Ep. 26: Josh Linkner on How Everyday People Can Become Everyday Innovators

In this episode, David sits down with Josh Linkner, New York Times Bestselling Author, Global Innovation and Creativity Expert, Founding Partner of Detroit Venture Partners, and Chairman and Co-Founder of Platypus Labs, to discuss how everyday people can become everyday innovators.

Get David’s NEW book Trusted Leader: https://www.trustedleaderbook.com/

Sponsored by Sourcewell

Josh’s Bio:
Josh Linkner is a Creative Troublemaker. He has been the founder and CEO of five tech companies, which sold for a combined value of over $200 million. He’s a New York Times Bestselling author and a globally recognized expert on innovation and creativity. He’s the founding partner of Detroit Venture Partners and has been involved in the launch of over 100 startups. Today, Josh serves as Chairman and co-founder of Platypus Labs, an innovation research, training, and consulting firm. He has twice been named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and is a recipient of the United States Presidential Champion of Change Award. Josh is also a passionate Detroiter, the father of four, a professional-level jazz guitarist, and has a slightly odd obsession for greasy pizza.

Josh’s Links:
“Big Little Breakthroughs” (use code TRUSTED for access to the Toolkit with FREE resources): https://www.biglittlebreakthroughs.com/
Website: https://joshlinkner.com/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joshlinkner/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCClYbC0H2Q-bXPaFCo1188A
Twitter: https://twitter.com/joshlinkner
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joshlinkner/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/joshlinkner/

Key Quotes:
1. “Creativity often is a mash-up of things.”
2. “When people get super focused in a particular discipline, they actually become less creative.”
3. “We can be innovative not just on the big stuff, but on the small everyday stuff.”
4. “Think small.”
5. “All human beings have enormous reservoirs of dormant creative capacity.”
6. “There absolutely is a process and methodology by which all of us can become more creative.”
7. “Everyday innovators don’t wait.”
8. “The only thing that supersedes accountability is trust.”
9. “You really show your character when things are tough, not when they’re good.”
10. “Fear is the biggest blocker.”
11. “Fear and creativity cannot coexist.”
12. “If you want to change the outputs they say you got to change the inputs.”
13. “Connect with something that really inspires you creatively.”
14. “We are all creative.”
15. “Chase two rabbits and both will escape.” Chinese Proverb
16. “Failure is part of the innovation process.”
17. “You can’t be sheepish when you go back after it.”
18. “If you’re taking your failures with you to the next time at bat, you’re almost ensuring the next failure.”
19. “Somebody has to be the best, it might as well be you.” Josh’s Grandma
20. “Success is a temporary state in the context of many external factors.”

Links Mentioned In The Episode:
Ballot Bin: https://ballotbin.co.uk/
Tally Tracking App: https://growthbundle.com/
“Think Again” by Adam Grant: https://amzn.to/3dwKPvp
Audible: https://www.audible.com/
“Big Little Breakthroughs” by Josh Linkner (use code TRUSTED for access to the Toolkit with FREE resources): https://www.biglittlebreakthroughs.com/
Detroit Labs: https://www.detroitlabs.com/

Buy David’s NEW book Trusted Leader: https://www.trustedleaderbook.com/

David’s Links:
Subscribe on Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/36AXtp9
Follow us on Facebook: https://bit.ly/2S9O6mj
Follow David on Twitter: https://bit.ly/2BEXgla
Follow David on LinkedIn: https://bit.ly/2Xbsg5q
Follow David on Instagram: https://bit.ly/2QDFOE5

Show Transcript

David Horsager: Welcome to the trusted leader show it’s David Horsager i’ve got a special guest today we’ve been in a kind of a mastermind unique group together.

David Horsager: He is a five time five exits as an entrepreneur value over $200 million and exits he’s The co founder of planets post labs he’s a venture capital.

David Horsager: Investor he’s a professional level jazz guitarist and he’s up twice named Ernst and Young entrepreneur of the year, he is that creative troublemaker please welcome josh linkner thanks for being here josh.

Josh Linkner: David truly a pleasure to be with you, thank you well.

David Horsager: he’s a leader, I trust, ease are really just he thinks differently, and you know josh that’s that’s one of the things I think your.

David Horsager: way as we’ve talked about innovation and creativity and you’ve had your hand in so many things, many people say focus focus focus and you’re kind of this Richard Branson in a way right So how do you, you certainly show the creativity, but how does that mix with focus.

Josh Linkner: Well, you know it’s interesting creativity, often is a mash up of things, in fact, the name of my you know consulting business planet labs a platypus the animal it’s got like the bill of one animal and the tail of another animal it’s kind of weird mash up.

Josh Linkner: and actually creativity is often like that, so when people get super focused in a particular discipline, they actually become less creative.

Josh Linkner: And it’s really the people who can borrow from lots of different parts of life and and put it in the blender and shake it up in a different way, that that ultimately yield even better creative results so for me it’s been a blessing, not a purse.

David Horsager: What do you, what do you do in a platypus these days.

Josh Linkner: So we help organizations around the world, people like Cardinal health and Honda and, of course, smaller groups as well.

Josh Linkner: build a culture of innovation, we help them tackle tough challenges and sees new opportunities by giving them the tools.

Josh Linkner: to innovate forward so we help sort of build this this skill set this resource of creative Problem Solving and inventive thinking to help them grow and help them thrive.

David Horsager: inventive thing i’m going to get down to personal in a little bit to you because I know we both are on the road, a lot you’ve I can remember the day at least one of the days you, you know your.

David Horsager: flights and helicopters and everything else to make for big events in one day but let’s stay back there what what what is innovative thinking, what does that mean okay.

David Horsager: I want to be more innovative everybody listening wants to be more innovative, we want to also you know if we didn’t see the pandemic company pandemic coming we sure wanted to do a pivot in the right way at the right time, how do we think that way, how do we become more innovative.

Josh Linkner: Well, first we got to dispel a couple of myths, so one method, I hear all the time is innovation only counts if it’s a billion dollar idea or if it changes the world.

Josh Linkner: And that’s nonsense, we can be innovative, not just on the big stuff but on the small everyday stuff.

