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INNOVATION

1-ASK QUESTIONS

Ask Questions.
The easiest place to start is with things you do every day. Simply ask: Who else does this, and how do they do it differently? If you only know one way to do something, youre making a big assumption. Youre betting that of the infinite ways there are to do it, the single one you know is the best. Im a gambling man myself, but I wouldnt make that bet, as those odds, one against infinity, are embarrassingly bad. Even simple things like washing dishes or tying shoelaces have dozens or hundreds of alternative approaches in use by different people around the world. Those methods are all potential innovations for you and everyone you know. The problem is that people have to go out of their way to find those alternatives and bring them back. Not sure how to start? Its with more questions. Useful questions for innovators include:

Why is it done this way? Who started it and why? What alternatives did they consider, and what idea did their new idea replace? What are my, or my friends, biggest complaints with how we do this thing, and what changes might make it better? How is this done in other towns, countries, cultures, or eras of time? What different assumptions did they make or constraints did they have? How can I apply any of the above to what I do?

Many great innovators asked better questions than everyone else, and thats part of why they were successful. It wasnt genius, whatever that means, special top-secret brain exercises they did every morning, or even how much money they had. It was through the dedicated pursuit of answers to simple questions that they found ideas already in the world that might be of use.

Essay #58 How to innovate right now


The biggest secret of innovation is that anyone can do it. The reason is simple: Its just not that hard. Look up the word innovate in any dictionary and see what it actually means, instead of what you think it means. Youll find something like this: To innovate is to introduce something new. Thats it. It doesnt say you need to be a creative genius, a workaholic, or even have on clean underwear. Its just three little words: introduce something new. And I promise that by the end of this essay, youll have all the secrets needed to do it yourself. The key word in the definition is new. The common trap about newness is the assumption that new means something the universe has never seen before. This turns out to be the third most ridiculous assumption in the history of mankind (youll have to figure out the other two for yourself). Heres proof: Name any great innovator, and I guarantee they borrowed and reused ideas from the past to make whatever it is they are famous for. The Wright brothers, the inventors of powered flight in the United States, spent hours watching birds. As boring as it seems, we have bird-watching to thank for the supersonic jet planes we have today. Picassos development of cubism, one of the great artistic movements of the last two centuries, was heavily influenced by his exposure to African painting styles, as well as the work of an older French painter, Cezanne. And Thomas Edison did not create the concept of powered light:

Youd have to talk to the thousands of people who died before Edison was born who turned wood, wax, oil, and other fuels into controllable and portable light sources (not to mention Joseph Swan, who patented the electric light before Edison). Even in todays high-technology world you can find easy connections between what we call new and ideas from the past. The World Wide Web and the Internet get their names from things thousands of years old. The first webs were made by spiders, and the first nets were used to catch fish by indigenous people around the world, thousands of years before the first computer. Google, the wonderful search tool, is often called a search engine, in reference to concepts of physical mechanics, not digital bits. All these examples prove that the trick to innovation is to widen your perspective on what qualifies as new. As long as your idea, or your use of an existing idea, is new to the person you are creating it for, or applies an existing concept in a new way, you qualify as an innovator from their point of view, and thats all that matters. Even with these improved definitions, it takes more to make innovation happen. The tool kit of every innovator typically includes three things: questions, experiments, and self-reliance.

Ask Questions.
The easiest place to start is with things you do every day. Simply ask: Who else does this, and how do they do it differently? If you only know one way to do something, youre making a big assumption. Youre betting that of the infinite ways there are to do it, the single one you know is the best. Im a gambling man myself, but I wouldnt make that bet, as those odds, one against infinity, are embarrassingly bad. Even simple things like washing dishes or tying shoelaces have dozens or hundreds of alternative approaches in use by different people around the world. Those methods are all potential innovations for you and everyone you know. The problem is that people have to go out of their way to find those alternatives and bring them back. Not sure how to start? Its with more questions. Useful questions for innovators include:

Why is it done this way? Who started it and why? What alternatives did they consider, and what idea did their new idea replace? What are my, or my friends, biggest complaints with how we do this thing, and what changes might make it better? How is this done in other towns, countries, cultures, or eras of time? What different assumptions did they make or constraints did they have? How can I apply any of the above to what I do?

