How to lead like James Dyson

James Dyson is the embodiment of determination and dedication, not only to himself, but to his cause. Most entrepreneurs, without financial backing, wouldn’t risk $40,000 on an idea, let alone $4 million, and they wouldn’t have the patience to try 50 different models of a new product, whereas Dyson tried over 5,000. If you glance at the first 40 years of Dyson’s life, you may judge him as a failure, but if you look at his entire 66 years, you might judge him as one of the most innovative and successful businessmen on the planet. However, the most impressive thing about this visionary British business mogul is not the ingenious nature of his designs, but rather the stubborn drive to realize his dreams, no matter what the cost.

He risked his family, his house, his reputation, and his future in order to make his vision into a reality, and for that, he stands above much of the timid and secure leaders of the modern business world. He embraced failure as a learning tool for so many years that it must have become synonymous with going to work. He was ahead of his time with many of his ideas, and as is often the case with visionary thinkers, he was also going against the grain of popular culture and the market of his chosen industry. He wasn’t looking to fall into the rat race of product design; he wanted to create a completely new sport instead.

The new generation of leadership must be confident enough to spread their creativity in all directions, both forward and behind, so long as they don’t become stuck in the present and remain stagnant and comfortable. Labeling something as “good enough” cannot be in the vocabulary of an entrepreneur, innovator, or corporate leader, because that implies being content with something less than perfection. Today, at the Dyson laboratories, more than 600 engineers disassemble and reassemble the products that they have already “perfected”, trying to constantly update and improve the things which hundreds of others may have already overlooked. These might be the most creative minds of the industry, but they have been taught by a master of diligence and detail that nothing can be overlooked, and that perfection is never to be assumed.

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5 killers of creativity

Even if you don’t consider yourself a creative person (which is nonsense but we’ll get to that shortly), you definitely experienced a state of blockage where you simply sense a lack of ease, efficiency and results in everything you do. Maintaining a creative mojo can indeed be quite challenging even for those who are the most powerful in expressing themselves, their ideas and dreams because even they can get stuck between a stockpile of projects and objectives and the means to carry them out.

However, those who are more likely to overcome these moments or situations and cross the finish line of their own plans are those who learned that no one and nothing can hold you back as “capably” as yourself and when you invest the time to understand this just a bit more specifically, you will discover some of the enemies of creativity you can so easily and inadvertently help. Here we smoked out what we consider to be the worst of these enemies:

1. Overpushing.

This happens when you simply don’t know when to walk away from a task. Just indulge an honest reflection and see if there’s any progress in what you’re doing at that moment or any real probability for it to occur in the near future – if the answer you come up with is negative then it’s time to let go of it for a while. Again is one of those situations when less means actually more. Besides, even if you are not aware of it, your brain is still plugged-in, working on a solution or idea which explains those moments in the morning on waking up when you “just know” what needs to be done, what the solution is. This means that sometimes the wisest thing is to back off a little bit so you don’t scare off your muse a little longer.

2. Overpreparing.

This one follows the pattern – too much of a good thing is a bad thing. While making plans and organizing your stuff is recommended, letting yourself completely absorbed by plans is not and this can be an easy error to fall victim to especially if you decided at one point you wanted to be more productive and add more planning to your life, unhappy with past results. A man with a single plan but the determined to act immediately upon it even if it might not be the perfect plan, versus a man with a dozen plans but the inability to get things started on account of lacking total guarantee of success is a good example of the danger perfectionism poses. Actually, the fear of failure can hide just as much behind an apparently organized person than it does in a total non-doer. Always bear in mind that focusing too much on how things can unfold in the future will prevent you from enjoying them in the present but also from making real progress since all progress happens in real time even if it’s measured over time.

3. Overthinking: the not-good-enough syndrome.

Again, the fear of failure dictates that you’re just not that good to jump at that opportunity. You can easily find examples in all domains of successful people who engaged and committed unreservedly to something without having much idea at first what it was they were getting themselves into and how it was supposed to be done. Enthusiasm, daring and the desire to learn and improve eventually lead them to great accomplishments. If wait until you become a mega-specialist at something before attempting to make your skills available, chances are you will become a mega-specialist at killing your creativity.