Josh Linkner: And in fact when you’re innovative on a daily basis, you can do a little teeny micro innovations.

Josh Linkner: it directs the process you build critical skills, because you get better at it, it becomes part of you of who you are and all those little events is add up to great stuff so I encourage people often to think small first of all.

Josh Linkner: Second, of all it’s the research is crystal clear that all human beings have enormous reservoirs of dorman creative capacity.

Josh Linkner: Now we can be creative in different ways, like I play jazz guitar pretty well I can’t draw a stick figure if I tried.

Josh Linkner: So just because someone listening doesn’t doesn’t do creativity in the classical sense of like.

Josh Linkner: You know, oil on canvas doesn’t mean you can’t be creative as a salesperson or a finance person or a customer service person or a mom or a Community leader and so when we think about.

Josh Linkner: Everyday people becoming everyday innovators that’s when I laid up that’s what i’m all about it doesn’t have to be the next ilan musk you and me, and our kids and our spouses and everyone on our team, we can all be innovative and that’s that’s to me the real beauty of it.

David Horsager: So how do you encourage your team like we want our team to be more innovative, we certainly created in one of our business units a massive pivot this year and I was so proud of them, and it was part of you know.

David Horsager: Partly brought on by the pandemic, but how do we create that howdy the micro like it give us an example, maybe run us through what would be a micro innovation today.

Josh Linkner: yeah so i’ll give you an example, again I call these big little breakthroughs, which is the title of my next book big little breakthrough is how small everyday innovations drive oversized results.

Josh Linkner: And let’s take a trip together let’s hop over to London.

Josh Linkner: So imagine you’re walking through the streets of London you’re marveling at the architecture and there’s bustling crowds, and all this history, and then you look down and what do you see you see cigarette butts all over the ground.

Josh Linkner: It turns out, the cigarette butts are the biggest little problem in Central London and, in fact, many, many cities around the world.

Josh Linkner: And all the things they’ve tried to do to stop this problem really felt like finding people are shaming them into compliance and you might think it’s just unsightly but it’s harmful for.

Josh Linkner: The environment and you know small kids or animals can adjust them and it’s pollutants, all these bad things so here’s an example of a big little break do.

Josh Linkner: there’s a guy that I interviewed for the book named trolling rustic and trolling is an average everyday dude he’s just like he’s not Elon musk.

Josh Linkner: He went to college and barely got through he took an ordinary job he’s trying to pay the bills, just like all of us.

Josh Linkner: But but true and had this this kind of passion for the environment, so he saw this little problem, and he said, decided to solve it with a big little breakthrough.

Josh Linkner: He invented something called the ballot Ben, which is a bright yellow metal container mounted at eyesight and the front of it is glass and if there’s a.

Josh Linkner: divider down the middle at the top it’s a two part question, such as which do you prefer hamburgers or pizza and there’s a little receptacle or smokers can vote with their butts.

Josh Linkner: So you put your cigarette butts in whichever slot like you, which food you like better, and you can see instant tally based on how many butts of stacked up underneath it.

Josh Linkner: And of course you can customize this to any two part question, it could be, which is your favorite sport or or you know do prefer blondes brunettes whatever two questions you want to ask here’s the thing.

Josh Linkner: When these ballot bands have been installed they reduced cigarette litter by 80% and they’re now in 27 countries.

Josh Linkner: And the thing I love about this story is like it didn’t take six PhDs and a billion dollars of capital and material engineering degrees and resources and equipment.

Josh Linkner: This is an average person like you and I could have easily thought of that idea and here’s somebody who is not famous he’s a normal person that’s using creativity to make a difference in the world.

Josh Linkner: And I hear stories like that it’s so much more inspiring to me than watching ilan musk or or Jeff bezos make an extra billion dollars, because that feels inaccessible, whereas trolling is totally within our grasp.

David Horsager: So I love that, is there a process, and once again the book is called big little breakthroughs how small every day innovations drive oversized results.

David Horsager: We will link exactly where you can get it, along with all the information about josh linkner and his company’s at the show notes trusted leader show.com but.

David Horsager: Is there a process to to just think a little more creatively, a process to think a little more innovatively to kind of you know, I think, part of it almost is like believing I can but what is there any process, you could give us.

Josh Linkner: There is an effect really that’s the whole source of my body of work over the years and, of course, this book.

Josh Linkner: I tried to demystify it, you know we think of innovation is like wizardry like you have to be imbued by the gods with some magical powers it’s actually much more like a magic trick.

Josh Linkner: When you see even the best magicians they don’t actually possess magical powers they’ve learned a skill and and the truth is that all of us can learn to develop that skill.

Josh Linkner: And so the book goes into we sort of dissect like How does an idea happen, what are the individual components, what happens when you put it under the microscope, what does the research say.

Josh Linkner: And then I really want people through the eight core mindsets of everyday innovators, which are sort of easy to digest easy to get get your arms around.

Josh Linkner: mindsets that people can put into action and, furthermore, we go into into depth on tactics, you know, most of us use brainstorming is that is the preferred tactic.

Josh Linkner: By the way, brainstorming was invented in 1958 i’m guessing we need an upgrade like a lot of things have changed since 1968.

Josh Linkner: So I actually have this whole thing called idea jamming I was holding idea toolkit where we provide much more fun modern exercises for like idea extraction.

Josh Linkner: Which but but long story short, there absolutely is a process and methodology, by which all of us, and I mean all of us can become more creative.

David Horsager: So you know the give us this we got to have a little secret sauce here we can’t go through all eight today but.

David Horsager: You know everybody’s going to hear it and it’ll be called as my friend, Jeremy says the sauce because we’re going to tell people, but you know the the full secret sauce is in the book.

David Horsager: But what is maybe one or two mindsets first and then maybe one tactic like Oh, I can see how this would be helpful, I can see some so, can you give us a couple mindset shifts first.

Josh Linkner: yeah absolutely again I it nothing secret here i’m happy to share the secret sauce because I actually really feel like i’m on a mission to help people become more creative and I am happy to share.

