I spend my days speaking with business and creative people and have discovered that many people use words related to innovation interchangeably. Here are the definitions that I use — in business consulting, here in my blog and on the CanInnovate podcast.
The traditional definition of an Entrepreneur is a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on financial risk. The key here is the word business. A business is when you have a product or service and customers, and operate the enterprise to produce a profit.
An Inventor is someone who creates a new product/process for the first time. It’s a unique way of doing something. This can be big or even small. Facebook, for instance, is seen as inventive and continues to be inventive. Whereas, so was the George Foreman Grill or the Suzanne Somer’s Thighmaster (the latter is mostly gone now, but was a craze in the 1980s where you could sit on your couch and tighten and tone your inner thighs with a simple resistance mechanism.)
An article in Time magazine last year listed25 Best Inventions of 2017. The list included Jibo, a personal robot that looks like a toy robot, it turns to face you, giggles and dances, unlike the other personal robots such as Amazon Echo and Google Home. Other inventions on the list included specialty ice cream, inventions for shoes and cars, a wearable breast pump, and even glasses that give sight to the blind — eSight3 — it translates algorithms to enhance the images that people who are legally blind can see. Super expensive at $10K, but early adopters are keen.
Inventions are distinct from innovation. An invention is something new or unique that is basically first to the market. Early adopters will often flock to an invention before other variations and similar products are developed.
Innovation, by contrast, is an improvement to an existing product, process, thinking or service. The word Innovation comes from the Latin word, Innovatus, which means to ‘renew or change. Think of intermittent windshield wipers. That was an innovation to the existing product of windshield wipers.
In another example, when I used to travel all the time I never understood why flight duration never seemed to improve. When I travel to the UK, flight times have generally been between 7–8 hours (depending on the wind). Now, it looks like Supersonic jumbo jet will have flights from London to New York in under 3.5 hours. Now that’s an improvement to an existing product. Here are some other innovations:
Animated Emojis — with the new iPhone X — you can turn yourself into an animated Emoji. They’re called Animojis and have characters that can be used to create messages based on your voice and facial expressions. Fun!
In essence, it is every company’s competitive advantage, what makes them different than anyone else
And finally, Creativity. There are lots of methods to unleash creativity: From brainstorming with a group, to lucid dreaming on your own. And businesses expect that by unleashing creativity within their organizations they will get some ideas generated that could lead to either an invention or radical innovation from within. Creativity/Curiosity can unleash many ideas. Certainly one way to access your creativity is to find ways to let go of your barriers and allow yourself a safe space in which to explore ideas. After all, the idea is to colour outside the lines or think outside the box or better yet, change the box to an octagon!
And, of course, innovation and creativity are not just for business. These tools can be applied to our careers (when we get in a career rut) or in our lives when we realize that we are not where we want to be.
And, if you feel your creativity, or opportunities to be creative, peaked in childhood — exploring, being curious, asking questions, then maybe it’s time to give your adult self permission to be a kid again.
Innovation starts with curiosity. So, what are you curious about???
Both of my parents are exceptional cooks. Really and truly, Exceptional! I am often happy to bring over plastic containers for leftovers! That good!
The other day, I went over to my parents and was complimenting my mom on this amazing dish. She regularly makes this dish, as it’s one of my favourites and it’s always delicious. This time, it was even more spectacular than usual. My dad had made it.
It got me thinking about the difference between good and exceptional. The difference between these 2 dishes, weren’t the ingredients or the approach. It was because my Dad made it for my birthday and did it with love! That’s the difference.
My mom got so used to making the dish and it’s always delicious. But having someone else making it with passion, love and curiosity, elevated the dish to a new level.
As for my mom, she transitioned the reins of her signature dish to my dad. She is happy that her husband has more reasons to cook for her and she gets to enjoy being cooked for! 🙂 She continues to make new dishes, that she hasn’t tried before.
Look around in your office and see who is curious to learn and master new skill(s). Let them try and see if they can make a new magical dish. And take the opportunity to elevate your next new challenge.
There is a lot that Canadians can learn about the Hootsuite layoff. CTV reported that ‘Hootsuite laid off approximately 10% of their employees, as they weren't meeting their sales goals and targets”.
