Blog Talk Radio Interview

June 30, 2008

The other day I was interviewed by Lorraine Cohen on her show “Powerfull Living” on Blog Talk Radio.  We discussed Goal-Free Living and innovation. You can listen to the hour long interview by clicking the Blog Talk Radio button which will take you to their website.  I join the conversation at the 5 minute mark and continue on until the end. 

Alternatively, you can click the play button (below) to listen from this page. Or you can download the file to your computer using the link below. Both of these versions start when I join the conversation.

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 Download the mp3 (right click and “save target as” to download to your computer)

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Poker and the Parkers

June 27, 2008

Last night, I held a launch party for my Innovation Personality Poker at the home of Robert and Joan Parker.  OK, actually the party was planned a while back (I bought it at a charity auction) and it just coincidentally fell at the time when the cards were officially released.

Robert B. Parker, is the author of dozens of books, including the Spenser series (which was the basis of the 1980′s TV show, “Spenser: For Hire”).  I have been a HUGE fan for so many years; this was truly an honor.

One of the party attendees said it so well: “I was like a boy from the Bronx around Babe Ruth. Robert Parker’s writing has now been in my life for so long. As long as he’s writing there’s always a moment of joy to anticipate.”  So true.

Joan Parker is an incredible woman with many talents.  Lately she has been focusing her energies on raising money for a number of non-profit organizations.  She is truly one of the most generous and down-to-earth people I have ever met.

Our party was at capacity with 20 friends, family members, clients, and colleagues in attendance.  It was a pleasure to have Liz Walker, a Boston news icon, there as well.  You may recall that I was on her TV show back in 2006.

Joan and Robert, thank you for sharing your home and your time.  You were both incredibly gracious.  It was a night we will all remember.

P.S. Robert’s book, ”Appaloosa,” is being turned into a blockbuster movie starring Ed Harris, Renée Zellweger, Jeremy Irons, and many other big names.

P.P.S. Sadly, since this blog entry was written, Robert Parker passed away.  He will be missed by all of this loyal fans.

Click here to see some pictures from the event.

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Nokia Giving Away Software for Free

June 25, 2008

innovation by donationYesterday I mentioned that GlaxoSmithKline is giving away a small fortune’s worth of cancer research.  The idea is to speed up the process.

Yesterday, Nokia announced that it will spend nearly a half billion dollars to buy a software consortium – so that it can give away the software for free.  Symbian, one of the leading software developers for high-end mobile phones, is the platform for Nokia phones.  By offering the software at no cost, Nokia hopes to increase Symbian’s market share, to increase the pace of software development by third parties, and to decrease its own software licensing fees.

According to the article, “While more than 90 percent of PCs run Windows, the market for cell-phone software is much more fragmented, with a dozen competing platforms. That means software developers have a much harder time creating applications, and raises costs for handset manufacturers and carriers that have to deal with many different systems.”

Symbian will continue to be run as a multi-company foundation, addressing the concerns that it might eventually become a monopoly like Microsoft.

What can you give away to others – suppliers, researchers, competitors – that will enable you to increase innovation at a lower cost?

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Open Source Innovation vs Open Innovation

June 24, 2008

Open Source InnovationI discussed Open Innovation many times in this blog.  The other day, GlaxoSmithKline announced that they are collaborating with the National Cancer Institute to make a “large body of cancer cell genomic data available to all cancer researchers.” This feels more like “Open Source” Innovation.

Much like Open Source Software, GSK has turned over a small fortune’s worth of information to the research community – for free.

Assuming that that the findings of the community are made public (the open source philosophy), this would almost certainly accelerate cancer research exponentially.  Each researcher could build on the ideas of others.

Most research groups are small organizations who do not have the capacity (or desire) to develop drugs.  Therefore, when breakthroughs are discovered, GSK can step back in and capitalize on the finding of the research community.  This will surely decrease their drug development times and costs.

I do wonder how they are handling intellectual property ownership issues that might emerge.  Stay tuned!

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See Me in Asia

June 23, 2008

I am leaving for Asia July 3 and will be there until July 21.  I am presenting in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Singapore.  This is a rare opportunity to see me in action in these countries.  The last time I spoke in Singapore was 2002.  The last time I was in Thailand was 2005.  And I have never presented in Malaysia.  Here’s my schedule, with links to the events:

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – July 8 – OXCEL (Oxford Center for Leadership)

Bangkok, Thailand – July 10 (all day) – AIM INLINES

Singapore – July 15 – EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organization) and Asia Professional Speakers Singapore

While I am these countries, I am also taking some time off to explore.  However, if the timing is right and you need a speaker for your organization, I would love to present at other events while I am there.

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George Carlin Quote

June 23, 2008

Today’s quote is from the great comedian, George Carlin, who passed away Sunday.  Although this quote is less raunchy than most, it’s still not quite “G” rated…

“I got a lot of ideas.  Trouble is, most of them suck.”

Although this is a simple saying, there is some real depth to it. 

The reality is, you have a lot of ideas.  Your team has lots of ideas.  And guess what, most of those ideas do indeed stink.

And this is what stifles innovation.  As adults, we worry about our bad ideas emerging.  We don’t want to look silly, so we filter everything, including the good ideas. 

