3 Tips to Innovating with a Co-Innovation Partner

Co-innovation is a common term used in the innovation space. It describes two organizations of any kind that come together to innovate in an area of common interest. I am not only talking about collaboration. Co-innovation seeks to deliver a result such as a product or service. There is a 50-50 contribution with this model, whether that’s money, people, labs, etc.

Co-Innovation Partner: Corning

During my tenure at HP, co-innovation played a vital role in the company. The amount of money it took to accelerate acted as a barrier to innovation. Corning was the co-innovation partner in this case.

The project we did with Corning was around gorilla glass, which we improved and expanded for more uses. Next, we worked on bending glass displays to limit eye strain. We built a frame and figured out how far we could bend the glass before it would break. This project led to the curved displays, which are now commonly used. With the constant acceleration of time and costs, finding partners with the knowledge you don’t readily have is key to fueling innovation.

Innovating with a Co-Innovation Partner

The first tip is to choose a partner with strong cultural alignment. During this time, you will be working very closely with your co-innovation partner. By alignment, I mean how they manage, oversee, and support their teams and what they expect from them.

It is also essential that both organizations grant similar autonomy to their teams. If one organization gives a lot of independence and the other micromanages, there will be unneeded friction.

Beyond people, you need to look at how the potential partner treats their customers and sells them. At HP, there is a very relaxed selling approach, but not all organizations are like that. You need to think about these things and figure out if you are willing to align with a company that approaches customers differently.

Next, it’s crucial to discover what the mission objective of the organization is. If one organization is all about numbers and the other is about improving lives, there is no alignment. If you don’t have a strong culture alignment with your co-innovation partner, your chance of success is slim to none.

Second Tip

The second tip is to define the area of focus carefully. There needs to be a substantial overlap of focus. Think of this as a Venn diagram, where your business has an area you want to focus on to achieve success. Your partner also has an area of focus where they want to achieve success. The area where these two spheres overlap is the general area of focus for this co-innovation effort.

Both organizations must have a committed interest in the common area and aware of each essential contribution. Co-innovation partners need to bring value and combine them to create a breakthrough.

The third part of tip two, which I can’t stress enough, is the need for mutual dependency. It would be best to find an area of focus where you need each other to solve problems. If one can do it on their own, then it is not a co-innovation effort.

My Final Tip

Tip number three is to secure proper sponsorship and support. The key here is to create a true partnership built on trust. In the HP and Corning co-innovation effort, I was the executive sponsor and Wendell Weeks, the Chairman and CEO at Corning, was their sponsor. I can tell you that Wendell and I talk regularly and are good friends even to this day. This level of trust and relationship was built from this project and led to better innovation.

Another thing to think about is that patent creation happens during a co-innovation. Intellectual property issues constantly come up when dealing with co-innovation. Keep these legal issues simple. Tackle this with things such as a split license approach or patent sharing.

I’ve done about a dozen successful co-innovation projects to this day. The results of which are products that you are most likely using today. Co-innovation is not a quick and easy process and takes at least a year to get a project up and running. Be patient and keep your eyes open because you never know when a co-innovation opportunity may arise.

To know more about working with a co-innovation partner: 3 Tips to Innovating with a Co-Innovation Partner

[irp posts=”4392″ name=”Subscribe to Podcast”]

Dr. Whitney Snider on Collaborative Campuses That Fuel Innovation

Whitney Snider is the Head of Alexandria’s LaunchLabs and the VP of Alexandria Venture Investments. Alexandria Real Estate Equities is a real estate investment trust that provides housing and labs for life science and tech companies. Whitney will share what ARE is doing to fuel innovation through collaborative campuses.

Whitney’s Background

Whitney works at Alexandria Real Estate Equities and is involved in venture investment activity growing the life science cluster in New York City. Focused on collaborative campuses for life science, technology, and agTech companies, Alexandria brings companies together. They help grow collaborative ecosystems that fuel better innovation.

The concentration of Alexandria’s portfolio is in some of the most innovative cities in the U.S. This includes Boston, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, and New York. Alexandria started with a vision to create a new kind of real estate company focused on the life science industry. Unique team collaborations contributed to their success as an established leader in the industry.

