Category Archives: 5-Second Innovation Lessons

5-second innovation lesson from Chad Dickerson

No matter where you work, it’s difficult to focus on the future when you’re fighting fires every day. This quote, from an Inc. magazine interview with Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson, holds a good lesson for startups and established companies alike:

By the summer of 2009, we were losing our minds; the site was blowing up every day. I started a small group of the best engineers, and I called it the Breakfast Club. I said, ‘I know you don’t like to get up early, but I want you to come here for breakfast three days a week, and we’re going to talk about the future only, nothing about what’s going on. We’re going to build the Etsy future.’

5-Second Innovation Lesson from Braden Kowitz

A recent BusinessWeek article profiled how Google Ventures helps the startups in its portfolio go through a rapid design and iteration process. Here’s a great quote from Braden Kowitz, a design partner at the firm:

With Gmail, we knew the problem was that people needed to organize mail better. At startups, you don’t always know what the problem is. So the value isn’t in getting it exactly right, but in getting feedback along the way.

The same could be said for large corporations.

5-Second Innovation Lesson from Russell Simmons

Another great quote from the History Channel series, “The Men Who Built America.”

“The idea is to see what’s missing. That’s what a creative entrepreneur does – he serves people with things that they need. … Sometimes you see something that everybody has to have. ‘Oh man, I gotta give them this.’ And then you go to work on it, because they need it.”
-Russell Simmons

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5-Second Innovation Lesson from Sumner Redstone

Another great quote from the History Channel series, “The Men Who Built America.”
“They don’t think in terms of money – they think in terms of wining. Now naturally if you win big in business money follows. but that shouldn’t be your objective. Your objective should be to win. Win win win, all the time. Not sometimes, all the time.”
-Sumner Redstone
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5-second Innovation Lesson from Jack Welch

Jon and I recently started watching “The Men Who Made America,” the History Channel series about Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Ford, J.P. Morgan, and Carnegie. The first episode contained three great quotes, so I’ve decided to launch a series on 5-second innovation lessons. First, from Jack Welch:

“Innovation is not a big breakthrough invention every time. Innovation is a constant thing. But if you don’t have an innovative company, coming to work every day to find a better way, you don’t have a company. You’re getting ready to die on the vine.”
-Jack Welch

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Quote of the day: How writing is exactly like entrepreneurship

I was a journalist for seven years and I’m married to an entrepreneur, but I never saw the connection between the two professions until today, when I read Hugo Lindgren’s great essay in today’s New York Times.

Based on the title, “Be Wrong As Fast As You Can,” I thought it would be an essay about business, but it’s essentially about how Lindgren has never followed through on his big dreams of writing screenplays. His comments about writing precisely mirror comments Jon (and others) have made about starting a business: fail early, fail often.

Ideas, in a sense, are overrated. Of course, you need good ones, but at this point in our supersaturated culture, precious few are so novel that nobody else has ever thought of them before. It’s really about where you take the idea, and how committed you are to solving the endless problems that come up in the execution.

Quote of the day: How Biz Stone and Evan Williams come up with new ideas

From an interview in FastCompany:

Stone: The way Ev and I work together is, I may come up with something that’s just ridiculous. But Ev is willing to listen for a certain amount of time. Like–this is a bad example–I might say, assume there’s no gravity, okay? We could do this. And, you know, the conversation might get to a good idea that actually would work with gravity.