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Phil McKinney
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Phil McKinney

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Watching the sunset and eating my #Planters Redskin Spanish peanuts.

They make such a mess that I'm relegated to eating them outside.

Might as well enjoy the view.
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Does being relentlessly rough on employees elicit good performance?

The late Steve Jobs was the visionary who took Apple from the office desktop to the user’s back pocket. His reputation on stage was as a hard-charging, success-driven leader, and his audience responded with cheers and fist pumps as customers flocked to buy his latest brainchild.

Harsh Boss

Unfortunately, Jobs also had a reputation for rudeness and harsh treatment of his employees according to a New York Times piece. Apparently, he could be downright nasty to people when it simply wasn’t necessary.

There are two sides to every story, of course. Steve Jobs may have been an abrasive boss, but he was also a devoted family man. Our sons competed against each other in fencing, and he was at every competition. That really impressed me. We would chat and while I was aware of his reputation, I never saw it and I got the sense of an interesting, creative guy – who was, obviously, juggling more goals and obligations than most other parents at those competitions.

Jobs’s self-confidence arose from his belief that he was actually making a difference. He eschewed focus groups and market research and stood steadfastly against opposition. He could have retired as a multi-millionaire in 1985 after he was fired from Apple, but instead he went on to create Pixar and NeXT. Back at Apple, he went on to transform the computer, music, and mobile phone industry. Clearly, Steve Jobs was one of those “can’t not do” innovators. If he wasn’t working toward his next big idea, he wasn’t happy.

Are Kindness and Balance Incompatible with Visionary Leadership?

Steve Jobs had a great ability to inspire through personal example, even if he often lacked interpersonal skills and compassion for his employees’ emotional needs – though, to be fair, his successors claim he matured quite a bit as a leader in his later years. But how much better a leader would Jobs have been if he could have been more sensitive from the beginning to the people who made him great? Again, it is all a matter of balance, and Jobs had much more to balance than the average leader.

What causes some successful leaders to become insensitivity? Does being relentlessly rough on employees elicit good performance? Are visionary leadership and life balance incompatible concepts?

The answer to the first question could be related to just how hard overachievers can be on themselves. Their negative self-talk and chastising can be relentless and unforgiving as they constantly demand more from themselves. No achievement or accolade is ever enough. And when things are not progressing, their subordinates might bear the brunt of this hurtful inner critique.

This is unfortunate, because people are the soul of an organization. They can work for a harsh boss and endure rebuke and disapproval, and may simply be inspired by a visionary like Steve Jobs and get their personal satisfaction elsewhere. On the other hand, what if Jobs had been a bit easier on himself and treated everyone accordingly?

Could it be that a talented employee with endless potential left because of the lack of a simple thanks for a job well done? It’s been demonstrated over and over that fear and anger don’t make for the most productive employees – workers who feel safe to experiment and sometimes fail generally produce more interesting, important innovations in the long run.

This is all well and good, but it is the rare leader who can effect the kind of revolutionary change that Steve Jobs did while maintaining balance in other aspects of their lives. Your average corporate manager has a tough time with balance – so it’s not surprising that the head of one of the largest, most historically innovative companies on the planet struggled with it too.

Why Obsession Isn’t Always a Good Thing

What differentiates an abrasive person of vision from the rest of us? The characteristic of obsession provides one answer. Someone who is obsessed has typically abandoned balance and a sense of proportion in favor of an unrelenting quest for achievement. That obsession often manifests itself in long hours on the job, a harsh and unrelenting management style and neglect of the personal details of their lives, which recharge the batteries and are the reason they go to work in the first place. Our culture tends to idolize people who are obsessed with their work – but that kind of obsession usually isn’t sustainable.

Time runs out on all of us, and we must achieve the balance that not only promotes personal success, but also enriches the lives of both our colleagues and our families. If time is nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once, it follows that allocating a balance between our work and our personal lives is the most efficient path to complete success.

