The BEST IDEAS of 2017

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The BEST IDEAS of 2017


There are lots of bad reasons to start a company. But there is only one good one: to change the world.”   That was the idea that opened the third annual New General Market Summit, co-produced by Drug Store News & Mack Elevation, April 2017 in Minneapolis.  Many of the top global and emerging brands in health and beauty were in attendance. They were companies of impact, influence, and creativity, fueled by cause before profit; yet growing at rates dwarfing many of their larger competitors.

If you are looking to inspire your team at your next staff meeting, remind them of these “ideas that matter.”

Eric Ryan, co-founder of Method & Olly Nutrition shared that his organizations have a thoughtful balance of “Artists” and “Operators.”   Today’s consumer demands imaginative products and design thinking with customer service precision.   Eric shared, “we do our own design work internally.  The soul cannot be outsourced.  The bigger we get, the smaller we act.”
Ryan also reminded the audience “your product innovation is a souvenir of your corporate culture.”   Vibrant, creative cultures (by their nature) will birth interesting, relevant products that appeal to the heart of the consumer.  Creative, healthy organizations release inspirational innovations.  New ideas are a bi-product of culture.

John Replogle, CEO of Seventh Generation declared “Every Brand Must Have a Soul.”  Today’s most admired brands – Starbucks, Kind, Target, Dove, and Harley Davidson have soul.  They articulate a clear, uncompromised mission.  Seventh Generation embraces their own mission.  “To inspire a consumer revolution that nurtures the health of the next seven generations.”  And here’s the good news.  Today’s consumer is energized by and will pay more for soul.

The most compelling and meaningful brands today are more than a positive balance sheet; they are increasingly becoming cultural forces for change and impact.   What’s the purpose of your company?


The Idea:  There’s a famous study conducted by a Dr. Biasiotto, from the University of Chicago, which sought to determine the influence of visualization on his subjects’ basketball performance.  He split people into three groups and tested their free throw percentage improvement based on their conditioning. One group practiced free throws; one group visualized themselves shooting free throws; the last group did nothing.  The results are staggering: while those who did nothing predictably did not improve, the group that visualized their free throws increased their performance by twenty-three percent – only one percentage point below those who were able to practice their free throws.

This visualization technique changes your vantage point, allowing you to enter a mental space where you can train yourself prior to a life-altering experience.  Your mental conditioning has a clear impact on future outcomes.  Is this your mindset?

Asking questions with an open mind has the same transformative effects as the group of people who visualized their free throws. A question forces us to enter a space where we empathize, objectively analyze things, and reassess our knowledge of the topic.  The perfect question unlocks doors to problems that seemingly have been locked for ages.

We spend large parts of our life looking for answers, but questions are where the power lies.  As author Frank Sesno challenges us in his article on the topic:

“Good leaders are adept at asking strategic questions.  Strategic questions zoom out and look at the big picture. They ask about long-term goals, interests, and priorities. They consider alternatives, consequences, and downsides. They sharpen the focus on the larger objective and clarify what it will take to get there.”

Questions transform discussions, uncover new ideas, and challenge norms.   A perfect question is not a tool of manipulation; rather, a tool to uncover truth.
Questions are invaluable to creating healthy strategy.  It’s difficult to understand new threats, emerging trends, or risks that are bubbling up on the fringe.   Power, politics, and fear keep new information pushed down in organizations.  It is not easily exposed or accessible.

The perfect question allows new ideas to rise.

How often do you listen (more than you speak), allowing others to share difficult information with you?  A good question can change everything.


The Idea: “We gather information (selectively), interpret it (prejudicially), and recall it (unreliably).” In his book, Triggers, executive coach Marshall Goldsmith had 86,000 leaders worldwide grade their performance. The results are shocking.
  • 70% of leaders believe they are in the top 10% of their peer group.
  • 82% of leaders believe they are in the top 20% of their peer group.
  • 98.5% of leaders believe they are in the top 50% of their peer group.

aHis research clearly demonstrates that most people have an inaccurate perception of their personal performance.  In a world where most leaders claim to embrace self-examination, how can this many people be so deceived?

As Goldsmith says, “Our inner beliefs trigger failure before it happens. They sabotage lasting change by canceling its possibility.”  Mental models (or triggers) either incapacitate us or set us free to create.  They are installed in us and possess great power, whether we acknowledge them or not.

What triggers are getting the best of you?

High performers are oftentimes the most influential people in the room, suffering from a false sense of power, thinking they can control the behaviors of others.  They can’t.  Research shows they can only control how they behave, not the outcomes. And when we are tired and let our guard down, we are even more responsive to triggers.
Fatigue and energy depletion creates weaknesses in judgment and unlocks our leadership vulnerabilities.   At the end of a long week of work, we are susceptible to bad decisions and our own unconscious triggers.

If Goldsmith is right, our biggest struggle is implementing change, not just recognizing the need for it.  Our triggers often catapult us back into limiting behavioral patterns.  Frequently, they are not based in fact but they are real, nonetheless, possessing extraordinary influence on our subconscious. And they can take many forms.

“Your glimpse of the finish line is a mirage.  You don’t get to determine if you have gotten better.  The people around you make that call.”  Our self-analysis is consistently distorted.

Regardless of how our habits trigger our regression, Goldsmith shares one principle that is always effective in preventing it: “Any effort to contain our normal impulses in the face of other people’s obstinacy can be high depletion. Creating Structure is how we overcome depletion.  When we have structure, we don’t have to make as many choices; we just follow the plan.”

Structure gives us freedom, and we become less reliant on emotionally draining self-discipline. Structure drives results.

We all tend to favor information that confirms our opinions, true or not.  Goldsmith reminds us We gather information (selectively), interpret it (prejudicially), and recall it (unreliably)

Don’t trust your perception; build some structure.

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