Many great innovators asked better questions than everyone else, and thats part of why they were successful. It wasnt genius, whatever that means, special top-secret brain exercises they did every morning, or even how much money they had. It was through the dedicated pursuit of answers to simple questions that they found ideas already in the world that might be of use. Isaac Newton asked how could the force of gravity affect apples as well as the moon? And by framing the question that way, he made observations and developed mathematics related to gravity, something no one else had done to his level of satisfaction. Many of Leonardo da Vincis inventions started with him asking the question: How does water flow? It was his many studies of rivers, streams, and the way water moved that led to his inventions for water-powered wheels, ways to move water in aqueducts and canals, and pumps for wells. Without asking questions and looking

around, even at obvious everyday things like water and gravity, Newtons and da Vincis creative talents would never have had a chance to surface.

Try Things Yourself.


Asking questions is one thing, but trying to answer them is another. There is no substitute for firsthand experience when creating things. The unique aspects of who you are, including qualities you may not like about yourself, are an asset when it comes to creative thinking. No one can see the world exactly the way that you do. This means that if you can experience, watch, or make something yourself, you may discover lessons and make observations that other people failed to notice. Those observations are the seeds of innovation: You might see an old idea or tool in a way no one else in your family, business, or city has before, and if you follow it, an innovation might be yours. Remember that the knowledge we have today about the universe did not come from magic books that have been sitting around waiting for us since the dawn of time. It came from curious people who not only asked questions, but followed them to places others werent willing to go.

Try, Learn, and Try Again.


The last step is not to expect success the first time. If youre doing something new for yourself or your friends, its hard to predict what the outcome will be. And the bigger the innovation, the more risk and work there is: Making innovative cookies is one thing, but changing the way people think or work is another. Since long hours of work might be required to satisfy your curiosity, whats important is how you respond to failure. Can you find the courage to respond not with embarrassment or regret, but with more questions: Why did this fail? What can I learn now? What will I do differently next time? If you can, like most great inventors and creators throughout history did, youll be well on your way.

TAKING CALCULATED RISKS

The huge jump between what you should do and what you will do? One can only think of the possibilities! Let us hope that this guide makes risk into something not only out of the ordinary, but fun.

STEPS:
Think first! Is your risk a dangerous one? Will it be harmful in any way shape for form to you or anyone you care about? If your risky activity seems a little too dangerous it would be best to not attempt it

Plan it out. Sometimes risks need more than just you. Doing risk in groups can make the activity much more enjoyable and could even give you ideas on what to do next! Contingency plan: Plan a safe escape if things turn out to be unsuccessful

Build up self confidence. Make yourself believe that you can do it. Execute. Do it!

Evaluate. Think back on your risk and ask "Was it worth it?". More importantly, you should ask yourself "Would you do it again?". Think and repeat. After just one risk, ask yourself if you could do another one. Keep going until there is nothing left you would like to try or do. This way, you will live your life to the fullest.

TIPS:

Planning may not always work if your risk is to do something spontaneous.

WARNING:

Any risk carries various dangers Do not do anything extremely dangerous. Free falling from a high cliff is not a good risk to take. Do not do anything extremely irrational.

Things You'll Need



Friends / A buddy (for certain tasks) Money (if you choose to gamble as your risk) A clear mind (to determine if your risk is worth taking or not) Self determination

