Category Archives: Innovation

Blogging & Writing while you are feeling the inspiration

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I tend to focus on what needs to be done. I tend to do tasks in a concentrated way. I’ll do emails daily, but other tasks I’ll do for several days at a time until done, and then on to the next thing. But, with blogging, it makes more sense to write the blog at the moment you get the inspiration instead of waiting. You can always write your ideas down on a list and write the actual blogs later. But, there is a flow in writing, and if you do something else while you are inspired to write, you might not get that inspiration back during the time you scheduled to write.

My main flaw is that I’ll try to do writing for four days in a row and get very burned out. I crank out a lot of articles, some of which are interesting, but it is too much. Writing might be better done a little bit every day instead of in a huge clump.

My guru is also upset with my meditation habits as I will go on vacation for a week and meditate for four hours a day, and ignore my meditation for the most part while I’m at home.

Sticking to busy daily habits where I’ll do a little bit of ten tasks every day is too confusing to me. I feel I can’t concentrate on anything if I do too much, but maybe it’s a good way to stay in a writing mood every day…

Here’s what Google is doing wrong regarding employee satisfaction!

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Out of curiousity, I visited Facebook and Google headquarters. They are both in San Mateo County, and both on the Eastern side of the county next to the bay. They both have beautiful walking paths that go to or around swampy sections of the bay. These innovative companies are of the opinion that employee satisfaction matters a lot. To deliver satisfaction they have fun offices and ways for employees to relieve themselves at the office. You can ride a funny looking bicycle, you can take a walk to the bay in the hills, play golf, and more. They place a high emphasis on recycling, clean air, and happiness. And that is good. But…..

Google’s headquarters
Google had endless amounts of cafes in the buildings near their headquarters. But, they wouldn’t let me in since I don’t work for them. I think they should let me in so I could exchange ideas with their staff. The cafes all looked the same and didn’t seem at all exciting. Then, there were the patios which looked nice. People were working with the laptops. The idea is that you might come up with more innovative ideas if you are sitting in a patio, and perhaps bumping into friends from time to time. Personally, I can’t think in a cafe or patio, but others function quite well in this environment. The goofy looking multi-colored bikes with the google colors were fun to watch. But, are they all they’re cracked up to be. I found Google headquarters to be very square, formulated, unfriendly, and lacking imagination. I’m a huge fan of Google and had hoped for more.

My suggestions for Google
I love Google. You made my career happen! Hurray! But, your headquarters remind me of seeing a dozen Korean kids sitting in a Koreatown cafe all with the same wannabe hip outfits and purple or orange hair. Meanwhile in Santa Monica, aging hipsters and stoned teenagers convened at local cafes. They didn’t have to “try” to be cool — they just were. The Koreans were following some type of prescribed formula for coolness. Wear this outfit, get this hair color — and don’t forget to get a piercing, can’t be cool without the piercing. The Korean kids just looked like a bunch of uptight stiffs who were imitating white kids from the 80’s while Santa Monica’s kids and aging hippies were just being themselves with their far out political theories, marijuana, music, and more…

Google seems to be following a prescribed formula for employee satisfaction.
There are cafes and patios everywhere. Funny looking bicycles, volleyball, hiking, and more. But, why not have more laid back cafes? Do the cafes have to all be the same with a place to slide your employee identity card, and then get in a line to get your stuff? Do the patios have to all be the same? Do the people have to all be so unfriendly? Couldn’t they have cooler bikes with microchips to track them in case they get stolen? In China, tech companies hire hot girls to interact with the programmers. Couldn’t Google hire some friendly people to interact with their employees? They do the opposite. As a visitor, I was kept out of buildings, kept out of cafes, and basically kept out of everything other than the parking lot and the walkway. I’m friendly and interesting not to mention quirky. I think that I’m the perfect guy to bounce ideas off of. Why can’t they see that?

