Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, stood at the helm of the Amazon ship and steered it from a $500,000 revenue stream to one of $178,000,000,000 and along the way, he increased his Amazon crew from 9 employees to more than 560,000. Although this is an unprecedented feat to accomplish in less than 25 years, his mindset he used to accomplish this is equally as impressive. Bezos is quoted as saying, “You have to be willing to be misunderstood if you’re going to innovate.”
From Oddball to Genius
How many people thought selling bottled water when water is free from your kitchen faucet was a ridiculous idea? Fifty years ago, how many people thought the concept of a portable phone was something that only could be realized in cartoons like The Jetsons? What other seemingly oddball ideas went from ushering skepticism to catapulting sales:
- Snuggies racked in over $500 million dollars.
- The Pet Rock scored nearly $6 million dollars for its creator.
- Big Mouth Billy Bass, the talking fish you can hang on the wall, reeled in $100 million.
The point Bezos and the aforementioned oddball ideas prove is that genius is often overlooked. To think differently than others, by definition, means thinking against the grain… against the status quo… against what others perceive is normal and acceptable. In essence, the very idea that made the above creators looked at like they had two heads but no brain is exactly what brought them tremendous success.
Is The Ability to Innovate a Product of Nature or Nurture?
Have you ever noticed that children can play all day outside with nothing but a kitchen pot and blades of grass? One minute they’re pretending to be witches, stirring their cauldron with bursts of cackles and delight, while the next minute, they’re chefs at a fine dining restaurant and are taking the order of every butterfly and ladybug they meet. Children are masterminds of thinking outside the status quo. There is no limitation to their creativity and they don’t even know what thinking inside, or outside, the box means because, for them, there’s no box at all. They are instinctively innovators.
At some point though, children grow into adults who often only see the box… the parameters in which they are to think and dream. They go from naming every rock as a child and taking those rocks to tea parties to an adult who scoffs at the idea and evolution of the Pet Rock. The point is this: Innovators do not operate within current trends; they start a trend.
If you are in a position to encourage a child to dream and to be different and to be unapologetically authentic, do it. If you are in a position to encourage an adult to dream and to be different and to be unapologetically authentic, do it. If you are in a position to encourage a company to dream and to be different and to be unapologetically authentic, do it.
Fitting in is for those afraid to stand out but at the end of the day, it’s the people and companies that stand out that make the most memorable splash and inspiring journeys.
Author: Evelyn Lindell