Customer Service

How to Come Up With Breakthrough Ideas

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Do you want to know where breakthrough ideas really come from? I’ll give you a clue: they don’t come from some lightning bolt in the sky.

Breakthrough ideas, almost invariably, are found at the intersection of two or more seemingly unconnected things. What do these intersections look like?

  • They look like Johannes Gutenberg connecting a wine processor and movable type and creating the printing press.
  • They look like Steve Jobs connecting computers and a college calligraphy class and creating ...
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You Don’t Have to Change the World to Be an Innovator

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If I were to ask you to name an innovation, what would you say?

The iPhone? The Tesla? The Internet?

Maybe not any of those three. But the odds are that whatever you name would be a biggie. Something groundbreaking and game changing.

And that’s kind of what we think innovation is. Something groundbreaking and game changing. We associate innovation with names like:

  • Steve Jobs
  • Marie Curie
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Elon Musk
  • Thomas Edison

And look, there’s no question that these people are innovation rock stars. If there were ...

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How to Be the Idea Person on Your Team

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Are all of your dots the same color?

I talk about dots a lot. That’s because dots are the key to innovation, creativity, and breakthrough thinking.

Most people get this wrong. They think that breakthrough ideas—the creative innovations that make the competition whimper like scared puppies—are the result of some divine lightning bolt that only strikes the gifted few. This is the common myth. But it’s just that—a myth.

The truth is that breakthrough ideas ...

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How to Win Against Your Competition

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I’ve been doing homework for the past week or so.

I’ve been doing homework because in a little over a week, I’ll be attending a business development workshop, and the workshop leader gave us the homework assignment. Since I want to get the most out of the workshop (and since the thought of getting in trouble from the teacher triggers upsetting high school memories), I’ve been diligently working.

One part of the homework has been particularly eye-opening.

There are four steps to this ...

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What It Really Takes for You to Be in the Hall of Fame

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This is going to sound like bragging (because, let’s be honest—it is), but I was recently inducted into the Professional Speaker Hall of Fame. It’s kind of a big deal in my industry, because there are fewer than 185 of us alive on the planet. If we were a species, we’d be endangered.

Here’s the interesting thing that I’ve found about reaching an “elite” level in your profession:

At the higher levels, you actually have to be better, and work harder.

It’s easy ...

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Are You Missing This Opportunity To Engage Your Customers?

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What’s your story?

Why are you in business? How did you start? What drove you to do what you do? If you work in a larger corporation, what’s their story? Do you know?

Your story, and that of your company is a great way to attract and engage customers (as well as employees) — and yet most of us never take advantage of this incredibly powerful tool.

I once worked for a 92-year-old woman with a voice that sounded like 50-grit ...

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Why “Getting Away With It” Is the Danger Zone

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I had that dream again last night.

Maybe you’ve had it too. It’s the dream where you’ve got a final exam coming up, but you haven’t been to a single class all year.

Have you had that one?

For me, it’s typically a math test, and I have to try to read (and understand) the entire textbook in one night. Usually, I wake up before the actual exam (and it generally takes me a panicked moment or two before I realize that it ...

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Why Listening To Your Customers Will Make You Fail

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It was during a focus group that I realized my customers were lying to me.

I was working at a TV station in Portland, Oregon, and we were developing a new, nightly game show. Part of that development involved focus groups.

Maybe you’ve participated in a focus group. In our case, the process went like this. Our focus group research company somehow found several groups of likely viewers, paid them twenty bucks or so to come to a meeting room, and then ...

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It’s Not About You And Your Stupid Little Problems

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For fifteen years, I was not allowed to get sick on Saturday. Sunday and Monday were fine; I could be sick then. Tuesday through Friday weren’t ideal, although if push came to shove, I could be sick then too.

But not Saturday. I couldn’t get sick on Saturday. Why?

Because Saturday was showtime.

See, for fifteen years, I was the Executive Producer of a hit comedy TV show in Seattle called Almost Live!, and we taped the show in front of a live ...

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How to Make Your Team Members Feel Like Crap

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Here’s the scene: You’re at a party, or a conference, or a meeting—somewhere with a lot of people around. You see someone whom you’d like to talk to, so you walk over and start a conversation. And after a few seconds, they begin The Scan. You know what I’m talking about, right? It’s the moment when they break eye contact and start surveying the room, looking for someone better to talk to.

Feels pretty crappy, doesn’t it?

So why are you doing ...

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