4. Overbusyness.

Creative blockage becomes a haunting habit when we, in turn, create the habit of letting stress and busyness taking over our lives. Keeping yourself busy all the time can be a great distraction from acknowledging your real problems and can even be illusively put out as a sign of being extremely creative. Allowing your imagination time to wander, your mind time to rest and lean over non-doing is essential for feeding your creative flow. Being too busy to pursue a hobby or enjoy nature, and gain inner balance is just a poor excuse you’ll be using as long as you can afford self-lying. Slow down to catch up! While it may sound like a line form Captain Planet, the power to control the busyness of your life is yours. Resist being dragged into the sinky sands of excuses of the type: “I would love to read more but I don’t have time”, “I know I haven’t gone for a walk for like decades but I’ll get out more when I have more time to spare”. This sends the “dead end” postcard to your creative thinking. If you like being busy why not being busy with something you like?

5. Overdoubting.

Family, school, society – they can all participate in choking off your creative spark by presenting you with norms and standards and even ways that prove you as being creative; that’s true but eventually you cannot simply settle for the role of the victim. You have power and control over your creativity because, first of all, you are creative. Everyone is. It’s just that we express it within levels and frames that differ. That’s all. So plunge headfirst into your own creative juice and cash in on the amazing resourcefulness hidden inside you, waiting for you signal to come pouring in. That signal is simply believing. Yeah, it’s probably annoying for some, but you still can find too many achievers out there who weren’t also believers. Can you believe that?

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The Art of Creativity

The origin of originality

The complexity of human nature is often reduced to a simple dichotomy, nature vs. nurture. Since the 19th century, this exact phrasing has been used to represent the argument between innate ability and the effect of a person’s environment in the resultant personality and “greatness” of an individual. However, this discussion stretches far back into history, and remains one of the seminal mysteries of the human condition. Thinkers, philosophers, writers, poets, politicians, scientists, and a bevy of other well-respected people in wide-ranging fields of study have offered their own interpretation and argument for which is the stronger of the two. Academic and philosophical discourse has come to an impasse, however, and although arguments are perennially offered to strengthen one side against the other, some level of agreement has been reached that in the discussion of individuals, each story of ‘greatness’ has different characteristics and possible causalities that ultimately result in a personality. Extrapolating this into the broader context of our species, we must appreciate that both nature and nurture can influence a person, at any point in their life. Without seeming too antiquated, it seems fitting to summarize this détente of argument with the words of the immortal bard, William Shakespeare; “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

This ultimate struggle between instinct and impact, as well as the effect that those seemingly contrary forces have on the development of an individual is a fascinating field of study, but a proper expansion of the countless theories and arguments could fill a bookshelf, perhaps even a library. For our purposes, their effect on a specific aspect of personality is desired, that of creativity. Obviously, this is far from the first analysis of the nature vs. nurture dilemma in terms of human creativity, but to understand the basic method and means of being creative, an elementary study is required.

At creativity is something that we are born with, evidenced by musical virtuosity in certain children, the untrained ability to paint masterpieces, the profound, yet simplistic problem-solving skills developed by some at a young age, and dozens of other examples of the creative spirit apparently born into a person. Some of the most brilliant and idolized figures in creative history had a seemingly natural penchant for a certain ability, as though their brains had been hard-wired for a certain function, often at the expense of more traditional capacities. Prodigies like Mozart, who wrote his first symphony at the age of eight, Williams Sidis, who lectured on new mathematical theories at Harvard University at the age of nine, and Pablo Picasso, accurately considered a Spanish master by the tender age of fifteen all present powerful arguments for the roots of creativity being inherent, rather than acquired.

