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"So what happens to advertising (and advertising agencies) when mass media totally falls apart? Here, in the middle of a smart ad man's autobiography, may lie the answer: Smart companies will use brilliant ad agencies to reinvent their products and the way they work. Big ideas still matter!"
-Seth Godin, author, Survival Is Not Enough and Permission Marketing
"This book contains great insight, great integrity, and clarity about the important part that values linked to understanding play in creative work. A very impressive work that is both inspiring and useful in today's competitive world."
-Edwin Schlossberg, Designer, ESI Design
"True business creativity is powerful and inspiring . . . and Bob's passion for it makes you want to be a part of it. Leap is a journey from Intel to Guggenheim's vision, passing from a 'branded' Argentinian bridge on the way to Perdue's chicken-making history . . . All four are creative business ideas made of both vision and actions, and Bob captures their essence masterfully."
-Elio Leoni Sceti, EVP, Category Development, Reckitt Benckiser
"Bob Schmetterer has always been an innovator in our business, and this book offers proof of why that is the case. His 'Creative Business Ideas' concept represents out-of- the-box thinking at its best. Anyone interested in the future of marketing communications and the critical role of creativity should read it."
-O. Burtch Drake, President and CEO, American Association of Advertising Agencies
"A key management challenge is how to enable an organization to grow, see new opportunities, and lead the market. Bob Schmetterer answers this important question and shares his insights in this highly readable book. I recommend it to all senior executives who are concerned with creativity and business growth."
-Peter Lorange, President, International Institute for Management Development
"Information to share and lessons to learn from a great mind. Leap makes fascinating reading. No wonder Bob Schmetterer was instrumental in launching our Revolvolution. The man is creativity embodied."
-Hans-Olov Olsson, President and CEO, Volvo Car Corporation
“Ideas are only the beginning,” adults like to tell precocious youngsters. “Ideas are a dime a dozen.”
Easy enough for successful adults to say—they’ve already climbed a mountain or two. But when you’re a 19-year-old kid, born in the Bronx and raised in a small New Jersey town, and you’re not rich and you’re about to be married, good ideas that you can put to practical use are hard to come by.
It wasn’t that I lacked imagination. Like many who grew up in the 1960s, I spent a lot of time inside my own head, trying to figure out what was good and true and worthy. In my case, that project was perhaps made more difficult by my awareness, from a very early age, that I had both left-brain and right-brain interests. Part of me was attracted to a creative, aesthetic way of life—to music and art and fashion and design and writing. And another, seemingly equal part craved logic and order and ideas based in reason.
After a very early first marriage, I had less time to ponder anything. And when I became a father, at age 20, I really had to scramble.
I worked all day and went to college at night, studying liberal arts and sociology. It was a tough slog; at the rate I was going, I calculated it would take me nine years to get the r ight degrees.
When I was 22, we had our second child. Reality and practicality loomed even larger. I recalibrated my dreams: Another 14 years of night school and I’ll have enough advanced degrees to be a high school guidance counselor. I’ll make $12,000 a year.
Enter the wise man.
Well, that’s how it works in the myth anyway. In my case, I happened to run into a salesman. As it happened, he sold printer’s ink, but he explained that the product really didn’t matter—he just loved to sell. “Do something you love,” he told me. “The success and money will follow.”
Simple enough. But what did I love? I mean, really love? Well, if I cut through intellectual pretension and financial ambition, the answer was cars. Beginning at age 10, I learned everything I could about them. I memorized my father’s car magazines. I knew automotive statistics the way some kids know batting averages. And when the new models were about to come out, I would run to the dealerships just to see how the cars looked under their thick canvas covers.
At this point, according to myth, something else is supposed to enter: synchronicity. That is, now that you have taken the first step on the correct path, you get information that supports your choice and takes you to the next level. In my case, it was another random event— a classified ad for a job in the parts department of British Motor Corporation.
This was the company that made the MG and Austin-Healey, those beautiful, classic sports cars so beloved by American automobile buffs. Okay, so it was the parts division, working with computer inventory control systems. No matter. It was cars. I went for an interview and got the job.
EUREKA! AN EARLY CBI
A year later, I had a revelation so stunningly obvious you have to wonder why nobody came up with it earlier: Sports cars, in and of themselves, were not enough for those who bought them. They wanted accessories to make them more personal and authentic. And so they ordered wood steering wheels, racing mirrors, chrome luggage racks, and more. We didn’t make or sell those accessories; we just let customers order from a bunch of small specialty companies.