Josh Linkner: So a couple of the mindsets and these are studied through over 1000 hours of research and interviews with CEOs and celebrity entrepreneurs and we dove into you know how does, how does Lin Manuel Miranda and Lady gaga and banksy do their art so.

Josh Linkner: As well well founded, in substance, but a couple of mindsets i’ll share some of them are more intuitive there’s one called start before you’re ready.

Josh Linkner: Which is essentially the notion that everyday innovators don’t wait they don’t wait for permission they don’t wait for direction that away for a perfect game plan they get going, and then they course correct and adapt along the way.

Josh Linkner: But there’s some actually more more strange funny ones, one is called don’t forget the dinner mint.

Josh Linkner: Which is the notion that before you ship a piece of work product, it could be an email, it could be a keynote speech, it could be a financial report.

Josh Linkner: What could you do to plus it up like what’s an extra teeny little extra dose of surprise and delight of creative surprise and delight.

Josh Linkner: That makes your work transcendent and that the return on investment is gigantic that’s a high leverage activity, because a 5% extra dose of creativity could yield 100% or more results.

Josh Linkner: Another fun one real quick in terms of mindsets is I call it use every drop of toothpaste use every drop of toothpaste.

Josh Linkner: And the notion here is around being scrappy and sort of you doing more with less figuring out how to be resourceful and using ingenuity, rather than relying on external resources.

Josh Linkner: You know, when I talked to people about being innovative most people say i’d love to I want to, but I don’t have fill in the blank I don’t have enough money I don’t have enough time I don’t have enough raw materials that are enough degrees.

Josh Linkner: etc, and so what this does actually turn that on its head and say Okay, what can we do when we are resource constrained.

Josh Linkner: And by the way, I thought about this many times, think about this, if the amount of external resources, you had equaled your level of creativity.

Josh Linkner: The Federal Government would be the most creative organization on the planet and startups would be the least, and of course we know the exact opposite is true, so those are a couple of mindsets there’s eight of them, but those those are a couple ones to get you started it.

David Horsager: I love it so So if I take one of those is there a tactic like being said, we can start to use tomorrow, like is there a tactic like let’s start at that first first phase, even.

David Horsager: Or maybe the brainstorming tactic i’m thinking about thinking through a problem, how can I think about this problem or creatively.

Josh Linkner: yeah so that the techniques that you use think of them as tools and let’s say you were you had an oil in your backyard and you got you know the.

Josh Linkner: Little plastic sabo from your kids from the beach like that’s going to take you an awful long time to get oil and you’re not going to pull the extract it.

Josh Linkner: Obviously, if you had commercial grade equipment different story so brainstorming is the equivalent of that that plastic shovel it’s just not that good so let’s Let me share some tools that are much better.

Josh Linkner: here’s one for you it’s fun it’s called the Judo flip the Judo flip, and so the Judo flip is basically as follows, you take a look at what whether you’re facing a problem or an opportunity write down.

Josh Linkner: What are the things you’ve always done before what is conventional wisdom dictate what do most people do.

Josh Linkner: then draw a line down the page and just ask next to each entry what’s the polar opposite What would it look like, if you Judo flipped it.

Josh Linkner: And that oppositional thinking just forcing yourself to consider the polar opposite of what most people do can be very, very liberating just a super quick story that I just read like two days ago.

Josh Linkner: turns out there’s 65,000 Chinese restaurants in North America.

Josh Linkner: So how in the world if you own one do you stand out.

Josh Linkner: Well, most people what they do, the average average thing is, people are these a lot of puffery, this is the best Chinese chicken in the universe it’s the world’s best the New York city’s best egg roll whatever.

Josh Linkner: And it’s a bunch of puffery and we all have strong bs detectors to your point of trusted leader and we shut all that down so in this particular restaurant in Montreal.

Josh Linkner: Next to every entry on the menu there’s a printed something called owners comments, and so we did the opposite of Judo flip it so one of those comments is.

Josh Linkner: I don’t really like this dish I think you prefer the other one.

Josh Linkner: and other ones like this one’s a little little too much salt I keep trying to get him to use less of it another one is don’t try taking this thing home it gets really mushy.

Josh Linkner: Another one is you might think this is authentic but, honestly it’s not authentic at all in this particular dish and so he gives me his brutally honest completely transparent commentary on his own food.

Josh Linkner: And, first of all it’s hysterically funny it separates it from the competitive set here we are talking about this one out of 65,000 Chinese restaurants, not because he did what everybody else does it’s because he Judo flipped it.

David Horsager: I love it.

Josh Linkner: So just a couple of quick tactics, because I want to make sure people aren’t for battle.

Josh Linkner: Another really fun one so Okay, we get together to brainstorm and what do we do we share our our safe ideas, not our crazy wild ones and largely because of fear fear is the single most.

Josh Linkner: poisonous force that holds our creative thinking back and and by far that’s a bigger Blocker than natural talent so actually to really fast wants to break through that number one I call it roll storming.

Josh Linkner: role storming so role storming is brainstorming in character you’re taking on an actual real world brainstorm challenge but doing it as if you are somebody else.

Josh Linkner: So, David instead of you being David in the room, and now you’re saying well i’m going to be judged by my ideas or what if I say something that looks foolish.

Josh Linkner: you’re playing the role of Steve Jobs or Hemingway or darth vader and so you can pick any character, you want real fictitious it could be a sports hero or a movie star whatever you want.

Josh Linkner: And you literally pretend that you are that character, because when you’re that person you’re no longer responsible for the idea it’s not a reflection on you as a human being.

Josh Linkner: So that’s a really fun one yields amazing results i’ll just share real quick it’s called the bad idea brainstorm.

Josh Linkner: So we get together for brainstorm presumably we want to have good ideas, but we generally anchor them in the past and we end up having these kind of puny incremental ideas.

Josh Linkner: here’s the way works two step process step one everybody in the room, set a timer like eight minutes, whatever and.

Josh Linkner: brainstorm bad ideas that good ones what’s a terrible way to solve it what’s the worst possible thing you can think of what’s unethical and immoral and illegal and and you know too expensive, or whatever, so you come up with just terrible ideas.

