Work Ethic

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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What To Do When You Feel Like A Fraud

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Do you feel like an impostor?

It’s okay. Really. Most high-achievers do, at least occasionally. (My research indicates that the percentage may be as high as 80%!) There’s even an official name for it: Impostor Syndrome.

Impostor Syndrome. It’s that feeling that maybe you’re not quite as good at your job as others think you are. The feeling of being in a little over your head. And the feeling that, at some point (probably on the same day), everyone is going to ...

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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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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 Hate You In One Easy Step

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A friend of mine has a cat that she affectionately refers to as her “barnacle,” because he’s always there. Wherever she goes, there he is. The kitchen, the living room, the office, on the stairs—he is constantly underfoot. Sometimes literally.

That’s kind of endearing in a cat. Not so much in a boss.

Nobody wants to have the boss constantly hovering around, looking over their shoulders, meowing for food (or the boss equivalent). In fact, here’s how to make your team hate ...

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How to Be a Great Little-Known Leader

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John Wooden. Nelson Mandela. Richard Branson. Abraham Lincoln.

Great leaders, all of them. Their words and actions inspired and motivated thousands upon thousands of people.

But probably not you. At least, not directly.

You never met Abraham Lincoln. (And, if you did, you need to contact the Guiness Book of World Records people immediately.) And, although I may not know you personally, I’m guessing that you’ve never had any of the other three on your speed dial either.

Sure, you’ve read their words and ...

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