Collaborative Campuses

Alexandria uses four elements to fuel innovation through its collaborative campuses. The first is vocation, where they’re at locations with quality housing, good transportation, etc. The second is innovation, where Alexandria evaluates and searches to find opportunities no one has jumped on yet. Then there is talent, where Alexandria focuses on building a solid pipeline to grow the company. Lastly, there is the capital, which is needed to fuel and fund innovation at all levels. You need these elements to support your ideas.

Alexandria’s collaboration campuses range from some of the world’s biggest pharma companies to top-tier upstarts. With this diversity, there is a co-mingling of talent and energy that allows for more growth.

Alexandria’s venture and investments arm focuses on funding early growth stage companies through a built platform. This venture expands its reach and providing mentorship and capital to cultivate innovation that will improve human health.

Fueling Innovation with LaunchLabs

Alexandria has LaunchLabs sites on many of their major U.S campuses. LaunchLabs looks for up-and-coming companies in their regions. Then, they identify which ones could use their lab and mentoring infrastructure to become a new star. Alexandria tailors what they do to the specific region they are operating in. They work with teams, pinpoint their needs, and find the necessary resources to improve them. They work to push companies into the next stage of growth.

Currently, over one hundred of Alexandria’s tenants and investments are working on COVID-19 solutions. Due to COVID, they had to adapt their buildings and launch initiatives to enhance their tenants’ safety measures.

Alexandria formed a dedicated COVID-19 advisory board to improve and provide insights on the pandemic. As I’ve learned, there is no playbook when it comes to things like COVID. Having good processes and knowing when to change the process is vital to succeeding in times of disruptive shock.

The Future of ARE

Currently, there are 10,000 diseases known to humankind, with only 10% having some available treatment. Alexandria believes they are on the edge of a biology revolution. They want to find innovative ways to treat the world’s major health issues.

Through COVID-19, it has been amazing to see the development of successful vaccines under high levels of pressure. Please don’t underestimate the power of human ingenuity and collaboration when it comes to innovating solutions.

If you want to keep up to date with what ARE is doing, check out their website here. Check out Whitney Snider’s LinkedIn here.

About our Guest: Whitney Snider

At Alexandria, Whitney supports Alexandria’s venture investment activity and other strategic initiatives to grow the New York City life science cluster.  She also oversees general management, operations, business development, member recruitment, and programming for Alexandria LaunchLabs in New York City.

Whitney was formerly at an early-stage venture capital firm based in New York City. She spent two-and-a-half years at Celgene as Director in the Business Development group. Previously, she was a Consultant at Bain & Company in both its Boston and New York offices. She received her Master of Business Administration degree with High Distinction from Harvard Business School and her Doctor of Medicine degree from Tufts University School of Medicine.

To know more about Whitney Snider and ARE listen to this week’s show: Dr. Whitney Snider on Collaborative Campuses That Fuel Innovation.

[irp posts=”4392″ name=”Subscribe to Podcast”]

Cyril Bouquet – Better Innovation with ALIEN Thinking

Cyril Bouquet joins us to discuss “A.L.I.E.N. Thinking: The Unconventional Path to Breakthrough Ideas.” His book breaks down five keys to creating disruptive ideas called ALIEN Thinking: Attention, Levitation, Imagination, Experimentation, and Navigation.

Cyril’s Background

Cyril is a Professor of Innovation and Strategy at IMD. Growing up, both of his parents were professors, but he had no desire to become one. Cyril had to do French military service, and one way to got about this was through civic service. Through his civic service, he fell in love with being a professor.

Cyril Bouquet was a professor in Canada and later came to teach at IMD in Switzerland. He has been an immigrant most of his life, to which he attributes a lot to his passion for innovation. He was raised in tropical islands, lived in France, Canada, and now lives in Switzerland. Through coming to different countries, Cyril has learned that there are many different ways to approaching the same situations.

Better Innovation with ALIEN Thinking

Through Cyril Bouquet’s story, it is interesting to see how different parts of the world view things differently. This ties into the new book he co-authored called “A.L.I.E.N THINKING: The Unconventional Path to Breakthrough Ideas.”

A.L.I.E.N is an acronym for identifying the keys to being highly innovative. It is a metaphor that highlights the need to get rid of our previous assumptions. We have to think like an alien, coming from a different planet, or as I like to say, thinking outside of the box. The book explores the A.L.I.E.N acronym that applies to innovation in any field.

