Edison and Innovation Blog

Learning Innovation from Thomas A. Edison
June 27, 2015

What you want matters

Author: Don Mangum, Jr. - Categories: Become More Innovative, Innovation Quotes - Tags: ,

I have a confession. I don’t like peanut butter. I like peanuts. I like butter. But I have never liked peanut butter. I don’t hate it but I really don’t like it. No matter how hard I tried, I could never get passionate about it.

George Washington CarverToday, I want to talk a few minutes about someone who was passionate about the peanut, George Washington Carver. His journey from starting life as a slave to eventually testifying in front congress is an amazing story. Carver’s innovations centered on agriculture. Specifically, he worked to improve farming and develop uses for agricultural products. He found many new uses for the peanut and other products. His goal was simple, he wanted to make life better for poor farmers in the American South.

Here are two aspects of what Carver did that we can learn from.

  1. To increase the yield for all crops, he encouraged encouraging crop rotation by replacing cotton with such crops as soybeans, sweet potatoes and peanuts.
  2. He also created new products using soybeans, sweet potatoes and peanuts that increased the markets for these products.

Once you have developed a new product you often have to create or enlarge the market for your product. For example, in his case, Carver needed to increase the demand for peanuts, so he created new products that used the peanut. Everything from new things to eat to hair and grooming products.

Caver wanted to help famers and he loved what he did. He stated it this way, “If you love it enough, anything will talk to you.” So while you work with your innovation, take a look at what you want and why you want it. If you love what you do, it may even tell you what you need to do to be innovative.

This blog was originally posted June 19, 2014.

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June 24, 2015

Will you work for your innovation?

Author: Don Mangum, Jr. - Categories: Innovation Quotes, Thomas Edison - Tags: ,

Edison working in notebookWhen working on innovation or any other worthy goal it begins and ends with our willingness to work for it. Many people have ideas, but few are willing to be patient and work hard until the idea can blossom into reality. We often talk of genus as if it were a gift that we are either born with or don’t have.   But, Edison had a different definition. He stated that, “Genius is hard work, stick-to-itiveness, and common sense.” To Edison, genius was equated with hard work, not just inner intelligence.

The rewards of innovation come after all the hard work. Sometimes working on innovation or any other worthy goal begins and ends with our willingness to work for it. We often say all this work is tedious and slow, but we all know that it is necessary.  Mark Zuckerburg founder of Facebook put it this way, “. . . you know, I mean, the real story of Facebook is just that we’ve worked so hard for all this time. I mean, the real story is actually probably pretty boring, right? I mean, we just sat at our computers for six years and coded.”

So, when you get discouraged, it is not the time to quit, or even slow down. Keep going, keep working and looking for opportunities. Success is there but as Edison stated, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” So keep looking, and when you find your chance, keep working and you will complete your innovation.

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June 19, 2015

Innovating Fast or Slow

Author: Don Mangum, Jr. - Categories: Become More Innovative - Tags:

I can remember when I was a child seeing the home of the future. It had a number of cool electronic and other advances that seemed exciting and straight out of science fiction. In 1957 Disneyland had a home of the future in Tomorrowland that was unlike anything anyone was living in at the time (To see the home click here). We have been fascinated for a long time with how technology and innovation would change how we live at home.

So where are the homes of the future? Did the projected home of the future from six decades ago ever come to pass? Looking back it was easy to think that one day we would purchase a home that looked like a UFO and had all of these wonderful advances. In reality the changes happened slowly. Ideas that were very exciting, were not necessarily practical. Products that seemed innovative, sometimes are just different or are not accepted by consumers.

But looking back, the current home that I live in is starting to have a lot in common with that home of the future. The home environment is changing slowly. Patience is not a word often associated with innovation, but sometimes innovations cause immediate change, other times it can take much longer. Learning to understand the timing of our innovation may be what we need to find success.

Take a look at the following video to see some of the new technologies for a home or apartment, some of which were not even imagined in 1957. Sometimes the reality of the future can be better than the dream of the future.

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June 10, 2015

Don’t give up

Author: Don Mangum, Jr. - Categories: Become More Innovative, Innovation Quotes

Today’s blog is simple. Don’t give up. Keep going. Don’t quit. If you are thinking about quitting, see the video below.

Success is often achieved by understanding the principle stated by Edison, “Many of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” So keep going. You are closer to reaching your goals than you think.

This blog was originally posted May 28, 2014.

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June 3, 2015

Innovation in Summertime

Author: Don Mangum, Jr. - Categories: Become More Innovative, Innovation Quotes, Thomas Edison - Tags: ,

It is the time of year when school gets out for summer and parents are looking for things to keep their children busy. If you are a parent with kids of school age, which I am, you can’t help but get into discussions with other parents about summer activities. These activities center in three areas, free time at home, camps, and vacations. All three of these areas can give us insight into how to be more innovative.

Kids with free time often play a lot. Play is a good thing. Play can be creative and use a lot of imagination. This time can also be wasted in the house staring at the TV and other noncreative activities. But for children and adults, taking time to do creative unstructured activities can increase our ability to exercise our imagination.

The number of different types of camps is amazing. There are music camps, church camps, sports camps, education camps and old fashion camp camps. What most of these camps have in common is that they are experienced based. These experiences can be very valuable. Edison put it this way, “You cannot put a price on the knowledge gained by children when they are allowed to see something with their own eyes, such as a cocoon breaking open and a butterfly emerging.” As innovators, we need to take the time to have experiences that expand our world and our ability to find creative solutions to our problems.

Vacations are often the highlight of summers for children and adults. Everyone Innovate your Summergets an opportunity to get way from what they normally do and try something new. Sometimes it is relaxing, and sometimes it is an adventure. Often it is a new experience where you can see or do something you have never done before. “In regard to things I have never seen before, I would rather examine something myself for even a brief moment rather than listen to somebody tell me about it for two hours,” Edison stated. He often took vacations to see and experience new things. We can take from this the importance of getting away from the ordinary. Often finding time to relax and have different experiences is just what we need.

So here are three ideas that we can take from summertime that will make you more creative. They might be what you need to find success in you innovation.

  1. Create free time when you can play and use your imagination.
  2. Take time to experience new things.
  3. Get away from your routine and take a vacation.
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