Seven Questions for Seven Innovative Leaders – Round One
by Deanna Leonard, Innovation Excellence Trends and Fashion Editor
I have been lucky enough to know Andy Stefanovich for over seven years. He is Chief Curator and Provocateur at Prophet, a strategic branding and marketing consultancy, and the author of Look at More: A Proven Approach to Innovation, Growth and Change. More importantly to me, he is on my personal top 10 list of cool, creative, innovation catalyst’s I turn to for inspiration. Andy is a truly innovative thinker and a change agent like no other. He has built a business around innovation, and even more importantly – he has centered his life on what matters. Having consulted, inspired, and guided some of the top business leaders around the globe, Andy’s approach to imaginative solutions is both unique and infectious. When interviewing Andy over the phone, I could feel his energy and passion despite us being hundreds of miles apart. Andy does not just promote innovation, he lives and breathes it. You can connect with Andy on Twitter, Facebook, and the PLAYSTUDIO blog for daily doses of inspiration.
1. In your own unique way, how do you define innovation?
Andy: My standard definition is that innovation is the thing that matters. It’s a creative process and mechanism to make part of our day to day lives. But what it is to me is fueling those things that I’m passion about – and that matter – and a way of moving them forward . Too much attention is being paid to the ‘big innovators’ when there is innovation all around us. All you have to do is look.
2. What do you believe is the most innovative product or service in the marketplace today — and why?
Andy: Too much recognition goes to the ‘who’s who’ – way too much. Don’t pay attention to those things – one thing replaces the next in terms of being more innovative. What’s truly more innovative are the things that are not known – the thing you are not aware of – look further than that – something 5, 6, or even 10 levels beyond where you are. I get overwhelmingly frustrated with Apple and Google and their notoriety – look at the next block and you will find something more innovative. Sure, they are innovative, but there are 1000’s of innovation stories out there that need some credit and recognition. Find them. Learn from them.
3. What or who inspires you to innovate?
Andy: I get asked this on a lot. Life inspires me. Small interactions, humanity and human nature inspire me. This world is complex and simple at the same time. Daily tensions between the complex and simple, between individuals and groups, and how we continually rotate through these inspire me. I am honored and humbled by each interaction and enjoy it every day. Who inspires me? The standard cast of characters and more – my children, my wife, my close friends and family. I seek out and find interested and interesting people on a regular basis– whether a friend or business partner. When you inspire me with the way you think, I will connect and bounce ideas off you. Being around people who inspire me and inspire each other is critical. Find those people in your life and let them know. Ask them to stick around. Inspire them in return. Let them know that they are someone that you love – and want to grow old with. Lock on to those people.
4. Why is innovation important in today’s economy?
Andy: We need elegant solutions on every level – societal, personal and human, quarterly returns, joys of life. Very few things exist that hit on every level. Those that do, we admire and emulate. What an incredible to thing to create an elegant solution that hits on multiple levels (from emphasizing humanity to increasing income streams). There is a gaping hole in elegant solutions just waiting to be filled.
5. Flash forward 10 years, what is the most surprising thing you predict will happen?
Andy: People will reframe their role as a professional and as a person. I’m noticing a quick ramping up of this. It is all around us. An awakening that our contribution and our view is much more whole. It’s not about just work, or just family – it’s all interconnected. It is alarmingly evident and will make the world a better place. A realization to open up – an enlightenment – and a recognition of what really matters. It’s a healthier way to live, to be, and it’s important. More of what matters is going to be focused on going forward. We will be centered on what does matter and walking away from what does not matter. I’m excited for my kids to grow up in that new era. My number one fear is to not be inspired personal and professional life. I meet that head on. I make sure I’m inspired.
6. Finish this sentence: I wish………
Andy: I wish more people were real. I wish more people would allow themselves to be themselves.
7. What is the one question you wished I had asked you?
Andy: The question that will inspire you the most.
Deanna: Bottom line is that Andy is inspiring without even answering any questions. His philosophy, approach to life, and quest to make a difference to humanity is in one word – innovative. Stay tuned for more interviews with innovation leaders.
Deanna Leonard is the Trends & Fashion Editor for Innovation Excellence. Deanna is a Design and Innovation leader who’s served in global corporations, most recently Hanes, where she’s used creative thinking as a problem solving tool to launch category-changing products that grew both market share and profitability. Having spent most of her career in the consumer products segment, Deanna has a keen understanding of how to navigate diverse organizational cultures, manage global product development, identify trends, and leverage consumer insights translating them into successful and innovative product launches.