How can you stop people from filtering their ideas? 

I ask teams (during brainstorming, in particular) to strive for a “high suckiness factor.” Give me all of your bad ideas; not just your good ones.  

This serves two purposes:

  1. When you allow the bad ideas to flow, you also allow the (submerged) good ideas to emerge.  Everyone has them. They just get filtered along with all of the other ideas.
  2. Quite often, the worst idea can be the seed for a great idea.  One of the questions I like to ask a group is, “What is the funniest, craziest, or worst idea? ” After they create a list, I ask them, “How can you make that into a great idea?”

Let’s remember George Carlin by surfacing all of our buried ideas – the good, the bad, and the sucky.

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Shapiro Quotes

June 19, 2008

I did not know this, but excerpts from my blogs have been appearing regularly in a newsletter containing inspirational quotes.  Members of the Gaia Community select their favorite tidbits and then distribute them via email and the website. 

Click here if you want to read a bunch of my quotes.

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Play Like the Patriots – Win Like the Celtics

June 18, 2008

Regular readers of this blog know that I set New Year’s themes, not resolutions.  At the beginning of the year, after the incredible regular season performance by the New England Patriots (American football), I decided my theme would be “Play Like the Patriots.”  But, as many of you know, my beloved team lost the Superbowl back in February.  I was forced to write a clarifying blog entry explaining that my theme was “play like the Patriots,” not “win like the Patriots.”

Last night, another Boston team won the championship – the Boston Celtics (basketball).  Until 1986, the Celtics were a dynasty.  But they fell on hard times and last year were one of the worst teams.  But this year, they won the NBA championship in a decisive 131 to 92 rout of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Maybe my theme should be “play like the Celtics.”  Or maybe even “win like the Celtics.” 

In some respects, basketball is a better analogy for business success than American football.  The game is, for the most part, continuous.  All five players on the court must play both defence and offence.  They are a true team.  They play to the strengths of one another, yet are versatile enough to change roles when necessary.

Doc Rivers, the coach of the Boston Celtics, used the African word “ubuntu” as the unifying team motto.  As I understand it, this roughly means “I am, because we are.” Beautiful.

Do you play like a member of the Celtics?  Is your organization playing as a team as powerfully as it can? 

I suspect few of us – individuals or organizations – truly play (and win) like the Celtics.

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Creative Phone Service – And Creative Billing

June 17, 2008

I just discovered a new phone service called Tabrio.  It claims to provide Skype-like calling rates (ad-supported), without the need for any special headsets or hardware.  In fact, this service runs through your existing phone provider – landline and/or mobile.  You give Tabrio your callback phone number (via their downloadable application).  When you make a call, it first calls you and then it calls the other party.  Clever.

What I like about this model is that it does not rely on my internet bandwidth like Vonage and Skype. I’ve had problems with sound quality on both of these services in the past.

So far, Tabrio sounds great. 

I call England a fair amount and also send text messages there.  The Tabrio site claims that the sms rate from the UK to the UK is $.04. 

I received $5 of free service to try it out. On the first day I did some test runs. I made one local call, one domestic text and one international text. According to the website, this should have cost me $.12 ($.01 for test call, $.07 for US text and $.04 for UK text).

But what I soon learned is that the rates listed on the website are the “minimum rate per minute.” 

Instead of being charged $.12, I was charged $.32!  I did one more text to the UK and that cost me $.21 – 50% more than my mobile provider.

I wrote their customer service and received the following response.

“The rate calculator you see on our website only lists the lowest possible rate to connect the call or send the text message to the destinations you’ve selected. In some cases, our least expensive route may be unavailable to handle a call or text message due to load on their networks, or because we don’t have a route with that provider to the specific location you’re trying to reach. In those cases, the price you pay for a call or text message may be more than what you see on our rates page.”

This feels like a Las Vegas casino partnered with a phone service provider.  Sometimes you get a great rate.  And other times, well, you aren’t so lucky.

Predictability is critical for most customers.  Make sure your innovations don’t result in unwanted surprises.  Customers are willing to deal with some inconvenience if they can save some money.  But spending 50% more while adding extra steps does not make sense.

Although I give Tabrio credit for an interesting model, this is one creative idea that isn’t ringing my bell…yet.

P.S. I just received a call from Christian Jensen, VP, Products and Services for Verb Exchange (the company that  launched Tabrio).  He was extremely friendly and agreeable.  He admitted that there are kinks to work out, and that the product is still in beta.  He also said that they are making changes regarding the publishing of rates.  I will continue to play around with it.  Tabrio has great potential and I would love to see it succeed.

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Innovation Personality Poker Manual Going to Press

June 15, 2008

We just completed the Innovation Personality Poker instruction manual.  It is 85 pages of solid content.  Below you will find the Table of Contents.

There is a “Quick Start Guide” [chapter 1] that can have you up and running in a matter of minutes.  There is a transcript of a 45 minute ice breaker [chapter 8] to help you run your own session.

Everything in between provides details on how to play the game, how to interpret the results, and how to use Personality Poker to improve your innovation process.

To learn more, go to

Table of Contents

1. Quick Start Guide

[Read more]

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