With this whole start-up ecosystem, AI hub and small business push. Are we really supporting our own Canadian ecosystem? Many of us are starting up companies and need a social media tool, like Hootsuite. Did we give them the business to support a Canadian business or did we all shop around and go to the competitor? Canadian businesses may start to support other Canadian businesses, if we knew what they were.
All of our go-to markets is the USA. After all, isn’t 1% of 330 million is better than 1% of 38 million. I advise my clients to do the same thing. However, if we thought about all the support tools and vehicles that we need in order to run our business. Would the extra $10 a month be worth it, if we knew that we were supporting our backyard? Supporting our own economy, jobs and people? This is why it’s really important to have brands & create Canadian awareness of the different Canadian brands.
Prior to starting the CanInnovate Podcast , I surveyed over 200 people. Different demographics/ages/city or urban. I asked what are some of the most Innovative Canadian companies. Only about 45 people could answer that. 23% of Canadians were aware of Canadian brands. Ummm… what about Shopify, Hootsuite, Slack? However, all 200 people could tell me the Canadian failures! Nortel, Research in Motion and the list goes on.
If Canadians are unaware of our big brands that are being grown and brewed out here, then how can we support our Canadian businesses? MUSE/Planswell/Mindbridge AI/ Inkbox/ WorkTango and many many more. I truly believe that education and awareness is instrumental in overcoming obstacles both locally and globally.
Hence the birth of the CanInnovate Podcast in 2017. To help create more awareness & a platform for our Canadian innovators and thought leaders. It’s important and imperative that we start to support our own economy. We have amazing brains and talent here in Canada. Canada has some of the brightest minds (Canadian Brain-drain) & we know that business innovation requires diversity as it provides a new range of insights … Canada has a cultural mosaic & commitment to diversity & inclusion. So, we should have the best innovations out there.
We have now published over 80 different episodes, each week focusing on another Canadian Innovator, Rainmaker, thought leader and more importantly, having a point of view! Time to start really walking the walk, when we talk about supporting Canadian businesses!
Would love to hear your thoughts, comments and feedback..
I get this question quite a bit… how do you say NO and not burn bridges… simple.. Be honest, scope out clearly and provide options.
IMPORTANCE OF SAYING NO
One of my mentors told me early in my career that “You can either be good at a few things or fail at everything”. Those words have stuck in my head for my entire career, which has really enabled me to truly provide quality and over deliver. I have always championed the idea that all I have is my name & credibility. As I’ve worked across the globe, my reputation for driving ideas into action is known and vouched for by many senior executives.
THE VALUE OF UNDER COMMITTING & OVER DELIVERING
Let’s remember what a small world it is… I’ve had many recruiters, executives and other acquaintances reach out to me and ask me.. “I see that you know Pat, what do you think of their quality of work? Their values?”. It happens all the time.
It’s really important to NEVER OVER COMMIT & UNDER DELIVER! It’s so damaging to your name, your reputation and your credibility. I have worked with management consultants that have failed miserably in this area and it’s hard for me to recommend them to other clients, opportunities because of the broken trust. When I recommend people, I am vouching for their reputation and credibility. They are a reflection of me and my word.
With so many demands on our time, it’s important to have those conversations with the ones that request your time. Having a discussion regarding timelines, expectations really shows experience and professional maturity. The message that it shows is that you care about your reputation, their reputation and providing high quality outcomes.
SOME TACTICAL TIPS
You know I’m all about tactical tips. Never commit to a request before understanding the effort and time commitment required. I never sign a blank cheque for my time.
The key is not to say NO, it’s to provide options and help your client/boss brainstorm or even re-prioritize. If you only have 5 hours of bandwidth left, its okay to say “I have limited cycles this month, but I’ll have more time in two months after this project is completed”. Then, it’s easier to have a dialogue. The biggest compliment, is when someone wants your help in something.
Understand Intent: What is the intent of the request? Really try to understand the overall objective and where they are trying to go to.
Understand Scope: Ask good questions to really understand the scope and the impact. Is it required as an input in other activities? There could be a downstream impact on other strategic initiatives.
Be Honest: DO NOT, I repeat.. DO NOT overcommit to activities and underdeliver. It’s the fastest way to lose a client and respect. Do you have the skills? expertise?