Diversity in hang out environments
In short, Google does a great job on search algorithms, technical stuff, and maintaining a very level graph for delta income (growth.) As far as maintaining a cool atmosphere, they need to have a diversity of ambiance. There needs to be different types of places to hang out with different feelings where you can take your laptop. Perhaps a place overlooking the bay and another laid back cafe with chalkboards announcing their Moroccan mint latte or something. I think better when I can be in diverse environments. Google just makes twenty different choices of environments which are essentially the same. I would create a place where people are virtually forced to interact with people they would not normally interact with. This stimulates different parts of the brain which is essential for innovation which is what Google specializes in. I would also create an underwater tank, where employees could sort of their technical issues in scuba gear. Talk about jazzing it up a bit — or Jacqueing it up! In short, Google is on the right track, but they are too “prescribed” and square in their ideas for having diversions in the work environment. They need to hire some cool people to show them how to really be cool and have a good atmosphere. Having some friendly people wouldn’t hurt either.

The bottom line is that Google’s cool office environment scheme reminded me of those Korean kids in Koreatown cafes who were trying to be cool with their hoodies and piercings when they really seemed like a bunch of unimaginative and uptight kids with no style. But, I do give credit to the quality of the dancing on K-pop even though it is a bit overemphasizing unattainable physical beauty. You can do better Google! I’m on your side!

Is it time to Uber-size your outsourcing business?

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Uber is always in the news
Every time I go online, I see news about Mark Cuban, Startups, Apple, Uber, Richard Branson, Innovations, and more. People either love Uber or they hate them. In the Notary industry which I am heavily involved with, there is a company called Snapdocs which used an Uber-type model to run their business. They have Notaries all throughout the United States who get text messages whenever there is a local job available. The Notaries can accept the job or barter for better terms. Snapdocs has somewhat transformed the Notary industry in the United States — and it will never be the same.

Can your BPO use Uber thinking?
But, how can your outsourcing or BPO company apply Uber-type principles to better running your operation? In some ways you can. Most outsourcing companies have between five and fifty people in a particular location. Or, some of them might work from home. Uber operates on a nationwide or worldwide level. If a job is inputted into the system by a customer, any service provider who is close can claim the job. Outsourcing is geo-specific, as you function in a particular area, but — you cater to the whole English speaking world.

Job Offers
Uber operates on the principle of having small jobs taken care of quickly at an affordable price and in a nice way. If you deal in huge programming contracts, the Uber model might not be appropriate for you. But, if you dissected your huge jobs into smaller parts, you might be in business. If you have ten people who answer inquiries all day and all night long on a commission basis, they could answer inquiries as fast as Uber drivers pick up customers. Your reps could answer questions, give quotes, and advice too, all in real time (within minutes.) Smart companies offer samples or smaller jobs at reasonable prices to gain the confidence of new clients. Small jobs could be dispatched, priced, and finished overnight using Uber modes of operation.

Call Centers
Smaller call center contracts could be sold the same way. If a smaller client wants service for one day per week, this small order could be fulfilled well using Uber type principles. Many small businesses have a horrible time finding good call centers who are responsive to small clients. Most do not take an interest in small clients and don’t return calls. If yours is the one that is responsive, you might dominate the small-client market and clean up!

Think Small
Uber type principles are good for small jobs. But, how can you make money doing small jobs? First of all, if you accumulate a lot of small jobs, you can make a lot of money. Secondly, small jobs might pay higher per hour than large jobs giving you a better margin. Third, small jobs can turn into regular clients if you take care of them well — which most companies do not as most companies are only interested in big jobs.

How Do You Do It?
Just have an online system where clients can put in their work requests. Make sure that a team of people is around to answer requests on a first come first provide service basis. Once the request is handled, work goes on just like any other job that you are taking the old fashioned way.

Should You Do It?
If you have a really cool modern system, and it catches on with good marketing, you could become a huge company overnight. Most other companies are very sluggish about offering quotes or getting back to people. If you are the one that is effective, polite, and does good work fast — you could conceivably take over!

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Innovation hubs in cities — do they negatively disrupt the status quo?

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There has been a trend in cities that old industrial parts of town get converted into hip, modern hubs for artistic folks and innovation. Sometimes this transition from decay to vibrancy experiences some growing pains. There are some who claim that these new innovation hubs are creating a negative disruption in established cities. Personally, I see this trend as a part of nature.

