Monday, April 25, 2011

Innovation: When
It Seems Obvious

Back in the late 90's Todd Greene, came up with an award winning idea based on his own personal dilemma; he needed an easier way to shave his head. But the tools at the time sucked. Anyone who remembers the good old days may remember, to shave your head you only had a few choices...shaving cream, electric hair clipper, a Gillette razor on a long handle, your medicine cabinet mirror and a long evening involving whiskey-straight up. Painful. Awkward. And required your scalp to heal up for a few days Yea right...the best a man can get.

Armed with a small investment, a passion for his idea, and a design background Tom developed a prototype that immediately made shaving your head a joyful event. I'm not saying it was joyful like an ice cold beer and a good ball game, but you get the picture. Tom turned the event of shaving your dome something to look forward to. Tom called his racing car looking invention HeadBlade®.

Now to you and me HeadBlade seems obvious. Cool idea. Timely. Solves a huge problem. And it is so well designed that even if you don't shave your head, you want one. It's a guy thing. But astoundingly when Todd pitched his idea to the razor companies he was rejected!

How could something so innovative not raise
the pulse rate of a single executive at the
major razor companies?

I'll tell you why. Too may of us have a lot of rules in our head. (I'm serious). Rules like, why would anyone buy that? Or I don't see a market for that...that...thing! Or, who the heck are you? That's why I like the TV show Shark Tank on ABC. Entrepreneurs see the potential of a new product, the market it could fit into, and the potential to create an entirely new arena for that that didn't exist before.

Executives need to learn this skill. The skill of seeing potential from a new idea.

This is why innovative ideas may seem obvious to you and I, but lose traction when presented to the wrong person. Too many strong opinions about what will work, how could I make money on this, or simply not understanding what the idea is has left many a company wishing they had THAT product on their roster of offerings.

So without any real help from the big brands, Todd turned his company HeadBlade® into a multimillion dollar corporation and a niche brand. Hey, ya gotta do what you gotta do. By aligning his HeadBlade products with The Ultimate Fighter (founder Dana White also shaves his head) Todd turned his company into a lifestyle brand. A brand you can't live without.

Here is a short video to introduce you to the HeadBlade lifestyle:

So how does someone spot the next big idea? Start by dropping those strong opinions and ask yourself, "what is it about this that I am missing?" and "is there already a need for this product that is untapped?" "does this product have legs for a full line of product offerings?"

Now Gillette, Schick and Braun are trying to copy the leadership that HeadBlade established.

That's what I call getting caught with your pants down. Don't make the mistakes I've made (I almost missed the Internet Boom. Doi.). And BTW: HeadBlade is such a groundbreaking design, it sits on display in the Museum of Modern Art [MOMA].

Thanks again for reading...

Brad Szollose

Brad is the award winning author of Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia: Multigenerational Management Ideas That Are Changing The Way We Run Things ISBN-13: 978-1608320554

"Liquid Leadership is a game changer" - TJ, New York

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Brad on Gen Y Women
in the Workforce

on Women Entrepreneurs Radio

Join me today at 1:00 PM Eastern Time for a unique event on Women Entrepreneurs Radio™ where I will be discussing Generation Y Women in the Workforce.

Call in number to speak with the host

I look forward to answering your questions...

Brad Szollose

Brad is the award winning author of Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia: Multigenerational Management Ideas That Are Changing The Way We Run Things ISBN-13: 978-1608320554

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Brad Szollose will be speaking and signing Liquid Leadership at Yale

To all my fans, friends and fellow students of the Information Age, I would like to invite you to a unique book-signing/lecture experience on the major forces affecting us these days - mainly the Digital Divide.

Join me tonight, April 6th, 2011 at

Yale University's Bookstore in New Haven CT
From 6:00 - 9:00 PM

Lecture followed by a book-signing

Some of what I will be covering this evening:

- Why 1977 & 1995 are important dates in history
- How Baby Boomers were taught to think
- How Gen Y - those born after 1977 - thinks
  and approaches life
- How to get Gen X, Y and Boomers on the same page
- What's next?

I look forward to meeting you in person this evening...

Brad Szollose

Brad is the award winning author of Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia: Multigenerational Management Ideas That Are Changing The Way We Run Things ISBN-13: 978-1608320554

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Time for Reinvention! But First, a Few
Ground Rules

We are entering a strange moment in history when nothing seems to make sense. As I point out in Liquid Leadership....

Technology has given more and more start-ups the ability to compete head-on with larger companies. These start-ups are interested in one thing: disrupting the status quo. Their survival depends on proving themselves to be right. And they take leaps to do so. Many of the top corporations today were started because the original founder didn’t like how things were being done. They had a better way, and built a company around it.

The key is to stay open to new ideas and methods, to entrepreneurial startups and their ideas, and to new fads that could become trends. Look high and low for big ideas. Actively support the fact that although you make widgets today, you may be a completely different company doing completely different things within the next five years, and you may be doing these things for companies located on the other side of the globe.

...excerpt from Liquid Leadership, page 14...The Credo of The Liquid Leader

Too many are clinging to an old rigid set of rules hoping the economy will return someday soon. Without realizing it, they have created a paradigm they cannot escape from. For a company, a person or a system to reinvent itself, a new realm of possibilities must be embraced, and the old rules placed on the back burner.

Case in point, is Smith Corona. One of the original typewriter manufacturers, Smith Corona did some pretty amazing things over the years...