The A stands for attention, or how you look at the world. Sometimes we need to zoom in or out and switch our focus. In the book, Cyril emphasizes not being too focused, as it can restrict your ability to come up with new ideas. There is a balance where you need to be engaged and concentrated while being attentive to the right things. If you want to develop an innovative concept, you need more fluidity than often taught. The L stands for levitation or stepping back, separating yourself, and expanding your understanding.

Imagination and the Loss of Creativity

The I stands for imagination composed of playing with ideas and putting things together. A few weeks ago, I did a show that talked about a study N.A.S.A. did on kids and adults using their creativity test. 98% of the kids under the age of 6 passed the test, while only 18% of the adults passed it. Above all, much of the loss of imagination comes from schooling that teaches you to stay on specific paths.

Moreover, young kids are less afraid of what others think of them. They don’t care what they look like and are okay being themselves. As they become older, they start to care more. As they grow older, conformity starts to creep in. This concept is the same when dealing with innovation creativity. The more we think ahead, the less we innovate as we become afraid to play with ideas.

Experimentation and Navigation

The E in A.L.I.E.N stands for Experimentation. The way we test ideas is often wrong, as we do it to prove we are correct. We use data to rationalize the story we have in mind and fail to learn from it. It is essential to be open to learning and discovery within the experimentation process.

The N stands for navigation or finding ways around things that are blocking innovation progress. Cyril believes this is the hardest part of innovation. It is because people often don’t understand your idea. We often overestimate the support for our ideas that we will get.

Often killed immediately, most ideas scare people when they disrupt existing business models. In other words, the success of any innovation is very low. Innovators have to describe their ideas in a way that resonates with people for them to be successful. The language used to describe your innovation is so incredibly important.

If you want to keep up to date with what Cyril Bouquet is doing or grab a copy of the book, check out the website here.

About the Guest: Cyril Bouquet

Cyril Bouquet is a Professor of Innovation and Strategy at IMD, where he orchestrates all kinds of innovation journeys for companies that seek to create the future. He is the co-author of ALIEN THINKING: The Unconventional Path to Breakthrough Ideas (PublicAffairs; March 16, 2021).

As a professor at IMD, Cyril is doing research that has gained significant recognition in the field. His Ph.D. dissertation won the Academy of International Business 2004 Richard Farmer Award. Since then, he’s published one book “Building Global Mindsets” (2005), and several academic articles in the most prestigious academic journals, including Harvard Business Review, M.I.T. Sloan Management Review, the Academy of Management Journal, the Journal of International Business Studies, the Journal of Management, and the Journal of Management Studies.

To know more about Cyril Bouquet and ALIEN Thinking, listen to this week’s show: Cyril Bouquet – Better Innovation with ALIEN Thinking.

[irp posts=”4392″ name=”Subscribe to Podcast”]


Do Faster Release Cycles Hurt Innovation?

The Killer Innovations Show with Phil McKinney is now on Season 17th!

Have you noticed that there is a constant cycle of new product releases? Organizational quarterly results often drive these releases. Cars, smartphone devices, home automation products, applications all follow this pattern of release cycles. I believe the fear of being left behind is what draws people to upgrades. They don’t want to pull out an old generation of a phone or drive an outdated car.

Fast Release Cycles

In most companies, product managers will make incremental changes while portraying them as revolutionary upgrades. They put minor innovations into releases to get customers to buy the upgraded version nine months later. Companies have made it a standard operating procedure to launch numerous releases of the same product with minor cosmetic changes.

One example of this comes by way of Canon’s cameras. Canon has a top-rated camera called the Canon Rebel that came out in 1990. Between 1990 and 2004, Canon released eleven versions of the Rebel. New versions of the product came out in 92′, 93′, 96′, and 99′. The subsequent three releases (2002, 2003, and 2004) went through two releases per year. Here, you can see Canon accelerating releases of the Rebel’s next version on an annual basis.

Another example of an accelerating release cycle comes from the Apple iPod. From 2002-2007, there was a new release of the iPod every year. The iPhone updates at a similar rate.

While these are some common examples, these fast release cycles also occur in other industries. They can be attached to fashion, home appliances, automobiles, and various things besides consumer electronics.