However, a rare condition called savant syndrome, which affects some of the most fascinating anomalies of intelligence throughout history would argue a different angle of that theory. Various men and women have been born that can do unbelievable things in their mind, yet they, without exclusion, either suffer from some other debilitating lack of cognitive ability, or suffered a traumatic injury, following which their abilities appeared. These include a boy, Daniel Tammett, who can see numbers as shapes and colors, and has artistically represented what the integer pi (3.14….) actually looks like in his mind. He could also recite the endless integer to more than 22,500 figures by memory. He has a rare form of synesthesia and autism. Stephen Wiltshire does not let his autism stop him from creating photorealistic depictions of entire cities after seeing them a single time; he once drew a 33-ft mural of Tokyo’s layout after a very short helicopter ride. He had never visited Japan before. After a brain injury playing baseball at the age of 10, Orlando Serrell was able to do fascinatingly complex calendar calculations and can describe the weather of every single day since the accident took place. These examples illustrate a different side of the “nature” argument of human creativity and cognition. Some part of the brain can develop in an extraordinary way or be changed in a traumatic way, and the resulting abilities are spectacular and rare.

This begs the question about the malleability of the brain, whether it is derived from cognitive defects/happy miracles, through physical manipulation (i.e. a baseball striking you in the temple), or perhaps through the chemical stimulation of neural receptors that alter the way we act, think, speak, and create. The modern world is loud and proud of its advances in so many fields of study, regarding all aspects of life, and yet the underlying engine behind every step we take and word we speak is still an enigmatic puzzle that continues to ironically mock us with its complexity. The savant syndrome represents a fascinating bridge between the arguments of nature and nurture, because it underlines how incredibly complicated and mysterious the human mind truly is.

When we consider the “nurture” side of the creativity dilemma, there is also an impressive amount of evidence to point towards. The rise of higher education systems throughout the world has coincided with the rapid increase in technological advancement, social order, scientific discovery, and artistic achievement that we have witnessed in the past half millennia; there is very little debate over whether the rate of humanity’s progress has sped up. This embrace of creativity and artistic expression has allowed millions of people around the world to pursue non-traditional careers and passions that would have been forbidden or deemed useless in earlier periods of history. It is much more of stretch to assume that our brains have naturally evolved over a miniscule time period (in terms of evolutionary progress) to spur such advancement and the explosion of creativity that has defined modern times. It is far more likely that given an environment where free thought was allowed and cherished, rather than ostracized, we were able to learn how to be creative, liberated from the traditional demands on our time and energy for survival and reproduction.

Throughout life, the human brain is subject to something called imprinting, and although it slows down considerably as we age, it means that there is some malleability and flexibility of the brain after a person is born. Entire fields of study and commercial industries count on this fact, and urge parents to read to their children, expose them to new languages at a young age, be careful what you say, mind your body language, and show affection. Those are just a few of the thousands of things that could affect the way that a child perceives the world from its nascent steps, but this idea of imprinting is often considered one of the strongest arguments of the “nurture” camp. What if certain brains never stop the imprinting process? What if the process could actually speed up rather than slow down? The mysteries of the brain are such that nothing is inconceivable, and many of the most creative individuals of today often cite their upbringing, education, and childhood passions as the primary motivator for their interest and pursuit of their respective creative outlet.

With the massive leaps forward in technology, stable societal structures, premier educational systems, globalization, and hyper-access to information in the digital age, it seems only natural that the environment around us would be a huge, causative factor in the development of our personality. Without being too reductive, it is a case of “monkey see, monkey do”. Following that line of reasoning, we should be perpetually inspired by others and motivated to do great things, training and developing our own creative spirit because we see that same potential manifested in others. With the right stimuli over the course of our life, our personality should be impressionable, pliable, and able to be sculpted in any number of ways, right?

Unfortunately, the argument for nurture too often comes through a double negative assertion, which isn’t as effective, and tends to sway many people to assume that creativity and genius are ultimately natural gifts that can only be emulated and aspired to, rather than achieved. This double negative approach can be heard in every person that points to a negative aspect of society and tries to explain their behavior due to the environment they grow up in, the influences that they have been under since childhood, or the lack of direction that person or group of people was given by teachers, parents, community members, and role models. That double negative says that when bad nurturing takes place, then bad results are often the outcome. Obviously, I don’t mean to paint with a broad brush in any of these arguments, and there are certainly miraculous stories of bad nurturing resulting in wonderfully uplifting conclusions, but they are the unfortunate and dramatic minority. In general, it is better to argue for one side of a dilemma with positive claims, rather than double negatives, which claim an ipso facto proof about the positive side of the argument. Before we delve any further into intricate discussions of rhetoric, perhaps we should move on.