Smith Corona's history on their website: From drawing boards to desktops around the globe, Smith Corona has been turning creative ideas into breakthroughs for well over a century. Our 115 year legacy of Ink on Paper began with innovative, value-packed typewriters, but it stands for so much more than that today."

This is an awesome story about Smith Corona's past...a past when typewriters ruled every office around the world. Then they dabbled in computers for a short time...It actually states on their site: "1989 Launched the world´s first Laptop Personal Word Processor"...and "1994 Produces personal digital assistant products"...and then everything stops. Almost 20 years now and nothing new has come out of Smith Corona. They stopped evolving...stopped creating new product offerings and they stopped taking risks.

Is it possible that they just can't get past
Smith Corona: Typewriter Company?

To reinvent Smith Corona will require a new set of rules and an understanding of what is really happening: devices need to be portable, with access to all kinds of data networks...on the go. Typewriters do NOT fit into that paradigm. What Smith Corona could do is reinvent a better keyboard for texting...or create a better app that accesses a better functioning keyboard for Android and the iPhone. Or better still invent a digital device with a roll out expandable screen with a touch sensitive keyboard! Or a portable office with a small travel size printer. Cool ideas huh?

ZAGGmate Accessory Case with
Bluetooth Keyboard for Apple iPad

So, why didn't Smith Corona invent the ZAGGmate?

Look at that...the ZAGG Bluetooth keyboard is hot. It's so cool and hip I want one. Smith Corona SHOULD have invented this, but because they refused to evolve and reinvent their company they will be phased out like so many brands Baby Boomers grew up with.

The first step to reinvention is to redefine what your company actually does!

Ray Kroc while flying from one McDonald's to the next started to realize their core business wasn't about hamburgers...he was the largest real estate owner in the country...and started charging all his franchisee's rent. It saved his company from bankruptcy. McDonald's is one of the largest landlords in the world...and THAT is their core business.

ABC, NBC, CBS, TBS, SyFy and Fox etc...aren't in the business of giving us television shows, they are in the business of providing a captive audience for advertisers!

Walmart reinvented themselves as well by creating a niche business from the medical facilities in each know, the eye doctors, pharmaceutical counters and such all around the world? Well that means they have access to millions of digital medical the started a division the handles Electronic Medical Records. And overnight, by sheer size of their network, took the lead away from longtime dominant player of EMR's Siemens! Wow!

So, when was the last time you actually
spotted a working typewriter?

But I have to hand it to Smith Corona. It takes a stubborn belief in your product to continue to tell the world just how great you are when no one is paying attention...and the market is shrinking. Kind of like watching the designer of the RMS Titanic telling everyone to stay put, "we can't sink."

If Smith Corona doesn't reinvent themselves quickly, they will be the horse drawn carriage manufacturer of the 21st Century. Of course those horse & buggy manufacturers never completely died out...a few are still handcrafting carriages for the Queen of England and the carriages of Central Park, but it is antiquated technology. A reminder of the days before automobiles and airplanes.

Smith Corona needs to hurry up, they don't have much time. I wonder if they will discover that they are not a typewriter company but a document creation device company?

Let's take a look at the ZAGGmate again. When it completely engulfs your iPad it becomes a protective case making your Apple iPad virtually indestructible. Man that is a sexy product. No wonder it has won so many awards.

Reinvention starts with getting rid of the old rules for a while, redefine what you are really about, and open up to as many new, creative ideas that can reinvent your company for a 21st Century world. Pay attention to the technology that has completely eliminated your business sectors as well as creating product offerings that enhance the leaders already in the Apple.

Oh, and keep it fun-can't be creative in a room filled with anxiety.

Thanks again for reading...

Brad Szollose

Brad is the award winning author of Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia: Multigenerational Management Ideas That Are Changing The Way We Run Things ISBN-13: 978-1608320554

Brad Szollose Bio:


Who Is Brad Szollose?: 

Cofounder of Another Big Production. Host of Awakened Nation™. Award-Winning Author. Creative Director. Leader. Visionary. TEDxSpeaker. Web Pioneer. C-Level Executive.

First things, first. How do you say Szollose?
It’s pronounced zol-us.

From founding partner and CMO of K2 Design, Inc. the first Digital Agency to go public on NASDAQ to international leadership development expert, Brad Szollose has worked with household names like MasterCard, American Management Association and Tony Robbins, to create leadership training programs for a new generation.

As an award-winning creative director, he has been the creative force behind hundreds of high-end corporate events, personal and consumer brands, and website launches. Brad is the recipient of the Corporate Identity Design Award and the Axiom Business Book Award along with various awards for website and print design.

As a C-Level executive at K2, his unique management model was awarded the Arthur Andersen New York Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation Amongst Employees (Workforce Culture).

Today, the world’s leading business publications seek out Brad’s insights on next-generation leadership development, branding and modern Management Strategies, and he has been featured (both print and online versions) in Forbes, Inc., Advertising Age, USA Today, New York Magazine, The Huffington Post, International Business Times, Le Journal du Dimanche (France), and The Hindu Business Line to name a few, along with television, radio and podcast appearances on CGTN America, CBS, Roku Network and other media outlets.

Brad continues to challenge the status quo with his new book, Liquid Leadership 2.0, and his new podcast, Awakened Nation.

After 35 years in New York City, he now calls Las Vegas home. In his free time, he enjoys hiking in the mountains, working Star Trek and Dune quotes into everyday conversation, and painting and drawing the stunning landscapes of the American Southwest.