Do Faster Release Cycles Hurt Innovation?

Inside organizations, innovators want to create revolutionary products. The pressure to pump up sales comes from shortening release cycles with recorded quarterly profits. Pumping up products becomes a drug that many organizations get hooked on. It conveys a false sense of innovation capability to shareholders and investors.

Organizations that get hung up on fast releases fail to make long-term investments into revolutionary products. They feed into the next release cycle, hurting innovation efforts along the way.

Here is a personal example of a product I was involved in that was negatively affected by fast release cycles. The product was the 2011 HP Touchpad, based on some ongoing tablet work. As the CTO, I pushed for the creation while leading the Palm acquisition’s due diligence. After the 2011 HP Touchpad was released, the board of directors discontinued it seven weeks later.

Internal organizational fighting is what led to the ruin of the product. Proponents for traditional product release cycles were firmly anti-new products. They came out in force, preventing dollars from going to new products. They wanted the spending dumped into traditional HP laptop and printer products. These conventional products are low risk but don’t add much value to products.

At this time, HP valued good quarterly numbers over long time growth and the transformation of lives. Ultimately, this mindset resulted in the death of many other innovative products.

Advice for Innovation Leaders

As an innovation leader, you need to avoid falling into this trap. Incremental changes to existing products are not innovation but artificial marketing. Following the discontinue of the Touchpad, I announced that I was leaving HP. Dealing with the innovation antibodies in this situation was very frustrating. While this case was extreme, this is often the reality of innovation efforts.

As we have seen, faster release schedules hurt innovation. The law of patience says that innovation takes longer than you think. Trying to force it into a release schedule is incrementalism, not innovation.

The law of resources says that you should not tie your resource commitment to a release or budget cycle. An organization that focuses on accelerating release cycles is not doing proper innovation. As an innovator, it is crucial to fight the urge to be like everyone else.

To know more about release cycles, listen to this week’s show: Do Faster Release Cycles Hurt Innovation?

[irp posts=”4392″ name=”Subscribe to Podcast”]

Innovating Wicked Problems

Wicked problems are problems that are extremely difficult or impossible to solve. The best example of this type of problem comes from a project I did with the Department of Education.

Wicked Problems

This project aimed to innovate kindergarten through 12th-grade education in the U.S. We ran a series of workshops in our attempt to transform education. The project turned out to be an extremely frustrating endeavor. Looking back, I realize that this qualified as a wicked problem.

This type of problem is something that is inconsistent and changes over time. People’s opinions on the problem also change over time. The ecosystem of people interested in education, such as policymakers, teachers, unions, and students, have different opinions and think theirs are superior.

A wicked problem also has a sizeable economic burden or risk. If you mess up education, you impact a generation of people and how they compete in the marketplace. Entangled with other problems by nature, wicked problems are complex.


Wicked problems can often be overwhelming due to their size and complexity. The complexity of the problems comes from these entanglements. For example, if you look at the poverty problem, it is linked to education and linked to nutrition.

Each wicked problem has a set of organizations that are trying to solve the problem. Some try to solve poverty, education, nutrition, economic disparity, etc., from their perspective. Each group believes their approach is the right one. This process becomes part of the overall challenge in finding innovative solutions to these wicked problems.

Wicked problems are unique, and everyone frames them differently. Other things that challenge the solving of wicked problems are restraints and limited resources. These can come in the form of laws and contracts and limited finances and time limits.

Wicked problems are never entirely solvable. The education problems today are just different than the issues that existed when I was in school.

Strategies and Keys to Success

There are two keys to success when finding innovative solutions to these types of problems. Firstly, there is multi-disciplinary collaboration. There need to be experts in many different fields involved in these efforts. If you want to solve education, you need parents, nutritionists, economists, educators, etc.

The second key to success in this area is to have perseverance. Wicked problems are never done and require continuous improvement.

There are a few strategies to tackling wicked problems. The first strategy is an authoritative strategy, which gives a group or individual the responsibility of making decisions. This process simplifies the complexity problem, but some perspectives of the problem are left out.

The second strategy is a competitive strategy that puts opposing points of view against each other. This way presents many different solutions but creates a confrontational environment that reduces knowledge sharing.

