I worked for Martha Stewart for almost 20 years running sales and marketing. I was one of the early employees — ID badge #9 . In the beginning, as she was gaining global notoriety for taking home keeping to an art form, Martha was often criticized for copying others. Walmart is now planning to launch Walmart+ which is Amazon Prime by another name. Tesla wasn't close to being the first electric car manufacturer, but Elon Musk's brand value is miles apart. Both Walmart and Tesla are trailblazers. The rarity of real innovation has businesses striving for new value which often amounts to a function of benchmarking, copying or skimming. Improving them for sure, bringing new depth, character or adding an extension or a vision that better serves the customer. Martha’s carrot cake was unique not for its ingredients, amounts or mixtures but for its presentation and its point of view that the world is better with a delicious and beautifully appointed piece of cake. I believe that point of view is the currency for innovation today. Innovation is a HUGE word that can overwhelm and seem out of reach. What about taking the bigness of innovation and thinking of it in terms of value. Walmart+ will be very similar to Amazon Prime but will bring new value to its millions of brand loyal customers. What value can you create to offer a slight edge? What makes your point of view more persuasive? Does it stop them in their tracks? Sales is sales. Accounting is accounting. My accounting client wants his firm to be innovative. What exceptional value and point of view can they bring that is a rarity in the accounting industry? Now that’s where the fun begins. That’s when you get to explore. Ask ‘why not?’ Break the rules of history and break the patterns of ‘that’s not how we do it here’. You don’t need to be the first – Amazon Prime – to make something new or innovative -- Walmart+. I remember getting an request for proposal for a media plan from a gift company. The company had recently filed for bankruptcy. I struggled to wrap my head around a few Q4 advertising pages lifting them out of bankruptcy? Sending the expected proposal was easy. Instead, we presented a concept for creating a Martha Stewart curated gift product that would be on the front page of their catalog and the centerpiece of their holiday sales. Our point of view was to think bigger and beyond the expected with attributable bottom line results. We ended up taking the entire budget and the product with Martha’s logo appeared in the pages of our competitors, on TV, radio and online! This is a case study in the slight edge. Average is over. Innovation comes from delivering unexpected value. I was struck this week by a comment about my offer to give my intellectual property (content) away to other Coaches. I was asked if I was worried my work would be copied or repurposed. There are a ton of coaches out there. Accountants. Salespeople. Coaching, like many other industries, is a huge industry based on many of the same key principles. I believe my process of engagement, my approach and my point of view sets my business apart. Nobody can copy that. It’s unique to me. And if it is helpful to someone else, I’ve done a good job. The world returns what you give if you are patient (I’m often not). "Go the extra mile. It is never crowded." Mel Robbins Bob Goff, bestselling author, whose most recent book Dream Big, puts his cell number in the back of his books. 2 million books so far. He invites readers to call him. And he answers. That is one of the many elements that sets Bob and his brand apart. His UPOV: unique point of view. You can be sure people told him not to do it. You can imagine his editor sharing the downside of such a decision. That’s innovation. He believes people feel great on the other side of the line when he – Bob – answers the phone and says ‘hello’. Controlling how, when, where you show up can be your direct line to innovation. Your UPOV. Bob says he wants to leave a legacy of availability. Think on that. I think that’s innovative. That’s Bob’s thing and may not be yours. How you are wired for innovation? Try something out. If it doesn’t work, try something else. Shoot me an email if you want to work on your UPOV. Even better, here is my cell: 917-359-4725. I’m giving Bob’s legacy of availability a lot of thought. Stay tuned. My thinking just might lead to my next innovation.
This picture was taken at the press conference the day after Martha was released from jail in 2005. Can you find me? Hint: I had my dark hair then.
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