The path to success is measured only partially by the amount of wealth and accomplishments we amass. Andrew Carnegie, for example, is remembered more for his humanitarian work than his noisy, unsafe steel mills. Then there was Alfred Nobel, whose promotion of peace and the arts and sciences lent his name to the coveted Nobel prizes. Nobel was an armaments manufacturer, a fact not so well known.

How to Achieve a Healthier Work-Life Balance

We don’t all have the wealth and responsibilities of a Steve Jobs or an Andrew Carnegie, but we can achieve a healthier work-life balance that will make us easier on ourselves, our colleagues, and our loved ones.

We can start, as mentioned above, by being kinder to ourselves and transferring that feeling to others. After all, bumps along the road and even outright failure are essential for developing the best possible product. If you haven’t failed, you’re not learning. Internalizing that truth can lead to a better attitude that not only improves the quality of one’s work, but also the quality of one’s life and relationships.

Learning to relax and let go sometimes is not weakness or laziness – it’s an essential quality in the best leaders, Steve Jobs and the others mentioned in that Times piece notwithstanding. Schedule in time to recharge if you can’t seem to find it any other way. Surround yourself with people you trust to do as good a job as you and delegate certain responsibilities. This allows you to focus on your core competencies while leaving time for family, rest, exercise, and other pursuits – all of which contribute to quality work.

Leaders like Steve Jobs, who died far too soon from pancreatic cancer at age 56, are under immense pressure to continually innovate and succeed, while also, like all of us, needing to maintain our family lives and relationships. It is important to create actual balance in our lives even as we devote so much passion and energy to our work. Both can benefit in the end.
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Today’s radio show will be live from @BeUnreasonable social innovation incubator in #Boulder .. 5pm east 2pm west.

You can listen at

To ask questions, use the hashtag #KILive
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Have you ever had an idea that you just couldn't ignore?  A "can't not do" innovation ...
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Seriously ... I couldn't imagine a day without #bacon! 
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Innovation From Repurposing

Listen to this weeks Killer Innovations Podcast at

If you look up the Merriam-Webster's definition, it says that innovation is "the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods." However, in a world of continuous technological and ideological advancement, how much is really new? The truth is we are creative beings, but we don't create alone. While some will try to make the claim of being the sole creator of an innovation, the majority of our ideas are inspired by things and processes already in existence.

This is true of one of history’s most important innovations: Henry Ford’s creation of the assembly line. This innovation has changed countless industries by altering the universal production process and it came from an unlikely source.

How Did Ford Invent The Assembly Line?

Many people may think it was simply a stroke of genius, but the assembly line actually came about through re-purposing: taking something we already know and altering it to create something completely different. Henry Ford designed and executed the very first assembly line while creating his famed Model T, but the idea wasn't something that he truly came up with on his own.

Ford found his inspiration in the efficiency of Chicago meat-packing houses. The story goes that in watching the production process at one of these plants, he was mesmerized by the efficiency achieved when the meat was being cut down a line, each butcher executing a different cut as the meat continued its journey. Ford realized it could be reverse engineered: he could build his cars by having each employee place a different part on the car as it moved through the factory. Thus the assembly line was created, leading to one of the biggest increases in productivity in industrial history.

In a more recent example of inspiration, Ford used the idea of “simulation” from the aerospace industry to prototype and test new dashboard ideas. In a podcast from December 2009, I interviewed Dave Watson from Ford and Steve Bishop from IDEO where they shared their co-innovation project on the Ford Fusion and the inspiration to use digital cockpits in airplanes as an inspiration for the first all digital digital dashboard for cars.

Innovation Isn’t Just “Ford Tough”

Ford isn’t the only example.

Nike was also born through cross-industry innovation, a field in which they remain one of the leaders. How? They look for unlikely solutions to problems, ultimately finding unique innovations.

Nike originated in the 1960s when Oregon's coach, Bill Bowerman, was trying to design new soles with better grip for his track athletes. He found inspiration for his solution in a plain old waffle iron (he ruined his wife’s when he made the first pair of Nike running shoes!). Nike didn't stop there: the company has made innovation and reverse engineering part of their company values. One of their top-selling models, Nike Shox, were designed using Formula 1 race cars as inspiration. While some of Nike's innovation inspirations seem to come from way out in left field, that’s one of the factors that has differentiated them from the rest of their industry for decades.