Does your organisation encourage innovation? These are important questions in today's business environment. The generation of an innovation culture is seen as one of the most critical areas of focus for organisations in the 21st century and yet can be seen as very challenging to achieve. One of the most over-used words in corporate communications is 'innovation'. It is found in mission and value statements, in employee competencies, and inevitably in recruitment advertisements. However the desire to acquire innovation often outweighs the understanding of exactly how to achieve it. Ask any CEO their view on innovation and they will all agree that it is important, however, if you subsequently ask them what they are doing about it their response is more guarded. The real issue is although everyone wants innovation, they really are not sure how to go about achieving it. There can also be a lot of 'hype' about 'innovative' organisations and a common belief that you need a leader like Branson, Dyson or Gates. In reality it is within the corporate capability of any organisation to foster and develop innovation. Equally, creating a culture of innovation is as relevant to a SME as it is to a larger corporate organisation. It is not about investing vast resources . What is required, is a real understanding of how innovation works and a commitment to create an environment, which not only encourages idea generation, but also has a process to follow it through. Really successful organisations do not simply innovate; they accelerate and innovate again. So just how do you encourage creativity and innovation? Supporting innovation Creative people are often viewed as being 'difficult' to manage; innovative organisations are perceived as being unusual, with a certain level of 'wackiness'. As a result many organisations have reservations about their capability to accommodate these differences. Tom Peters in his book, 'Circle of Innovation', gives some examples of these viewpoints when he reproduces the following quotes from different writers: Our most beloved products were developed by hunch, guesswork, and fanaticism, by creators who were eccentric - or even stark raving mad." Jack Mingo, author of 'How the Cadillac got its Fins.' "You say you don't want emotional, volatile, and unpredictable, just imaginative? Sorry, they only come in a package....I can offer you a dedicated, loyal, honest, realistic, knowledgeable package, but the imagination bit would be rather limited." Patricia Pitcher author of 'The Drama of Leadership'. Daniel Goleman in his book Working with Emotional Intelligence describes it as follows: "The creative mind is by its very nature, a bit unruly. There is a natural tension between orderly self-control and innovative urge. It's not that people who are creative are out-ofcontrol emotionally; rather, they are willing to entertain a wider range of impulse and action than do less adventurous spirits. That is after all, what creates new possibilities." These individuals may also have had a lifetime of asking questions, or making suggestions which may have been largely ignored, or dismissed as being either too fanciful, or impractical, or too difficult to answer. The reasons for this are many; the ability to be creative

and to generate innovative ideas has often been perceived as something outside the normal realm of behaviour, and in many ways creative people often suffer for their craft before they gain recognition. The really innovative organisations however are those where creativity and innovation are recognised and encouraged, not just in a special group of people called 'Creatives' but where everyone is involved in the 'good idea' philosophy. However, creating the 'right' environment can be more of challenge. Lack of understanding about the process of innovation has traditionally led to people dividing themselves into two camps: those who are seen as creative and those who are not. This applies to an individual's assessment of themselves as well as the perception of others. By recognising how the process of innovation works, individuals and teams can develop a clearer understanding and respect for each other's contribution. Managing the process of innovation is absolutely critical for its success. Understanding how ideas are generated, sponsoring creative thinkers, allowing people freedom to think, is an important part of the role of any manager. The really excellent managers are those who assemble teams where creative and innovative people are supported by others who can help them and those who can help them explore their ideas and those who can help them take the idea to the next stage of making it happen. Within this environment high trust develops allowing ideas to be challenged, modified and implemented while remaining true to the original concept, thus enabling the creative and innovative people to move on to generating the next good idea. If you want to assess your organisation's ability to foster innovation you may like to find answers to the following questions: Is there top management support? Do we champion idea generation? Do we accept ideas that break organisational precedent? Do we encourage cross fertilisation of ideas and perspective? Do we give people personal space to be creative? Do we tolerate failure in the pursuit of a good idea? Are changes in direction accepted as necessary? Do we reward ideas that develop business success? Characteristics of innovative organisations Innovative organisations: Nurture creativity Are supportive but challenging Develop effective teamwork Encourage cross company communication and co-ordination Support innovation Recognise small changes Allow time for reflection and debate Encourage active participation and involvement Create a climate of co-operation and trust

Retaining talent is critical in today's buoyant economic environment; every employer needs to identify why their employees would want to stay with them. As Goleman describes: "The premium on emotional intelligence can only rise as organizations become increasingly dependent on the talents and creativity of workers who are independent agents.. Such free agents suggest a future for work somewhat akin to the functioning of the immune system, where roaming cells spot a pressing need, spontaneously collect into a tightly knit, highly coordinated working group to meet that need and dissipate into a free agency as the job finishes. In an organizational context such groups may arise within and across organizational boundaries as demands require, then cease to exist once their task is accomplished. Such virtual teams can be especially agile because they are headed by whoever has the requisite skills rather than someone who happens to have the title 'manager'." So how do organisations sponsor innovation? 1. Create an environment where good ideas are the philosophy of the whole company rather than just a few 'creatives'. Develop the 'spirit of enterprise'. 2. Recognise the innovation process and encourage teams to work together building on each other's strengths. 3. Encourage one or two individuals to take a proactive approach to idea generation. 4. Suspend overly critical judgement; instead, give valuative and positive feedback to help the idea generator explore options and choices for implementation. Far too many good ideas are lost because of overly critical judgement applied too soon. 5. Develop values of trust, integrity, freedom of spirit. 6. Encourage a climate of self-awareness; create a learning environment where individuals are encouraged to identify their preferences when innovating. 7. Play to individual strengths within a team, not expecting those who generate an idea to implement it. Create strong communication and feedback channels to ensure that the original concept is maintained. 8. Create a coaching environment where line managers are encouraged to share learning and where knowledge and wisdom are valued. 9. Streamline processes for evaluation, decision-making and feedback, thus increasing speed to market. 10. Champion individuals that think differently, seek to be the organisation that others benchmark against.

