Innovation Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated

I’d like to begin this article by sharing a couple of videos. Let’s start with this one:


https://youtu.be/zd-fOdKS6ok

And now this one…


https://youtu.be/fWovOLFh76s

The first one was initially exhibited on the show “Shark Tank”, but since I’ve never seen the show (I rarely watch TV these days) I was introduced to it in Bed, Bath & Beyond and bought it in a heartbeat. I have my own video but never uploaded it to my video page, which is why I’m sharing their commercial for it. This thing is cool; go check it out.

cereal_001
This is a real cereal lol

The second one was obviously my video, and the first time I shared it was on a post from 2013 about innovation and blogging. The thing is it was probably the shortest post I’ve written here in, at the time, probably 4 years, yet it got a ton of comments and views… did I mention it was short?

There are two main things about innovation that all of you need to know to help get along in the world… that is, if you’re the type that’s up for trying to innovate something.

The first is that innovation doesn’t have to be overly complicated; you can either create something new that no one else has done or you can take something existing and improve on it.

The second is that, even if your innovation is relatively simple, it’s still going to take some work to accomplish what you’re aiming to do.

My latest innovation, if you will, started at the beginning of this month when I advocated that I was going to write 12 posts on this blog for the month. That might not seem much like an innovation until I ask you this; how many of you have tried doing it?

I created a post a day for my business blog this past December. I did a video every day for my business YouTube channel and then I did the same on my other YouTube channel (which you can check out and subscribe to over there in the right sidebar) a year later. It’s not so much that I did those things as much as the fact that for the most part I did all of them within 3 or 4 days… just like these posts (this post was actually written on the second day after I decided I was going to do this project). Thus, in a relatively short period of time I had to innovate, establish, initiate, create, inaugurate and commence to writing, posting and adding images to each of these articles so I would be free to do the same or other types of things with both my other blogs and the marketing of my business.

Was any of this all that complicated? No, I wouldn’t say that. Even though I’m different than a lot of people when it comes to coming up with ideas to write about, I know a lot of people who come up with publishing calendars and write a lot of ideas out on what they want to talk about on their blogs, or even in books they’re writing. On some writing projects and for my marketing I tend to create outlines so I know the things I want to address and then I go after it.

That’s the easy part, and the way I see it, it’s the beginning of the innovation part; not all that complicated at all.

The creation part… that’s the actual work. No matter how many times I’ve written about blogging here, I try to find new ways to present the concepts I believe in differently so that I’m not boring anyone. To this point, not counting this particular article, I’ve averaged 901 words per post. That’s not counting the articles I’ve written for my other blogs during this same time period. I think I’d put that up against any article of 2,000 words or more than someone else writes when they’re only writing once a week (yeah, I went there lol).

Enough talking about myself; we’re all tired of that! lol Instead, I’d like to give you 5 ways to think about innovation as it applies to you:

Big Remote

1. What would you like to see in something you use?

Sara Blakely thought the traditional girdles and other intimate wear for women wasn’t achieving what she wanted for herself. Instead of starting from scratch, she came up with a design for something that worked for her, went through the process of creating more items and getting funding, and the next thing you know is she’s created something known as Spanx and has become a billionaire in the process.

2. How can you improve on something that’s already out there?

Who remembers a little computer game from the early 2000’s where you had some polar bears who made a game out of seeing how far they could flip penguins? I don’t know if the creators of what I’m about to mention ever saw that but in its own way Angry Birds was that same game, only with different animals, more colors and better sound. They also created it for multiple platforms and made millions off it.

3. What’s something you wish you had that you haven’t seen anywhere that you can create?

Illumibowl is a great example of that. The creators made something that I’d been wanting for many years because, as a glasses wearer, the only way I could see the toilet at night beforehand was to turn the lights on, which is disconcerting when you’re woken up to go. Obviously these guys had the same issue, based on the commercial.

4. What’s something you can do or create that many others either can’t or won’t do that you can add your own touch to?

I’m going to talk about myself again, but I’m going to bring someone else into the mix. Years ago I created an evaluation module for employees to use to evaluate current employees as well as help set up the parameters the wanted in new employees they wanted to hire. When I finished it I called my friend Kelvin to talk about it.

I said I wasn’t sure whether it was all that good because all I did was sit down, use an outline to come up with the criteria and then created forms on Excel. In my eyes, this was something anyone could easily create. He said “nobody else has except you, no matter how easy it was”. That was that; no matter that it hasn’t been a big seller, it’s there and I created it.

5. What will it cost you if you’re not ready to innovate anything?

You know those glasses you can wear that magnifies what you’re looking at? I thought of that back in 1983 but never acted on it. You see that picture above of the big remote control? I thought of that in the early 80’s also, but no one produced one until the late 90’s. Even without the technical skill to create either of them, how different would my life have been if I’d gone to someone with the proper skills and worked on creating them and getting them to market? What are you willing to do, and how are you willing to change your thinking to take a shot at something new or different to see where it might take you?