Learn to Innovate Like Ford and Bowerman

These two great innovators came up with their revolutionary ideas via unlikely sources in industries seemingly unrelated to their own. So the first step is to stop thinking of any other industry as irrelevant to yours. Where there is success, there is something to learn and possibly adapt or some would say - steal!

Make a habit of dissecting notable innovative successes – everything from successful start-ups like Uber and Airbnb to the popular food truck in your neighborhood. What exactly are they doing that works so well? What differentiates them from others in their field?

In order to open yourself up to new concepts you may be able to adapt to your field, do some research on industries you know nothing about. Figure out what is driving those other industries, and identify what intrigues you about them.

And if you ever need some encouragement or inspiration, do some research on top innovators in history and learn how they found their inspiration. Find out how they tinkered, failed and played with their ideas until they reached success.

That’s what repurposing is all about -- figuring out what has worked for others and using it in your next innovation.

Listen to Killer Innovations Podcast: Innovation From Repurposing S11 Ep7

Show Credits:

Podcast: Ford And Ideo on Co-Innovation
Image Credit: iStock
Music by Bensound
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Peter Guber , owner of the Golden State Warriors , will be my guest on the Killer Innovations Radio show tomorrow (Sunday 5:00pm east 2:00pm west).

We will be discussing #creativity, #innovation and #storytelling.

Any questions you think I should ask?

Peter Guber is Chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment and co-owner of the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Football Club.
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Listen to this weeks Killer Innovations radio show/podcast at

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him… The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself… All progress depends on the unreasonable man.” George Bernard Shaw

This weeks show was broadcast live from the Unreasonable Institute in Boulder, Colorado. The mission of Unreasonable is:

… gets entrepreneurs what they need to scale solutions to the world’s biggest problems at programs ranging from 5 days to 5 weeks. We do this by identifying entrepreneurs with the potential to address problems like poverty, lack of education, and social injustice at scale, and then by swarming them with hand-picked mentors, funders, and partners to help grow their impact. And once entrepreneurs leave our program they can forever access and engage with this global network of entrepreneurs, mentors, and funders that now spans over 50 countries. Our goal is to help each of these ventures scale up to meaningfully impact the lives of at least one million people each.

Guest: Daniel Epstein – Co-Founder of Unreasonable Group
Daniel’s life has been shaped by a fundamental belief that entrepreneurship is the answer to nearly all the issues we face today. By the time he received his undergraduate degree in philosophy, he’d already started three companies. In 2012 he was recognized by Inc. Magazine as a “30 under 30 entrepreneur” and by Forbes as one of the “top 30 most impactful entrepreneurs” of the year. In 2013, he received the prestigious “Entrepreneur of the World” award along with Richard Branson at the Global Entrepreneurship Forum. Today, this passion for entrepreneurship and startups has led to the creation of Unreasonable Group ( ).


Guest: Gavin Armstrong – Founder and CEO Lucky Iron Fish
Gavin is a PhD Candidate in biomedical science at the University of Guelph and is a Fulbright Scholar. He has received the William J. Clinton Hunger Leadership Award and the Michaëlle Jean Humanitarian Award. He has also received the Mayor’s Award of Excellence, has been named one of the Top 40 under 40 in the Guelph community, and has been named a fellow emeritus of both the Hunger Solutions Institute and the Kirchner Food Fellowship.

Lucky Iron Fish website

Guest: Rubayat Kahn – Co-Founder of mDoc
Rubayat Khan is a social entrepreneur, development practitioner and data scientist from Bangladesh specialized in the rapidly growing  intersection between scalable low-cost technologies and international  development challenges. He is also a global pioneer in the use of cutting-edge data mining, predictive modeling and interactive data visualizations to make development interventions and research more impactful and efficient.


Killer Question/Mind Hack
How can I eliminate customer hassles and create unique benefits for my customers?