As we move further into the 21st century the need to continuously innovate will become even more important and the need to retain talent will continue to be critical. However, there will be no real progress if we retain the status quo. In the words of Ridderstrale and Nordstrom in Funky Business: "To succeed we must stop being so goddam normal. If we behave like all the others, we will see the same things, come up with similar ideas and develop identical products and services. At its best, normal output will produce normal results. In a winner takes all world, normal = nothing. But, if we are willing to take one little risk, break one tiny rule, disregard a few of the norms, there is at least a theoretical chance that we will come up with something different, actually get a niche, create a short term monopoly, and make a little money. Funky business is like playing the lottery. If you participate there is a 99% chance that you will lose. On the other hand if you do not take part, your chances of losing are 100%."

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Have a dream. Succeeding requires a strong intention to succeed. "How to" is secondary. Get inspired first. Have a dream. If you really want something youll invent amazing ways to achieve it. Create and cherish an inspiring vision. It will motivate you and help you focus on those things you could do now to bring that future state about. Your dream must be big enough to keep you excited. "Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul; the blue prints of your ultimate achievements," advised Napoleon Hill. Having created an inspiring vision, visualize your dream and use positive affirmations to engage your subconscious mind. It's very important to engage your subconscious mind because it works 200 million (!!!) times faster than conscious one. In one second, subconscious mind processes about 400 billion bits of information, while conscious mind processes only about 2 thousands bits. NLP technology of achievement can also help you make the unconscious conscious and thus give you the power of managing your personal development in a way that enables you to realize your true potential. Fall in love with what you are doing. Love is the greatest source of inspiration. "At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet," said Plato. When you enjoy what you do, you like to think about it all the time. You feel inspired by the problems you face and gladly spend your time coming up with great ideas to make things differently or better. According to Carl Gustav Jung, The creative mind plays with the object it loves. Build your cross-functional expertise. Broader knowledge, better ideas. Cross-functional excellence is a tremendous source of inspiration and a booster for entrepreneurial creativity. It helps you look wider, change hats, combine the unusual, and create synergies. What's more, if you develop a broad cross-functional expertise, no new idea is wasted. It will immediately connect with the existing knowledge and inspire you. As Peter Drucker put it, "You can't do carpentry, you know, if you only have a saw, or only a hammer, or you never heard of a pair of pliers. It's when you put all those tools into one kit that you invent." Learn various creative thinking techniques. You can learn and develop creativity through practice. By sharpening your natural creative thinking skills, you can find inspiration just everywhere because your trained subconscious mind will be playing with the objects it finds interesting. Use self-talk, "I am creative", and you'll be creative. Make outside-the-box thinking a habit. You are creative! Just stretch your imagination. Challenge assumptions. Go wild. Look outside your industry. Make new synergistic connections. Take a difference view. To find a better creative solutions to the current practice, force yourself to reframe the problem, to break down its components and assemble them in a different way. Expect the unexpected. Practice creativity and stretch your creative muscles every day to make outside the box thinking a habit. Play with different ideas. Record or write your ideas down. Review your list of ideas periodically when you are not disturbed. Learn something absolutely new. Read inspirational books, at least one page every day. Watch inspirational movies and videos. Feel more relaxed and pay better attention to what is going on around you. Get and read an interesting book unrelated to your field or expertise. Expose yourself to a different environment. Go to a place that you havent been before. Quiet your mind. Great ideas come when there are fewer distractions, your mind is fresh, and you are not stressed. Take a bird's eye view of the things. Reduce the intensity of your internal self talk. Spend more time in the jacuzzi or in the shower. Go to bed a half an hour early to have time for quiet reflection. Meditate by integrating your dream with meditation, you will see results a lot faster.