Despite the vast accessibility of information, knowledge, and inspiration in the world today, we are equally distracted and restricted by societal expectations, responsibilities, and the rat race of becoming “successful”, that shadowy, undefined state of being that urges many to abandon their creative passions in exchange for something more “stable”. Although this is not as bad as having negative role models or a damaging upbringing, it can still work as an environmental factor in a negative way, encouraging the mindset that changing the world should be best left to other people. If every person in the world decided to leave the massive power of creativity in the hands of others, our world would indeed be in a sorry state. Only one question remains; if the nature vs. nurture arguments cannot stand alone as the fundamental cause of personality and creativity, then what balance must be struck between the two?

It should be clear by this point in history that the debate between the two sides will never be settled, but some sort of balance must be struck. The most likely explanation is that the human brain has a nearly limitless capacity for creativity, but there is a key that unlocks that treasure trove of possibility. For some, like the savants and the prodigies of the world, it could be the first time that an infant’s ears hear Beethoven’s 9th or their eyes see a skyscraper rising outside the window of their nursery. For others, it requires a gradual, creative exposure through their environment, upbringing, and education for the tinder of genius to be sparked. For some, their potential might never be unlocked, or it will be manifested in a way that isn’t traditionally viewed as creative, and they will live in relative anonymity by the world at large as an untapped well of unrealized possibility.

It is from this equilibrium point in the age-old argument of nature vs. nurture that we explore the modern application and existence of creativity. The impact that creativity still has in our daily lives and in the inexorable progress of humanity is an essential area of study, particularly for those who want to similarly express themselves or find the key to their own vault of creativity. The figures that we examine in this series of articles are those that have achieved the label of “creative” in a number of diverse ways, and have used their gifts in a myriad number of industries. They have effectively changed the world we live in, and each case study is important to understand within the larger discussion of what creativity really is, what impact it has on all of our lives, and the continuing role it will play in the world, if we can only find a way to release it from the tangled mystery of our minds.

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Go Nuts: The Art of Creativity and Innovation

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Netflix business strategy: the belief system of Reed Hastings

In 1997, after the technological advancement of DVDs changed both the film and information storage industries, a new company emerged in the movie rental scene. Netflix took advantage of the emergence of DVDs and found a way to make seeing your favorite films even easier than renting it for a few days from a chain store. Netflix spanned the innovations of the Internet and DVDs perfectly, and their appeal was almost immediate.

Not only could you choose hundreds of DVDs on a “To-Watch List” for lack of a better word, you could also keep the movies for as long as you wanted, without the fear of steep late fees and the pressure of watching a film in 24 or 48 hours like many of the other rental companies. Netflix gained popularity almost immediately, because it changed the way that business was done, and offered a modern option for those individuals who saw the writing on the wall in regards to the massive presence that the Internet would soon have on our lives.

Companies like Blockbuster made another mistake: underestimating the dynamism of technology. The way that information was recorded had already been a rather dynamic area of study and design, yet the huge investment in resources and money that Blockbuster put towards its rental service meant that it would be far too large and narrowly focused to ever effectively “switch gears” should the time ever come. In effect, traditional movie rental companies failed to account for the inevitable changes that would occur, hoping that they could find success and manage to maintain it despite the ever-changing world. Fortunately for Netflix, its co-founder recognized how quickly the world was changing, and didn’t want to get caught into a strict infrastructure that would eventually result in them becoming obsolete. Reed Hastings is the visionary CEO of Netflix, and he adopted a belief system at the start that would guarantee the survival of the company for more than 15 years now. Basically, as has been said a number of times, “It foresaw its possible demise at the moment of its own creation.”

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Open-mindedness fosters creativity

Nobody wants to admit to being close minded; it has a certain stigma to it. Open-mindedness is important for creativity and generating new ideas. Even if you already are open-minded, in life it’s easy to surround yourself with the same ideas and beliefs, and limiting your exposure to other ideas can create a sort of accidental close mindedness.

