Jobs for Innovators

August 31, 2008

One of the great things about tracking your blog stats is that you can see what people are searching for when they come to your blog.  One of the phrases that led someone here yesterday was “jobs for innovators”.  That prompted me to think about what that phrase meant.  Obviously if someone is searching for it, they probably consider themselves an innovative person.  Maybe they are unhappily employed, maybe unemployed, or maybe just curious.

I believe that true innovators will flourish in many different types of jobs.  True innovation comes from within, and can cause change in any situation.  There obviously mindless jobs out there, jobs that don’t encourage new thinking, or much of any thinking at all.  But more and more, this economy has bred new “thinking” jobs that never existed before.  There are new business development positions, research and development positions, consulting positions, all screaming for innovators.

Innovative thinking has become an unspoken requirement for many of the positions created within organizations large and small.  The best thing you can do to get a job where your innovative spirit can flourish is to make it clear to prospective employers what you are capable of.  Put skills in your resume that make you seem creative.  List past experiences that led you to think outside the box.  And in your interview, talk about your passions and desire more than your hardwork and determination.

In the end, someone looking for a job that they can innovate in won’t be happy in a job without that perk.  So don’t be afraid to weed out the employers that will crush your innovative spirit.  Remember, though they are interviewing you, you have to also be interviewing them.  Innovators must be put in a position where that kind of thinking is encouraged and appreciated, so go out there and find it.


CNBC Business of Innovation Commentary (Part I)

August 28, 2008

CNBC has a weekly show called “The Business of Innovation” that is currently running.  After a referral from a friend of mine, I caught this week’s edition.  It is a very interesting panel discussion, with different themes and special guests each week.

This week’s theme was people.  More specifically, it was how to manage and inspire employees to innovate.  A very interesting topic, and one that I have touched on here before.

The most interesting discussion was the difference between the older generations in the workforce and Gen-Y, who are just joining the workforce.  There are major differences in how the groups should be managed and treated in a work environment.  Whereas money has always been a major motivator within a company, it seems that today’s younger workers are motivated in different ways.

As a member of generation Y, I can relate to this.  In myself, and my peers, I see a strong desire to connect work and social life more completely.  We spend a lot of our times in a work setting, so we tend to feel that our lives there should cross-over with our lives outside.  This means making the office more user friendly.  Many of the most innovative companies have created offices with lounges, game rooms, gourmet meals, gyms, and an overall casual atmosphere.

Things like this allow workers to become more comfortable and happier.  And happy employees will not only work harder, they will tend to be more creative.  It allows for casual discussions which can lead to new ideas.  It creates a culture of openness that leads to real personal and professional growth.

Allow your employees to relax at work and you may find that you get more out of them.  In the end, what is good for them is most often good for you.  Generation Y is taking the workforce by storm, and in this age of innovative growth and development, it is the young workers who will continue to lead the charge.

Start at Home

August 26, 2008

I realized that my last two posts have seemed kind of bleak, and very negative. So I figured today would lend itself to something a little more upbeat. And I was right. There is nothing like a reference in another blog to get the juices flowing again.

In a blog about working from home, the entrepreneurs over at, used my “Be Innovation” rallying cry to talk about starting a business on your own. Thanks guys, and I am glad you see exactly what I was talking about.

Starting your own business out of your home is a great way to focus on being innovative, and inspiring change from the bottom up. Many of today’s most successful businesses started at the smallest level. Apple, a company I love to talk about here, started out of a rented garage in California.

And technology advancements have made it easier than ever to do anything from anywhere. I know that sound s vague, but we live in a vague world. The boundaries of time and space are literally collapsing all around us. Think big, but start small. Start from home and build a business that you are in love with.

As a great example, a friend of mine recently told me about how his dad started a tutoring company. It started very simply from a single tutoring job at his home. He was so good that he got references on top of references. So he hired college students to help make all of his appointments. And so the company was born. Now they tutor elementary and high school level students across the county.

You can make a difference on any level. We all can. You just have to get started.

We Choose, They Listen

August 24, 2008

I talk a lot about companies changing the world through innovation.  I discuss different ways that companies are working to move forward.  And I offer suggestions on things you can do in business and in life to follow suit.  But the truth is, there are a lot of companies out there that are not following that principle.  There are a lot of companies out there that really don’t care about the common good of the people they serve.  They are money hungry, greedy organizations run by corrupt leaders who couldn’t care less about society as a whole.

When a food producer tries to deny the spread of a disease or bacteria instead of owning up to it and doing something about it, they are being ignorant.  When a car company puts out a faulty model that does not keep its drivers as safe as they should, they failed to see the big picture.  When a toy retailer chooses to sell cheap products made in poorly run factories, exposing their customers to dangerous materials, they are choosing money over human beings.