Understand Timelines: Ask the question “When is the latest that I can get this back to you by?”. This is key, they may only need a portion of a deliverable or request by a certain time. Or you may think they need it in the next day or so, when in reality, they just need it in two weeks.
Break it Down: If they want everything and the scope is too big, then break them into smaller activities. If it’s still not feasible, offer a few options. Perhaps, person XYZ could do ABC tasks.
People will respect you more for being honest with them, versus being a YES person! People like options as it provides them with more ideas and allows them to think more broader.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback! Feel free to share with others that are struggling with the art of saying NO elegantly.
What a celebration! International Women's Day is to celebrate the movement in Women's rights. Check out these amazing ladies that we have had on our podcast. These ladies are not just entrepreneurs, but they are innovating, challenging the status quo and making magic happen. They are truly role models…
My name is Sapna Malhotra. Born in Liverpool, the home of the Beatles. I’d like to think that’s where I get my sparkling personality from or maybe not! The first step to changing perception is to create awareness. I wanted to be inspired, challenged and embrace my curiosity. That’s why I started the CanInnovate Podcast.
I truly believe that education and awareness are instrumental in overcoming obstacles and perception challenges, both globally and locally in Canada.
Dr. Ann Cavoukian is recognized as one of the world's leading privacy experts. She is currently the Distinguished Expert-in-Residence, leading the Privacy by Design Centre of Excellence at Ryerson University. Her Privacy by Design framework is now the International Standard and has been translated into 39 languages. Dr. Ann Cavoukian has won numerous awards such as Top 25 Women of Influence in Canada Top 10 Women in Data Security & Privacy, Power 50 by Canadian Business, Top 100 Leaders in Identity.What is GDPR? How to turn GDPR into our next competitive advantage & avoid the penalties!
Julie is a technology-oriented entrepreneur consulting local small businesses on IT & operations solutions. Founder of online retail business of innovative adventure travel gear products. Experience managing multi-million dollar IT and supply chain projects in high-pressure environments at a large corporation.
Bethany Deshpande is the CEO of Soma Detect. She is a scientist turned entrepreneur who is providing dairy farmers with information that they need in order to produce the best milk.
She is from New Brunswick which have a great startup communities. It is very interesting how she end up becoming the CEO of one of the promising startups in agriculture when she didn’t grew in a farm and knew nothing about agriculture. She also mentioned that her father played an important role in the creation of the company and how her conversations with dairy farmers led her to find ways to improve their industry.
Laila Paszti is an attorney in GTC’s Mergers & Acquisitions, Business & Technology Transactions and Privacy groups. She focuses on mergers and acquisitions, licensing and other technology-related transactions, with an emphasis on software code audits and big data platform diligence. She also advises clients on privacy and security compliance and cross-border transfers of data.
Laura Simpson is one of the Co-founders and CEO of Side Door. She is a living large, DNA music pumping through her veins, music industry professional. She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She also founded The Syrup Factory, which began hosting house concerts in 2011, offering strategies and services to artists in 2015. She’s also been an organizer in the art scene since she was 14 years old going to all ages shows and then eventually taking live music photography and freelancing.
Sarah stands at the forefront of international trade with expertise in the global logistics industry, working with the private sector to build, develop and increase efficiencies in their supply chains. She has spent the past 20 years working in logistics and supply chain, most recently as Director of Sales and Marketing for ICECORP Logistics Inc, a privately owned 3PL.
Angela Johnson is the Founder and President of Medical Confidence, a company that help empower individuals to be informed in their health and healthcare decisions. She has over two decades of executive management and business leadership experience focusing on health and healthcare.
Carmelia Ray is an internationally acclaimed matchmaker for high achieving men and the quality women they’re searching for. She’s also a renowned TV personality from Mom Vs. Matchmaker, The Real Housewives Of Toronto, and A User’s Guide to Cheating Death (Fall 2018). She's also won the 2018 Best Dating Coach award!
Melissa Sariffodeen is the CEO and Co-Founder of Canada Learning Code. She is a celebrated digital literacy advocate who is dedicated to ensuring that women and youth have the critical skills, confidence, and opportunities that they need to thrive in our increasingly digital world. She is a graduate of the Richard Ivey School of Business and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Education Policy at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. She taught herself how to build websites from scratch using HTML when she was 11 years old and has been coding ever since.
