7 Innovation Secrets Straight from the Pros that You Can Devour in an Hour

Recently, I bumped into a bright college student at University of Houston and we began a conversation on innovation. He asked what BuildMyIdea.org focused on and I explained the three strands that we focus on are self-awareness, innovation and leadership. He said that as a college student, he had started to explore self-awareness and leadership but had little exposure to innovation. I hope this post and the videos are helpful to him and many others.

Innovation is a buzz word and has many different meanings. People can debate it to death but the conversation is not what is going to solve the problem. Engagement in the innovation process will. At BuildMyIdea.org, we look at innovation as that which is novel and adds value to others. In this view, it is not revolutionary rather it can be common practice in one industry but new and valuable to another. The following videos are designed to inspire innovation among leaders particularly younger leaders that are in school. Leadership here is not a position or title but rather a choice and approach to life. The powerful videos embody our saying “Go Innovate!” Each video shares new insights and the themes build on each other. As a collective, the individual with a leadership mindset can walk away knowing that innovation is not only possible but is happening all around them and by many. Some of these may not be surprising secrets to a creative leader however they are powerful realizations and approaches to apply to one’s career and life. The videos add up to a little over an hour.  It may likely be the most revealing hour of exploring innovation you may ever have.

1. “Innovation is open to everyone now.”

Charles Leadbeater – The era of open innovation (19:01) In this deceptively casual talk, Charles Leadbeater weaves a tight argument that innovation isn’t just for professionals anymore. Passionate amateurs, using new tools, are creating products and paradigms that companies can’t. (Description from TED)

2. “Disruptive innovation comes from a small team rather than a big company.”

Harvard Business Review – The Explainer – Disruptive Innovation (2:07)

3. “Ideas take time to come together and build momentum.”

Steve Johnson – Riverhead Books – Where Good Ideas Come From (4:06)

4. “Inspiration and innovation have spontaneity.”

Steve Jobs Interview – tells us a secret (1:49)

5. “Stop trying to predict success- Start tinkering.”

Joi Ito: Want to innovate? Become a “now-ist” (12:31) “Remember before the internet?” asks Joi Ito. “Remember when people used to try to predict the future?” In this engaging talk, the head of the MIT Media Lab skips the future predictions and instead shares a new approach to creating in the moment: building quickly and improving constantly, without waiting for permission or for proof that you have the right idea. This kind of bottom-up innovation is seen in the most fascinating, futuristic projects emerging today, and it starts, he says, with being open and alert to what’s going on around you right now. Don’t be a futurist, he suggests: be a now-ist.

6. “Do something remarkable- Not the predictable.”

Seth Godin – How to get your ideas to spread (17:01) In a world of too many options and too little time, our obvious choice is to just ignore the ordinary stuff. Marketing guru Seth Godin spells out why, when it comes to getting our attention, bad or bizarre ideas are more successful than boring ones.(Description from TED) Even though this talk is more than 12 years old, what Godin says applies even more today. He makes the brilliant point that the ordinary will always be ignored and we must do what is remarkable and develop our “Purple Cow.” Another Seth Godin video worth checking out is on 99U called Quieting the Lizard Brain.

7. “Social innovation is contagious and we can spread it.”

Kiran Sethi: Kids, take charge (9:32)


What innovation secret here did you find most useful?


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