All organizations go through cycles
There is a birth cycle, growth, maturity, decay and death cycle — generally in that order. Countries, humans, companies, and other organizations go through these cycles. It is unclear how long a country might spend in each part of the cycle, but to give you a hint, the Roman empire lasted 507 years from start to finish while a human being generally lasts about 70 years depending on where they live and how healthy their habits are. Neighborhoods have a more unpredictable cycle as they can go uphill or downhill in a decade or so.

America used to be a very industrial country in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. But, after we became more technically evolved, and cheap labor became widely available overseas, it became more cost effective to outsource manufacturing to Taiwan, China, Japan, Costa Rica, Bangladesh, Korea, and other countries. The result of this outsourcing was that many urban manufacturing areas in the United States experienced significant decay and neglect starting in the 1970’s onward. But, in the late 90’s, artists and technology afficionados started creating their own presence in urban hubs.

Many renovated industrial areas become ghost towns at 6pm sharp
It is common for industrial areas turned art and technology centers to become ghost towns at exactly 6pm. There are no places to live in many of these areas and few places to eat. You can’t have any real type of life in that type of environment, plus it might not be safe to hang out at night. If you are trying to attract younger workers to work in a renovated industrial area, you need it to have a more homey feeling.

Los Angeles is the exception to the rule.
Los Angeles’ downtown industrial area has evolved into a thriving place for artists. Some of the hippest restaurants including Japanese, bakeries, sausage specialists, cafe’s and more have locations in this hip art district. There is an abundance of places to live as manufacturing buildings have been turned into expensive and desirable lofts that have secured parking. The only downside to this area is that it is near skid row and a lot of homeless wander in although the locals consider the homeless to be harmless.

Should you create an innovation hub in your city?
I like the idea of having different districts for people of different mindsets. If you want to attract innovative thinkers, you need to create an environment where they will feel safe, attracted and at home. It might be better if city governments played a role in creating incentives for cool businesses to start up in these areas before the areas become fully established so as to quicken the pace. The long term reward comes when your innovation hub grows to the point where your city becomes internationally known as a destination for innovation. From that point on, anything is possible!

Change your brain by the people you are with

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I remember a Rocky movie from long time back. Rocky astutely observed that if you want to be smart, hang around with smart people. If you want to be cool, hang around with cool people. Yogananda came up with the same observation except without that classic Phili Italian accent.

When I’m with my writer, I notice that my comedy skills get a little better over time. He noticed that my writing skills are slowly improving as well. He has known me for two years, and there has been a lot of improvement. God knows what I’ll be like in another two years. Then there are other people who just make me up set within minutes to the point where I can’t think at all. There are others who are very decisive. Hanging around with them can rub off on you.

I always wonder what the effect of hanging around lackidasical people is. Does it make me more lazy, or does it make me more impatient because I can’t stand their laziness? In the long run, if you get too used to dysfunction you will stop noticing it which is the beginning of your downfall. You need to be around people with high standards otherwise you won’t have decent standards.

If you want to raise the bar, picture yourself hanging around with the Queen of England. I’m sure she has the highest standards for class in the planet. Imagine having eat with her and talking about the people who work for you in your business. She’ll probably recommend you fire them all as none of them would be up to her standards. Sometimes royal standards don’t work in the real world, so don’t try to be too big for your britches, however, being exposed to the highest standards could do you a bit of good — and so would a few crumpets and Earl Gray Tea!

Your next amazing business idea might come to you in a dream

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Do you dream much? Do you have a journal to write your dreams down? It’s hard to remember all of your dreams. But, I have a secret. If you regularly write down your dreams and try to reflect on their meaning, you will remember more of your dreams as time goes by. Your brain will develop new channels that pay attention to dreams and their interpretation and you might remember a lot more details the more attention you spend on this art.

Also See: Does your downtime make you a better business person?

The Art of Dream Interpretation
Some people go to experts to interpret dreams. There are dream dictionaries to help you as well. The thing you need to understand about dreams is that their meaning is based on symbol interpretation. A dream about a basement is not really about your basement, but it is likely to be about something in your subconscious. A dream about falling might be about some fear, anxiety or insecurity you are having. Learning a few dozen of the most common dream symbols can help you understand a lot about many of your dreams. Parts of the house, your car, animals, vehicles, foods, and parts of the body are the most common symbols. Many dream symbols can also be interpreted in more than one way, so there is no “correct” interpretation of any particular dream, although some interpretations might make more sense if you compare them to what is going on in your life, or what is going to happen!

