THE NEXT BIG INNOVATION: Peace!
There's a lot of different kinds of innovation going on in the world today -- business model innovation, product innovation, process innovation, disruptive innovation, and so forth. But there's another kind of innovation that most of us are ignoring --peace innovation -- what it takes for each and every one of us to be in a state of well-being, regardless of the number of innovations entering our lives.
Yesterday, the Huffington Post published an article of mine on this topic -- one that includes a compelling 28-minute video of a conversation between peace activist, Jeremy Gilley, and Prem Rawat, an extraordinary man who has been a peace advocate for more than 40 years.
Enjoy it -- and, if you do, think about who you might forward it to. We're all this together...September 28, 2013
Miles Davis on Mistakes
September 27, 2013
It All Began With Balls
Most companies begin on a shoe-string -- under-funded, under the gun, and under the radar. The company I co-founded in 1986, Idea Champions, was no exception.
When my business partner and I began, we had almost nothing -- just an idea, some chutzpah, and a deep desire to succeed.
While we both were likable, smart, and skillful schmoozers, we had zippo in the way of a marketing plan.
Racking what was left of our over-caffeinated brains, it soon became abundantly clear that we needed some kind of showcase, some kind of "window to the world" -- a place to strut our entrepreneurial stuff and get in front of the people who were the likely buyers of our service...
Back in those days, this meant one thing -- renting a booth at the ASTD convention -- the annual meet market in the training and development field.
The thought of this made the two of us slightly nauseous, since we had "cased the joint" a year before and come away with three impressions:
1. We didn't have enough money to get in the door
2. We didn't have the right marketing materials
3. We probably should have gone into our father's business.
Clearly, we'd have to do something different if we were going to distinguish ourselves from the 600 other companies vying for the same customers.
Giving out slick brochures was out of the question. (We didn't have any). Giving out our client list was also out of the question. (You could count the number of our clients on one hand -- the hand of Vinny "Three Finger" Scalucci).
In a flash of entrepreneurial mania, it became obvious that we would need a lot of balls to pull this off. Yes, the kind you're thinking of, but also another kind -- juggling balls.
The AHA? We'd create an "anti-booth" and teach people how to juggle. Our booth would be a rest stop, a haven, a place for thousands of convention-weary people to recuperate from all the other booths with their endless supply of Hershey's kisses, business jargon, and fishbowls full of business cards.
OK. So we didn't have a marketing plan, but we did have inspiration. And even more than that, a very specific idea of how to get the attention of the marketplace.
Our plan was simple.
We'd bring a posse of our juggling-savvy friends and teach thousands of convention-goers how to do something they'd secretly wanted to learn for years -- juggle. No hard sell. No corporate speak. No used-car salesman smiles -- just the experience of having a breakthrough.
And our message would be delivered in 30 seconds or less.
Here's how it worked: As aspiring jugglers dropped their balls, we'd drop in a few well-timed comments to help them make the link between what it took to learn to juggle and what it took to innovate.
Our booth was wildly popular. People loved it. People loved us. And we always had a crowd.
But "having a crowd" doesn't necessarily translate into sales -- and sales is what we were after. Were we pumped? Yes. Were we optimistic? That, too. But still we had nothing to show for our efforts.
That is, until the afternoon of the third day.
That's when we spied the proverbial big fish walking in our direction. DIRECTOR OF TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT, AT&T his name tag screamed.
This was the moment -- the moment of truth.
The impeccably dressed Mr. Big approached. He stopped, tried to look through me, and spoke:
"What's this?" he asked.
"Um.... what does it look like?" I replied.
"Juggling?" he responded.
"That's right!" I said. "Would you like to learn?"
Ah.... the existential moment of truth! Dare he lay down his plastic bags of information to try something new? Dare he stop being in charge and become a student for a change? Dare he run the risk of failing.
He looked at me. I looked at him. Then he cleared his throat.
"I've been trying to learn to juggle for 25 years," he confessed, looking at his watch. "OK. Teach me... but... all I have is five minutes."
By the grace of the juggling Gods, we taught the man. In five minutes. His mind was blown. Borderline ecstatic, he reached into his wallet and pulled out a business card.
"I don't know what you guys do," he laughed, "but I know you're not a juggling company. Call me on Monday and let's talk."
We did. He took our call -- and spent the next 20 minutes telling us about his weekend juggling adventures. How he couldn't stop. How he taught his son. How he had a ton of fun.
Then he started grilling us about our work. Apparently, he liked what he heard, because the next thing we know he's inviting us to pilot our creative thinking training at AT&T.
