Innovation Inspiration #024—Read 10-Year-Old Books

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I had planned on not writing this post until I had finished reading Seth Godin’s Purple Cow, but the remarkableness of it dictated not waiting.

The concept is simple—the most successful products have stood out from the competition as clearly as a purple cow would among a bunch of black and white spots.

(And, I already have the title of a future post: Otaku Your Purple Cow.)

Great, innovative, unusual ideas can take a while to catch on, but the very best of them can spread like a virus. This is a very rough paraphrasing of the book. I’ve seen this happen time and time again, and why this happens is key to understanding how to design and market an amazing product.

I have come across several other books over the past two years that have immensely changed my view of marketing and product design. Each one seems to build upon the previous set, adding another clue to how they all fit together.

Drive, Where Good Ideas Come From, and How to Win Friends and Influence People have been the most powerful. Purple Cow ranks as their peer, and I’m still only at page 79.

The book carries a powerful message—that standing out from the crowd is key to success. But a secondary message is given and demonstrated repeatedly–that avoiding risk is generally deadly to long-term success. Staying safe keeps companies from creating Purple Cows. And new, smaller companies (or long-time second-fiddle rivals) will inevitability notice the gap and figure out how to exploit it.

So put aside your fear, and take a chance.

I promise a longer, more insightful post once I have digested the Purple Cow.

Author: Peter Sheerin

Peter Sheerin is best known for the decade he spent as the Technical Editor of CADENCE magazine, where he was the acknowledged expert in Computer-Aided Design hardware and software. He has a long-standing passion for improving usability of software, hardware, and everyday objects that is always interwoven in his articles. Peter is available for freelance technical writing and product reviews, and is exploring career opportunities in interaction design. His pet personal project is exploring the best ways to harmonize visual, tactile, and audible symbols for improving the effectiveness of alerting systems.

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