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In Defense of Creativity

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I’m currently developing a keynote presentation and supplementary workshop/breakout session on creativity and innovative thinking, and a friend of mine advised me not to include the word creativity in the title because “creativity isn’t a very in concept.” To which I respond: really? REALLY?

He said I might get somewhere with “innovative thinking,” but nobody’s going to buy a program on “creativity.” Now, bear in mind that my friend isn’t an idiot. (Many of my friends are, but not this particular ...

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You Need to Make More Mistakes

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Oscar Peterson was one of the greatest jazz pianists who ever lived. He could find chords on the piano that would just turn your heart inside out, and his blazing speed on the keyboard was legendary. A former piano teacher of his once said, “I don’t think Oscars’ fingers could make a mistake if they had to.” I had the privilege of intervewing Oscar once, and I mentioned this quote from his teacher. He gave me a huge smile and ...

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Are You Stuck on the Red Dot?

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Let’s say you have to go to the shopping mall. (You: “Death would be a preferable alternative.” Me: “Agreed, but stay with me; I’m going somewhere with this.”) And let’s say that, once at the mall, you develop a thirst for an Orange Julius. (You: “Are you serious? Orange Julius? Nobody’s developed a thirst for an Orange Julius since, like, 1978.” Me: “Again, fair point, but we’re almost there.”) Now, you don’t know where the Orange Julius is, so what ...

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How Much Are Your Blinders Costing You?

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Don’t look now, but you may be going through life with blinders on. Actually, we all are to some extent—some of us more so than others. What do I mean by this? Well, I grew up in Amish country, where horses and buggies are a common sight. Because horses have amazing peripheral vision and are easily distracted, the Amish put blinders on the horses so that they can only see straight ahead. This is a very good thing for a ...

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Don’t Change Your Business; Redefine It

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Last week I was the guest on a radio show—two hours talking about the Beatles, which is heaven for me. One of the things we spent a great deal of time talking about was the Beatles’ incredible growth and evolution from album to album. I mean, in roughly five years these guys went from Please Please Me through Sgt. Pepper and the White album all the way to Abbey Road. That’s a growth curve that’s unprecedented and, so far, unequaled ...

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3 Things You Can Do NOW to Build Your Business

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A friend of mine has a dog with cataracts. He (the dog) is perfectly happy going through his day, but he bumps into things a lot. It seems to me that a lot of businesses are plagued by “corporate cataracts.” There’s a lack of clarity, a lack of focus, in what they do. Their vision is cloudy, and this is costing them millions of dollars a year. So right now you’re either thinking, “Boy, I’m sure glad that’s not my ...

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How the Little Guy Can Win

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Say you run a small business. (Go ahead, say it: “I run a small business.”) And say you’re competing against one or more big players in your industry. (Ditto.) Is there any way you can come out ahead in such an uneven battle? Is there any way the little guy can win? Yes, there is—but not if you try to beat the big guy at his own game. You have to play a different game. It’s how underdog basketball teams ...

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Competitiveness: Friend or Foe?

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Competitiveness. It can be one of your greatest assets—or it can kill you. (Yes, there’s probably a middle ground in there, but I like to start these things off with a bang.) Like fire, it depends on how you use it. So how do you know if you’re on the right track? How do you know if you’re using competitiveness for good or evil? Like many business insights, the answer hit me this morning at the gym.

My gym is festooned ...

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How Are You Using Your Time?

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I waste way too much time. When you work for yourself, that’s real easy to do. Although, come to think of it, when I worked for other people I wasted way too much time as well. I’m trying to get better, which is why I’m writing this now. I’m sitting in a lounge in Dulles airport and I’ve got 20 minutes before I need to board my flight to Seattle. My choice—and the choice we all have virtually every waking ...

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A Proven Formula for Failure

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When I was back in high school, a friend of mine started a rock and roll band which lasted all of a week. When I asked him why they broke up, he said, “Well, we had one practice, and it was pretty clear that we’d never be as good as the Beatles, so we quit.” Leaving aside the question of whether one practice session is really enough to determine, with certainty, that you’ll never be as good as the Beatles ...

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