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10. Cross-pollinate ideas with others. Creative thinking is an intense social activity. New ideas arise often from crosspollination. Many winning innovative solutions were inspired and developed in the process of cross-pollination of ideas, rather than narrowly focused search. Cross-pollinate with people both within and outside your organization or area of expertise. Encourage comments and ideas. Inspire advocates. Meet new creative, inspiring and energized people. Exchange of ideas will also help you learn about best practices in related areas that are outside your core competence. 11. Harness the power of diversity. Collaborate with other people who have complementary skills. People with different cultural, educational, scientific, and business backgrounds will bring different frames of reference to a problem and can spark an exciting and dynamic cross-pollination of ideas. 12. Experiment. Experimentation is the father of discovery. Immerse in your subject. Learn from feedback and discover new routes. 13. Be self-confident. Most people simply do not get what they want to achieve because they don't believe that it will happen. The functionality of belief is the most powerful instrument of your mind. Don't let the negative ones get in your way. Create positive beliefs instead. Believe that you are capable, and you will. Identify your successes and take pride in them. Discover the things at which you excel, and focus on your talents. Hard work nurtures self-confidence. Victories, even small ones, boost self-confidence and make hard work more enjoyable. Think positively. Treat failures as stepping stones to success. Keep smiling.

Barriers

Blocks and Limiting Beliefs


The tendency to focus on the negative aspects of problems and expend energy on worry.

Switch To Positive Attitude

Negative Attitude

Seek the inherent opportunities in the situation.

Humorous Tips: How To Prevent Innovation


Failure is a necessary condition of and a stepping stone to success.

Fear of Failure

Fear of looking foolish or being laughed at.

The Jazz of Innovation: 11 Practice Tips


Not having time to think creatively. The over-stressed person finds it difficult to think objectively at all. Unwanted stress reduces the quality of all mental processes. Long-term corporate success linked to the ability to innovate. Managing day-to-day operations is important, but it is new game changing breakthroughs that will launch company into new markets, enable rapid growth, and create high return on investment. Some rules are necessary, but others encourage mental laziness. "Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction."
Pablo Picasso

Executive Stress

Following Rules

A tendency to conform to accepted patterns of belief or thought the rules and limitations of the status quo hampers creative breakthrough.

Inspiring Culture: 5 Pillars


Making Assumptions Over-reliance on Logic Many both conscious and unconscious assumptions restrict creative thinking. Investing all your intellectual capital into logical or analytical thinking the step-by-step approach excludes imagination, intuition, feeling or humor. Identify and examine the assumptions you are making to ensure they are not excluding new ideas. Challenge assumptions. "Innovation is not the product of logical thought, although the result is tied to logical structure." Albert Einstein

100 Simple Ways to Be More Creative on the Job

Have you ever noticed America's strange fascination with lists? Cruise any supermarket magazine rack and you will invariably notice some version of the following: "5 Sure-Fire Ways to Find Your Soul Mate" "10 Ways to Profit from the Recession" "50 Ways to Retire Before 40" "The 100 Best Companies to Work For" For years I ignored this phenomenon. Then I mocked it. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Perfect sense.