The third strategy is collaborative, which consists of getting people to discuss and share their knowledge. The con here is that a collaborative approach takes a lot of time. Remember, don’t think about solving wicked problems. Instead, seek to find the proper intervention that will improve them and continue that cycle of improvement.


Let’s recap the discussion on wicked problems. The first element to innovating this type of problems is to recognize that there is an adaptive vision. It’s not about finding a solution but applying that intervention.

The second element is creating an idea-safe environment that brings people together. It is essential to experiment and try new ideas while encouraging social bonding.

The third element is to enable knowledge sharing. People often approach wicked problems with biases that don’t help the situation. It’s vital to encourage differences and frame them as strengths. One way to do this is to force face-to-face interaction. This type of interaction is the most beneficial for collaboration.

The last element is recognizing that execution is learning. Don’t focus on timelines and blueprints when dealing with complex problems. These things are often changing, so you need to be ready to adapt through each step you take.

To know more about innovating huge unsolvable problems, listen to this week’s show: Innovating Wicked Problems

[irp posts=”4392″ name=”Subscribe to Podcast”]


Is Creative Thinking Based on Nature or Nurture?

Is creative thinking based on a born ability, or can you learn it like any other skill? Is it nature or nurture? There is research that argues both cases, and I believe you can do both. I would say that we are all born highly creative.

Creative Nature vs. Creative Nurture

Children use problem-solving and their imagination every day. Here’s some insight into this creative transition from child to adult. In 1968 George Land tested 1,600 kids to analyze their creative transformation. He focused on three-five-year-old kids and used a creativity test developed by NASA. This test helped identify highly creative engineers, thinkers, and problem solvers. It had proven to be incredibly valuable in NASA’s recruiting process.

George Land tested the same kids when they were five, ten, and fifteen years of age. 98% of the five-year-old kids passed the test, 30% of those same kids passed the test at ten years old, and 12% of them passed the test at fifteen years old.

Two hundred eighty thousand adults took the NASA creativity test, and only 2% of them passed. The result of the study was the realization that non-creative behavior is learned as people age.

Unlearning Non-Creative Behavior

Non-creative behaviors fall into two categories: rules and regulations. The educational model that we use today originated in the Industrial Revolution. The purpose of schooling during this time was to produce good workers who followed instructions.

The question then becomes, can you teach creative thinking? I believe you can teach and learn creative thinking. However, you cannot use traditional learning methods like lecturing, reading, testing, memorization, etc. There are many “creative thinking” courses out there that I would call traditional such as one-day courses, talking head on a YouTube video, or a “guru” speaking on stage.

When it comes to creative learning skills, you first must unlearn by breaking old habits and patterns. Intensify the breaking of old habits by creating new muscle memory. Getting out of the comfort zone is also a big part of this, and it starts with humility. People often come into my workshops with an ego problem stemming from prior successes. Ego is one of the most significant barriers that leaders have when trying to rediscover their creative thinking. Overall, it’s an unlearning process, not a learning process.

Unlocking Creative Potential

You don’t become a Marine by reading a book. Instead, you go through intense boot camp experiences. Likewise, you don’t learn to be creative. You become creative from intense experiences. Becoming creative entails various challenges and tests that put you under stress. Remember the military model and how you can apply it to teaching and learning creative thinking skills.

You should also hang out with creative people that have experience because it creates community. In the Innovation Boot Camp course, we give those who complete the course a callsign— which signifies the experience they went through and achieved. The callsign is a symbol to wear. When we run into someone who has taken the course, we share that common experience of creating community.

The Innovation Boot Camp is a great way to unlearn bad behavior stemming from rules, regulations, and assumptions. The boot camp puts every student into a very intense experience. We start with a blank sheet of paper on Monday and a finished product to pitch on Friday.

To know more about creative thinking, listen to this week’s show: Is Creative Thinking Based on Nature or Nurture?

[irp posts=”4392″ name=”Subscribe to Podcast”]

10 Inventions I Would Uninvent

As innovators, we should always ask ourselves what the unintended consequences of our inventions will be. Some unintentional things can be positive, but some can be very negative. Let’s look at a list of past innovations that I would uninvent if I could.

The Invention of Robocalls

The first invention that I would like to uninvent is robocalls. These calls include anything from selling automobile maintenance contracts to various telemarketing campaigns. In our office, our employees get eight to twelve robocalls every day.