Karen Greve Young is the Chief Executive Officer of Futurpreneur Canada, Canada’s only national organization dedicated to supporting young entrepreneurs. Futurpreneur’s unique model combines funding, mentorship and start-up programs to fuel the success of thousands of young entrepreneurs in every Canadian province and territory.
Ariel Garten is a neuroscientist, innovator, mother, entrepreneur, and founder of InteraXon. Her company makes Muse: the brain sensing headband that helps you meditate. She speaks about happiness, meditation, understanding the brain, mental health and giving her audiences the tools they need to help them become their better selves.
Nicknamed “the negotiator” as a child, Fotini Iconomopoulos has been honing her skills her entire life. For the last decade, she’s been empowering Fortune 500 executives and their teams to achieve their objectives through her expertise in negotiation, communication and persuasion.
Meredith Messenger is VERY well versed in the demands of running a one-person shop and the struggles that many startups have with developing predictable revenue. She is the founder of Selling With Soul and the host of the Selling With Soul podcast.
She is a Revenue Coach and Sales Consultant offering revenue strategy development, sales consulting and sales team building to start-ups, small and mid-sized companies. The mission of Selling With Soul is to help more small businesses survive, thrive and impact the world.null
Rona Birenbaum, co-founder of Viviplan and the winner for the 2017 DMZ BMO FinTech Accelerator. She is also the founder of Caring for Clients, one of Canada’s first fee for service financial planning firms. She is also recognized as a wealth professional woman of influence in 2017. A financial columnist for the Medico Post.
Viviplan offers technology to help speed up the financial planning for every stage in life, from early career to early mid-life to pre-retirement, retirement and other goals. Can turn those dreams, hopes and visions, into reality. All you need is a little planning to achieve your life goals!
Dr. Chris McKillop really knows her stuff and as a pioneer in her field. She earned her degree in artificial intelligence in the 1990’s. She have an MSc in human centered computer systems, a PhD in educational technology and she, of course, have researched and published tons of articles on emotional dimensions of learning.
She has a long record of pioneering technological innovations to improve learning. Chris is really passionate about artificial intelligence, empathy and how it can help improve people’s lives. She incorporated her first company Turalt when she was 50 and is proud to be an older woman in tech advancing A.I. for the good.
Lauren Waldman truly taps into the science, and fun of learning while maintaining a sharp approach with an intense dedication to the success of others. Her current focus in the studies of neuroscience and how the brain learns, has played an eminent role in helping individuals and corporations navigate through the creation of what she calls “Learning Legacies.” These studies have also given rise to strategies relevant to the confusions and challenges, of the current cross-generational workforce.
Lauren Waldman is a CTDP (Certified Training and Development Professional), has certification in the Fundamentals of Neuroscience (Harvard), is currently working on a certificate in Medical Neuroscience (Duke), is a Designated Communication Coach and Trainer, and is an advisory board member of the NCCA (National Communication Coaching Association of Canada).
This week, I lost a dear friend of mine – Laura Holdcroft (Laura Kraemer). This episode is definitely dedicated to Laura. She was my roommate when I was studying, I was her Maid of Honour and she was just the most beautiful person inside and out.
As I was thinking of her, I really regretted not seeing her more often. We’d text and communicate but, I wish I would’ve seen her more often. It got me thinking, about how much I appreciated all the things that she taught me and brought into my life. The laugher, the chats, advice and just being free to be ourselves without judgement.
It got me thinking about others in my life. What was I grateful for.. It lead me to do some research, I know… I’m a consultant, I can’t help but research. I started to wonder what is the definition of gratitude. Harvard medical School had a great definition:
“A thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature, or a higher power”
There are so many definitions out there. What was fascinating to me was that there are 2 stages of gratitude according to Dr. Robert Emmons:
The acknowledgement of goodness in one’s life. That we actually are saying YES to life.
That some of the sources of this ‘goodness’ is coming from outside ourselves.
What I find wonderful about this art of recognizing and be grateful, is that this recognition is being done unconditionally and unprompted from something. We are not doing it as an exchange in return. We are doing it because something or someone has given us ‘something that is valuable to us and allows us to appreciate life’. It’s a really great article from positive psychology program. Read the Gratitude Appreciation here.