Premonitions Come in Dreams
I have many dreams which are premonitions. I generally do not interpret them correctly. But, since I write my dreams down, I see what they meant a few days or weeks afterwards which is very interesting since dream interpretation is a meaningful past time. I once had a dream about an earthquake in China and Greece. In my dreams, China represents technology as many Asians are strong in programming and technical issues. Greece represented the boss of the programming company as he is very philosophical and great at dialogue. A week after I had this dream, my programmer quit. Incidentally, he happened to be Chinese, but that was more of a coincidence. I also have dreams about people from India, and those dreams are more about my spiritual life as spirituality is more centered around India, Tibet and Nepal in today’s world.

Business Ideas Can Also Come in Dreams
I had a dream many years ago where I was given a wonderful business idea. A Rabbi came to me in a dream and told me to meditate on business after midnight every Tuesday night. I started doing this and came up with amazing ideas. Of course the dream didn’t have any specific business ideas, but it gave me a wonderful key to unlocking amazing thoughts from within. I believe that Rabbi was a spirit who knew some of my relatives in a past life and I am very thankful that he came to me out of the blue. I had another dream where my guru appeared next to the home page of my website. The meaning of the dream was that he was helping me on a spiritual level deal with the problems in my business. He has been a great help, and I am slowly solving my worst business problems which have to do with unreliable help!

What About Your Next Business Idea?
The best business ideas often do not happen in the office. They happen when you are driving, daydreaming, swimming, talking with friends, traveling, or even sleeping. So, what is my advice to you? Work less; Sleep more! You’ll be more successful and have better business ideas as a result! And in the mean time, my best suggestion is to go and buy a journal that you use to write down your dreams and deeper thoughts. If you look back on it years later, it will be a meaningful trip down the memory lane of your most philosophical moments!

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How to develop the Google culture within you

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If you don’t work at Google, chances are that your company doesn’t practice a Google-type culture and probably doesn’t want to. But, what if you are in management and a few of your coworkers are hip to the idea while a few others aren’t? If everyone is against you then forget about it, but if you have a few yea-sayers, there are things you could do.

You could start doing group activities. You never know — the enthusiasm could spread. You could have competitions among those who choose to participate. You could convince Starbucks to open a branch right inside your office with sofas if management would also approve (not likely.) You could all decide to have some bizarre activities and weird interests to keep life interesting.

I work from home, and work with people who are not innovative except for my writing buddy. I choose to live a lifestyle that is a little like the Google employees. I have a ton of strange interests that keep my life interesting. I study the effect of feng-shui on where I spend time, or stay at hotels. I found that the feng-shui of particular buildings affects my health, social interaction, and business activity. A food feng-shui place can triple my business for the next day while a bad place can kill my sales for a day as well. I also try new foods all the time. I find a way to find new foods in a city with mostly the same old variety of things. I go on little trips to new places and go hiking. At Google, they do a lot of things as groups. I don’t have the luxury of a group, but you could say that I am my own little one person group. Oh, and one more thing — I write for three blogs and run 17 social media accounts. OMG!

Choosing company names that create an impression or tell a story

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When we start our first business, we are in a huge hurry to choose our business name. What we don’t realize is that our business name in a sense defines us. We also don’t know where that name will be in thirty years. For all we know there could be one thousand people working for us by that time in an international company.

Many companies choose their names based on the founders. Levi-Strauss was founded by some German Jews who headed out west to make their fortune. They didn’t make it panning for gold, but by selling denim jeans to those who did. Law firms are often named after the founders such as Silverman & Beckman. But, then there other companies that name themselves based on geographic information such as Pune BPO Ltd. for example (I just made that one up.) Then, there are other names that use strange terms like Yahoo and Google who turned out to be amazingly successful.

