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Over the years I have had many people say to me “what a fantastic idea RedBalloon is..” often followed by the statement “I was going to do something like that” or “I wish I’d thought of it.”

Ideas and creativity are critical to the success of any venture. I was in Utah last week at and Entrepreneur Organization conference and the opening speaker was serial entrepreneur Josh Linkner. He opened his presentation with a US business story about  the (see launch video below). With just a $4000 video budget the founder of this business has taken on Gillette (global giant with 70% market share for razors). His video has had close to 10million views and his business is flying.

Quite simply founder Michael Dubin used creativity to send a message that could not be ignored.

Creativity is the #1 most cited leadership skill needed – and speaker Josh Linker shared with us his idea of the four steps to creativity.

Encourage courage – Playing it safe is the riskiest strategy of all


Fear is the biggest blocker to creativity – we get in our own way. A way to counteract that is to celebrate new ideas without judgment.

Get curious ie that is the fundamental building block of creativity

The ‘five why’ exercise could assist to uncover your curiosity.

Ask ‘why’ five times in a row, rather than adding comment to the debate

‘Role storming ‘in character roles eg brainstorming as madmen characters when people are ‘acting in a role’ they may well come out of their shell

Celebrate non successes too such as the failure of the year award

Blank Canvas – Shed the past

Have you ever considered these question ‘What are my competitors doing to put me out of business?’ And then to consider the bigger question of ‘How would I put myself out of business?’  ‘What is becoming obsolete, redundant, or stagnating?’ Hunt for the ‘but we have always done it like this things and review, and reinvent.

Use your edge in a more impactful way, or maybe focus on competing against big bad mean [imaginary] competitor.

Think small – Small is the new big

Small companies: Embrace risk, are urgent, create new ideas, are bottom-up, idea centric, nimble and have a fire in the belly

Big companies: Avoid risk, are slow moving, protect old ideas, are top-down, rules centric, bureaucratic and complacent.

Now I personal think that Josh has made a mass generalization – and that all small business and all big business are not all of these things. There is not doubt however it is easier to be innovative in a small business than a larger one.

Run your own race – lead rather than follow

Stop following look at the opposite of what is expected… in fact much innovation can come from being counter intuitive.

There is no doubt that sitting still is not a strategy – and all business needs to constantly reinvent itself…. after all who would every have thought that Kodak, Borders, Britannica, Blockbuster or even Ansett would not be here today.

Could you take the two hour creative challenge – that is every week dedicate two hours to being creative. You will have a zero percent drop in productivity, in fact quite the opposite can happen as the act if human creativity is very rewarding.




Reader Interactions


  1. I can’t tell you how much I love that video. It is hilarious. Creativity is so undervalued. It can sometimes seek like a risk – as no one has ever done it before – but the risk is well worth the rewards.

  2. Fantastic post, thank you! In my business creativity is key and I find that the best way for me to not judge my designs as I do them is to do them is to be distracted by something else! Listening to music, podcasts or even watching the tv helps me to just draw and not think/judge. As a company we’ve also found that the restrictions, which at the time felt binding and like a road block, have led us to create some of the most creative solutions. I have to constantly keep my mind open to thinking differently about how to approach things and not get bogged down in thinking “but that’s the way it’s always been done!”. Thank you again for reaffirming this!

  3. I was entertained by this post and I must agree that in every business, creativity is a must in order for us to offer something new to our customers.

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