My partner Holly Stiel and I are writing a book. We want to set the business world on fire. We know the world doesn’t need another book about leadership, customer service, happiness or the seven secrets to whatever, but we are sure that something else must be said.
We find the writing process to be powerful and tiring, and both of us are left at the end of each day in a state that is surreal — as if we have been running an eight-hour thought marathon. What is it to create something new? Are we right on? Will they understand it? Can we express it in a way that has never been said before?
We think so. One of our chapters is on cultivating wonder. We talk about what it is to think about something that doesn’t come out of the realm of the rational and what is already known (like the breakthrough idea of the first personal music system). Another example occurred in 1927. Someone came to the head of Warner Studios with the ability to bring sound to the silver screen, and the president’s reply was, “Who wants to hear actors talk?”
We even suggest that the “safe route” of focus groups is somewhat banal, as most people can only speak to what they already know or what is familiar to them. We may have come a “long way, baby” but there is still a road ahead. To be alive is to be generative. We ask if our theories stand the test of time. Did Newton’s? Did Einstein’s? Should innovation be relegated only to the research and development department and those with a Silicon Valley zip code, or is it up to YOU to move to the edge — wonder, question and not necessarily settle for the familiar, the safe, what has always been taught.
We can only hope that our book is great and will promote enormous success for businesses that wish to excel, but certainly, maybe quietly, we have the ability to listen to the voice within each of us prompting us to be self-expressed and perhaps step forward and break new ground.
Be bold. Try something new. Just go for it. We need company.