Josh Linkner: it’s hysterically funny the whole team is energized everyone’s laughing and you fill the Boards with all these awful ideas.

Josh Linkner: Now importantly step two step two is where you then take a minute and look at all the bad ideas and say wait a minute.

Josh Linkner: Is there a little gem in there is that a little something is there a pattern a nugget that I could flip.

Josh Linkner: To take it from a bad idea to a good one, so the idea here is you take your creativity way to the edges and then yes you’re ratcheting back to reality, later on, but it’s much more effective than fighting the gravitational force of going bottoms up.

David Horsager: Fantastic I love, I am enticed trusted leaders are enticed I mean this is this is really, really, really, really great usable stuff what I love about josh is.

David Horsager: grounded in research, like we love out of the Institute, but also usable tomorrow morning, and so I love it.

David Horsager: So you know josh you’ve sold businesses combined value over a couple hundred million dollars what you know Britain New York Times bestsellers before you you’re doing all these things you’ve been a part of 100 startups or.

David Horsager: Whether that’s intimately or you know vc or certainly advising, and so we tell what’s it take to have a successful startup today.

Josh Linkner: Well it’s a lot of it is opposite what you think you know, first of all, we think that it’s about an entrepreneur that fills the room that’s charismatic like Steve Jobs actually the best entrepreneurs are much more thoughtful often not that.

Josh Linkner: larger than life they’re humble they give credit to others it’s not about themselves it’s about the success of the team in the business.

Josh Linkner: They lift other people up rather than push other people down, so I think one thing, it takes as an open minded coachable.

Josh Linkner: You know humble leader who has empathy and compassion and again, these are skills that you don’t often associate with business success, but I truly believe that they drive drive results.

Josh Linkner: I think another thing is that a real commitment to your to the customer i’ve heard so many companies talk about the financial model and how much money they’re going to make and then you’re like well how are you helping a customer like what.

Josh Linkner: And I think not losing sight of that you know you’re there to serve any businesses there but it’s a service or product to deliver value to real paying customers.

Josh Linkner: And, and not just in a way that they’re an annoyance that will just try to catch their checketts that you’re really there you know your hearts got to be into providing real value to them.

Josh Linkner: And so, when you push the creativity on providing real value to customers I think that’s something that sounds so obvious but is often missed.

David Horsager: think that was the Einstein quote we’ve heard it before, but you know don’t work so much at being a success work at giving value right and.

David Horsager: A huge key, in fact, one of the things we saw this year, especially last year, the pandemic and everything is.

David Horsager: We noticed empathy is more important than ever before and leaders and, in fact, our our annual study phone 90% 92%.

David Horsager: of people would trust their leader, more if they were more transparent about their mistakes people stop at transparency because.

David Horsager: Oh transmit no it’s not transparency it’s transparent about their mistakes willing to admit when they did it wrong and willing to lift others up when the team succeeded and and defer the good right.

Josh Linkner: yeah can I actually did, can I tell you a quick story about that it’s so it’s it’s a very personal one for me and it’s about a screw up that I did I didn’t write about in the book or anything I just thought.

Josh Linkner: was thinking about you today, and your incredible body of work around trust, so I was building my company, it was called enterprise, we were sort of like half ad agency and have software company.

Josh Linkner: And in one year, I sent a bonus program up there was terribly flawed like it was awful.

Josh Linkner: Because it was binary if we hit the target, I think it was like $40 million in revenue at the time, everybody got a sweet bonus if we missed it by one penny everybody about got nothing.

Josh Linkner: So, again to conceive totally my fault, I was a CEO.

Josh Linkner: But it did work to like drive performance, so we all anchored around that goal every we had charts and graphs and scoreboards and we’re done in heart so on December 31 David I get a call from my see my chief.

Josh Linkner: Sales officer, so he says josh we did we hit the 40 were like at $40,200,000.

Josh Linkner: And I gotta tell you like, I was deeply moved, not because I was greedy I didn’t care about the money honestly I just wasn’t.

Josh Linkner: proud of my team we accomplished something together, and so I immediately fired off a note to everybody congratulations you guys did it everyone’s getting their bonus.

Josh Linkner: So the bonus, according to the plan was going to be paid like 45 days after the end of the year, so we could you know get the counting straight and all that.

Josh Linkner: So about a week before the bonuses to be paid my CFO comes a knockin he says josh you know that $40 million i’m like yeah wasn’t a great he said yeah we got a problem.

Josh Linkner: He said turns out, we double counted one deal and we didn’t calculate for a particular cancellation, so instead of just making it we actually just missed it.

Josh Linkner: Now, keep in mind, I already told my team like weeks before that they were getting this bonus and and they like put deposits on new houses and sent you know.

Josh Linkner: signed up their kids for camp, or whatever, so I go to my board of directors and I said guys like here’s the situation and their first response was sweet we don’t have to pay a bonus this year.

Josh Linkner: And and, by the way this is over a million dollars of cash.

Josh Linkner: collectively and and we were successful, but we didn’t have like you know, a job we weren’t Amazon like we’d have lots and lots of extra money, this is meaningful amount of money.

Josh Linkner: And so I so they said and rightfully so, by the way they not putting blame at them, they were a fiduciary board and they said look.

Josh Linkner: You don’t get a super bowl trophy for almost making it into the end zone, and we have to celebrate accountability and like we didn’t hit the result you don’t get the championship.

Josh Linkner: And I said I hear you and I agree with that I said, however, to me, the only thing that supersedes accountability is trust.

Josh Linkner: I told all those people that they are getting their bonus, so we had an ethical debate for a while, then I finally said look put aside what’s right or wrong, because if you look yourself in the mirror, you know what’s right.

Josh Linkner: But let’s just look at the economics here that million dollars, I argued was gone, whether you like it or not.

Josh Linkner: If we don’t pay the bonus it’s going to come out in the form of bad morale employee turnover someone to walk off with a laptop like it’s gone.

Josh Linkner: Or we can look at it as an investment in who we are, you know you really show your character when things are tough not when they’re good and now is the time it’s tough.

