Don’t just create what the market needs or wants—create what it will love.
It’s a fact: beautiful designs make money. Why? Because they speak to our heart as well as our head. That’s true of big-ticket items such as cars and houses, but it’s also true of little everyday gizmos such as cell phones, running shoes or picture frames. Continue reading
I nominate “can’t” as one of the nastiest four-letter words.
“Can’t” never created or solved anything.
“Can’t” has a way of placing an artificial ceiling on you and your company’s imagination, and it stops creativity dead in its tracks.
I’ve learned that in almost any situation we encounter, it is illogical, unreasonable and irrational to use the word “can’t.” In most cases, “can’t” really means “won’t.” The truth is, you can if you will. Continue reading
Bad things don’t happen when we care; they happen when we don’t care.
None of us can do everything, but there’s one very powerful, almost magical thing we can all strive to do. And it doesn’t cost money and it doesn’t require any special technology or experience. And the most creative people and companies all do it. And here it is in just three little words: You must care. Continue reading
Change is in the air. Breathe deeply.
“A competitive world offers two possibilities,” wrote economist Lester Thurow, “you can lose. Or, if you want to win, you can change.”
For a classic example of what Thurow is talking about, just check out two iconic American products that have been around for a century or so: Hostess Twinkies and Coca-Cola. Continue reading
Some of the best New Year’s resolutions are also the simplest.
In the 1940’s and 1950’s, a plain-talking folk singer from Okemah, Oklahoma changed the way millions of Americans thought about life, love, work and society. Using nothing but his voice, an old guitar, and some occasional stick figure drawings, Woody Guthrie reminded our nation that a good life, after all, is made up of little things.
Through the years, Guthrie composed more than 3,000 songs and poems, drew more than 500 illustrations, and wrote three books, always romancing the beauty and significance of everyday life. As far as Woody was concerned, there is no such thing as an insignificant person, task, contribution or intention. Everything and everyone counts. Continue reading
At Walden Pond, Thoreau decided not to buy a rug for his little cabin. If he got a rug, he would have to get a rug beater; and if he got a rug beater, he would have to get a rug hook to hang it on. He could see where that might lead. Thoreau believed that the habit of acquiring more things eventually equated to more clutter and less joy.
Today, lots of sophisticated social studies confirm what Thoreau figured out on his own. Namely, that the happiest people tend to be those who have decided to choose experiences over things.
How About You?
This is your life, your one and only life, and you only have so much “life energy” to invest. Would you rather spend your allotted time and energy commuting to shopping sprees at a crowded mall? Or, would you rather invest it in experiencing the Great Barrier Reef with your best friend, or visiting the old country with your parents, or bicycling the Hiawatha Trail with your kids, or serving the less fortunate in your community? These questions always come roaring home to me during the holiday shopping craziness. Continue reading
Don’t sit this one out.
We hear a lot these days about the sad shape the world is in, but there are good reasons to be hopeful too. We have seen what happens when enough good-hearted people make up their minds to collaborate on a big problem or opportunity.
This month the leaders of 150 nations are meeting in Paris to see if they can summon the collective will to avert what is probably the worst problem our world has ever faced: Global Warming.
Here’s the problem in a nutshell . . . Continue reading
On her 82nd birthday, the poet Maya Angelou woke up with joy in her heart and a twinkle in her eye. Here’s what she wrote in her online notebook that day: “82 is hot. 82 is fabulous. The best so far.” By choosing the words “so far”, she was leaving the door open for future adventures and, sure enough, she went on to experience a lot of them.
When my dad Augie turned 85, a couple people suggested that his reflexes were shot, and he should think about giving up his car keys. He responded by bundling his new wife Arline into his white Cadillac DeVille and driving from Seattle to Florida in the middle of winter. Five years later, on his 90th birthday, he and Arline drove to Montana and had a two-day celebration with Dad’s 92-year-old cousin Gene. (Car keys, my foot.) Continue reading
And you’ve already won it.
People dream about winning the MegaMillions lottery, but you’ve already won the most amazing lottery of all. It’s called “life” and here’s how it works:
• The odds of your being hit by lighting are about one in 576,000.
• The odds of your getting a royal flush on your first five cards are about one in 649,740.
• The odds of your winning the $340 million MegaMillions lottery are about one in 175,000,000.
But the odds of your being born in this particular time, place and circumstance are about one in 400 billion. In other words, it’s virtually impossible for you to exist, but here you are! Continue reading
I didn’t write that headline. J.R.R. Tolkein wrote it for Lord of the Rings. He was referring to a wandering chieftain named Aragorn. While exploring Middle Earth, Aragorn came across The Fellowship of the Ring in a tavern—a meeting that would eventually lead him to become one of the greatest men of his time.
“Not all those who wander are lost.” Above and beyond the Lord of the Rings, that line has become a treasured proverb for entrepreneurs, inventors, product developers and creatives everywhere. I have it taped to the bottom-left corner of my keyboard where it affirms my wandering ways every day. It reminds me that those who are curious and adventurous—those who are willing to get off the beaten track and explore the unknown or the unexpected—will be rewarded with discoveries. Continue reading