Robocalling is the result of telephone calls going digital and the creation of voice over IP. This technology opened up the door for the invention of robocalling. The inventors of voice-over IP did not think their invention would be this widely misused. Misuse of the technology has spread more widely as regulators haven’t been able to keep up with it.

The Atomic Bomb, Speed Cameras, and Social Media

The second invention I would uninvent is the atomic bomb. Atomic energy has been very beneficial to society. The creation of the atomic bomb is an excellent example of the harmful use of good innovation. If I could, I’d keep using atomic sciences for medicine and energy but get rid of the bomb.

The next thing I would uninvent is speed cameras that clock your vehicle’s speed and send you tickets. These have some positive uses, such as license plate tolls that mail a bill to your address and improved road safety.

The bad thing about the speed camera technology is that many third-party companies install cameras and split the toll money with the municipalities. With a third-party in the picture, it opens the door for many unethical practices for these companies.

The fourth technology I would uninvent is social media. I believe social media creates an amplification effect of similarities. Social media algorithms misuse and manipulate data and information and place things in your feed. I prefer to spend my time on LinkedIn and the Innovators Community, which are more professional and don’t artificially put stuff in your feed.

Tobacco, Plastic, and other Chemical Weaponry

Number five on my list is tobacco, a hard one for me as the family on my grandmother’s side were tobacco farmers in Kentucky. I remember helping with the tobacco harvest in the summers as a kid. The fundamental role of tobacco is damaging as it is addictive and bad for one’s health. My mom was a heavy smoker, so I would love to get rid of tobacco if I could.

The sixth invention I would love to get rid of is chemical weaponry, which started with mustard gas before WW1. Many more dangerous weapons came about because of this invention. Now the world is forced to form treaties to deter abuses of these technologies.

The next thing I would love to get rid of is plastic. Plastic has had many positive uses, especially in healthcare. The early versions of plastic that never decompose are the real problems. Here’s an example of an invention with unintended consequences. Innovators were encouraged to solve the problem and resulted in bio-degradable products that are very useful.

In the past, I’ve shared our work with Lakeside Fish Farm in Rwanda, the largest fish farm in the country. Rwanda has a stringent no-plastic policy. Packaging fish without plastic has proved a challenging task. As a result, there has been a lot of work done on creating alternative packaging that reduces the need for plastic.

Computer Viruses and Chemical Ingredients

Another unintended consequence I wish I could erase is the invention of computer viruses and malware. Many of you may not know that I was doing work around computer viruses and had some engagement with Dr. Fred Cohen in my early days. My work on computer viruses focused on cutting down illegal software copying. The intentions were good, but over time, they led to malware and other dangerous things.

The next on my list is the overuse of chemicals in foods. I’ve gotten into the habit of reading ingredient lists on the foods I eat and liquids I drink. When looking at the ingredients of food and drink, many chemicals’ inclusions solely benefit the producer. These chemicals make foods last longer, cost less to produce, etc. One example is high-fructose corn syrup, a common replacement of sugar that is very unhealthy.

What Invention Would You Like to Uninvent?

For the tenth and final invention, I want the listeners to think of something they want to uninvent and add to the comments.

To know more about the inventions that I would like to uninvent, listen to this week’s show: 10 Inventions I Would Uninvent.

[irp posts=”4392″ name=”Subscribe to Podcast”]

Why Creative Expression is Important

We often wonder if people will accept our ideas or criticize them. This fear can halt us from utilizing our creative expression, which ultimately affects how we innovate. When our creativity is encouraged, it can have a positive impact.

Creative Expression

When coming up with new ideas, early encouragement gives you the motivation to repeat them. In my seventh-grade art class, my teacher was showing us how to cut linoleum blocks. Being a boy scout, this was a natural thing for me, and I enjoyed experimenting with it. With the knife and the block, I constructed a dragon’s head that I used for stamping. The teacher liked the dragon head I created and showcased my work to the entire class.

Unknown to me, she submitted one of my prints to a local art contest, and I placed towards the top of the competition. I still have that linoleum block on my bookshelf, and it continually reminds me of that first level of encouragement I received. What she did can be applied to putting innovative ideas out there.