Josh Linkner: So for the next week, David it was like the Cuban missile crisis, I was taking heavy artillery fire for my board of directors, but here’s what ended up happening.

Josh Linkner: I gather my whole team together at the time, I think, was about 500 people or so.

Josh Linkner: I explained in absolute detail here’s the email I got here’s the numbers here’s the cancellation here’s the date notes from the meeting with my CFO.

Josh Linkner: We did not make the bonus everybody is legally entitled to zero, and by the way, totally my fault I own it I know buck buck stops with me and I paste it has any blame.

Josh Linkner: I said that are positive side, however, the only thing, in my mind that’s more important than accountability is, you have to know that I have your back and that we have each other’s back so therefore we are paying every penny of that bonus on time.

Josh Linkner: The motion of that room that day like there were tears streaming down people’s faces I was getting bear hugs from grown men.

Josh Linkner: And, and I did it because it was the right thing, but, by the way, best million dollar investment I ever made because.

Josh Linkner: years later, people were like if we had a tough problem with a client people would work all night on it and people would pour their heart and soul, we had almost no voluntary turnover.

Josh Linkner: On job interviews candidates would come in and say I heard what you did, I want to work there, I never told the story to anybody.

Josh Linkner: But my only point is that, when we think about trust it was I understand you know your body of work to me it’s not only the right thing and, by the way, is the right thing.

Josh Linkner: But Besides that, in addition to that it’s also good for business and I again I just really admire the work you’re doing and I just wanted to share that story to a degree, I guess that might be using creativity, but, but you know that that’s what happened.

David Horsager: Undeniably, well, we are you at all the time, we believe, a lack of trust of the biggest expense in an organization or an individual even a global government on a corruption issue or whatever so.

David Horsager: That affirms that you know i’m not this is your interview, but you did make me think about something I don’t share very often and and this whole transparency kind of.

David Horsager: humility thing and it’s not a shout out to me, but I just I remember this, my daughter were out for a walk she’s maybe 13 years old, my oldest she was the oldest at the time she’s now 18 but she said.

David Horsager: we’re just talking and she said, you know this was a time when I was really busy in her years I was flying all over the world.

David Horsager: And that we were maybe at the height of our as far as just a speaking business now we’re you know doing all these other things too, but, but basically.

David Horsager: And she said dad you wouldn’t understand I don’t know she was talking about boys or academics, or what you’re perfect and right, then my heart sunk because I knew it’s great to be their hero at three years old.

David Horsager: But at 13.

David Horsager: We got an issue, and she hadn’t seen she saw me fly out she saw me do this, she saw me, you know get picked up by a Sedan or whatever, and I am.

David Horsager: She hadn’t seen when I lost all of our money you know buying a business that we lost everything on in two weeks before she was born she didn’t see me do this do that whatever all the things my wife and everybody else knows.

David Horsager: Right and she sent scenes on this and and I I made an intention on our walks and I just started sharing some place I blew it now, by the way, she’s 18 she’s seen plenty of things, but I mean.

David Horsager: At that time, see you you’re coming out of that.

David Horsager: When you’re perfect dad thing to you know your and and she.

David Horsager: I just searching I blew it here I missed it there, I was imperfect I didn’t I wish I would have treated my team better here, I will showed it on that during.

David Horsager: And what happened to our relationship, it just changed forever.

David Horsager: And now she shares things with me and now you know I think there’s this whole thing on like that bad news, you shared, of course, a big part of that story is you follow through above and beyond, but there is something people say.

David Horsager: You know, be transparent and they want to connect and we don’t connect on greatness.

David Horsager: That you are an all state football player, we didn’t even connect on that you sold companies for $200 million or this or that we connect on the mistakes.

David Horsager: I can relate to that Oh, I did that and that that’s what I am bring that back to your startup that one of the first thing you said on startups as we really.

David Horsager: The best leaders are often humble thoughtful leaders, and I can say the same thing about the the the CEOs that I work with her know you know.

David Horsager: So anyway.

Josh Linkner: Just a side so you’re so spot on and not only is that again, you know deeply connecting on a human level, it also back to my my love of creativity that drives creativity.

Josh Linkner: As mentioned, you know fear is the biggest Blocker and so, if a CEO says, I want your creative ideas.

Josh Linkner: And then, but, but the person doesn’t feel safe sharing them because maybe they’re going to get sent to corporate time out like you have no creativity, fear and creativity cannot coexist, and so the best leaders.

Josh Linkner: it’s not they don’t think of that that their organizations creative.

Josh Linkner: Atomic particles are just themselves it’s everybody everybody’s an innovator, and to do that, they have to create a safe culture, just a quick example back to your point about screwing stuff up.

Josh Linkner: The one company that I work with issues every team Member to corporate get out of jail free cards each year.

Josh Linkner: here’s what they say they say listen creativity is everybody’s job and and to have good ideas we’re going to have to have some bad ones are gonna have to have some some screw ups, so I want you to go out and take responsible risks that’s part of your job.

Josh Linkner: And when you screw something up cuz you will hand is a card you’re off the hook no questions asked and, on the annual team.

Josh Linkner: Performance reviews a leader will be disappointed with the team Member if they haven’t used both of them, so in this case, they sort of built a system around responsible risk taking, and that it’s okay to scrape your knees, from time to time.

David Horsager: I love it reminds me of way back when I was just starting to do some research and, if you remember MCI the mobile phone company, the new.

David Horsager: The new President made a $600 million mistake and they asked the.

David Horsager: The chairman of the board, I said, are you gonna I mean, are you know fire him look what he just did I mean was a big blow it right and they said no way we just paid too much on his education it’s kind of that okay we’re gonna make this safe to try and.

David Horsager: Whatever so so you know there’s more to you and we could talk business all day we don’t have a lot of time left, and we got leaders, you know we talked about high trust leaders and.

David Horsager: And you’ve been around many you are one What about you personally what what we you know we talked a lot about how to be.

David Horsager: To really lead others you got to be able to lead yourself how are you leading yourself these days are trying to at home, personally, we both have kids we both tried to be healthy physically spiritually emotionally what what’s maybe you got one or two routines you’d share.

