How Steve Jobs Helped Me Discover the Innovator's Mindset
Weeks ago I spent a morning in a local coffee shop after meeting a friend of mine for coffee. He and I had spoken deeply and thoroughly on various topics of philosophy. After finishing up our discussion far past our allotted time, he went on his way. This left me to me, myself and my thoughts in a rather quizzical spirit. Upon the following moments, I produced this little nugget of thought pictured to the right.
"I believe you can innovate any product or thing. We are surrounded by everyday commodities that are the way they are because it is assumed that that is how it has to be. Think like a disruptor, challenge the status quo, question the ordinary. Million dollar innovations lie before us in our everyday behavior"
What this most nearly means is that the opportunity to build and construct new, value-adding innovations lie right before us in our everyday behavior. We just need the courage and awareness to question the everyday items we interact with. I believe this because we allow ourselves to accept things for the way they are because the remainder of society does not question it. It is assumed that someone else would have thought of a better way by now.
And yet, we have the Snuggie.
The Snuggie began with someone questioning and innovating the blanket. The blanket might truly have been one of the most simple items to have reached the market, and it had flaws, flaws that literally billions of people had just put up with for hundreds, even thousands of years.
It took a little awareness, a little courage and a little initiative (and perhaps a sprinkle of clever marketing) and suddenly we had a national phenomenon.
I write this today because as I reflect on these thoughts of mine, I have learned this framework on life is supported by a pretty successful guy. This guy was Steve Jobs. I have been working my way through the Biography of Steve Jobs and I fell upon a message in the story analogous to the message I have presented above.
On Steve, as quoted by Jack Dudman, Dean of Students at Reed College "Steve refused to accept automatically received truths, and he wanted to examine everything himself."
Steve would question the everyday objects and theories that many people assume are the way they are because that is the way it has to be. He lived the very same innovator's mindset (and then some) that I discovered in that coffee shop and strive towards embodying. Steve questioned those universally accepted truths, he asked how things can be done differently rather than just dealing with frustrations or limitations. This served him well in his career and I believe it is a major piece to the puzzle of innovation.
So here's to Steve Jobs and Innovators alike; Stay hungry, stay foolish