If you’re liberal, you’re likely to surround yourself mainly with other liberals. If you go to church, you surround yourself with others who hold similar religious beliefs. If you’re American and live in America, you surround yourself with other Americans by default. Although it’s great to be around people who you agree with and who you can communicate with easily, exposing yourself to other ideas is a key part of the open-mindedness that fosters creativity.

Surrounding yourself with people who communicate in a similar manner, see the world a similar way, and hold similar beliefs can essentially create blind spots in your thinking. Failing to see blind spots, though, can cause you to become set in your ways – even when there are better alternatives. Your ways may be great most of the time, but when there is something better out there, you won’t recognize it. Keep your eyes peeled for blind spots and expose yourself to new ideas, and you’ll bolster your creativity and problem solving skills in the long run.

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5 things every creative person should know

There are thousands of people out there that claim to hold the secret of creativity. While there are an unlimited amount of creative possibilities in the world, there are just as many ways to miss out on your moments to pursue a creative endeavor. One of the greatest tragedies of modern life is the amount of distractions we have to sift through every single day. If you are a truly passionate person who wants to change the world in some way, then simplifying your focus and opening your eyes to the creative opportunities around you.

Some of the most creative individuals of modern times have blazed new trails in various industries throughout the globe. They have blended the proud traditions of creativity with the ever-changing world of today and have continued to push forward their specific fields. My new book, Go Nuts: The Art of Creativity and Innovation, collects a number of these stories from around the world into a comprehensive guidebook for the creative process. Below are some of the 5 key points that are pushing the boundaries of creativity even further.

1) You can’t be afraid to let yourself explore the grey area between reality and fiction. The impossible is only defined by limitations that we impose on ourselves. Haruki Murakami, the famed Japanese novelist, has built an impressive body of work that blends the lines of “the possible”. He isn’t dictated by the constructs of fiction, nor is he afraid of finding the creative spark in everyday situations, making his writing a fascinating journey into the imaginative world that we so often overlook.

2) Politics isn’t one of the most common areas where creativity is put on display, but in recent years, some drastic changes have been occurring. Barack Obama has changed the landscape of politics, particularly in terms of using social media and connecting with his constituents. Since creativity is so dynamic, it must be updated and constantly reconsidered. There may be traditional standards of creativity, but you need to connect with people in modern and relevant ways to remain in the public eye.

3) Many creative individuals in the past have dedicated themselves to a single industry of discipline of thought and have made a career strictly following that narrow avenue of creativity. In the globalized world where everything seems to be overlapping, combining different influences and ideas is the only way forward. Premiere chefs like Ferran Adria have begun to mix science, philosophy, and the culinary arts to create brilliant fusions of art and food that make us reconsider everything we thought we knew about food and restaurants.

4) The Internet is certainly a dominant force in our lives, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to disappear any time soon. Since so many industries are now invoved in the Digital Era, it is essential not to get stuck in old ways of thinking. Don’t accept anything as permanent or static. Netflix has single-handedly revolutionized the way that millions of people get their fill of entertainment, and they have kept their eyes on the future to predict the needs of their customers, so they never find themselves behind the times.

5) Science has traditionally been considered to be in opposition of creativity, but a new influx of scientific creativity has resulted in some potentially world-changing advancements. Researchers at the University of Engineering and Technology in Peru have created a system to directly pull water from the air in order to provide potable water for thousands of people. This billboard has the potential to change the way that people in thousands of places around the world acquire the most essential liquid on Earth. Creativity has a massive place in science; it all depends on perspective!

Go Nuts: The Art of Creativity and Innovation covers more than a dozen other fascinating examples of modern creativity. This book represents a new perspective on an age-old problem – how to find creativity in every corner of the world. It is an essential addition to any creative person’s bookshelf and will inspire new directions of thought, regardless of your field of interest.

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Creative process: 5 tips to become more creative

Creativity can be a difficult skill to cultivate, but one that can by crucial to advancing your career. Everyone is creative in varying degrees, but what is particularly useful in the business world is cultivating a sort of creativity that people find valuable. Here are four activities you can engage in that will help you become more creative.

Meet new people.

Meeting new people exposes you to new ideas and new ways of thinking. Even if you don’t agree with a new acquaintance’s view on things, the exposure to differing viewpoints can help percolate new ideas. An excellent book to help you with this might be Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger.