Amazon did well with their business. Their business name conjures up images of dense forests, piranhas, and adventures! And then there are car names that name themselves after words in foreign languages like Toyota Corolla. You could name your company after Ethiopian royalty with the name Sheba (which is also a cat name — meao!) You could name a company after a Native American Tribe like Zuni. Or just come up with something weird.

The point is that a well thought out company name gives you an extra edge in your business. It can give you image, intruigue, recognition and more. It is critical to compare thousands of well researched names before you pick your final name. The problem is that most business creators just pick a handful of names, ask their friends and family, and then ultimately choose one. Then, later on their change their mind. Take naming your business seriously as the rewards for doing a good job are fantastic!

What does Donald Trump say about balancing work & pleasure?

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“If you’re interested in ‘balancing’ work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead make your work more pleasurable.” — Donald Trump

I agree with Donald here. When I was younger, I wanted to enjoy life. I had very little money because I had a very little work ethic. As I grew older, I learned that success was not possible with spurts of hard work. Hard work needed to be all the time — and I needed to get used to that fact. As an older person who has been slogging away for decades, I am used to the idea of hard work. The key is how to get enough refreshment in your life to keep going, and how to enjoy work. You might as well enjoy work, because as a successful person — that’s what you’re going to be doing.

My friend once told me that your career is more important than your marriage. I asked why. He explained that you spend far more time at work than you spend with your spouse. If something happens with your relationship, you can always split up. But, what is something goes wrong with your career? I began to see his point. He was generally very smart about all of life’s bigger issues.

So, the question is, how can you make work enjoyable?

Take a workcation
Many entrepreneurs these days take workcations. I thought I had coined this phrase a few years ago, but many others have been using the term long before I “invented” it. You can take your work and do it in Bali or Berlin and get a change of scenery. Hear a different language and experience a different culture while you do your work. Personally, I love trying new foods. Being stuck in Los Angeles there are many eclectic neighborhoods to explore. But, nothing beats being in a completely different country where everything is brand new. Even their McDonalds will have a completely different menu.

Hire fun people
Do you work in an office? Many bosses hire beautiful secretaries to their wife’s dismay. Others hire interesting people who are fun to work with. I hire very interesting people who are a pleasure to work with and a source of inspiration. Additionally, I purchase outsourced services from companies that are fun to work with and go out wine tasting with the boss of one of those companies and went ice cream tasting in India with another. Your work can take on an entirely new meaning if you work with engaging and meaningful people

Do meaningful projects
Instead of only looking at how much money you anticipate making from a particular project, why not throw a fun project into the mix. Sometimes success comes to those who are passionate about what they do. Your fun project might turn into something bigger because you put your entire heart into it. And even if it didn’t, it might make you feel more enthusiastic or awaken some dormant brain cells that will help you with your other not so fun projects.

Create unusual routines
I sometimes take my work to the desert. I’ll do my phone calls from the beach, desert or somewhere else. Yes, it is a micro-workcation, and it can be very pleasant. The beach is a soothing place and is ideal for stressful phone calls. The peace of the beach cancels out most of the stress of the calls. I also change my routine around from time to time putting new social media tasks in the beginning of my day which spice things up a lot sometimes. I also innovate and change the way I do various tasks just to make it more interesting and efficient.

Try a different lunch everyday
Do you eat the same thing every day? No wonder your life is a drag. Make a list of all of the different lunch places you are going to try. Spicing up your lunch routine is yet another way to make work fun.

What about real pleasure?
Yes, have fun in moderation. Go for a walk, see a movie, travel, and visit with friends and family. However, to be successful, you need to put your focus on work regardless of how many hours you actually work. Even if you mastered the principles of the four hour workweek, you still need to be paying acute attention otherwise the people you hired might start slacking off and you’ll be sorry. So, learn to enjoy work, and come up with your own techniques above and beyond my words of wisdom.

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.

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Steve Jobs made this very true statement. I have observed many outsourcing houses and I will tell you one thing. The boss is always a charismatic and innovative genius. But, the workers seem to be a bunch of thoughtless drones. Many bosses don’t want their workers to think. But, for them to do good work and communicate, they need to care about their work and think. They might even need to innovate from time to time.