Josh Linkner: Sure, well, the first thing you know back to the being you know, open and transparent is it’s not easy to do that, you know, like there are days you just want to.

Josh Linkner: don’t feel like working out and you want to eat greasy pizza like you know I mean so let’s let’s go back to you, your daughter’s comment about you being perfect.

Josh Linkner: let’s not hold ourselves to some level of perfection, and then, when we fall short inevitably were angry or disappointed or shamed.

Josh Linkner: Nor should we hold other people that way, so I think the best thing we can do is just recognize, first of all that we’re all we’re all human beings.

Josh Linkner: That being said, I try to I have an accountability partner I switch it every year.

Josh Linkner: People in my group, so we keep a little mobile APP what we called tally it’s free if I want to download it.

Josh Linkner: And we set up our key metrics that we’re going to track each week and then every week, we take a screen grab and.

Josh Linkner: and share it with each other, so we hold each other accountable, a couple of minor you know healthy eating I tried to do four to seven days a week.

Josh Linkner: I try to do, four days of exercise a week I do 100 and 210 minutes of learning every week so it’s really critically important to me to, if you want to change the outputs they say you got to change the input so i’m always learning reading, etc.

Josh Linkner: I do a morning ritual every week every day to to get myself sort of in the creative groove so i’m all about sort of those daily rhythms and habits and obviously I talk a lot about how to do that creatively in the book.

Josh Linkner: But I think also holding yourself and having an accountability partner is very, very helpful.

David Horsager: Accountability it’s so fun to hear you say that I don’t hear that all the time and we you know I talked about in my new book trusted LEADER I talked about the accountability group that changed me and i’ve been with them these four guys for 28 years and i’m a better.

Josh Linkner: husband, a better parent.

David Horsager: A better leader, because of it josh this book big little breakthroughs how small everyday innovations drive over sized results hey we got to get toward the lightning round here ready.

Josh Linkner: Fire away.

David Horsager: Fire away, how are you yeah you’re the expert in innovation and creativity what’s something you’re doing today to keep innovating or being creative yourself.

Josh Linkner: Well, so I still play guitar all the time that’s my one news, although I, by the way, everyone can have their own news, so if someone wants like digs poetry or interpretive dance do whatever you want, but connect with something that really inspires you creatively.

Josh Linkner: And part of my rituals that I do is, I have a five minute a day creativity ritual I won’t go through every element of it, but just to real quickly.

Josh Linkner: One minute, a day of guzzling creative inputs.

Josh Linkner: So I might start a painting for a minute I might go to YouTube and watch a live music performance or hear someone to spoken word poetry.

Josh Linkner: I figure I just let myself soak in the creativity of others, and then I also do like creative calisthenics almost like jumping Jacks I give myself.

Josh Linkner: an assignment for one minute so like what are 13 alternative uses for a pencil or if you ran.

Josh Linkner: If you were the President of Jamaica, how could you double the amount of Olympic gold medals you could win that year.

Josh Linkner: So just they’re not designed to have practical work product is designed to keep your creativity sharp so again, but just those two minutes a day those alone really feel my creativity and I think could be helpful to others.

David Horsager: Those would be absolutely helpful and I can hear what people are saying right now they’re saying.

David Horsager: Oh, my gosh where, am I going to find that I want to guzzle the creativity i’ll take the five minutes, but I think it’s gonna take me two hours to find the.

David Horsager: interpretive dance right, so what what do they get it we’re going to start on your five minutes just finding it quickly, because you know where you can end up with YouTube is just watching cat videos so what’s the what am I gonna do.

Josh Linkner: Oh, my gosh it’s so easy so just pick a medium you, by the way you could make them like Monday is art day tuesday’s poetry day so make you know give yourself less decisions.

Josh Linkner: And literally go to YouTube and type in like jazz saxophone soul.

Josh Linkner: And just see whatever pops up don’t don’t spend hours and hours looking for the best saxophone solo in the history of the universe just watch someone play great music.

Josh Linkner: And by the way, then YouTube will start suggesting other things i’ve gone down, as we all have down rabbit holes.

Josh Linkner: If you start populating with great creative works, instead of looking at cat videos you’re going to watch some amazing 16 year old singer from Sao Paulo do a beautiful Boston overruff so.

David Horsager: it’s pretty clever and the other on the other point, you know I think a lot of people are gonna say, well, I don’t think in terms of you know 13 alternative uses of pencils and and how I can.

David Horsager: get a team or gold medals from guam you know, so how I what am I going to start with, because I think those are greatly, this is your next book it’s a it’s a it’s a question, a day of hey wake up and think of 13 uses for pencils other than writing what.

David Horsager: What do you, what do you think what, what do you find that little spark because you’re already created a lot of people that are listening are saying, I want to be more creative, I want to, I want to work this muscle, but I don’t know where to start.

Josh Linkner: yeah so just real quick you’re absolutely right work that muscle so Personally, I believe that we’re all creative I don’t think i’m more or less good than anybody else.

Josh Linkner: I may have developed my skills more because I spend more time, focusing on it, but i’m no more creative or less than anybody else.

Josh Linkner: So, which is good news, because that means we all can learn this skill, just like all of us can learn a new language or learn to jazzercise or to play tennis you know.

Josh Linkner: So there to do it start simple you’re exactly right start simple try this for 30 days in a row, try to think of doing if they do it just think of one.

Josh Linkner: teeny tiny mini mini creative thing a day like, for example, next time you order pizza and say hey can I get them pepperoni under the cheese, instead of on top.

Josh Linkner: All you’re doing is thinking of something totally small that is different than what exists today you’re challenging yourself to think about what’s possible instead of what is that’s 30 days one idea you’ll you’ll be a game changer.

David Horsager: All right, we’re gonna come back to lightning round and one second before we do we gotta go for the producer question did you think of order talking Kent.

David Horsager: hey josh so as I was wondering, you know you work with a lot of you’ve worked with a lot of startups a lot of companies.