It’s sad but true.  But, as consumers, we have a choice.  We can seek out the companies that are doing good.  We can discover products that are more healthy and use them.  We can so to greedy companies and yes to those that give back some of the profits to help those less fortunate.

It’s time to find a cause.  It’s time to step up and be counted.  Innovation does not start at the top.  It starts with you, the consumer.  Because most companies in this world won’t do anything they don’t have to.  If you buy their products, they won’t change a thing, even if it hurts the masses.  So be a driver of change by choosing the right companies.  We all have a choice, help make the right one.

Comcast and Big Business Bullies

August 20, 2008

As someone who talks a lot about innovation and moving forward not only in business but as a society, I hate it when “big business” tries to stop the movement. I can see where it might be in their best interest to do so, because they are just not forward thinking enough to see the benefits of change. They are happy with the way things are now and think that “technology” and the so called new economy will hurt that success.

It’s never been, and should never be the role of government to protect dying corporations or big business interests. If new technologies and startup companies develop ways of doing things differently, than that is how it should be.

The recent news that Comcast is making has caught my eye. They were sued for intentionally blocking access to certain file sharing websites because, as they said, it created too much congestion on their network. And now, after losing that battle, they announced that they will limit “heavy internet users” to improve speed for other users during times of heavy congestion.

First, anyone or any company that believes in limiting the availability of information on the web has got it all wrong. Google stands out above all others in their belief in the free flow of information. After all, that is what makes the internet great. It is a tool for sharing information faster and without limits. Comcast, as an internet provider, has no business blocking its customers from achieving this.

And why is Comcast’s solution for network issues focused on hurting those people that use the service the most. That is like a restaurant charging more, or taking longer to serve returning customers. A message to Comcast:

Take a look within. Improve your service. Don’t make excuses and develop initiatives that hurt your current customers. And maybe, just maybe, people won’t leave your service as soon as they have that option.

Hiring and Team Leading for Innovation

August 19, 2008

There are a lot of ways to inspire, empower, and encourage innovation and innovators within your company.  The trick is finding the ways that work for you and your employees and sticking with them.  Ride the wave of innovation for as long as it takes you.

For both small and large organizations, hiring can be a great time to create new innovation.  Most times, at any level of the company, a fresh pair of eyes can do wonders.  They can help you see problems that you overlooked, or opportunities that you could never find.  Being in one place too long has a numbing effect, and sometimes all it takes is a fresh outlook on a business to generate new growth.

Innovation within proven organizations and teams can come from a lot of places, but it almost always is a product of great leadership.  There are multiple ways to inspire your “A” players to continue to innovate.  First, create brainstorming meetings across departments and allow people to connect to one another.  Generate many ideas and then focus on narrowing it down to one great new idea.  Then select a team and give them the full responsibility for that new project.

This will give them a passion to get things done.  It will also highlight the work they are doing and provide guidelines for which they will be judged and rewarded.  “Innovation Teams” within the scope of a larger organization should have the freedom to operate on their own while utilizing the many assets available to them within the company.  A little freedom can lead to a lot of creativity.

Can One Innovator Lead to Another (And does it matter?)

August 17, 2008

Companies founded on innovation and creativity have thrived in this world from the dawn of time.  It’s easy to see that, and easy to see why.  The world needs people and businesses to come up with the new gadgets, devices, products, foods, and services that take us to the next level.  What’s the next great thing, and when do we get to have it?

Sometimes it can be tough to tell, however, if the company is innovative, or just the founder or CEO at the time.  And there can be a big difference, especially moving forward past that individual person’s tenure.

The best example I can see is Apple.  I have mentioned them before, and they continue to stand out as a truly innovative company in every move they make.  And at the top of all of that is Steve Jobs, probably one of the greatest innovators of our time.  But we saw once already that without Steve Jobs at the helm, Apple suffered.  They became less exciting, and created less change.  They became stagnant.

How can a company set themselves up for future success, even after their heralded leader has moved on?  This is a question facing companies like Apple.  And the truth is, there is no surefire way to make it happen.  Potential successors may all be extremely well qualified, bright individuals.  But to replicate successful innovation from one CEO to the next is never a guarantee.

It’s a dangerous game you play when an innovative company becomes boring.  Loyal fans and customers are sure to notice.  Shareholders run scared, employees may lose focus, and everything the company built is in jeopardy.  For a company founded on innovation, a life without innovation cannot exist.

Steve Jobs will not be at Apple forever, and where will they go when he leaves this time?  In my opinion, Steve Jobs last job at Apple will be to secure a successor that is not only qualified, but shares with him the passion for new technology. 

And if it hasn’t started already, the best time to start looking is now.  Build a relationship up with your potential successor and show him the way.  Lend him your vision and knowledge of the industry and allow him to be great.  Then sit back and see if it works out, because you can do all the preparation in the world, but performance will define the future.