Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis Joins Us On The Join Up Dots Podcast
Introducing Costa Michailidis
Innovation expert Costa Michailidis is todays guest joining us on the Steve Jobs inspired Join Up Dots business podcast.
He is the founder of Innovation Bound, a company who mission is to find, inspire, and support the world’s innovators
Their team works to build innovation capability and steward large scale innovation efforts across sectors and geographies.
We work across a small family of companies.
Innovation Bound focuses on the business side.
Our consultants have lead innovation projects with everyone from NASA scientists to top talent groups inside of some of the largest enterprises in the world.
As he says “My life began as a creative misfit, using my imagination to spur havoc, laughter, and the occasional unintended success.
Come to think of it, he hasn’t changed much over the years.
How The Innovation Dots Joined Up For Costa
Some of my adventures include working with NASA scientists to reimagine the search for life beyond Earth, designing innovation tournaments inside of Fortune 500 companies to seed innovation projects.
Speaking at the United Nations in New York as part of the first TEDx event there, working with a group of cyber security experts (including one of the original creators of the internet—not Al Gore) to make recommendations to the Obama Administration, and that’s just the compulsory who’s who.
Some of the most impactful and beautiful work I’ve done has been with college students, young entrepreneurs, and non-profit organizations.
My passion, and by some cosmic coincidence my job, is to help people be more creative, so they can solve new and meaningful problems in the world.
He takes great joy and pride in skilfully priming the human brain, and the human heart, for creative breakthrough.
So when building a business with such a varied positioning how did he decide what to do first, and of course explain the mission to the world?
And where do people go wrong when trying to be innovative, too far reaching or just not reaching far enough at all?
Well lets find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr Costa Michailidis
During the show we discussed such weighty subjects with Costa Michailidis such as:
Costa has been finding ways to challenge himself and learn ever since he discarded the instructions of his first Lego set and put his imagination to the test.
We discuss the big question that we should be asking ourselves everyday to find our true passion – “Who are you?”
We chat about the willingness to fail but to keep on going even if the results we want are not guaranteed
Why every idea is a bad idea when they first start, so you cant get married to them until you have polished the hell out of them.
We discuss the dark line between the content of innovation and the process of innovation which falls neatly into three buckets.
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here– enjoy
Full Transcription Of Innovation Interview With Costa Michailidis
We’re live shouldn’t be hard live should be a fun filled adventure every day. So now start joining up dots tap into your talents, your skills, your God given gifts and tell your boss, you don’t deserve me. I’m out of here. It’s time for you to smash that alarm clock and start getting the dream business and life you will of course, are dreaming golf. Let’s join your host David route from the back of his garden in the UK, or wherever he might be today with another JAM PACKED episode of the number one hit podcast. Join Up Dots.
David Ralph [0:40]
Yes, hello there. Good morning to you. Good morning to you. Well, thank you so much for clicking the Help button downloading and listening to Join Up Dots wherever you’re listening to it now or in 20 years time, whatever. Thank you so much for being here. Well, today’s guests are joining us on The I suppose it’s the Steve Jobs inspired Join Up Dots business podcast. He is the founder of innovation bound a company whose mission is to find, inspire and support the world’s innovators. Now their team works to build innovation capability and steward large scale innovation efforts across sectors and geographies. They work across a small family of companies there’s one called Innovation, which focuses on the business side, then there’s no innovation focuses on innovation in the scientific community, and inclusive innovation focuses on innovation in the developing world. Now their consultants have led innovation projects with everyone from NASA scientist to top talent groups inside some of the largest enterprises in the world. And as he says, My life began as a creative misfit using my imagination to spur habit, laughter and the occasional unintended success and come to think of it. He hasn’t changed much over the years, he says. Now some of these adventures include working with NASA scientists, or we say to reimagine the search for life beyond Earth, designing innovation tournaments inside of fortune 500 companies to seed innovation projects, and a load of other stuff. But some of the most impactful and beautiful work he’s done has been with college students, young entrepreneurs, and nonprofit organisations, his passion, and by some cosmic coincidence, his job is to help people be more creative so they can solve new and meaningful problems in the world. And he takes great joy and pride in skillfully priming the human brain and the human heart for creative breakthrough. So when building a business with such a varied positioning, how does he decide what to do first? And, of course, explain this mission to the world. And what do people go wrong when trying to be innovative, too far reaching or just not reaching far enough? Well, let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr. Costa MC a lady this. Morning Costa, how are you?
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [2:59]
Thank you so much. I’m doing just fine.
David Ralph [3:02]
I bet you are. I bet you are because I’ve been reading a lot about you this week. And yeah, a lot of people come along on the show and I look at their background and I’ve been always seems a bit of a slog. Oh, you know, they wake up every morning and they’re doing your seems like playtime. I look at it. And I think you must be literally bouncing around thinking what fun am I going to have today? Is that the case?
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [3:24]
I am the happiest nerd at the airport. Yeah, the consulting life. Yeah.