David Horsager: Do you see a common or a common mistake that startup founders make in the early stages that they could avoid and actually be able to grow a lot faster a lot quicker.

Josh Linkner: I absolutely do and there’s two quotes that kind of say the same thing one is the Zen and i’m sorry it’s a Chinese proverb, it says chase two rabbits and both will escape.

Josh Linkner: Which is essentially they try to do too much stuff and they end up failing they’re not being world class at it and the other quote that it’s actually a venture capital quote is more startups die of indigestion than starvation.

Josh Linkner: Which is exactly the same thing they try to go too fast, go to bed take on too many projects.

Josh Linkner: And they just end up scrape and their needs, they haven’t built this foundational infrastructure to do that effectively so i’m certainly not suggesting anybody slow down that’s not the goal here but it’s to be deliberate and thoughtful.

Josh Linkner: My first book was called discipline dreaming, which is really this yin and Yang concept of yes, you absolutely need dreaming, you need to be.

Josh Linkner: swinging for the fence tonight, but there’s got to be discipline as well, or else you become unhinged so it’s got to have that that sort of left and right brain balance, I think, to proceed diligently and just don’t try to bite off more than you can possibly chew.

David Horsager: Great answer, I agree with that 100% and i’ve been challenged by it several times in my life right so absolutely.

David Horsager: Can you can you tell us, before I get back to the lightning round actually just made me think of this you’ve had a lot of success, you built a lot, yes, sold a lot you’re sitting a lot.

David Horsager: But you can’t hardly be a venture capitalist and not see or have been a part of failure, can you tell us about a failure that you were personally a part of, and what you learn.

Josh Linkner: Oh man, we don’t have enough time i’ve got so many things, I just wanted i’ve interviewed billionaires and yeah they win more maybe, but they also fail, more so.

Josh Linkner: We have to really recognize and celebrate that failure is part of the innovation process.

Josh Linkner: I started a company called fuel leadership, it was going to be like coachella but for business people totally failed lost my shirt on it.

Josh Linkner: I started a technology inside my previous business called caffeine, it was going to be like a self serve.

Josh Linkner: Technology for small businesses to do the type of work we did for big companies totally failed lost my shirt on it so on and on, and I mean i’ve made huge mistakes.

Josh Linkner: But I think one of the biggest things I learned, frankly, is you can’t be sheepish when you go back after it.

Josh Linkner: You know you have to actually go back with with the same vigor that you had in the first place, because if you’re taking your failures with you to the next time at BAT you’re almost ensuring the next failure.

Josh Linkner: I will say this real quickly, though in the venture side of things.

Josh Linkner: I almost have like a social experiment so there’s this all this debate is a startup success the jockey or the horse, in other words the team or the entrepreneur or the technology of the product.

Josh Linkner: So almost identical time and I invested $600,000 each into two separate companies one company had a team and a see idea, the other company had an idea and a CT.

Josh Linkner: like clockwork the person with the C team managed to screw up there a idea I lost every single dime I took a total zero.

Josh Linkner: The other one eight person seed idea, managed to pivot and adapt their see idea into an idea, it became one of the top performing companies in my portfolio they’re still rockin today they’re wildly successful so go figure.

David Horsager: Great example love it all right here we go back to the lightning round so much to take away here everything guzzle creativity every every morning.

David Horsager: A host of of ideas from big little breakthroughs josh linkner his new book and a whole lot more here we go.

David Horsager: Your favorite book or resource right now.

Josh Linkner: I was i’m a crazy reader I know you are to David, but I just started reading Adam grant Adam grants new book called think again, I like 30% in and i’m totally addicted I love the guy was a fellow Detroit person originally, but I think he’s just brilliant and I love his work.

David Horsager: Okay i’m taking another veer off the, off the lightning round because Detroit I mean you talk about your right there in the middle of a turnaround city, we get a C and we work with trestle you know we work with cities we got.

David Horsager: Some of the biggest cities in the world, even countries we’re doing trust edge work but you’ve firsthand seen what a turnaround in Detroit can you speak to that for a second.

Josh Linkner: yeah so I was born in the city of Detroit not the suburbs, the city as where my parents and grandparents and i’ve had the chance to leave a lot of times I always wanted to stay and be part of it like this is a city with a soul.

Josh Linkner: And it’s funny like you know hundred years ago, Detroit was kind of the Silicon Valley of our country.

Josh Linkner: But, frankly, we lost our way and it gets back to creativity and innovation, instead of creating cool cars we started like administering automotive corporations.

Josh Linkner: And we built these stifling bureaucracies and you name a problem we’ve had it from racial divisiveness to political corruption to public safety issues.

Josh Linkner: All kinds of bad stuff but but it just like where there’s a forest fire, you know it makes way for new growth.

Josh Linkner: The City of Detroit right now is in in an incredible period of Renaissance there’s art galleries and buildings and construction and like there’s life and it’s just cool.

Josh Linkner: And so we still have a long way to go, it’s not utopia but it’s absolutely on the upswing, partly because we are reinventing we’re not just trying to rebuild the old Detroit we’re finally getting on with the hard work of creating a new one perfect.

David Horsager: All right back to the lightning round I love that i’d love to talk more about Detroit I you know used to be my least favorite city to fly through and now it’s moved up the ranks and that’s just a you know flying delta end up there, a little bit.

David Horsager: You know, going east, where either Atlanta or Detroit often so I know you spent a lot of time on delta like I do or have.

David Horsager: When you’re not flying private i’m pretty sure so let’s let’s jump back in here we go favorite a favorite there’s so many, but a favorite tech gadget or APP right now.

Josh Linkner: i’m going to get back to tally it just super easy and I keep a really clear sense of what i’m doing and it just keeps me focused like okay.

Josh Linkner: I get my reading it for this make that I do my daily workouts that you know, like it just keeps me focused and it’s just.

Josh Linkner: it’s not glamorous it’s just super effective the other one I just say started to is um is audible which is not new, or anything but just.

Josh Linkner: To be able to consume content when you’re in an airport when you’re on the treadmill when you’re whatever it’s just a wonderful gifts, for us to to make to compress time and so i’m constantly listening, even when I can’t be reading.

