What can the audience expect from your think spot presentation?
Innovation will be the underlying theme of my talk. I will focus on how we come up with a great idea and the different approaches we take in response to it – whether innovative or ordinary. Your best chance for groundbreaking innovation is at the intersection where diverse concepts, disciplines, cultures and industries collide. I’ll talk about ways you can tap into your community and your life to make unique connections that can bring about breakthroughs.
How important is innovative thinking for a small business owner?
The ability to think innovatively is one of the most important characteristics of a small business owner. You should constantly be thinking about how to stand apart from everyone else. You need to find your niche and grow that niche to outdo your competitors. Approaching things differently, and innovatively, is not just the key to growth, it’s the key to survival.
What led you to become an author?
I was raised in Sweden by my mother who is African-American and Cherokee, and my father who is Swedish, so I have always seen things a little differently. I have a great interest in diversity and its effects and opportunities. People were always saying that diversity drives innovation, but I wondered if this was true and if so, why? I did a lot of research and found that the power of diversity is not a myth.
After several innovative experiences as an entrepreneur, including as founder of an international healthcare firm, a software company, and a hedge fund, I knew how to make myself stand apart from others. I knew I could make an impact imparting knowledge on what I learned about innovation and diversity and its impact on success.
Tell us a bit about The Medici Effect and The Click Moment.
My first book, The Medici Effect, is named for the phenomenon that happened in Florence hundreds of years ago when diverse concepts, cultures and disciplines intersected, leading to one of Europe’s most creative eras, the Renaissance. I started thinking about what happens if you combined architecture and termites, bikinis and burkas, and techno music and Martin Luther King. How and why are those combinations possible? You would assume that they aren’t. But out of these seemingly random combinations have come groundbreaking ideas that have created whole new industries. I discovered that the unexpected outcomes in every life journey can have the biggest impact on the fortunes of others. You can have that same effect in your organization or business if you can figure out a way to bring about diversity.
My next book, The Click Moment, delves into how to harness serendipity to stand apart. It’s a study of randomness and luck. I say that if a good idea is a light bulb going off over your head, a true click moment is a supernova exploding at 100 billion degrees. There is no cheat sheet for life. No one can say, “Follow these three steps and you will be successful.” Success comes in many different forms, but it virtually always comes from the unexpected. This book uncovers ways to capitalize on those unexpected moments.
What is the best business advice you ever received?
Stick to what you are passionate about. My father told me that about life, but it can also apply to business. When you absolutely love what you do you go to sleep thinking about it and wake up thinking about it. You obsess over how to do it better than anyone else. It’s hard enough starting a business; that passion for what it is that you do can give you strength.
What advice do you have for small business owners today?
I’d say to be innovative and constantly look for intersections. You must find ways to keep your business fresh and alive and moving. The world is changing so fast now that industries are eradicated quickly and the level of competition is absolutely ferocious. You can’t just stick to the business you develop. You need to figure out how to innovate and constantly reposition yourself. Stay hungry and explore the intersection of other industries and cultures.
See Johansson at the next COSE think spot event on June 24, 2015.
This article originally appeared in the June 8, 2015, edition of Small Business Matters.