David Ralph [3:29]
And what what why is that? So sort of inspiring to you? Why Why does that sort of been playfulness really make you happy?
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [3:39]
Yeah, I think it is a particular flavour of playfulness. I just, you know, it was the type of kid who threw away the Lego instructions and just kind of built that in my imagination. And so I got sick, I got fired from the first three jobs I had in quick succession all within a year. Because I kept trying to change things. And most people who hire someone entry level don’t want them changing anything. They just want you to do the job the way they told you. And my mind just kept inventing and reinventing and trying different things. And so now changing things is my job.
David Ralph [4:12]
Is it changing things or building things? Because I know in your past, you’ve been a construction worker, you built playgrounds, homes, you know. And there is that, that one brick at a time kind of scenario. So do you think it is sort of innovating or building?
Unknown Speaker [4:29]
Yeah, so it’s so change is the super category, the superset and subsets of transformation changing one thing into another. So that’s largely the consulting universe, building from scratch here, this is invention. So another type of change. When we talk about innovation, we’re almost always talking about groups of people engage in creative processes, to create something that’s new and useful. So an iPhone is more innovative than a ham sandwich. Why because not only is it new, it Also useful
David Ralph [5:01]
Alaba ham sandwich, so you can’t be a ham sandwich. Oh, indeed, when you are looking at beings to challenge yourself, I’m intrigued by this, because it’s very easy quick. Well, it’s not easy. It’s very hard creating a business, but actually explaining what that business does in a sort of strapline is sort of very difficult and people will fiddle around with, with this sort of the mission statement for many, many years until it becomes clear to them. Now with yours, how would you actually explain innovation to companies? So they go up? Yeah, we want you with us? How do you actually explain your mission?
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [5:45]
Yeah, so typically, with companies, they’re, they’re pretty far along before they invite us to come in. So the CEO has already given the speech about innovation, the people in the organisation who have taken them seriously and said, Oh, they want innovation, let’s start trying to do new things, they all get fired. Because of course, they change inside of a large company, what you ask for it, and then you get it, and it’s not what you expect. So there’s a bit of a bit of chaos that happens when large organisations that have been around a long time begin down the innovation journey, and to begin to try to be an innovative organisation. There’s a lot of sort of challenges they hit along the way. And so there, there’s a style with which you hear stories from those organisations. But by the time we’re in touch, they’re typically putting innovation, tangible metrics of innovation into their training programmes. And so they’re saying, Okay, our managers need to be able to not just nurture people’s productivity, they need to be able to nurture people’s creativity, that’s a specific thing. They want to teach their managers that falls into the innovation umbrella. They might think that their executives that are directors need to be able to manage multiple change projects at once, not only is there one new product, or several, and we’re pushing into new markets, there’s a lot of change going on all at once they need to manage a portfolio of change initiatives. That’s another specific skill a little bit higher up the hierarchy. So depending on what organisations need, they’ll come to us. I think, if I could talk about our mission for a second, I think the thing that I learned and doing my work, because I’ve engaged with business leaders and large enterprises, I’ve been in the room with NASA scientists, when they’re thinking about the search for life beyond Earth, and thinking about how they might improve it. And been in the room design their conferences, worked with them, you know, hit the ground running with them. And in, in all those years, I’ve learned that creativity, innovation is not just for people with big budgets, people with shiny laboratories, it’s for all of us, we all have tough problems. That with a little bit of imagination, and creativity we could solve, you’re trying to teach your kids healthy eating habits or self reliance, you are trying to grow your small business, you are trapped at home during a pandemic and you’re single and you’re looking for love. These are all things that a little bit of creativity could go a long way in helping solve. So what’s going on in the brain, when people at large organisations or in the sciences are being innovative, the creativity they’re using to try to build synthetic cells are launch swarms of toaster sized satellites into space and all this other stuff. That sounds incredible. It’s the same neurons firing in your brain, when you’re trying to solve whatever everyday Innovation Challenge is presented to you
David Ralph [8:31]
to see if we delay innovation challenges you listed excited me i but like searching for life beyond Earth, I think what’s the point? What what is the point? Really, I don’t see the point in that, but all the little things about finding love, but they sort of excite me. So wouldn’t it be totally the wrong person? Because I do have a sort of switch off, but I think it’s never gonna happen. If there’s no you know, we’ve seen et nothing’s gonna ever come down otherwise it would have done already.
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [9:04]
Yeah, so I don’t have a clearance. So if there’s anything top secret, and I would have no exposure to it, that
David Ralph [9:13]
says you didn’t go into area 51 or anything like that.
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [9:16]
I don’t have that kind of access. But I did work with sort of top astrobiologists in the country and there, they are very hopeful that you know, on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and on Mars, perhaps they can find what’s called extant life, or extinct life. So they’re talking about life that’s still alive or signs of, of life that was alive a long time ago. So it’s quite possible they’ll find molecules in the dirt on Mars, that are signs that something was alive there a long time ago. The moons of Jupiter and Europa. Some of them are what are called ice giants. So we can observe them with a telescope. We can look at them, and we can see that they’re the crust the out Side of the Moon is all ice. And using a variety of math and physics and other scientific sort of observations, they’re guessing that those moons are liquid on the inside. So there’s a liquid ocean, covered by an a crust of ice on the surface. And because they orbit, these very large planets, Jupiter and Saturn are gigantic. These moons do this oscillating thing, imagine putting a little bit of pressure on a basketball or on a soccer ball, and seeing the way it’s sort of in dense, so they do this little bit of oscillation. And that provides energy. So if you have energy and liquid water, in theory, you could have a life now that the experiment here would be they want to drive a they want to fly a robot a probe, they want to fly a probe past one of those moons. And when these moons oscillate, they crack in the surface. And we’ve seen in photographs from telescopes, we’ve seen like geysers spring off the surface of these, these planets, we’re seeing ice and liquid water spew through that crust into space. And so the idea is to fly a probe by there, capture some of that water and check what’s in it. And if you find any kind of bacterial looking stuff in there, or any kind of really any kind of very complicated chemistry, you’d have a signal that there’s there’s life there, that doesn’t necessarily mean a little green men with spaceships. But if we find sort of bacteria on other worlds, or something approximating microscopic life like bacteria, that would be tremendous. That would be very exciting. But I don’t think it would change your day to day I think you still need to find love and you know, raise your kids and all the
David Ralph [11:44]
rest. I stayed really quiet there, Costa and I was thinking a little green men. That’s all we want little green men and flying saucers, I don’t want a sponge or small plan, I want that I want something big. Now, one of the things that interests me with innovation, and innovation often walked into the world of madness, but normal people can’t keep up with. Now, I’m always fascinated about quantum physics. It really intrigues me. And I’ve tried my hardest to stay with these clever people. And I go, Yeah, I’m with you. I’m with you. I love what you’re saying here. No, I’ve gone. I’ve gone. So when you’re working with these people, and they are very, very brainy people, how do you stay on track with them? How do you bring innovation into it when they’re going into areas that may be just like me your brain can’t cope with.
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [12:39]
So I do my best to stay scientifically literate, are in the case of working with businesses to understand their business models and their industries as best I can. So So I do, I do put an effort forth there. But there is a pretty good, dark line between the content of the innovation and the process of innovation. So the best way to explain this is, is a quick model. So in order to be innovative, this model is from Teresa Amabile. A she talks about creativity. She’s a researcher at Harvard, in order to be creative, she distinguishes three buckets of things that you need. One is domain skills, if you’re going to innovate in quantum physics, right? If you’re going to discover new things, you need to be an expert in that field, you’re not going to do it from outside the field. You need requisite motivation. And typically this is intrinsic motivation. It’s not because somebody paid you or because someone’s threat threatening you. It’s typically because you’re genuinely curious about the subject matter. So you have this intrinsic motivation, you have domain expertise. But it turns out, that’s not enough. You also need creativity skills, you need the imagination, you need the ability to use feedback, to improve your ideas. You need to test and look at your test results and iterate your design you need these are the the the horizontal skills, so to speak, because they spread across lots of different vertical industries. So that stuff, the creative thinking skills. That’s where our expertise is in my organisation. And it’s quite distinct from the content. There was an example of a workshop. This is not run by me it was run by a colleague of mine. They ran the workshop in, in English, like the instructions were all in English. And then all of the work was done in French participants were all French, I think it was for Procter and Gamble in France. I don’t I don’t quite remember the client. But the instructions were delivered in English so the participants could understand English but all the little group works and all the breakouts that happened and all the activities that happened in the room were done in French. And then judging on the energy level in the room, or how unhappy they were to end a certain activity. They’re wanting more time in a particular activity that was happening, judging from those kinds of cues, the facilitator As my colleagues in this case, we’re able to guide the creative process. So sometimes you don’t even need to literally speak the same language in order to manage creative process. That’s how distinct it is from the content.
David Ralph [15:12]
You have to love it. I imagine you have to be intrigued by it.
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [15:19]
Yes, yeah, to do the consulting work, you have to love the creativity itself. I think what’s really wonderful for participants is for anybody looking to use their creativity to solve problems, is that creativity is natural. So if I were to sit down one on one with somebody, and they had any kind of challenge, I didn’t, my, my kids are messy, I get my kids to be neat. How do I do that? All right, this enormous thing, you get, you know, you go look for a book from an expert, but not experts, right. But kids generically, here’s know your kids and their particular, like, you know, evils when it comes to, you know, messing up everything in the house, or whatever the challenge is, if I were to sit down one on one with somebody with that type of a challenge, the process, I would walk them through the way in which I would help them be more creative, in facing that challenge is completely synonymous with the way I might do it with an executive at a company or with a scientist in an organisation. And I can give you some of the things I do. So one is, you distinguish between generating ideas on how to solve a problem, exploring the possibilities, trying to understand the challenge, that’s the these are all divergent objects in the in the creative process. So you want to come up with lots of possibilities. And then you want to use your critical thinking to narrow it down and figure out which ones are most important to focus on. So there’s this pairing of creative thinking and critical thinking, and the critical thinking most people have, because of their work life, because of school, people are quite good critical thinkers. But if your judgement is high, if you’re in this critical thinking mode, but you’re, you’re trying to do the creative thing, which is come up with a lot of ideas on how to help my kids be more neat, or try and come up with a lot of possible reasons that they’re missing in the first place. So whether you’re trying to understand the problem, or develop ideas for solutions, there’s an exploration phase. And if you have your critical thinking piqued, during that, you just can’t come up with a lot of ideas. This is writer’s block, means your judgement is on while you’re trying to be generative and creative. You’re you’re stepping on the gas and the brake at the same time. And what I can do for people when I’m in the room one on one is just, I can do little silly psychological priming, to get them to take the foot off the brake, to get them to stop judging, and just write down a bunch of ideas come up with 100, it doesn’t matter all all ideas are bad ideas, when you first have them, just write a bunch of them down. And in that way they have this, like, if you can write down a bunch of different ideas, and you have 50 of them written down on paper, then you can take that judgement backup, you can think critically look at those and go, a few of these are really good. and I are worth testing out with my kids. Let’s try this one on Monday. Let’s try this one on Wednesday, you know, and then you can you can move along the process. So one of the things that’s really important, is separate creative thinking and critical thinking. And when you’re doing the creative thinking part of solving a problem, reduce judgement, like to just suspend, don’t judge anything, just come up with lots of ideas, or just come up with lots of possibilities on what’s causing the problem, then go back later and apply the critical thinking to try and laser focus down on one or two things.
David Ralph [18:39]
Because I paraphrase Captain Jack Sparrow, a lot, Jack, Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean, because he says the problem is not the problem. The problem is the way you think about the problem. And so that parent with a messy kid, I would say to them, you’ve got to, you know, separate yourself from that messiness. And think about it in a different way. I’ll give you an example. My kids use wine me up terribly by just leaving plates and bags of crisps around all over the place. And I used to come into a room and they just get up and walk away and they’d be there. And I used to think to myself, This is driving me mad, I need to, you know, do something about this. So I tried to get them to do it. And they wouldn’t, they wouldn’t. In the end, I started getting them and putting it up in their bedrooms. And so actually taking the place and stuff and putting them in their bedrooms and saying, Well, why are you doing that I was like, because it’s now harder for you to take them back downstairs. And then we got to a point where they weren’t taking him downstairs. So we were running out of plates. I then went another way. And I always looked at a different way of sort of separating my my obsession by the annoyance to actually challenge it was Captain Jack Sparrow in perfect working order.
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [19:54]
That’s hilarious. That’s incredible.
David Ralph [19:58]
Not bad. Let’s listen to some good Well, I’m incredible Jim Carrey,
Jim Carrey [20:02]
my father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [20:29]
Now, I’m always intrigued by that statement, and I play it literally every show, because it’s very easy to do what you love. But more than not people don’t know what they love. They just kind of stumbled into things. When did you realise that this was actually it sounds like your legacy piece. This is something that really has got your teeth into you. And when When did you realise that this was the love work?
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [20:52]
Yeah. I have the, the, I have the lucky benefit and curse that I’m Greek. And so my ancestors were philosophers. And they asked this question to themselves. They asked the question, Who am I? Rather than the question we asked these days, which is what do I want? It’s just such a consumerist sort of central question you start with what do I want? To get whatever you want? This is a shallow consumers question. Who are you? is so much deeper, harder to answer far more relevant? And it’s a hard question. I mean, it takes 10 years, or something like that, to begin to have truthful answers. And if you’re pursuing that question with courage. So for me, I think I had the benefit of that orientation of being more interested in who I was, what my purpose in the world was more than what I wanted, in terms of lifestyle or career. I think I had a decent orientation. And what happened over time, and a lot of this happen in reflection, and I can pick moments out of the past, but the truth is that the learning was done in reflection years later, looking backward. But there was one moment in gymnastics, I grew up as a competitive gymnast, not like Olympic level or anything like that. We were pretty mediocre. But we loved it. And we worked super hard, you know, we’re we work to achieve at our level. And, you know, I started too late 14 years old, and I was too tall for the sport. And they told me I couldn’t do certain things. And one of those things I really wanted to do, which was a backflip over the high bar. So you swing around the high bar, you let go at the top, you do a backflip and then you catch the bar again a little difficult to describe in words, but it’s called a Kovacs named after the first gentleman who did it. And tests work in the skill for a year and never caught it just kept working at it. And and then one day, it happened. I asked someone to pump the music up jumped on the bar chalk in the in the air swung around a couple times Lego top flipped over, reached my arms out, I don’t even think I was looking for the bar and the bar was in my hands. And I swung around. And I had done it. And I came off the bar and two of my friends tackled me and beat the crap out of me, this is how we celebrate achievements. It’s gymnastics as a really, really beautiful moment. And the lesson that stayed with me from then, and then life taught me this lesson again and again and again, in a variety of ways was that anything is possible. And anything is possible, good or bad. So the example I shared as good one that’s anything is possible. So you should try to do incredible things. And then in other ways anything is possible, like you could be blindsided by some terrible tragedy on a random Tuesday. So be ready for it. And this idea stayed with me. So so this is me. And in my story, anything is possible has been a through line. And what I do when I work with scientists, what really excites me about that work is that they are pursuing new possibilities. The new discoveries that scientists make boil down and become new technologies when engineers get a hold of them. And then entrepreneurs take those new technologies and make iPhones and the rest of the magical stuff in our in our society. And it’s 100 year process. So quantum mechanics is 1920s information technology revolution starts in the 50s or 60s. And then the the the iPhone or the internet show up in the 90s or the 2000s. So we’re talking about an 80 year cycle from scientific discovery to like meaningful market disruption. So getting the chance to work with scientists and create some new possibilities has been very cool. Same with businesses and the entrepreneurial side of that equation. I think there are other ways that I am finding that it’s really fulfilling as well. I’ve gotten into free diving over the last several years. And free diving is breath hold diving. So it’s like scuba diving, except you don’t take an error with you take a deep breath, you go down, come back up, don’t take too long, and free divers. So I can dive to 30 metres now, which is about 100 feet for the Americans.
The world record holders are diving to 130 metres, a second thing like that, which is just over 400 feet, which is absolutely insane to do on one breath. So the fact that’s possible is mind blowing. The thing that’s crazy is when people do their level one class, and when I did mine, I went from a breath hold of 57 seconds to two minutes 15 I went from a my deepest dive just 25 feet, I got to 70 feet, that’s on the first day. And what’s happening is the instructor is sharing certain techniques with you, that tap into your natural ability, in the case of free diving into the mammalian diving reflex that’s built into you, and the results that you can achieve just double or triple, just with simple instruction. Never mind if you actually work at it, you know, over the years. And the fact that that’s always been inside of you is it’s incredible to me, it’s it’s what lights me up, creativity is the same way. Everyone is creative, we are born creative, we are born adventurous, risk seeking little creatures, we lose our creativity, some a little somewhere along the way. Because, you know, someone said we sing badly or to shush, or they said our painting was ugly or, or we took 100 math tests. And by the 100th math test, you’re just not even tapping into your creativity anymore. You’re so focused on conformity and critical thinking and other modes. So I think the through line for me has been that anything is possible. And that’s good or bad. And then the way that I’ve expressed that over time has been to help people use their creativity use their creativity, to make new possibilities happen. And that thing that really excites me is that it’s it’s inbuilt. It’s natural to all of us. And with a little bit of help, you can pull it out, and you can absolutely transform things in your life.
David Ralph [27:20]
We’re talking to Costa and Mechon leaders and we’ll be back after these words. Over the last few years Join Up Dots has consistently been earning a multiple six figure income in the easiest way possible through using the power of podcast. Now working just a few hours per week, we have the ability to spend more time with our family and then we probably would really like can take off months at a time. And we always know there’s a stream of clients waiting for our services. Now if you’d like to learn how to make a profitable, stress free business that works when you want to work and delivers the income you want, then join me for a free deep dive into what makes our business so successful. Head over to join up dots.com forward slash podcast secrets and book your place on this free business masterclass. That’s join up dots.com forward slash podcast secrets. Now one of the things you was talking about Costa that intrigued me was, was it the Kovacs de de de backflip on the parallel bar was that was it he was called?
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [28:22]
Yes, yes. On the high bar. Yeah. On
David Ralph [28:25]
the high bar now a intrigues me greatly because I was watching a documentary that was recommended by a listener of the show about Tony Hawk, the skateboarder and when I was watching him tried to do his tricks, he would just plummet into concrete plummet into concrete just keep on just smashing himself to pieces until he managed to do it and I was watching him thinking there’s no guide here. There’s no anything for him to follow other than thinking it’s possible. And the ability to say if I fail 1000 times, but I get up 1001 times I’ve succeeded. Now that struck me as similar with that flip. You’re doing it you’re doing it you’re doing it you must have ploughed into the mats ploughed into the mats ploughed into the mats all the time. What was it that kept you going back? What were where was the bloody mindedness to think I can achieve this.
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [29:20]
Man, what a hard question. I don’t I don’t claim to have an accurate psychological answer to this. But my best guess is, I’m a stubborn Greek. And someone told me I couldn’t. And if you tell me I can’t do something, it’s as good as done. So I think that’s what it boiled down to at the end of the day. It was also fun. I enjoyed the process. This is another huge lesson. Enjoy the process. And so in gymnastics, there’s a little paper sign on the door of the gym when we were in the armoury in Queens in New York City. So there’s this old like it’s a fort And it’s a national landmarks, you can’t really, you know, adjust the building or anything like that. But the ceilings weren’t high enough in the YMCA. So they sent us down the road to this fort and the back of the fort was where we did gymnastics. So the North Queens task force that sort of police to do drug buffs and stuff like that they had the front and we had the back, and their glass doors on the way in and out a little paper, eight and a half by 11, scotch taped to the back of the door, it said, Welcome to gymnastics enjoy the process. And our coaches took that very seriously. And there was a lot of blood, sweat and tears, it was hard work was, oh, shoot, it’s harder work than I think I’ve done in any other context. You’re facing your fears every day, if you let go of the high bar a little bit too early or a little bit too late, you’re gonna take a steel pipe to the ribs, or to the ankles, because you got to have good timing, or, or just crash once in a while, which you do, everybody hits the bar at some point, or the mat or crunches an ankle or, you know, there’s risk that comes with the territory. And I think, if you don’t enjoy it, like even the hard parts, it’s really hard to keep going. And so on some days when you weren’t necessarily enjoying it, it was just never give up. So it was it was just plain stubbornness. It’s like, well, I promised I would do this. So I’m going to, that’s never give up. But on most days, I think we were enjoying the process of working hard, trying new things, laughing at each other, celebrating the the occasional win, and so forth. So I think those two things, you have to enjoy the process. And then if you can’t, and you’re just in a rut, and it’s a tough day, great, then you have to never give up. Because if you do give up, well, then well, then you have certainly lost, you have certainly departed from your dreams.
David Ralph [31:51]
And well, what do you think about the the thing that you see, sometimes when people don’t give up? They should do you know, they’re going for something that is never going to work? But they’re so passionate about it, but they can’t see, you know, they can’t see the wood for the trees?
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [32:10]
Yeah, I think it’s so you know, it gets really difficult to parse things apart. So you say never give up never be a quitter, unless you’re trying to quit smoking. And then it’s absolutely a good idea to quit smoking. So it’s hard to parse around the semantics. I think we understand the spirit of things quite well. But I think your question about I’m sorry, give it to me once more. It’s about a table who
David Ralph [32:34]
people are usually well, more often than not, you see things you think you just throwing money away is never going to go somewhere, you know, it could be that the markets not right, it could be a it could be many different reasons. And they should give up, but they don’t because they’re too passionate about it. And you see people go on to you know, we got Dragon’s Den, yours is called Shark Tank. And they’ve got stupid ideas. And the everyone’s sits there and I tell them a stupid idea. But they still go and rent out the house and rent out the wife and just try to keep going on this thing, you know, where a lot of time, it’s to step away from the idea and think, Okay, how do I pivot it? How do I typed that, that slightly in a different direction to make something that is valuable?
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [33:24]
Yes. So two different, two different comments here. One is, if you’re trying to be creative and get to an outcome, and you are you have an idea along the way. So let’s say what’s important to you is entrepreneurial success. And so you have a business idea. And you’re working on that business idea. And it’s not a very good one. Now you’re married to the idea, if you’re married to the idea, what you really care about is the outcome, then you need to be able to let go of that idea or allow it to change every idea is a terrible idea at first. They really are even though is it seem really good and really shiny, they’re bad to no idea is ready for reality. Once it’s born, right? They all need development. They all need to become more elaborate that you need to weigh pros and cons need to test out different aspects of the idea. You need to expand on it and build it like anything else we build creative ideas for solutions to problems need work. So yeah, you can’t get married to the idea you have to be able to make pivots. The other answer is if you’re doing something and it’s the thing itself that you love and care about, like if you’re a musician and you love music, and you just love playing music, you love listening to music, this is what you love. You can’t imagine doing anything else. Even if you’re not going to succeed even if that’s your fate, or the music’s that bad or nobody likes the genre you’re interested or whatever it is, even if that’s not going to make you you know a millionaire someday. If you love the music, if this is what you love, then do it. Do it because you love it, don’t do it for some something that’s, you know, on the other side of it, like don’t do it for, for an extrinsic motive, don’t do it because you want to get something out of it, if they get something out of it is what you want, then you have to be able to pivot and change and try different approaches, until something works. If it’s the thing itself that you love, then great.
David Ralph [35:21]
It’s interesting, because when I started podcasting, eight, nine years ago, it was to become a millionaire. You know, I just thought, Okay, this is easy. I could do this, I can talk for a living, I used to do it bang with a rock up. And then it got into that slog stage of actually just producing podcast after podcast after podcast isn’t fun. And so I had to find the love in the grind, basically. And I started looking at how to get audio as perfect as possible, but as easy as possible. And I started looking at our to why some podcasts really work well and others don’t. And I found the love in the fascination of what works and what doesn’t work more than the actual task itself. When I first started it, I thought I’d be a radio host basically, and you know, make a living based on that. The Love came later. And it was born into the fascination of the process more than actually doing it.
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [36:21]
Yeah, absolutely. I had a similar experience with with my job entrepreneurially. So I was doing work at no innovation, which by the way is K and O W innovation works better written down. The company is run by a Brit. So you’ve got some kinship there. So I was working with scientists, helping them use creativity to solve wicked hard problems in science, really interesting stuff. But I wasn’t feeling it feel very passionate about my work at the time. It was cool when it was new, and then a few years and it was like, Alright, this is getting old, what do I really want to do? And I was looking at other entrepreneurial things. And at some point, ask myself, Is it okay? If I get guaranteed success? What’s the other thing I would want to do? And it’s like, work with scientists to make really cool new things. Like, damn it, like I already have it, like all I have to do is about face like, this is what I want to do. Like if I had a blank sheet of paper, this is what I would write down. And so there’s a lot of passion that came from my job. When I realised that I was like, Oh, my God, this is awesome. Why don’t I appreciate this for, for how cool it is?
David Ralph [37:27]
And why didn’t you? Why didn’t you appreciate it?
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [37:30]
I don’t know, it’s really hard to parse that out. Maybe because it was the same thing again. And again, there’s variety in my work, because the science changes, which is it’s really beautiful to have variety in your work. But my work though, the part that I do is largely the same each time. And so it might have been that I wasn’t experiencing personal growth. I wasn’t feeling like my capabilities were changing over time, which is totally valid concern, but I couldn’t see any of that.
David Ralph [37:58]
And when you feel it, is it like a you know, is it liberation? Or do you feel slightly stupid, but you’ve been torturing yourself for a period when it’s in front of you?
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [38:12]
Yeah, I stopped feelings stupid about or self doubt, or those kinds of things that impostor syndrome through two or three different experiences in my life. But by the third one, I was like, Okay, no more impostor syndrome, no more feeling dumb. Like, let’s stop having emotions, about our emotions, about our emotions, like, it’s okay to like feel joy about something joyous, sad about something sad, curious about something curious, but there’s no reason to have feelings about how you dealt with something like all that. Like self doubt, self pity. self consciousness, like those things, were not helping me. They were just driving a bunch of insecurity. So I kind of dropped that a lot. So it’s hard for me lately to talk about feeling, feeling stupid, like, dropped all that and I hope others around me do as well. We should all just enjoy the work.
David Ralph [39:03]
Oh, I read something about you. And I thought I understand this. And it really spoke to me. And I think it was the reason why I asked you to come on the show. And it was something like the biggest lesson you’ve ever learned in in entrepreneurship is about falling in love with the value you give to your clients. It’s about providing more and more value to your clients. And that was the bit when the world span on its axis and you thought this is it. This is what the secret to success is for me.
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [39:34]
Yeah, I think the the advice for entrepreneurs that the the best entrepreneurial stories, the best entrepreneurial successes, the best products and services out there. They all come from entrepreneurs who fell in love with their audience, their customers and the problem their customers were trying to solve. It’s that genuine interest in solving the customer’s problem at a very deep level. That makes for Fantastic entrepreneurship that moves the world forward. Yeah, I can’t say enough praise for that orientation.
David Ralph [40:09]
A seems too easy, though, doesn’t it about, the more value you add to your clients, the more you kind of love the process, because at the beginning, it is all about just paying the bills. You know, I look back on what I did 30 days, a lot of it was crap. But I just thought, Oh, it was a bit of money. That’s fine, you know, extend that runway a couple of months. But now, I don’t do anything unless I know that it’s going to really deliver the value because then the clients come back to again and again and again. And it makes it easy.
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [40:44]
David Ralph [40:47]
That was so profound, you can’t add anything to it. So I’m going to, I’m going to bring the words of Steve Jobs into life, he created the show back in 2005. Let’s hear his words.
Steve Jobs [40:58]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards, 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [41:33]
Now I’m interested about the well worn path and off the well worn path because something I’ve been focusing in on a lot recently, is the thought of as a right path and as a wrong path. And because we’re so unique, unbelievably you we shouldn’t ever compare to anybody else, we should just do what feels right. That’s the bit that leads you to make the right decisions. Do you create your lifestyle and your path based on feelings? Or is it a sort of a conscious decision?
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [42:09]
I think for me, I I follow that advice as best I can. I’ve heard those words from Steve Jobs before. So I definitely think I follow what I’m passionate about and interested in. I do recognise that that advice or that orientation isn’t necessarily best for everybody, which is fine. There’s an alternate approach that I think is really valuable, and a lot of people engage with, which is figure out what you’re really good at, do that for money. And then you know, have lots of hobbies or you know, do wonderful things with your family or whatever it is that gives you passion and joy, you know, do that elsewhere. And I think it’s it’s an equally viable path. I do however, for me, like I can speak personally hear the forget who the quote is, for most men lives, live lives of quiet desperation. When I go down the other path, the okay just do the job you’re good at for money and forget about what you’re passionate about. Like when I do that I feel a quiet sense of desperation. I feel like there’s something more I can do. And that feeling is too strong to ignore. So for me, I absolutely walk down the path of what I’m passionate about what I love. And so far so good. It hasn’t, it hasn’t been easy, but nothing ever worth doing was
David Ralph [43:32]
easy. That’s the early days, was it passion, or was it just money.
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [43:40]
In the early days, it was passion. Money came later and was tempting to sort of just, you know, just pursue money because it’s here now and you’re getting you know, you’re a high high price consultant, just do the consulting work and go buy stock and you know, retire early. So that was a temptation. Definitely didn’t go that route. Yeah, what I think is important to hear as well is to recognise that everybody pays their dues. Very, very, very few people are lucky and are really successful, young and stay very successful forever. Most people pay their dues, the overwhelming majority, nearly everybody pays their dues. And that’s whether you choose the corporate path, or you choose to be an entrepreneur, you choose to follow your passion or do what you’re good at for money, all of the paths. Start by paying your dues. So if you finish college and you go to university, I’m sorry, if you finish university and you go to your entry level job, you’re gonna work long hours and not get paid very much and you can’t really save up money and those first two years are going to feel like a waste. But that’s you paying your dues and gathering up the experience. You need to begin climbing a corporate ladder, you know, and making it inside of an organisation or transferring to a different one with the experience you have and taking on a managerial role and pursuing your career path. If you do Used to be entrepreneurial. You were gonna live in your mother’s basement for the first few years. Your first venture second venture, third venture, fourth venture are all going to fail. I’m ballparking here on the numbers, but everybody pays their dues in one form or another. You don’t get to skip that part. And it’s probably just that we don’t get to skip that part.
David Ralph [45:21]
That’s the bit when people give up. That’s, you know, you spinning head over heels Tony Hawk, trying these tricks trying these tricks. A lot of people won’t look and go, Yeah, I need this to work in six weeks. I need this to work in whatever.
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [45:39]
Yeah, that’s true. And I don’t want to disparage those who, who would give up? Yeah, if you put someone else in my shoes, they might have given up sooner than than I did at what I was trying. But if you put me in their shoes, at whatever it is, they they were trying, I might give up sooner, or if if they live a really chill laid back life, and they like that life. If you put me in their shoes, I might go crazy. I might go stir crazy or get cabin fever. So it’s perfectly relevant to recognise that that we’re different. And there there are some people who will work a normal nine to five job and like, really enjoy the video games they play and not regret a minute of it. And it’s, that’s probably okay, it’s not my flavour of life, but it’s probably okay.
David Ralph [46:32]
Let’s move you on to the end of the show. And this is better. We’ve been building up to what we called a sermon on the mic when we’re going to send you back in time to have a one on one with the younger version of yourself Kosta? And if you could go into a room and you could meet him? What advice would you like to give him? Well, we’re going to find out because I’m going to play the music and when it fades is your time to talk. This is the Sermon on the mic
here we go with the birth of the show sermon on
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [47:19]
life is going to be into your soul a single lesson. One Truth anything is possible. So no matter how dark, desperate and helpless things become, there is always hope. There is always away. Never give up.
David Ralph [47:45]
Enjoy the process. Yeah, Rick Astley said that never give up. And he was right. He was right. So at Costco, what is the best way that our audience can connect with you.
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [47:57]
So the best thing to do is go to innovation bound.com/ 101. That’s our innovation 101 course, it’s currently on discount, it’s an in development. So as an early bird, you jump in, you get to shape the course, it’s a discounted price to start. And that’s probably the best best place to find me. If you’re on social media, I’m at ideas and action and innovation bound is at Innovation bound. So I think we’re on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram,
David Ralph [48:28]
and you’re on Join Up Dots as well. And we’ll have all the links on the show notes to make it as easy as possible. Kosta, thank you so much for spending time with us today, joining up those dots. And please come back again, when you’ve got more dots to join up. Because I believe that by joining up those dots and connecting our past is actually the best way to build our futures Costa thank you so much.
Innovation Expert Costa Michailidis [48:49]
Thank you very much, sir.
David Ralph [48:52]
Mr. Costa Mecca leaders. So innovation, passion, creativity is all linked to playfulness. And playfulness was what we were good at when we were younger. And I saw something the other day and it said, you know, you don’t stop playing. When you get old, you get old because you stop playing. And I think that’s really important. And certainly the best work that I ever do is the work that doesn’t feel like work but I just enjoy myself. And so if you’re in a job and you’re thinking to yourself, you know I should be more playful, I should be getting more free time and or whatever. Think about it. How can you bring innovation in how can you become more creative? Can you change things around? Can you make it better? Instead of going so just how it’s always been done like this, change things around? Let us know very interested in that conversation. And hopefully you were to until next time, I look forward to connecting everybody on the podcast secrets masterclass that I’ll be running and also I’ll be recording loads more podcasts so I will see you again soon. Stay sexy and see you soon. Cheers. See ya. Bye bye.
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