David Horsager: Absolutely way back to Ziegler calling an automobile university Now you can do it anywhere, while you’re walking listening driving flying and.

David Horsager: You can get your book that way remember trusted leader show.com you get the show notes and i’m grants new book and josh his new book and anything interesting we’ve talked about like tally or audible next up best advice you’ve ever been given.

Josh Linkner: best advice i’ve ever been given hmm that’s a good one.

David Horsager: And don’t get hung up on best maybe a piece when you got to do best it’s it’s hard isn’t it.

Josh Linkner: It is, it is hard um you know my grandmother gave me a piece of advice, at one point which is sort of this she said, no matter what situation you’re in.

Josh Linkner: A classroom business athletic field somebody has to be the best it might as well be you.

Josh Linkner: And it wasn’t any way being cocky or arrogant it wasn’t like that the intention of it was don’t let your own lack of belief hold you back.

Josh Linkner: because everybody on that field, or in that classroom has the same belief system and and and don’t CAP what your possibilities are you know give yourself permission to really go for it.

Josh Linkner: And you know she’s long past but i’ve always carried that around with me and I just think it’s something very meaningful to just like hey let’s focus on what’s possible don’t benchmark yourself against what you think you know the minimum threshold as you see, even go even further.

David Horsager: that’s up my mom said something similar, and it was always go the extra mile anybody can do it halfway right but love it someone has to be the best it might as well be you.

Josh Linkner: just say real quickly there’s a little clip on that that.

Josh Linkner: I i’ve given this advice, it was one segment I repeated again and again and again as i’m building my many companies that someday a company will come along and put us out of business, so it might as well be us.

Josh Linkner: So I flipped my grandma’s code, a little bit, but the notion is basically that.

Josh Linkner: We have to recognize that success is a temporary State in the context of many external factors that today are changing at a rate like none other in history.

Josh Linkner: And so I think it’s incumbent on all of us, both in organizationally and individually to like put our previous selves out of business, I truly hope that I put myself out of business, the job today six months from now i’m a different person I hope you are today because we’re always progressing.

David Horsager: Abraham Lincoln I hope i’m not the man tomorrow that I am today right, I want to be getting better learning changing growing love it two more questions here we go one.

David Horsager: bucket list or hope for the future josh linkner is hope for the future.

Josh Linkner: I think we’ve all been sucked into the political discourse over the last several years and i’m not making a party commentary.

Josh Linkner: But back to your point about trust and empathy and compassion I just hope that we can find some of that I hope that we can start finding the good and each other instead of slinging the arrows.

Josh Linkner: I think we’ve got to be able to unite in this country around the things that really matter that are going to set our kids up for our future and set ourselves up as a nation and stop just fist fighting and slugging it out in the mud.

Josh Linkner: To me it’s been really disappointing just because you know my kids CC this type of thing, and you know insurrection all that again i’m not making a political comment at all I just hope that.

Josh Linkner: I both sides of the aisle that we can inject some more empathy and trust and compassion, I think it’s desperately needed in this world.

David Horsager: Undeniably, I remember so enjoying sitting next to my dad and watching the debates and then I.

David Horsager: embarrassingly i’m showing my kids some of what’s happening in the last few different years of debates and it’s like well I don’t want them to act in certain ways and.

David Horsager: Certainly, so hey before we give the last question of the day, best place to find you josh and it will link all this in the trusted trusted leader show.com show notes, but best place to find you or find out about what you’re doing these days.

Josh Linkner: yeah simplest and easy to remember is just big little breakthrough is calm.

Josh Linkner: there’s all stuff about me there but but there’s also a free creativity assessment there’s all kinds of tool kits and goodies.

Josh Linkner: And there is a password required to get to the really good stuff and so i’ll make password for everybody listening today trusted.

Josh Linkner: So if you go to there’s like it says toolkit and you have to enter a secret code just use the secret code trust it and I know you could put that in the show notes.

Josh Linkner: But um it’s tons of free access to all kinds of goodies and worksheets and tools that hopefully can help everyday people become everyday innovators.

David Horsager: And we are continual learners i’m excited to go all the way through this book will be doing it here comes out for everybody in April, but you can pre order, right now, so with that the final question it’s the trusted leader show who’s a leader you trust and why.

Josh Linkner: You know there’s a leader of one of the companies that I started I don’t know if this is like the the all time best in the universe, or whatever.

Josh Linkner: But his name is Paul glovsky he runs a company called Detroit labs and we help to get that company off the ground, provided the early seed funding.

Josh Linkner: And he’s one of those guys again he’s not larger than life, he sort of TRIPS on his words from time to time you think of them as sort of understated but this guy is just.

Josh Linkner: he’s it to me exemplary of being a trusted leader, he walks the walk he’s humble he gives other people that credit.

Josh Linkner: And he’s just a man of his word you just know you know, to me, trust and I know you have a lot more research on this and me isn’t only are you telling the truth of that’s a part of it obviously that’s a baseline but.

Josh Linkner: It also means you know, do you deliver on expectations are you reliable, are you competent and to me he just checks up all those boxes and when I see people like that to me, those are the people that you just fall in love with and want to work with.

David Horsager: fantastic example often it isn’t the big the big celebrity show it’s the it’s the end and being the same onstage and offstage right just personally.

David Horsager: josh, thank you for spending these Minutes with us, with all of our trusted leaders and just forgiven your insight time i’ve got so much here, I know i’ve got.

David Horsager: two pages of notes other people do as well if they’re not driving I bet so thank you and thanks, thank you most of all for being my friend.

Josh Linkner: David right back at you Thank you so much for the great work that you do and continue to promote the much, much needed trust in our world so cheers to you and let’s keep being creative together.

David Horsager: Absolutely that’s it for the trusted leader show this time until next time stay trusted.

Accelerate Your Performance Through Trust
Click “Receive Access” to get our COMPLIMENTARY Trust Tools and join 25,000+ leaders that are increasing their performance.
We respect your privacy. Your information is safe and will never be shared.
Don't miss out. Get FREE tools today.