Why do people choose you over your competitors? Or, vice versa?

How do you go about eliminating a hassle or creating a benefit to your customer if there is no obvious reason for them to pick you over your competitor?

I pretty much hate flying these days, which is unfortunate, because I log a minimum of a quarter-million miles every year. Travel is at best a neutral experience, and at worst an awful one, but that’s probably not news to you.

Every new hassle of flying is absorbed into the “new normal” and accepted by travelers relatively quickly.

Who would have thought that the flying public would accept more intense and invasive warrantless pat-downs than some police forces are authorized to do—especially when there is no evidence that these searches actually accomplish anything? But the public has.

The point is that customers are generally quick to accept a reduction in “pleasantness” and an increase in hassles, especially when the individual businesses that comprise an industry present a united front on the issue (for example, seemingly coordinated price hikes or near simultaneous service downgrades).

As frustrating as these situations are, they also present an opportunity. Low expectations and hassles are something to take advantage of, because they are an opportunity to surprise and excite your customer.

If you can twist these hassles and make people pleased to get an experience that feels new and exciting, or even just approximates old standards of service, they’ll be happy.

Just acknowledging the reality of the downgraded experience instead of trying to pass it off as something done “for your convenience” helps mitigate customer frustration and reduces the perception of a hassle.

One of my favorite airlines right now is Southwest, which is funny because I’m guaranteed an economy seat on them, rather than the business or first-class seat I get on a legacy carrier.

Why do I like Southwest? They’re pretty much perkless, but the minimal service they offer is given in a straightforward, easy-to-use way.

They don’t over-promise and, as a result, don’t under-deliver. The experience is consistent and uniform; I may not be excited to be flying them, but I’m not disappointed, either.

No hassles, no headache.

So ask yourself …

What hassles would I need to overcome for my customers in order to leapfrog over my competitors’ product?
What would I need to do differently?
How will our competitors respond to these changes?
Creative Exercise
Just as you go to the gym to work out your physical muscles, we all need to exercise our creative muscle.

So your assignment this week:

List 5 customer hassles that you can identify. For each hassle, come up with 5 ideas to overcome them. You will then have 25 ideas that eliminate customer hassles that you can use to disrupt the competition

If you discover some interesting idea, post them in the comments section. That way, you can inspire others to look beyond the obvious.
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To innovate - you must have a beginners mind .. (New Podcast)

“Passion is a rather frightening thing because if you have passion you don’t know where it will take you.” ― Jiddu Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known

A very brilliant professor was invited to see Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912) to inquire about zen. The professor bubbled with enthusiasm sharing his research and knowledge, the doctrines he had extensively studied, the sutras he knew by heart.

Nan-in poured tea while the professor spoke. The master kept pouring, pouring until the glass overflowed.

“Can’t you see it’s already full!? It’s spilling all over the floor!”

“Like this cup” said Nan-in, “you are full of ideas and opinions. How can you learn the way if your cup is not empty?”

Crippled by knowledge and information, we too often live in a tomb of disenchantment. Too serious to dance in the rain, too cautious to build sandcastles by the sea, we are frozen by our own experience, expertise and fear.

The art of innovation and of staying beginners is to empty our cups again and again, to remain childlike and playful with eyes always open and fresh.

The Beginner’s Mind

 “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” – Zen Master Shunryo Suzuki

When we learn something new, we give our whole attention to it. It is an adventure where the mind listens completely and the senses are alive. But as it gradually becomes familiar, we lose that sense of wonder. The more knowledge and memories we store about a subject, the more our awareness dims; our thoughts conform to a pattern and we think in trenches, unable to see something in an entirely new light.

As we collect the dust of experience, we cover life’s opportunities. A child sees a rose as a rose without saying what it is. An adult sees an ornament of romance and hangups and is wary of its thorns. The latter’s experience blocks their ability to see beauty as beauty, whereas the former sees without the need to name, label, or impart meaning.

What happens when our eyes can no longer see our work with the same excitement, the same freshness and joy? The security of our careers, our titles and degrees requires us to trade our freedom for the convenience of labels and the comforts of routine. But when we physically and mentally roam in only the space we know, we stunt our growth, dwarf our opportunities, and clip our roots like bonsai trees.

The Fear of Not Knowing

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” – H. P. Lovecraft

Fear is a life-protective measure and a form of intelligence. If a snake crosses your path, you move out of the way; if a building is on fire, you get out. But fear can become pathological, making you afraid of things which have no cause for fear: the fear of losing your job, the fear of public speaking, the fear of failing or making mistakes. This kind of fear is abnormal. It creates indecisiveness and stagnation. Rather than take action, we fear failure and lose opportunities for innovation and joy.

Courage, on the other hand, is not the absence of fear, but rather the acceptance of fear. The risks are still there, but you act in spite of them, pushing new boundaries and opening new doors. When most of us begin something such as a new task or skill, we have nothing to lose so we have nothing to fear. In fact, fear is about losing what we possess, of losing the comfort of certainty and what we know

It was Socrates, one of the most beloved founding fathers of Western civilization, who said “I know that I know nothing,” courageously defending his views or the right to question them even when they led to his death. But we don’t need to be martyrs in order to live courageously and question everything we know. We simply must become beginners who see each day full of new possibilities.

The Shattered Cup

Zen master Ikkyu was very clever, even as a young boy. When he got into trouble, which was often, his quick wits always found a way to get him out. But one day he dropped his master’s beloved teacup, a precious gift and rare antique, which shattered the moment it hit the ground.

The young monk knew he was in trouble. But before he could think or formulate a plan, he heard footsteps approaching! He quickly swept up the pieces, hid them in his robe, only to turn around and see his master eyeing him.

“Is something the matter, Ikkyu?” the old man asked.
“No master…I was just wondering why…why must people die?”
“It’s natural” said the master “everything must experience both life and death. When it’s time, even you will die”.
“Yes, everything.”
“Should we be upset about it?”
“Nonsense. It’s a fact we must accept.”
“Master” said Ikkyu as he revealed the shattered cup “it was time for your tea cup to die!”

It’s time to play like children and see through fresh eyes. To once again be beginners and restore our passion and excitement for new possibilities.

Its time to break out cups so that we can fill them again.

Listen to this episode of the Killer Innovations Podcast: To Innovate You Must Have A Beginners Mind at

Show Credits:

Image Credit: iStock
Music by Bensound
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Most (if not all) innovation efforts have some number of external constraints (e.g. $ & time). Some leaders believe that constraints create better innovations ..
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Everyone dreams of a better future. Some of those dreams are more commonplace, like getting a better job; while others are bigger challenges, such as creating something innovative that will change the world or writing a bestselling book. I believe everyone should dream big. Unfortunately, for some people, achieving those dreams feels impossible from the beginning, and they never see them become reality. Have you ever wondered why some people are able to achieve their wildest dreams, while others never seem to make it past the first step?

Listen to the podcast at

Experts Write Down Their Goals – and a Plan for Achieving Them

What if the difference were as simple as writing your goals down? It’s been popular advice for a number of years. As is the way of the Internet, a fictional study concerning the Harvard class of 1979 was used for a long time as an example of how writing down goals could help increase an individual’s ability to achieve success. According to this nonexistent study, the Harvard graduates who had taken the time to write down their goals were earning a significantly greater income ten years later than their classmates who had not written down their goals, and several times the income of classmates who had no goals at all at graduation. While this study has been found not to exist, writing down goals for long-term success is still considered a valid exercise – and there is actual legitimate research to prove it.

According to this study, individuals who each week wrote down their goals for the month were much more likely to accomplish those goals than individuals who were simply instructed to meditate on their goals for a brief period of time at the beginning of the study.

However, the study also revealed something else interesting: individuals who wrote down their goals were even more likely to succeed if they also created an action plan (that is, a plan for making their goals reality), shared their action plan with a friend, and regularly checked in with that friend to give a report on their progress since they had started working toward their goals.

Creating innovation goals, therefore, should be handled like any other goal in your life: write it down!

Written Goals Provide Clarity of Purpose

Written goals not only take on a heavier weight in your own mind — after all, why would you write something down if you weren’t serious about it? — they also give you something to refer back to: a guidepost that will help you determine the things that are truly important in your life. A recent blog post by Michael Hyatt, former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing, suggests that your written goals should become the filter through which you gauge every opportunity that comes before you. According to Hyatt, the more successful you become, the more opportunities you will have to let pass you by.

Deciding which things to pass on can be a real challenge – but it’s less of a challenge if you already have a clear indicator of success or failure right there in front of you. If the opportunity doesn’t contribute to one of those goals, it’s probably not the right one for you: it’s just that simple.

Writing down your goals clarifies your vision and your purpose. If you don’t know where you’re going, you can’t possibly know how to get there. On the other hand, if you have a written “road map” that gives you an idea of where you’re headed in five or ten years, you can start to piece together what that will look like in the short term.

For example, suppose that you’ve always wanted to see your name in print. You have a wonderful idea for a book, and you’ve even sat down to type out a page or two here and there, but you’ve never gone anywhere with it. What would your plan for the next several months look like if writing that book left the category of “dream” and became a goal that you were focused on achieving?

It might start by committing to writing at least one thousand words every day. That’s not an earth-shattering change in your life. That first thousand words will hardly even look like it’s enough to save: only around two pages in a Microsoft Word document. Over the course of a month, however, those two pages become sixty; and suddenly, over the course of several months or even a year or two, you’ll find that your dream of writing a book has become a reality.

Of course, writing the book is only the first step. There’s still editing, and finding an agent, and seeking a publisher, and marketing: all of those are steps along the path to your ultimate goal. Looking at them as a whole can make them seem overwhelming; and where you are now, on what could be Day One of the new plan for your life, it may seem as though you’ll never get there. The trick is realizing that you aren’t starting on Day One Hundred. You’re starting with the first step: a small, manageable piece of your goal.

That’s the other thing that writing down your goals and the action plan for completing them allows you to accomplish: it gives you the opportunity to celebrate small victories. In the example above, did you write your thousand words every day for a week? Finish your first chapter? Make contact with an agent who is interested in helping you market your project? All of these things are victories along the path – and they’re well worth celebrating. It’s not just about the big picture or the end goals; it’s about all of the little steps along the way. After all, sometimes the journey is just as important as the final destination.

Writing down your goals is, in many ways, the first step on a longer journey. Seeing them in writing – ideally in the past tense, as though you have already accomplished them – gives them weight and power in your life. Store your list of goals somewhere you’ll look at it regularly, and be prepared for the changes that are coming in your life. They might surprise you!

Image Credit: iStock
Music by Bensound
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Listen to this weeks episode of the Killer Innovations Podcast on Lucid Dreaming and Creativity (MP3) at

In the 1984 movie “Dreamscape” starring Dennis Quaid and Christopher Plummer , government researchers found a way to have people join another persons dream and then actively participate, and in some case disrupt it. The core of the movie is to use this new found ability to do both good and evil. After I watched the movie, I became enthralled with the idea behind the concept of film - lucid dreaming.

How Does Lucid Dreaming Relate to Personal Creativity?

Lucid dreams happen when the dreamer is aware they are in dream while also being aware that what they they are experiencing is not real life. Most people never experience it to the fullest, but some dreamers are able to take full advantage of lucid dreaming and control what they do and what happens around them. To many people – and to me – this sounds like a lot of fun.

But it’s about much more than fun. As a Wall Street Journal article explains, multiple studies have shown that frequent lucid dreamers are better at cognitive tasks that involve insight and thinking creatively. Intuitively, this makes sense. On countless occasions, I’ve woken up in the middle of the night with the faint memory of a great idea, but I could never quite grab it. Unfortunately, most people are like me and have a hard time realizing when they’re dreaming and then being able to play it back when they awake.

A few months ago, after reading up on the topic, I decided that I was going to experiment with lucid dreaming. Despite my best efforts, however, I found myself coasting through my dreams just the same as I always had, — unable to take control or experiment with my surroundings. I got frustrated.

What was the problem?

The web abounds with instructions – some more metaphysical than others – on how to get into the lucid-dreaming game. The basics include getting into the habit of “reality checks” throughout your waking day such as looking at your hands so that you recognize any changes when you are in a dream state; — keeping a dream journal to get better at remembering your dreams; — and repeating a kind of mantra before you go to sleep: “I will remember my dream tonight; I am going to dream about ___.”

I tried all of these techniques, but found that I was having only limited success. I continued to wake up with the ghost of an idea sliding from my conscious mind, just out of reach. After a few weeks of this, I decided to try a new technique, which has always been a great jumping-off point when I feel stuck: the Socratic Method of using questions.

Essentially, the Socratic Method is about challenging your assumptions, and asking yourself open-ended questions.
Questions have unique power. When you are asked a question, you can’t stop yourself from asking it. For example, If I ask you:

"What is half of thirteen?"

You’re calculated the answer and are now back listening to me. You didn't consciously tell yourself to solve the calculation, your brain did it automatically — all on its own.

So - could I frame a question just prior to to going sleep and will my subconscious actively try to answer it?

And the answer is - yes. I was gradually able to take more and more control in my dreaming life, using my questions as a catalyst. Once I was able to be consistent in my lucid-dreaming, the opportunities were endless. I saw new solutions to old problems and was able to grab some of those great ideas floating around in my subconscious that had been so elusive before.

Did it work every-time? Everyday? No. What I found was that the questions hung around and answers would come to me at some point in the future.

Lucid dreaming can be a great way to gain insight into problems you face during your waking life, and spur your personal creativity to new heights. And like everything in life, success often comes down to asking the right questions. By breaking down the barriers between your unconscious and conscious states, your mind is more free to challenge your own assumptions and answer your own questions in creative ways.

So - what is that one question you would love to have the answer for?

My advice - sleep on it.


Listen to this episode of the Killer Innovations Podcast: Lucid Dreaming and Creativity at

Show Credits:

"Dreamscape" the movie:
WSJ Article "The Benefits of Lucid Dreaming"
Instructions on lucid dreaming:  "How To Lucid Dream in 6 Essential Steps"
Image Credit: iStock
Music by Bensound
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  • CableLabs
    President & CEO, 2012 - present
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philmckinney, phil mckinney hp, philip mckinney
Innovator, Author, Speaker, Columnist at Forbes

Philip McKinney is the President and CEO of CableLabs.  CableLabs is a non-profit research and development consortium dedicated to discovering game-changing innovations for its member companies. 

Previously, he was HP's Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for the Personal Systems Group (PSG). In this role, he oversaw the long-range technical strategy and research and development for HP’s laptops, desktops, converged mobile phones, workstations, digital home and consumer media devices.   

Before joining HP, Phil was engaged in the day-to-day operational challenges as the Senior Vice President and founding CIO for Teligent, a global provider of fixed-wireless services.  

Phil also is the host of the podcast Killer Innovations ( with ~20,000 listeners.  The podcast covers personal creativity, translating ideas into innovations and innovation management.

His personal blog can be found at


Bragging rights
Retired CTO at HP, Innovator, Speaker, Columnist at Forbes
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Glenwood, IL - Campbell, CA - Broad Run, VA - Champaign, IL - Hong Kong - London, UK - Johannesburg
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Phil McKinney - Google+

Works at CableLabs as Author // Speaker // Columnist at Forbes //. Innovator, Author, Speaker, Columnist at Forbes Philip McKinney is the Pr

Beyond The Obvious

Beyond The Obvious - a book by Phil McKinney

Africa the newest land of mobile opportunity

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Beyond the Obvious book by Phil McKinney

Beyond The Obvious: Killer Questions That Spark Game-Changing Innovation is about generating ideas that lead to breakthrough innovations

Beyond The Obvious Book Launch – Mountain View, CA | Beyond the Obvious

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