Then, I started to wonder what are the benefits of being grateful. We have learned the positive benefits for being vulnerable, but what about gratitude. I have been hearing about gratitude journals for years. Didn’t think much of them of them till today.
Robert Emmons did some research about the study of gratitude. Here were some interesting findings:
Improved Well Being- being grateful made people more agreeable, open and less neurotic
Relationships – tend to be more willing to forgive others and less narcissistic
Optimism & Happiness – increased optimism, which makes sense because we’ve have learned that gratitude means that we are saying YES to Life. Which, apparently also reduces your inner fears. Love this one. This article from Wanderlustworker stated that it’s a hard to be fearful and grateful at the same time. I guess it makes sense. We are optimistic about the future.
Stronger Self Control – This one surprised me. I’m just going to read what it says in this article. “Self-Control helps us to be disciplined and focused and to persist with what is subjectively the most important for our long-term well-being. A study by DeSteno et al. in 2014 found that self-control significantly increased when subjects chose gratitude over happiness and feeling neutral. One of the study’s authors, Professor Ye Li, said:
“Showing that emotion can foster self-control and discovering a way to reduce impatience with a simple gratitude exercises opens up tremendous possibilities for reducing a wide range of societal ills from impulse buying and insufficient saving to obesity and smoking.”
I had to digest this one for awhile to reconcile it in my head. I guess, if we are always thinking coulda, woulda shoulda and thinking about regrets, then we are looking backwards. But, if we starting to be more in the moment and appreciating the gifts that are around us, we tend to look to the future and about our future self vision and goals.
What I learned is that gratitude will give us an overall better life. It makes sense, we are in the moment not looking back. Seeing all the different elements that we appreciate and being thankful & grateful for these things. It would make life taste a little sweeter. By the way, this article had mentioned another study that was done by McCraty and colleagues in 1998 that stated that there was a 23% reduction in the stress hormone cortisol.
So, being in the moment and being grateful, we ended up having better lives, stronger self control, lower level of stress and more. I’m in! I’ve definitely drank the Kool Aid.
But where to start?
Listing all the people in your life that you appreciate. Your mom, dad, siblings, friends, colleagues etc… let’s not forget those mentors, those that inspire you, your boss, colleagues and so on. There are so people in your life that go above and beyond to make things easier for you.
On that list, has there been someone that has done something that you truly appreciate, but may not have thanked them?
What did you appreciate? Write it down.
Send them a note or even a letter. Who gets thank you cards or letters anymore? What a double surprise to provide.
To my CanInnovate podcast listeners, I am really thankful that you invest in the time to hear me each week. I am always so grateful, when I get an email or review that told me what resonated with you. How it helped you. I often think that when I’m doing this episodes, that I’m just talking to myself. Like a little girl, pretending to hold an Oscar or pretending to do a cooking show. Those emails and messages that I get, are the most precious gift to me. So, I truly thank you all.
So, my dear friend Laura. I’m sooo grateful for having you in my life. You taught me how to be level headed and funny at the same time. Laura, used to work at Sick Kids Hospital in the Infectious disease division. Everytime I struggled with a problem at work and thought it was the end of the world. We’ve all had those moments. Laura, you always provided me with a real perspective. You really saw different dimensions of life. The good, the sad and the miracles. I thank you for all of those things.
I encourage each and everyone of you to take a pause and think about all the things that you’re grateful for.
In fact, I’ve had the Golden Girls theme song stuck in my head for the past few days. So, I thought I’d close with this.
Thank you for being a friend.
Travel down the road and back again.
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a confidant.
And if you threw a party, invited everyone you knew.
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
and the card attached would say, thank you for being a friend
in iTunes by Wild A. Bandon from USA on July 31, 2018
Saphna really knows how to keep things moving. Good stuff!
Love Sapna and her podcast
in iTunes by So1222 from Canada on January 10, 2019
Listen, there’s a gap in identifying the innovators in Canada. Love her interviewing style, and how she really gets in-depth with her guests. Keep it up!!
Sapna’s enthusiasm is infectious!!
in iTunes by Nicole Holland @ BBRShow.com from Canada on November 26, 2018
I love how Sapna is so passionate about introducing the world to Canadian innovators, and is one in her own right as well. Her drive to constantly improve this show for her listeners and guests is a level of dedication that few podcast hosts have.