it isn’t a […]

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How to Beat the Success Trap

In 1953, three employees of the San Diego Rocket Chemical Company created a mixture to protect missile skins. It didn’t work. They tried again – no luck. And again, and again. Finally, on the 40th try, they were successful. But besides the original product intent, they discovered an even broader use… Their invention became the […]

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A Winning Secret from Chess Grand Master

Rook to f5. Checkmate. How is it that some routinely smoke their opponents in a game where both sides have the identical force, there’s no luck of the draw, and the entire playing field is out in the open? While there are many cliché life lessons from the game of chess, there’s an often-overlooked concept […]

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Empathy Is the New Killer App

It stings. Another soul-crushing reprimand from a boss, parent, or spouse. That nauseous feeling when you feel unappreciated, misunderstood, and blamed. We’ve all been there, and in that knee-wobbling state we are far from playing at our best. On the other hand, remember how you felt after receiving a big boost of positive reinforcement. A […]

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Will a Robot Be Your Next Boss?

Daniel Kahneman thinks so, and he’s no ordinary slouch. Kahneman won a Nobel Prize for his work in behavioral economics and is a NY Times bestselling author. His position is that advanced technology will soon eclipse the ‘computing power’ of even the best leaders, removing all errors in judgment while producing better outcomes. Kahneman isn’t alone. A […]

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The Reverse

Another spam email hits your inbox: Dear [Name], We shall be shipping Gold to you. You will earn 10% of any gold you distributes. Your move: delete fast. Junk email is dangerous, you know it’s a bogus offer, and you’ve got far more important things to do. And what idiot replies to spam email? Yet […]

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The Poison of Labeling

Jenny, a 1st grader, shows up to art class and doesn’t do so well with her first project. She feels embarrassed, stupid, rejected, and sad. Later, she goes to music class and has a similar experience. She didn’t pick it up as quickly as the other students, so she is once again stung by negative […]

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More, Less, Stop

In our frenetically busy lives, we all smack up against the same obstacle: time.  The 24-hour clock is a brutal and unforgiving foe.  It’s easy to fill the hours, feeling busy and anxious, only to look back at a stunningly puny amount of productivity. With unlimited access to information and frictionless global markets for goods, […]

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