But as I saw it, we could do more. We could sell those accessories through our dealer organization. And we could do one more thing: We could create a Special Edition MG model that came fully accessorized. We could expand the horizon of our business.
So there we have it: A 22-year-old whose education consists of a continuing bout with night school gets an idea. It’s not a trilliondollar idea, but it does contain an underlying concept that I have returned to over and over again: What business was I in? Specifically, was I in the business of selling parts to car dealers, or was I in the business of discovering what car owners wanted and, whatever it was, getting it for them? If this were a business school case study, the question would be, “Am I in mark eting or manufacturing?”
I WARNED YOU . . .
Back in 1965, I was simply in the enthusiasm business. I had an idea I really liked, and I wanted to see if it would work. I told my boss, who liked it enough to ask me to write a proposal. Shortly thereafter, I found myself in the office of Graham Whitehead, head of British Motors in America. He was the classic Br it: dashing, mustache, RAF demeanor. . . .
His office had no papers, only antiques. Naturally, he was neither chatty nor welcoming.
“Tell Graham your idea,” my boss said at last.
I blurted it out.
“Very interesting,” Graham said. “But I don’t see how we could do it.”
“The challenge is to coordinate with accessories suppliers,” I said. “I think we can do that—we’r e sort of doing it already.”
Graham warmed ever so slightly. “Just remember—I warned you,” he said, in the most backhanded way of signaling approval I had ever heard.
Well, the 1966 MGB-GT Special sports cars were a terrific success: We sold every car we built. If we had any problem, it was supply; we had so many orders that the little shops that made wood-r im steering wheels and luggage racks couldn’t keep up with demand. We had to go as far as Australia to find a supplier.
If this were a business school case, we’d be looking for the lesson here. And I imagine it would be something about using the logistics competency of a parts department. I see a different lesson. The guy who had the idea (me) loved the product. Knew everything about it. Was buoyed by the support of others, but would have tried to make it happen anyway.
BEFORE YOU LEAP: Understand that passion is the starting point of all great creative ideas. If you are looking to make your mark by creating something new, make sure you are in a field that totally fascinates and captivates you.Remember, too, success does not mean you become vice president for Great Ideas overnight. In my case, I followed up my triumph by continuing to work on computer-controlled inventory systems. And I kept on going to night school. The big news was that I switched my major from sociology to psychology.
CHAPTER 1. Tales of a Left-Brain/Right-Brain Thinker.
CHAPTER 2. Creative Business Ideas.
CHAPTER 3. Creativity at the Top.
CHAPTER 4. The Creative Corporate Culture.
CHAPTER 5. Creativity at the Heart of Business Strategy.
CHAPTER 6. Do You Know What Business You Are In?
CHAPTER 7. The End of Advertising . . . the Beginning of Something New.
CHAPTER 8. The Entertainment Factor.
CHAPTER 9. A Structure for Creative Thinking.
CHAPTER 10. Make the Leap.
References and Sources.
About the Author.
Posted June 6, 2004
Every executive pays lip service to creativity, but truly unusual ideas are tough to find among the button-down set. When it comes to encouraging and developing groundbreaking ideas, most organizations are at a loss. Enter advertising exec Bob Schmetterer and his focus on creative business ideas. These strategies, such as Volvo¿s emphasis on safety, set a brand apart from its rivals. How do you get creative? It could be as simple as tearing out your office doors and walls, and hiring a few dyslexics. Schmetterer`s clear, crisp writing style, bold suggestions and liberal use of intriguing corporate case studies make this book a joy to read. We suggest it to any executive whose brand must cut through the clutter.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 17, 2003
I read the first chapter and it felt promising. Unfortunately, after that the book turned for the worse and must admit that I could not reach the end of the book. The reason is that the book fails to provide any hard data support. The book is an incredibly simplistic view of how to solve business issues, which is typical of most admen. I could not deal with the excesive use of biz jargon either.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 6, 2003
I enjoyed Leap, and it was easier reading than most business books, because the stories are familiar, although the details shed new light on how the featured brands came to be.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 12, 2003
with a lot of current business books calling for a new simplicity and return to basics, this book brings a new a fresh spirit to how businesses can find inspiration and ideas that can be great winners. Great writing and great thinking....Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.