Go places.

Aside from the fact that going new places can help you meet new people, exposure to new places can be a great booster for your creativity. Immersing yourself in a different environment can help you begin to think a completely different way. Vacations to foreign locales can be great for this type of creative immersion, but if that’s not in your budget, then trips to local museums, events, and festivals can all be great, too. If you’re looking for places to go, there are even books out there to help you decide on the best places for improving your business creativity. Check out Borrowing Brilliance: The Six Steps to Business Innovation by Building on the Ideas of Others by David Kord Murray.

Pick up random words.

Open the dictionary and randomly select a word – then challenge yourself to tie a new idea to that word. If you’re a writer, that might just mean molding the next plot twist or piece of dialogue around that word. If you’re an entrepreneur, that might mean trying to create a different business model relating to that concept. If you’re a netrepreneur, that might mean creating a new marketing campaign utilizing that concept. As far as books that will help you with this – check out The Oxford Dictionary! Even if you don’t get any valuable new ideas, at least you’ll sound smarter!

Start SCAMPERing.

SCAMPER is a brainstorming acronym coined by Alex Osborne in his 1942 book, How to Think Up. With SCAMPER, the idea is that you ask yourself, “What can I substitute? Combine? Adapt? Magnify? Put to other uses? Eliminate? Reverse?” Asking these questions will force you to think about existing situations in new ways.

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The business strategy of General Electric: innovation and creative thinking

Among the hundreds of thousands of companies that form the extended network of the business world, being genuinely admired is something of a rarity, let alone ranking in the top twenty of that classification. Many people associate multinational conglomerates with robber barons and greedy industrialists who seek only personal profit through exploiting poorer countries or cutting ethical corners. It is difficult to imagine how a company of more than 300,000 employees could still manage to be grounded and respected in the global marketplace where profit has long been king.

One of the main reasons why GE has remained such a powerful and prestigious company, despite its ever-increasing size and involvement is the impact that it has on the world. GE’s slogan is “Imagination At Work”, which implies that innovation and creative thinking is one of the fundamental theories behind the company function. Those are not just words for the leaders of GE, and their dedication to improving and advancing the world’s industries towards healthier, more efficient, safer, and more profitable levels is revered by millions of people.

High among that list of admirers are the people that work there; the massive workforce of GE is one of the happiest and most satisfied in the world. The important work that GE does every single day creates a real impact on industries, and that tangible justification for long hours and challenging projects makes it all worthwhile. Their compensation may not be the highest for employees working in huge multinational corporations, but every day, workers can leave with the knowledge that they have contributed to society as a whole. Research and development is probably the most significant area of the company, as they are the innovators and dreamers that push the world forward, and although other businesses might stimulate growth and progress in specific industries, GE is dedicated towards taking the problems of the world on its back and driving society towards the future. That is a massive responsibility, and like all great business endeavors, it begins and ends with the hard work and devotion of its employees that “make the magic happen.”

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5 things I have learned from Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs spoke often to the media and from it we can gain a great deal of insight into his life, but, more importantly, we can learn from him. Steve Jobs is undoubtedly one of the true giants of industry and blazed an amazing trail through his career. So what do we learn from him? We can never be Steve Jobs and it’s unlikely any of us will do what he did or match that level of success, but his advice is very relevant, regardless of where you are on your career path, or what your goals may be. When a man like Steve Jobs gives advice, it’s not something to ignore. From the countless things we can learn from Steve Jobs, some of the most important are gathered below.

1. Perseverance

This is the simplest one to give and the hardest to implement. It’s also the most clichéd and obvious, but it’s worth repeating again and again. Steve Jobs never gave up. Even when he was forced out of the company he founded, he just kept pushing only to found and develop a few other important companies, and eventually return to Apple. He brought Apple from the brink of nothingness back to being one of the most important tech companies in the world. The difference between success and failure is often the will to keep pushing, to keep trying. Rather than get discouraged because something isn’t working, try something new. Start again. Restart a thousand times because that thousandth time might be the one that turns you from failure to unimaginable success. This is, of course, the hardest to do. You’ll get discouraged because you’ll fail. You won’t just fail once either. You’ll fail over and over. What will determine your success is your ability to stand back up and push forward.

2. Don’t settle for mediocrity.

Another one that sounds simple and seems obvious but is worth repeating. Never settle for good enough. Whatever product or service you’re designing or selling, make it important and make it matter. Package it in a way that sticks out and separates you from the millions of other businesses out there. This goes all the way from products and services to employees. Don’t settle for people who can simply do the job. Find people who will turn that job into something unexpected and great. Find the greatness in people and use that to your advantage. If you have mediocre employees, you’ll always have a mediocre product or service, no matter how great it is on paper. Ideas matter, but people matter more. The best idea in the hands of a fool will always fail. So don’t settle for the middle. Always aim high.

3. “Creativity is just connecting things.”

That quote from Steve Jobs is the perfect example of simple advice that’s hard to implement. When you’re creating and developing your business, don’t simply aim for faster, easier, cheaper, and better. Make something unique. Take the familiar and turn it on its side. Look at how the iPod changed the way we consume music. Portable music’s been around for a while, whether in tapes or CDs or records, but iPods became a whole new way to get access to your favorite songs and artists. Sometimes the best ideas come from repackaging old ones and making them appear new. That’s what he means by connecting things. Connect the old and familiar with the new and surprising. Do things differently.

4. Money is not an adequate motivator.

Money is, of course, important, and you need to be able to offer competitive pay, but more money isn’t what turns a good performer into a great one. What motivates real innovators and entrepreneurs once their basic needs are met is the ability to make a meaningful impact. Mastery of your products and services, new challenges–these are the things that keep a person going once they have their base needs. Be passionate about your work and others will find passion in it. Sure, work for the paycheck at first. That’s important and necessary. But once you get past that initial hurdle, that drive needs to come from within.

5. Do what you love.

This is related to number 4 and it’s another one that sounds simple but may take a lifetime to figure out. Because money will only get you so far, true success comes from taking what you love and making it better. Steve Jobs didn’t need to keep working after he made all those millions at such a young age, but he kept pushing, and it wasn’t out of greed. He believed in what he was doing and it made him the innovator we all know. He changed the shape of the tech field and the world as we relate to it. That doesn’t come from chasing dollar signs.

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8 truths of innovations

Innovation is key to every company and business. Exactly what role innovation should play in your business or career is up to you, but there are certain truths about innovation that you need to keep in mind:

  1. You need insights to get ideas. That is, you need the sort of insights prompted from negative feedback in order to get the new sorts of ideas that lead to game-changing innovation.
  2. Highly structured organization with strict managements are not conducive to employee innovation. If you want innovation help from your employees, your management needs to be hands-off enough that the employees have room to think and innovate freely.
  3. Doing the same thing cheaper than everyone else is not enough – you need to innovate, too. Doing it cheaper will work in the short term, but eventually new forces will enter the market, so innovation is the key to surviving in the long run.
  4. To innovate well, you need to break the rules. Since innovation requires thinking outside the box, sometimes you’ll need to break rules to innovate well. That also means that the people in your workplace who just can’t seem to follow the rules may be the very people you should look to for innovation.
  5. Innovation requires a passion for solving, not just a passion for a particular solution. In other words, when you innovate you need to be flexible. Your initial idea will probably not be the ultimate solution; there are likely to be many steps and alterations along the way.
  6. Management usually will not say yes to innovation unless they believe it outweighs the cost of inaction. That means that in addition to selling your supervisor on your idea, you also have to sell him or her on the idea that not implementing your idea will have costly long-term ramifications.
  7. Customers are the best support for innovative ideas. If you are trying to convince management about the value of an idea, nothing will persuade them more than evidence that customers support the idea. Customer support means a better bottom line.
  8. Less creative ideas have a better chance of being implemented. That doesn’t necessarily mean that less creative ideas are better. However, when you’re pitching a new idea, you should be aware that management is more likely to implement it if they see it as being more like their current approaches. Sometimes, a vast shake-up is necessary, but sometimes the best way to move to a big shake-up is in small steps.

Further reading / recommended book:

Go Nuts: The Art of Creativity and Innovation

(Image is from here.)

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