That’s all I’ve got for you; how will you innovate your thinking?
 

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Do You Know Chris Brogan?

A few days ago I was listening to a podcast (yes Brian, I do listen to podcasts from time to time lol) where my buddy Richard Rierson had conducted an interview with Chris Brogan. I felt good for two reasons; one, I knew Richard had always wanted to interview him and two, he had interviewed me first, although that either means he valued what I had to say a lot or Chris was much harder to get than me. lol

icon
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Trust Agents;
click the book

Either way, as I listened to the interview I came to realize just how little any of us can know about someone else, even if we’ve read their books, read their blogs, seen their videos or had them comment on one’s blog not just once but twice. 😀

In any case, he’s a fascinating guy to listen to and see what he has to say. But this isn’t a puff piece about him; not at all. In taking a break from this week’s marketing test (click here in case you haven’t been paying attention) I thought I would talk about two takeaways from the interview he did with Richard and one I got from him somewhere else some years ago… one that I think is interestingly important since I keep saying that when I grow up I want to be rich and famous.

1. You’re never as famous as you might think you are.

Chris was asked by someone what it was like having so many fans online. He said that he didn’t take it all that seriously because in his own hometown he can walk down to the local coffee shop, get coffee and possibly something to eat, and no one there knows who he is. He can pretty much go anywhere where he lives and not have people running up to him because they want his autograph.

Before I’d read that line I hadn’t had it crystallize in my mind but it’s an absolutely true statement. My friend Kelvin asked me a couple of weeks ago if I listened to any new music because I’ve never been on Pandora. I told him I had years of music from the period of music I loved so I didn’t need any of it, but if something hit me from out of the blue that I liked I’d deal with it then.

Overall, I have no idea who most of today’s young musicians are. There are a couple of names I’ve heard whose music I’ve never heard so I couldn’t comment on any of it. The same goes for TV and movie celebrities; don’t even think about asking me about anything “reality” related. For that matter, I don’t know who 98% of all athletes are either, even on my favorite teams (Syracuse University basketball is the lone exception).

Thus, if I were working in a hotel and someone who thought they were all that said to me “Do you know who I am?”, I’d probably say “no”, mean it and move on. See, as much as I’d love to be rich and famous, the truth is that the only shot I have at it is to entice a specific group that’s interested in what I have to share, and only that group, and hope that I could get at least 33% of them to know who I am and trust me enough to listen to me and buy from me. Heck, maybe all it would take would be 20%; who knows?

Overall, we can’t believe in our own importance when it comes to others. Be comfortable in your skin and put yourself out there, but don’t believe that almost anyone other than your mother is losing sleep wondering anything about you; isn’t that sad?

2. Business is personal.

In his interview with Richard, Chris threw out this gem and my eyes lit up. That’s because I’ve always believed this was a truth, even though most people you talk to in business will say it’s not.

Here’s the thing. I’m an independent consultant, and I spend a lot of my time reaching out to people in different ways. Sometimes I don’t expect to be contacted back because it’s typical sales; in other words, if I’m calling someone out of the blog and leave a message on an answering machine, there’s no obligation to call back because they don’t know me from Adam (have you ever wondered which Adam that phrase is talking about?).

If someone has reached out to me first, I return the correspondence, and then they don’t contact me again… or not for weeks at a time… that’s personal. Someone might say that’s business but it’s not; you reached out to me, I responded… it’s personal.

I’ve had some people tell me I’m too sensitive sometimes, that things happen in business. Bah! People who treat others like that when it’s business related do the same thing outside of business. Whereas it’s easy enough to change behavior from work to personal, it’s much harder to change patterns. I evaluate people in business the same way I do in my personal life, and my patterns are intentionally the same as it relates to business and my personal life. Anyone paying attention to their behavior would see they do the same.

So… on this one… I’d ask more people to consider it and the way they treat others when they believe it’s just “business”.

3. No successful person is a copy.

This came out of the interview with Richard as well, and it resonated greatly with me. I have a friend who says that one of my problems is that I keep trying to do things my way instead of just doing what someone else has already done. My response to that is we can’t always follow what someone else did exactly and expect the same results. Times change, factors change… we should take the best that someone has to offer and make it a part of who we are without losing who we are.

To try to make a point, check this cartoon out (you might have to click on it to see it bigger; if you’re new to this you’ll have to click twice lol):

BillW

All of us are unique; that’s just how it goes. We can take lessons we learn from others and apply them to our life, but at the end of the day we can only be the best “us” that we can be. Think about the 5 most successful people you know, either personally or not. You might see qualities in each of them that are similar, but for the most part you’ll realize every single one of them is totally different and succeeded because of those differences. We can learn perseverance from them; we can’t learn to be them.

I’m thinking these are 3 pretty good lessons. Course, what I say doesn’t always matter so I’ll put it out to you and your thoughts.
 

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