It’s hard to innovate when you don’t care about your work. The seed of innovation is frustration with the way things are. If you don’t care, or are very tolerant of poor conditions, you won’t be a good innovator. You need to be passionate, stubborn, genius, and driven like Steve Jobs to be good at it.

But, can you teach your workers to be innovators. They have brains that only need to be woken up. And besides, do you really want to be the only person at your company who thinks? Wouldn’t it be nice if there were others at your company who could deal with clients, strategize and make sure things get done? In the real world it doesn’t work this way, but maybe the real world needs to change… I’ll leave you with that thought.

I do my best business thinking when I’m NOT in the office

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Many of us are accustomed to thinking that we can only work in an office and that we would simply not be businesslike if we weren’t in an office building. If you are accustomed to working in an office, this might be true for you. But, an office environment can be chaotic and not a good place to think. Writers typically don’t like offices and they are some of the most creative people of all. I work from my home. However, my best business thoughts happen when I am not at home. So, where do these winning thoughts happen?

At a friend’s house
If you are at a friend’s house or workplace chatting, you might stumble upon your best business idea just talking about your business issues. The best business decision I ever made stemmed from dropping by my friend’s office.

At a restaurant
When you get bored waiting for your check at a restaurant and start daydreaming, that might be where your best business thinking happens. It is then and only then that you really have time to reflect on the deeper workings of your business and processes.

At the beach
I go to the beach all the time. But, I don’t go to swim. I go to sit in my car at night and soak in all of the relaxing energies that the coastal spirits give me. In the world of elemental spirits there are water spirits and then there are tree spirits. It is about one to four hundred feet from the coast where these two types of spirits merge to create a hybrid type of spirit I call a coastal spirit. I sleep like a baby with these spirits around and enjoy reading in my car. I’ll read business blogs and think about business topics. I think of fun things to write about and new ideas for managing my business better.

Under a Banyan tree
They say that the Buddha attained enlightenment sitting under a Banyan or Bodhi tree. I like to sit with my back to a redwood tree to benefit from the healing powers that these majestic trees possess. I sometimes have my best business thoughts sitting under a big tree.

At my psychic’s house
My psychic and I have great conversations about business. Sometimes the winning thoughts will come to me while sitting with him. Sometimes we channel from the consciousness of business greats of the 1900’s and even better thoughts come to us.

The office
When I’m in my work space, I get a lot of busy work done. But, work involving deep thinking is never accomplished at my work station. Perhaps in the other desk in my home office, but not at my primary work space which is where I crank out lots of blog articles, thousands of phone calls and more!

Outsource: Steve Jobs Principle: The more people you network w/ Outside your field..

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Steve Jobs felt that the more people you networked with outside your field, the more connections you will make that could lead to breakthrough ideas.

I have noticed that people in the same profession sometimes tend to think in similar restricted ways. If you only talk to people who think kind of like you, it is difficult to broaden your thinking. If you hang around with lots of different types of people in different fields, industries, cultures, walks of life, etc., you can be exposed to different ways of thinking which will by default, expand your thinking.

Intel sends employees to live in villages in Malaysia and India to see how people live and see the world. These employees often lived with families, ate their food, met their friends, and saw how their daily life was. By understanding how they might use computers and other technological products, they can design products that people will enjoy, and be able to use.

I feel that sometimes companies go overboard with features. If you have too many features you will baffle and overwhelm people, especially the non-technosaavy. I personally feel that technological projects should be simple, nice looking, easy to use without much if any tutorials, and fun. If you make it so complicated that there is always something critical that you are missing — you took it too far. Common sense needs to accompany innovation. Over-innovating can be a bad thing. Just give people enough to solve their problems and work effectively using a new system — that should be enough.

Anthropologists working for Intel learned that dust and electrical outages were serious issues in India, so they designed computers with longer battery life. If it were up to me, I would have detachable batteries, so that you just plug another one in when the first one runs out!

Traveling to many countries, meeting many people, having many hobbies, and studying many different subjects are all great ways to form the foundation that you need to be a great innovator. Of course, if you have an intense desire to innovate, start doing it! The more you do, the better you get at it, especially if mixed with lots of different life experiences to widen your consciousness!

“Widen your consciousness”