Enhance Productivity and Efficiency with Stephen’s Innovation Insights

Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

Nothing NewOn December 31 each year, instead of setting resolutions, I set a theme for the following year.

And for 2016 it is nothing new.

That’s my theme: “Nothing New.” This year I won’t be doing anything new.

Some of you reading this might be thinking, “Huh??? I thought you were Mr. Innovation. Nothing new. Really?”

Yes, this may seem odd, but it actually makes a lot of sense. Let me explain.

Each year I…

  • take personal and professional  development classes, hoping that the next one I attend will provide the silver bullet I am looking for.
  • start new projects, believing that one of them will cause my business to skyrocket.
  • take on new business partners, thinking that they will takes things to a whole new level.
  • develop a lot of new ideas, assuming one of them will put my name on the map.


However, my challenge is not the idea. My challenge is the implementation and exploitation of those ideas; extracting the maximum value possible.

So this year is all about “nothing new.”


No New Projects

I won’t be taking any new classes (I already have binders and binders of ideas from past conferences). I won’t be signing on any new business partners (I already have a very solid group of business partners). I won’t be taking on any new projects (I already have a list of projects that could take me 3 years to complete).

So, if it’s not already on my list of initiatives that I developed a couple of months ago, I will not be doing it in 2016. Nothing new goes on the list.

People often ask if I’m writing a new book. Not this year. I haven’t fully leveraged all of the intellectual property from my two most recent books – Personality Poker and Best Practices Are Stupid. 2016 will be all about going deeper into my existing content rather than creating new content.

2016 is the year of implementation.

I am going to take everything I’ve done in the past and either:

  • Finish it (if it’s in progress)
  • Start it (if it’s on the list but not underway)
  • Exploit it (if it’s completed but not producing the value I want)
  • Kill it (if I can’t find a way to extract the desired value; sunk costs can’t drive future investments)


No New Purchases

Nothing new also means not buying anything new.

I get seduced by new technology. But unless it is really a game changer, there won’t be any new toys for me in 2016.

I have a big box of magic tricks that I haven’t mastered, yet I keep buying more. Not this year. Time to master what I already have.

Although I have so many great books on my Kindle that are unread, I keep buying new ones. And I have at hundreds of hours of audio books on my iPhone that I’ve not listened to.

I already have everything I could want. Time to enjoy what I already have.


Nothing New = Innovation

You may wonder how a person who advocates innovation can also advocate doing nothing new.

Innovation is not the same as newness.

Innovation is about creating value. It is about implementation. It is about producing results. In many cases, innovation is created by leveraging something you already have in your arsenal.

Some innovators (including yours truly) are easily distracted by bright shiny objects. This is one of the enemies of innovation. Following through and extracting value is critical.

So although this is the year of nothing new, it is also really the year of innovation. Making things happen that may have been languishing. Killing off ideas that aren’t producing the results I want. Maximizing the value I get from my past investments. These are cornerstones of innovation.

So here’s to 2016. The year of nothing new. The year of innovation! Happy New Year!

P.S. If you want to read more about New Year’s Themes, please check out my Wall Street Journal article on the topic.

P.P.S. Themes are “guides” not “rules.” Of course if a great opportunity appears, I will consider it and evaluate it. I just want to make sure that I am not taking on distractions masquerading as opportunities.

P.P.P.S. I am certainly innovating! I have 30 years of ideas and relationships I can nurture. And many of my innovations this year aren’t incremental; some are game-changing. But I never took the time to implement them because I was so distracted by new “opportunities.”

  1. interesting approach and concept Stephen

    Dangerous one.

    I chose to do that a few years ago
    and it has led to a temporary disaster.

    When I began teaching, leading, facilitating keynote addresses, concurrent or breakout sessions, workshops from 1/2 day to 3 days to 6 days on Marketing one lesson I was trying to share…

    We need to be continually MARKETING, perhaps up to 40% or more of the time
    in various ways with our past, existing and potential markets.

    If we don’t. Within 6 months to a year we could be out of business.

    What your have described does make sense.

    My suggestion is that you include a portion of time for NEW projects.
    Maybe 10 to 25%.

    As to buying new things?

    Totally agree and I have maintained my lifestyle by doing just that
    except for NEW COMPUTERS, NEW OS X systems, some software.

    Standing still, can lead to disaster.

    The markets today want, desire, crave, demand CHANGE, NEW, CREATIVE
    even though most are truly afraid to do any of it.

    Best wishes,

    • Thanks for your comment. To be clear, I am going to continue marketing. I never said I wasn’t going to do that. And I will be creating new products and working on new projects…as long as they are on my list of opportunities I’ve already developed. After 15 years as a professional speaker (and 15 years as a consultant) I have notebooks full of ideas that I’ve never implemented. So I am going to be implementing. I just won’t be “looking” for the next big idea. I am going to finally stay focused on what I already know I should have been doing…and haven’t. So I am NOT standing still. I will be moving forward faster than ever for more focus. It gets easy to chase bright shiny objects. And that’s what I am avoiding this year…

  2. Wow Stephen sounds wonderful. It so easy to look for the magic answer and all we do is pile more on and make our lives more complicated. Often it is best to focus and add new energy to what we are already doing.

    • So true Jon. It is always good to go deeper into what we already have in our lives, rather than chasing the next, best, new thing. Thanks!

  3. Stephen, I really resonated with the fourth bullet point: Kill it! Some things stay on our implementation list because it seemed like a good idea at the time. Intentionally considering what we should abandon is very powerful.

    And as a CPA, my kids grew up knowing about ‘sunk costs’. It is one of those concepts that works in accounting, business, relationships and life.

    Thanks for the reminder!

    • Thanks Linda! I am a big believed that knowing what to “kill” (not who to kill) is the key to success. We get so attached to ideas and beliefs that we don’t make time/room for better ones in the future.

  4. “Some innovators (including yours truly) are easily distracted by bright shiny objects. This is one of the enemies of innovation. Following through and extracting value is critical.” yes, critical. As someone who writes about charisma, I know the power of bright and shiny. Thing is, rarely do any of us want to attract or be attracted to, without bearing practical tangible real fruit from the relationship—or as you say, value. To bear the fruit from charismatic attraction or an innovative idea, we must “follow through”. l love your backwards and perfectly on point commentary on innovation in this post, Steve. Here’s to an exciting new year ahead of doing nothing new. Bravo!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Bring Stephen’s innovation insights to your next event!