Ask questions. Lots of them. Ask the silly ones. The ones that no one else wants to ask. Ask about the bigger idea. Ask about the details. Ask why—but also ask yourself why you are asking the questions.
Do you believe in what you do? Would you rather be doing something else? Believe in what you do. Or find a new career.
Be Someone’s Hero.
Everybody needs a hero. We just don’t want to admit it. Find someone who needs a hero. Not your boss—but the person looking for guidance—a word of encouragement or inspiration. Be that hero even if your own heroes don’t exist for you.
Talk is cheap as the cliché goes—what have you produced lately? Make it a point to end your week with at least one tangible piece of something that can be saved, printed, shared, or produced. If you can’t do it in your job—do something on your own.
Be The Change Agent.
There are two types of people. Those that dream of change and those that make change happen. But we all start out as dreamers—the difference in going from Dreamer to Agent includes taking ACTION. Build bridges. Get out of your discipline. Infect others with ideas. Don’t be satisfied with “OK”. Change Agents are not Rogue Agents—if you are really interested in change, you’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen.
Play In Someone Else’s Sandbox.
Traditional people don’t like it when you get up all in their space. They'll become possessive, protective and territorial. All the more reason to get in their sandbox. Invite them to play—even if they don’t want to. One day, they may change their mind.
People are more informed and empowered than ever. And there are no signs of this slowing down. By handing over control to customers, you’ll be sending this message: “we trust you”. After all, a brand lives in the hearts and minds of the customer—and as many are discovering, an “open source” brand helps generate delight, demand and authentic loyalty. Give your customers the tools they want and the experiences they crave. Then get out of the way and see what happens.
The brand is the experience and the experience is the brand. That said—you can’t generate a successful brand experience if you haven’t experienced some things for yourself. Do you know what it’s like to schlep a mini-van full of rowdy children from location to location? Have you wired up a home theatre? Take extreme measures to relate to your customers. Be them for a day. And if you can’t—spend some time with them. It’s the fastest way to go from theory to reality. Being experienced equals better experiences.
Think Rational. Be Emotional.
People are both unpredictable and predictable in the same breath. We all act upon logic at times and emotion at others. It’s the Human Condition. So how do we satisfy our fickle, unpredictable selves? Meet people’s rational needs—and do this exceptionally well. Then, surprise and delight them on an emotional level. It’s common sense thinking—yet difficult to pull off. If it weren’t, every experience would be as satisfying as an iPod, RAZR, Google or Harley-Davidson.
Tear Down The Wall.
Corporations thrive by having distinct departments and teams. Collaboration is encouraged—but authentic collaboration rarely happens. Why? Because it’s messy business. People are born with egos. Egos need to be un-learned. Replace your natural born ego with intense curiosity. Do this and you’ll be able to break down barriers, and do great things. When Harley-Davidson wanted to design their first high-performance motorcycle (the V-Rod), they went to Porsche for help. That’s checking ego at the door.
Few people know that the hugely successful Motorola RAZR was nearly scrapped before it ever had a chance. Why? Because some manager thought it was too much form over function. Rather than request further research, the designer simply had the concept prototyped. Once the phone was made real—it quickly gained internal momentum. The rest of the story is history. Make something real—and people will decide for themselves.
Be Both Evangelist and Agnostic.
Do you believe in something? Be an advocate for it. Others will see your passion and know that you have a vested interest in what you do. But when it comes to using creativity to solve real-world business challenges—be an agnostic. Throw pre-conceived notions out the window. Don’t make assumptions and do your best to avoid personal bias. Innovation comes from seeing the world through the eyes of a child.
Make Sponge Bob Your Hero.
Sponges soak up the world around them. When squeezed, they give some of it back. Do your best to learn from others—soak up the everyday knowledge and expertise that others have to offer. Then, when it’s your turn—give something back.
Just Do It.
The best theory is the one that gets practiced. Thinking is great. Thinking without doing is not.