Lists simplify. Lists cut to the chase. Lists help people make sense of the world. And in today's world, where the collective sum of printed knowledge is doubling every four years, anything that helps simplify life -- without oversimplifying it -- is a good thing. And so, in honor of America's love of lists, the little known patron saint of the phenomenon, and your own commitment to innovation, I cheerfully present to you Idea Champions' time-tested, easyto-read, highly compelling, imminently practical 100 Ways to Be More Creative on the Job. 1. Find the most creative people at work and ask for their ideas. 2. Brainstorm daily with a co-worker. 3. Tape record your ideas on your commute to and from work. 4. Present your biggest challenge to a child. 5. Take your team off-site for a day. 6. Listen more carefully to your inner muse. 7. Play music in your office. 8. Go for a daily brainstorming walk. 9. Ask someone to collaborate with you on your favorite project. 10. Exercise during your lunch break. 11. Turn on a radio at random times and listen for a "message." 12. Invite your customers and vendors to brainstorming sessions. 13. Think of five other ways to define your challenge. 14. Assign a "fun fairy" to each of your meetings. 15. Reward yourself, in specific ways, for small successes. 16. Introduce odd catalysts into your daily routine. 17. Get out of the office more regularly 18. Play with fun toys in your office whenever you get stuck. 19. Take more naps. 20. Take the train, instead of driving to work. 21. Work in cafes. 22. Transform your assumptions into "How can I?" questions. 23. Write down as many ideas as you can think of in five minutes 24. Redesign your office. 25. Take regular daydreaming breaks. 26. Dissolve turf boundaries. 27. Initiate cross-functional brainstorming sessions. 28. Arrive earlier to the office than anyone else. 29. Turn a conference room into an upbeat "think tank" room. 30. Read odd books -- having nothing to do with your work. 31. Block off time on your calendar for creative thinking. 32. Take a shower in the middle of the day. 33. Keep an idea notebook at your desk or in your briefcase. 34. Decorate your office with inspiring quotes and images. 35. Create a headline of the future and the story behind it. 36. Choose to be more creative. 37. Recall a time in your life when you were very creative. Feel it. 38. Wander around a bookstore while thinking about a challenge. 39. Trust your instincts more. 40. Immerse yourself in your most exciting project. 41. Open a magazine and free associate off of a word or image.

42. Write down your ideas when you first wake up in the morning. 43. Ask yourself what the simplest solution is. 44. Get fast feedback from people you trust. 45. Conduct more experiments. 45. Ask yourself what the market wants or needs. 46. Ask "What's the worst thing that could happen if I fail?" 47. Pilot your idea, even if it's not completely ready. 48. Work "in the cracks" -- small bursts of creative energy. 49. Incubate (sleep on it). 50. Test existing boundaries -- and then test them again. 51. Schedule time with the smartest people at work. 52. Visit your customers more frequently. 53. Benchmark your competitors -- then adapt their successes. 54. Enroll your boss or peers in your most fascinating project. 55. Imagine you already know the answer. What would it be? 56. Create ground rules with your team that foster new thinking. 57. Ask stupid questions. Then ask some more. 58. Challenge everything you do. 59. Give yourself a deadline -- and stick to it 60. Look for three alternatives to every solution you originate. 61. Write your ideas in a notebook and review them regularly. 62. Make connections between seemingly disconnected things. 63. Use creative thinking techniques. 64. Play with the Free the Genie cards. 65 Use similes and metaphors when describing your ideas. 66. Have more fun. Be sillier than usual. 67. Ask "How can I accomplish my goal in half the time?" 68. Take a break when you are stuck on a problem. 69. Think of how your biggest hero might approach your challenge. 70. Declare Friday afternoons a "no-email zone." 71. Ask five people how they would improve your idea. 72. Create a wall of images that inspires you. 73. Do more of what already helps you be creative off the job. 74. Laugh more, worry less. 75. Remember your dreams -- then write them down. 76. Ask impossible questions. 77. Eliminate all unnecessary bureaucracy and admin tasks. 78. Create a compelling vision of what you want to accomplish. 79. Work on hottest project every day, even if only 5 minutes. 80. Do whatever is necessary to create a sense of urgency. 81. Go for a walk anytime you're stuck. 82. Meditate or do relaxation exercises. 83. Take more breaks. 84. Go out for lunch with your team more often. 85. Eat lunch with a different person each day. 86. Ask for forgiveness, not permission. 87. Invite an outside facilitator to lead a brainstorming session. 88. Take more risks outside of the office (i.e. surf, ski, box etc.) 89. Ask for help when you need it. 90. Know that it is possible to make a difference. 91. Find a mentor. 92. Acknowledge all your successes at the end of each day.

93. Create an "idea piggy bank" and make deposits daily. 94. Have shorter meetings. 95. Try the techniques in Awake at the Wheel 96. Don't listen to or watch the news for 24 hours. 97. Make drawings of your ideas. 98. Bring your project or challenge to mind before going to bed. 99. Divide your idea into component parts. Then rethink each part. 100. Post this list near your desk and read it daily.

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