The Power of Encouragement

The question of today is how to encourage creative expression. Showing people that linoleum block I made was risky, as students could have laughed at it. However, I am glad my teacher showcased it because it encouraged me in a way that I didn’t think it could. I would love to go back to jr. high and thank my teacher for her encouragement, but unfortunately, I cannot. I can, however, pass on what she did for me by paying it forward to others.

When you see someone being highly creative and coming up with ideas, be encouraging to them. It would help if you were an encourager of others as it holds a lot of value. People don’t often realize that words go a long way. However, keep in mind that you should refrain from false platitudes as they decrease the value of your encouragement.

When giving an encouraging word, remember to explain why you are giving this encouragement. Ask questions such as how they came up with the idea. Please provide feedback on how they can do it better but do so in a positive way. Don’t be afraid to spread awareness about other people’s ideas as well.

Imposter Syndrome

While encouraging creative expression is essential, being able to receive it also holds importance properly. Many people suffer from imposter syndrome, which makes it hard for them to receive encouragement. People with this syndrome are afraid of taking any credit for their successes. These people feel as if they just got lucky and don’t deserve any of their accomplishments. In this occurrence, our irrational mind tries to credit something else with our success.

I am a big sufferer of imposter syndrome and gave a TEDx talk on the syndrome years back. The experience is where I draw my knowledge on this topic. When people encourage your creative expression, it is crucial to avoid this pitfall. It would be best if you assumed people have positive intent when encouraging you. Ask why they responded the way they did about your ideas and use it as a learning experience.


At this point in my career, I am not the one coming up with many ideas. I build teams and encourage those teams to come up with ideas that turn into innovations. My role is attracting the right talent, creating a solid funding base, protecting from outside antibodies, and being an encourager to my team.

You may think of me as an extroverted person. I’ve done speeches, hundreds if not thousands of YouTube videos, a radio show, this podcast, etc. The reality is that I am an introvert and am happy being a homebody. I have to work extra hard to be the encourager to those doing interesting work. Encouraging people online tends to be a lot easier but can lead to comparison, which leads to discouragement.

We discussed not letting social media be your validation on a recent show. My friend Ernie, who worked with me at HP, is a great photographer. He spends a lot of time travelling and taking extraordinary photos. I follow him on Instagram, where I post photos that I take as well. When Ernie likes my photos, it is a form of encouragement to me.

Encouragement is a learning opportunity. Remember that you should not expect anything in return for giving out encouragement. Focus on genuine encouragement because it holds meaning. I challenge you to take the next step and encourage people’s creative expressions wherever you find yourself today.

To know more about the power of creative expression, listen to this week’s show: Why Creative Expression is Important.

[irp posts=”4392″ name=”Subscribe to Podcast”]

What is the Biggest Killer of Creativity?

We all struggle with being creative from time to time. We may feel like we have lost something, and nothing seems to spark that creative flow. What is killing your creativity? Your ego is the biggest killer of creativity. The struggle tends to become an issue for people in the middle and later years of their career.

The Biggest Creativity Killer

When you are called upon to be highly innovative and creative, the fear of failure can often step in and stump you. You might subconsciously have a bias towards making yourself look good and feel good. This bias feeds your ego and vanity and turns into a vicious cycle. I have seen many people get caught in this cycle and eventually get stuck in a rut.

If you look at highly innovative individuals, they tend to be most prolific in their early thirties. This cycle happened to breakthrough artists and inventors such as Ansel Adams, Thomas Edison, Nicola Tesla, and many more.

As you achieve success, it becomes more challenging and more problematic as it feeds the ego. Naturally, you will act in ways that fit into how you want to be perceived by others, resulting in a creativity killer. For example, if you are a top innovator, you will fall into the trap of keeping that specific image or brand. When this happens, your lifestyle, identity, social status, reputation, etc., will impact the creative risks you are willing to take.

My Experiences

You may wonder how I came across all this knowledge of the topic. The knowledge I have comes from what I experienced in my own life. I had great success in the innovation space early on in my career.

In my mid to late twenties, I won two best product of the year awards two years in a row. Three times I led teams that won Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Teams” awards, I did numerous products, had a radio show, and now a podcast. Looking back at how I used to be versus how I am now, I realize I am completely different. I now have a brand, a reputation, accolades, and an ego. I recognize that I have let that get in the way of things and hold me back in the past.

