What if you were related to Thomas Edison? You might wonder, as Sarah Miller Caldicott, his great grandniece, did… exactly “why the Edison phonograph and cylindrical records in her childhood home worked so differently from the small plastic record player that spun 45’s and wax LP’s?” She wondered, “How did they get this way?” Wondered indeed. Caldicott went on wondering how things work and became a serious innovator and author, researching and then sharing her great grand uncle’s passion and approach in How to Innovate Like Edison a book she co-authored with Michael Gelb, which she now applies for global clients.
Apparently it ran in the family: She was driven to learn about the accomplishments of Mina Miller Edison’s father – Sarah’s great, great grandfather, Lewis Miller (1829-1899) – an agricultural equipment inventor whose Buckeye Mower & Reaper dramatically improved the productivity of American farmers in the 1850’s and beyond, later inspiring development of the modern Combine Harvester. A recipient of 92 patents, Lewis Miller was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2006, and co-founded the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York in 1874 – a place Sarah and her family still visit every year. Sarah worked at Bayer, Helene Curtis and Unilever before starting her own consultancy, Power Patterns, where she uses everyday what she learned about here great uncle, Thomas Edison.
Bonus: See the Sarah on Podcast here.
Questions for you: How did your childhood influence you as an innovator? Who are some of the people you’d like to see profiled? We’d love to know – the Editors