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November 2014
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Learning about innovation from Mr. Edison and his phonograph – Wally Bock


Great post from Wally Bock

Most people think of Thomas Edison as a lone inventor and marketing genius. But history teaches different lessons. Here are some from Edison’s invention of the phonograph.

Not so “lone” after all

Edison was no “lone” inventor. He set up the prototype of the modern industrial laboratory. He filled the place with people of diverse talents, divided them into small teams, and set them to work on projects. Edison called them “Muckers.” He called himself “The Chief Mucker.”

A systematic approach to innovation

Edison wasn’t interested in just inventing things. He wanted to invent things that would make money in the marketplace. Jon Gertner describes Edison’s process like this in his book,

The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation.

“Edison used a dogged and systematic exploratory process. He tried to isolate useful materials— his stockroom was replete with everything from copper wire to horses’ hoofs and rams’ horns— until he happened upon a patentable, and marketable, combination.”

Accidents played a role

The process didn’t always proceed in a straight line. In fact, Edison didn’t set out to invent a phonograph. He was looking for a way to record telephone conversations. And he handed that project over to the Muckers for almost a decade before returning to it himself.

Assembling the pieces in new ways

Edison wasn’t above using other people’s good ideas, either. The wax cylinder in the phonograph was originally the idea of Charles Tainter. Much later, Tainter made significant improvements to Edison’s phonograph. He named his device the Graphophone and marketed it as a way to play recorded music.

Users and others complete the innovation

Edison thought that his phonograph had a market, but it wasn’t playing recorded music. He thought people would use it to record the last words of the dying or creating audio books for the blind. When other people used the phonograph to record music, Edison was upset. He worried that such frivolous use would harm the market for business applications.

Eventually, he came around and started a company to sell recorded music. But that company went out of business in 1929. Tainter’s Graphophone Company would go on to become Columbia Records.

Boss’s Bottom Line

Don’t be led astray by the myths surrounding either Edison or innovation. Throughout history innovation has been mostly a team-based process of recombining what already exists in new ways. Users usually come up with uses that the original inventor never thought of. And every new innovation creates opportunity for others.

Wally’s original post

Communicate with confidence – tips for public speaking for entrepreneurs

Jason Communicate 1

Let’s face it – speaking in public can be terrifying; and it’s amazing how many entrepreneurs have stage fright. What if your audience doesn’t look engaged? What if you stutter? What if you don’t know how to answer a question? What if your audience notices you’re really nervous? Although it’s natural to have these concerns, there’s really no point in assuming that things will go wrong. Look on the bright side and stay positive.

With the right amount of preparation, speaking in front of an audience doesn’t have to be such a frightening experience. Think about your business and about your chance to raise awareness for your company and brand. That should be exciting enough to make you speak from the bottom of your heart and deliver a killer presentation. Here are some tips for entrepreneurs on how to communication with confidence and come up with the best public speech.

Know your audience

Who are the people you’re addressing to? You should know that before crafting your speech. It’s not a really good idea to think too much about the things you’re going to share. Act natural and be yourself. Start with a story and make sure it’s something genuine and intriguing. Then, start shifting the focus onto your business. Talk about you as an entrepreneur, bring up your business, your motto and mention your hopes and wishes. People want to relate to the person in front of them during a speech, and they can only do that if the speaker can prove he’s charismatic, original and insightful.

Find balance

Don’t be too salesy. If you’re attending a conference where you must talk about your brand, try not to appear assertive. Nobody likes to hear a public speaker blab about his product’s benefits for one whole hour. Find balance by sharing information. Talk about yourself as a business person, share some personal ideas about successful entrepreneurship and then bring up your business.

Your audience will want to know more about the person behind the brand. How did you come up with the idea? What did you do before? What’s your life story? It’s always a good idea to share this kind of information too. When an audience likes the speaker on stage, they will also be interested in what you’re offering.