Everyone wants people to like them and to keep giving them positive feedback. The more we build up those accolades, the fewer risks we start to take, opening up room for a killer of creativity. To achieve creative success, you need to be aware of your vanity and let go of your ego. Disconnecting your ego from creativity enables you to take risks, which opens up the opportunity for outside success.

Taking risks is essential for innovation success. Without it, you are not going to make progress. Taking risks open up previously unconsidered areas. When you stop caring about what people perceive to be true about you; then you will see success. While this concept is simple, it is not an easy thing to do.

Keeping Your Ego at Bay

The most significant way to keep your ego at bay is to stop comparing yourself to others. Each of us is on a different creative journey. The path I’m on is not the path you should be on, as no two paths are the same. If you keep comparing yourself to others, you are feeding that ego and will end up disappointed.

In my opinion, social media hurts a lot in this area, primarily through how it impacts your ability to be creative. Social media is not reality, and often give us the idea that we are not as good as others. Don’t try to be somebody else, rather be the best version of yourself. Don’t shy away from your natural gifts and talents because you will get into a state of self-doubt if you do. Once this happens, you lose your ability to be creative and innovative.

We are currently in a transition from the information and knowledge economy to the creative and innovation economy. Allowing room for a creativity killer will halt your creative potential. You need to find ways to continually nurture your creativity and keep that ego at bay, to be successful going forward.

To know more about the biggest creativity killer, listen to this week’s show: What is the Biggest Killer of Creativity?

[irp posts=”4392″ name=”Subscribe to Podcast”]

5 Tools I Use for Innovation and Creativity

I enjoy reading as well as listening to podcasts and audible books. With all the information I come across, I have to capture, organize, and recall to use them. I’m currently working on a new book as well as some disruptive innovation courses and workshops. The real challenge for me is finding a single tool that solves the issues stated.

The Importance of Utilizing Tools

Over the last six months, I challenged myself to find the right tools for innovation. I combined them in a way that I can capture the input, organize it, and make it easy to retrieve. The criteria I emphasized was usability on a mobile phone and desktop. I carry an Android, iPhone, and laptop on me, as well as an iPad Pro.

I need tools to collect from books, podcasts, websites, magazines, and emails—information collection with minimal manual steps. The tools also need to adapt as the content focus shifts.

As of late, ethical innovation is my focus. Sometimes my focus shifts to discussing the digital divide and other things. I also need to be able to find information without remembering exact wording. I need tools that create the serendipity effect.

The 5 Tools I Use

Tools for Information Collection

The first tool I have used for innovation is the Moleskine notebook, which I have thousands of. Recently I have shifted to the reMarkable 2 tablet. Using the tablet is like writing on paper but better. There is a pen for writing and erasing, and it stores and exports all my information to my mobile phone and desktop. I actually wrote out the entire script for today’s show on my tablet.

On top of my writing, I read a lot of information from RSS news feeds. I am a big user of Feedly— for access to its AI engine. Very trainable, it interprets sentences to see what concepts are being talked about. I scan through 500-600 articles a day and save different feeds that I like to the Pocket app. The Pocket app is a collection of things that you save to read at a later time.

Another tool I get information from is through my Kindle Oasis. In the Kindle, I can highlight things I like. They are automatically fed into my workflow for future inspiration.

Podcasts are also things that I capture content from. Using an app called Airr, I use their podcast snippet that can capture interests with a touch of the screen. Otter.ai is another tool I am experimenting with to help me capture ideation sessions.

Organization/Combination, and Serendipity Tools

One tool that I found recently was Readwise. It collects and combines everything from my Pocket, podcasts, Kindle, hardcover books, articles. It also points out things in your collection that you might not have picked up. Readwise may trigger serendipity.

While Readwise is great, it only prepares information for what I am looking for. I also found an impressive tool called Roam Research. It takes everything from Readwise and organizes them. It connects words and concepts for you. Roam Research runs very well on mobile phones. I use the software for my show content, books, articles, as well as my project work.

To know more about tools for innovation and creativity, listen to this week’s show: 5 Tools I use for Innovation and Creativity.

[irp posts=”4392″ name=”Subscribe to Podcast”]