Which we did.
The training was a big hit -- so much so, that our now juggling-savvy client invited us back two more times the next month to do it again, (just to make sure the glowing feedback wasn't a "false positive.")
Those sessions were also a success. So much so, that Mr. New-Juggler-After-25-Years-of-Frustration pulled the corporate trigger and licensed our training.
During the next three months we taught nine AT&T trainers how to facilitate it. Then, when Lucent split off from AT&T, we taught their trainers and enjoyed five years of great results and even greater passive income.
How did it all begin?
By doing something different. By going with our strengths. By differentiating ourselves from the competition. By translating theory into practice. By giving people an experience, not just words. By skillfully responding to a moment of truth. By having fun. And...by translating all of the above into a service that delivered on it's promise.
Balls got us started, but it was execution that sealed the deal.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
1. What risk are you willing to take to grow your business?
2. What strengths of yours do you need to leverage?
3. What moment of truth is fast approaching for you?
The above story is excerpted from my next book (WISDOM AT WORK: 40 Stories of Love, Learning and Letting Go from the Front Lines of Business).
If you are an agent or publisher who resonates with where I'm coming from, let's talk.
"If not you, who? If not now, when?"September 25, 2013
The Battle of the Two Brains
Excellent TED presentation by Iain McGilchrist on the two sides of the brain, beautifully animated by the wizards at RSA Animate.September 21, 2013
Two Men Talking About Peace
Here's a powerful 28-minute video about a great innovation taking place in the field of peace. Jeremy Gilley and Prem Rawat talk about what needs to happen (and what they are doing) to help make peace a reality in the world. Highly recommended viewing!September 18, 2013
The Top 10 Reasons Why The 10 Top Reasons Don't Matter
1. If you need more data to prove your point, you'll never have enough data to prove your point.
2. Being unreasonable is often an innovator's biggest advantage.
3. Analysis paralysis.
4. You already know what to do.
5. You're going to follow your gut, anyway.
6. "Not everything that counts can be counted; and not everything that can be counted counts." (Einstein)
7. By the time you put your business plan together, the market has already passed you by.
8. "Conclusions arrived at through reasoning have very little or no influence in altering the course of our lives." (Carlos Casteneda)
9. The scientific method came to Rene Descartes in a dream!
10. "Reason" is your clever little strategy for explaining the decisions you've already made with your gut. Not that there's anything wrong with "reason," mind you -- it's just highly overrated. Like Six Sigma, for example. Or having been afraid of doing something risky in high school because others kept telling you it was going to end up on your "permanent record."September 16, 2013
The Upturn Is Upon Us!
If you are having one of those days where you are obsessing about the economy, your cash flow, and the general state of the world, take three minutes and watch this video. (HINT: It all depends what you focus on).September 14, 2013
If You Want to Innovate, Listen!
If you're interested in raising the bar for innovation in your organization, start listening more. Listening, quite simply, is the most powerful form of influence.
Generally speaking, when we think of influencing others we are thinking about our ability to get others to think and act in ways we want them to, in ways that serve our interests and objectives.
The influence process is most often conceived as the ability to provide compelling arguments -- that is, arguments that are indisputable and indicate there is only one way to proceed.
The influence process is seen as the ability to turn aside all alternative ways of thinking, to demonstrate their inadequacy in the service of making one's own position more compelling.
The ability to influence goes beyond the ability to make a compelling argument, of course. It can also involve the use of power, seduction, or fear to drive others to a particular outcome.
What is much more rarely recognized is the role of listening and empathy in the influence process.
Listening to what concerns and drives others provides a powerful basis for influence because it is by showing how your perspective will affect the concerns and interests of others that you gain others' interest and support.
But the case for listening and empathy goes much further.
If you can truly understand what others value and are concerned about, it can lead you to change your position about what is required to achieve the goals you are striving for.
If you deeply understand others, you can mobilize them, not by manipulation -- but by gearing your approach to address the real needs and interests of your stakeholders.
Listening and appreciating multiple viewpoints can help you gain more acceptance for your ideas and better ideas. And, as it all plays out, these better ideas will eventually attract more support and increase your influence -- so you can then listen more and attract more support.
Here's to the Crazy Ones!
-- Barry Gruenberg
Find the "crazy ones" in your organization. The mavericks. The fools. The flakes. Start listening to them. Give them room to move. They are the future -- even if they make you feel uncomfortable.September 13, 2013
True Grassroots Learning!