Jason Communicate 2

Control your body language

Body language says a lot about a person. When speaking in public, body language can be extremely helpful. Maintain eye contact, control the tone of your voice, and use hand gestures to find your place. Don’t forget to breathe and try not to speak fast. It’s amazing how much one can achieve through body language. In a leadership or speaking role, excellent body language techniques are vital. This means you have to use your body to move around, your eyes to engage and your posture to gain respect.

On the downside, it can be rather challenging for entrepreneurs to improve their vocal expressions and incorporate body language in a speech or business presentation. To succeed, all you have to do is practice.

Jason Communicate 3

Welcome questions from the audience

Entrepreneurs should be more than willing to answer questions during their speech. By allowing people to get involved you create a bond. The monologue you’re currently engaged in turns into a dialogue, and dialogues builds connections. Answer all questions with confidence and don’t make silly assumptions. So what if you get a question wrong? Making mistakes is natural, and in some ways it shows your listeners that you’re human.

Stay connected to your audience at all times. If you don’t know the answer to a question, ask the audience to help you out. Since you’re the entrepreneur, the guru, the teacher they want to learn from, you should expect a lot of people eager to make themselves noticed.

Mastering the art of speaking in public is easier said than done. Most novice entrepreneurs are afraid of such encounters because theyfear that their inexperience will destroy the little confidence they have. In the business environment, your mistakes are your greatest teacher. Step out of your comfort zone and you’ll eventually attain success. Communicate with confidence; trust your instincts and you have high chances of becoming a savvy leader.

By Jason Phillips and


Your Brain Peforms Better When It Slows Down, with Steven Kotler

KotlerFrom Big Think:

Best-selling author Steven Kotler recently visited Big Think to discuss the optimization of consciousness through flow states, a key topic in his recently published book, The Rise of Superman. The best way to describe a flow state is to use the example of practically every action movie released since The Matrix. Experiencing flow is similar to being in “bullet time.” Like Keanu Reeves’ Neo (though certainly not on his level), a person in flow obtains the ability to keenly hone their focus on the task at hand so that everything else disappears.

Kotler describes it like this:

“So our sense of self, our sense of self-consciousness, they vanish. Time dilates which means sometimes it slows down. You get that freeze frame effect familiar to any of you who have seen The Matrix or been in a car crash. Sometimes it speeds up and five hours will pass by in like five minutes. And throughout all aspects of performance, mental and physical, go through the roof.”

While this may sound like sci-fi hocus pocus, Kotler explains that beneath a flow state lies “a complicated mass of neurobiology.” There’s a common myth that humans only use about 10% of their brains. If we were to assume this (and we wouldn’t, because it’s bogus), an optimal performance would then mean the brain works harder and faster to achieve 100% efficiency.

As Kotler explains, the 10% myth has it all backwards:

“In flow, parts of the brain aren’t becoming more hyperactive, they’re actually slowing down, shutting down. The technical term for this is transient, meaning temporary, hypo frontality. Hypo – H – Y – P – O – it’s the opposite of hyper means to slow down, to shut down, to deactivate. And frontality is the prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain that houses your higher cognitive functions, your sense of morality, your sense of will, your sense of self.”

Read the rest of this fascinating article

Turning Objectives into Results – Külli Koort

Turning Objectives into ResultsI enjoyed reading this new eBook on Team Collaboration, by Külli Koort of weekdone.

Turning Objectives into Results

No matter what kind of leadership style you practice or which country you practice it in, there are common challenges managers face across the globe. One of them is closely related to efficient team management. Or to be more precise, leading the team towards results. Leadership and management are a mix of art and science. On one hand, gut feeling and experience are important. On the other hand, good tools and organized processes provide a great base for building successful teams.

How do you align your team to work as one towards the goals? To start, you need well-established processes that inspire action. You need techniques that simplify your work – and one way to do it is to learn from the best.

Learn from companies like Google, LinkedIn and Skype. That’s exactly what you’ll find in the eBook. From setting clear objectives, to making sure you have regular feedback mechanism, you’ll find the best practices these companies use in managing their teams.

The eBook aims to give practical, actionable advice that will teach your team to achieve more by doing less. For leaders, it will give smarter methods for quickly knowing what is happening in the team.

Here’s the link to the ebook download: