1. Passion Is Overrated
For me, the highlight of the entire three-day event was the closing keynote, "Adventurous 10X Thinking – Building the Resilient Mindset for Better Innovation" presented by multi-award-winning inventor and adventurer Sally Dominguez.
Contrary to an infamous Steve Jobs quote about how you must be passionate about what you are doing in order to do great work, Dominguez says that's not actually true at all in terms of thinking and coming up with a truly disruptive, innovative idea.
"In fact you can have amazing insight if you look from outside an industry that you have no intrest in what so ever, and you just use your brains and your imagination," Dominguez said.
To illustrate her point she talked about Jim Henson, creator of The Muppets and Fraggle Rock. Henson revolutionized intergenerational communication with The Muppets, and yet he did not like puppets.
"All he wanted was to be on TV and puppets were a medium to get there and because he was not completely into puppets, he didn't know how they worked or what the traditions were around them, and so he broke all the rules," Dominguez said.
2. In a Coke and Pepsi World, Be Red Bull
This takeaway also came from Dominguez and her unconventional way of thinking about disruptive innovation.
"Red Bull came in at a time when Coke and Pepsi were all about great taste, and they were about a big can for a low price, and beautiful people," Dominguez said. "Red Bull comes along. CEO says, 'I don't care what everyone else is doing, we're going to reinvent the cateogry.' They didn't do market research, market research would never have gotten you to Red Bull. Small can. Premium price. Tastes like medicine. Gives you wings."
It was a gutsy move, she said, but it resulted in massive disruption of that market because the brand's success was built around the experience of the product more than the product itself.
3. Exhibitors Have a Good Sense of Humor
Last but not least, I learned that MD&M West exhibitors have a good sense of humor.
Walking by the Pipeline Design & Engineering booth on Thursday, I got such a kick out of the company's riff off of The Most Interesting Man in the World advertisement (starring Jonathon Goldsmith) that I just had to stop and snap a picture.