Josh Linkner Wants You to Get Creative

Five Obsessions of Innovators from PRISM17’s Keynote

Josh Linkner, a successful business leader, venture capitalist, tech entrepreneur and author, is a man on a mission. A mission to help the world unleash its creative mojo. He personifies creativity, entrepreneurship and disruptive innovation. He got his start as a professional jazz guitarist and now speaks to thousands in his quest to inspire companies find opportunities to transform the old ways of doing things.

Josh-LinkerLinkner opened up last week’s PRISM17 conference in Charlotte with a compelling message that came at the right time for property risk management professionals. Transformation is happening all around us—and at breakneck speed. Just think about what companies like Uber and Airbnb have already done to disrupt business models. He told us that businesses often fail because they fail to adapt. They fail to innovate. Look no further than Barnum & Bailey and Cirque de Soleil.

In commercial real estate, things are being flipped upside down. We have offices that look like homes. Parking garages that look like office buildings. Hospitals that look like malls with food courts. You can’t expect to remain static and rely on the same models. It’s time to get creative.

Linkner threw down the gauntlet to our PRISM audience:

“Put innovation into action! In the next 7 days, find just one idea for creative disruption.”

How do you do that? Linkner is a student of innovators, and he believes they are obsessed with five things.

  1. Get curious. Innovators challenge conventional wisdom by asking questions like: “Why?” “What if?” “Why not?” They adopt the curious mind of child. This is the way to uncover deep layers of behaviors and assumptions that are taken for granted. This is where the true potential for disruption lies.

“The more curious you are, the more creative you become.”

  1. Crave what’s next. People overestimate the risk of change, but underestimate the risk of staying put. Innovators are always looking for what’s next. They have the courage to let go of what was and imagine what can be. Amazon is an extreme example of a company that evolved from a seller of books to a seller of everything. They adopted a relentless approach to craving what’s next. In up markets or down, Linkner observed that true innovators are never satisfied with the status quo.

 “Companies can make the choice to be the source of disruption, rather than having it thrust upon them.”

  1. Defy tradition. Don’t just change for sake of change, but map your best path forward. Tradition is a particularly strong barrier to innovation, but can you “judo flip” traditions or threats? Innovators try the opposite of what tradition or experience would suggest to see what happens. Do something unexpected, and don’t be afraid to let your humor and personality show through.

“Adding a little innovation moves you from being a lowest-cost provider to an innovator. To a firm that improves your clients’ experience.”

  1. Get scrappy. Grit. Determination. Tenacity. In every industry, you see start-ups doing more with less to upend the giants. Innovators get scrappy. They make up for any lack of resources with their own gifts of human creativity. They find solutions in unorthodox ways with limited resources. It’s the classic mindset of the startup, but even large, established organizations can adopt it by envisioning how a brand-new startup association would try to gain traction in their own industry. Throw your innovation at a situation and watch what happens.

 “It’s no longer the big beating the small. Today, it’s the creative beating the complacent.”

  1. Adapt fast. The myth of innovation is that it’s a lightning bolt. It’s not. More often, initial ideas are flawed. Keep trying. You don’t need to invent the next Airbnb. Keep trying and don’t overthink it. Speed wins in the innovation game.

“There is incredible power and opportunity when you look at what’s happening on the forefront of change. And the faster you get to it, the more success you’ll enjoy.”

How will you put innovation into practice?

About Josh Linkner

Josh2Josh Linkner has been the founder and CEO of five tech companies, which sold for a combined value of over $200 million. He is the author of two New York Times Bestsellers including Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity and The Road to Reinvention: How to Drive Disruption and Accelerate Transformation. He just published Hacking Innovation: The New Growth Model from the Sinister World of Hackers. Linkner has twice been named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and is a President Barack Obama Champion of Change award recipient. He’s shared his insights at events hosted by such big name brands as FedEx Express, Coca-Cola, Groupon, American Express, Berkshire Hathaway, US Bank, Nokia, Ford, eBay, ABC Television, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and many others. If you need some motivation on harnessing innovation, just watch Josh in action at