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Mental Inventory Turnover

Decisions fascinate me. Perhaps that’s because I’m not good at making them. It’s not that I make bad decisions – on the contrary, most of my decisions are pretty good – it’s just that I’m slow to make decisions. I’m a maximizer. I want the best possible result obtained the best possible way. The opposite of a maximizer is a …

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Throw a Good Party

As April rolled around my first year of college, a friend suggested we both stay and take classes spring term. I had no summer plans and, feeling somewhat spontaneous, agreed. We moved out of the dorms and into the apartment complex across the street (we chose the one with the biggest hot tub). I took throwaway classes that spring – …

We Know a Lot Less Than We Think We Know

A close friend of mine is pregnant and travels frequently for work. She always refuses the full-body scanners and opts for a pat-down instead. She jokes that she’s been felt up in almost every airport in the US. Every time she refuses the full-body scan, the workers insist that it is completely safe. Yeah, that’s what they said about the …

Gartner Hype Cycle

How could I not have known about something so interesting? Gartner, the research company, has a set of offerings they call Hype Cycles. You pull up an industry on their website and select the chart you want to see. Unfortunately, you need to be a paying Gartner customer to see them. This is where it helps to work for a …

Where did White Out Come From?

“The biggest rule breakers change our processes. They literally change how we work. Sometimes failure can be the inspiration. Who would imagine that being a mediocre typist could make you a millionaire? But for Bette Nesmith, an executive secretary at the Texas Bank & Trust in Dallas in 1951, it was an opportunity waiting to be exploited. Nesmith learned something …

Hot Teams Need Characters

“Remember that innovation stalls with the status quo. Celebrate your team members’ differences. Many years ago one of the most brilliant engineers at Atari was, well, eccentric. He lost his apartment, so he literally moved into the office, taking residence in a makeshift loft that fellow team members built for him. Incredibly, the only entrance was through a conference room. …

Innovation Through Observation

“Sometimes – if you’re lucky – you can find inspiration for innovation by observing yourself. In many parts of your life, you go through steps so mechanically, so unconsciously, that this is not possible. When you’re off your own beaten path, however, you are more open to discovery: when you travel, especially overseas; when you rent an unfamiliar car; when …

You Need a New Business Model

I have a fascination with companies that make money using creative business models (or standard business models applied creatively). This list of business models comes from Mark Johnson’s book Seizing the White Space (p.131), which teaches large companies how to be innovative. Seeing structure like this applied to different companies in different categories helps me focus my thoughts as I brainstorm companies I would like to start.

How to Answer Any Question

Well-prepared speakers do not memorize answers to hundreds of potential questions. Instead, they prepare answers to categories of questions. The way a question is phrased is secondary. Think about it this way: your goal is to launch a minipresentation within a presentation.
You can use the bucket method to reframe the question in your favor. Let’s assume that your company’s product …

Why Goldilocks Didn’t Encounter Four Bears

Listeners like lists. But how many points should you include in the list?
Three is the magic number.
Comedians know that three is funnier than two. Writers know that three is more dramatic than four. Jobs knows that three is more persuasive than five. Every great movie, book, play, or presentation has a three-act structure. There were three musketeers, not five. Goldilocks …

Matt Cutts: 30-Day Goals

Goals can be fun. Matt Cutts (Google’s Search and spam czar) shows this in his inspiring TED Talk about making short 30-day goals.