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April 2008


In this Issue:


Note From Erik:

In this months Newsletter, I wanted to share something special. It is a review of an amazing book, “Innovate Like Edison”. I am friends with the author, who happens to be a direct descendant of the Edison family tree. It’s an insightful and inspiring book, and I need to share it with you because it brought me above the line in ways I never could have known. I hope you enjoy!

To Living Above the Line,


Above The Line Article:

Innovate Like Edison

By Erik Carlson

Innovate Like EdisonI love a good biography. When I can read of the lives of people doing extraordinary accomplishments, I get inspired. I also love a great motivational book, a book filled with tried and true principals that I can glean from to get better. “Innovate Like Edison” was written by Thomas Edison’s great grand niece, and a friend and colleague of mine, Sarah Caldicott Miller.

The thing I like about this book is the one-two punch; the combination of a great biography, combined with life principals spelled out for me that helped an ordinary man to invent thousands of patents, which economically impact the world today to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.

In these short paragraphs, I cannot do justice to the magic within the books pages, but here are a few bullet points I took from the book:

  • Edison’s Mission: “To surprise nature into a betrayal of her secrets by asking her the same question a hundred different ways” (I loved this!)
  • Edison’s Outlook on his fellow man: Edison was not just concerned with his inventions, but to “apply them for the happiness of man”. For example, his goal was to make a light bulb less expensive than a candle, so everyone could enjoy the gift.
  • Edison on Encouragement: Edison became a national figure; His efforts helped encourage the nation through tough times.
  • Edison on Failures: As many people know, Edison failed hundreds if not thousands of trials in his pursuit of solutions for his inventions. His attitude toward what many would call ‘failures’ is profound: The outcomes of Edison’s experiments were considered ‘Neutral’ by him and his team, rather than negative or positive. This is brilliant insight for business people or sales professionals today. If a sale goes south, or a customer complains, but the professional can learn from the experience, then it should not be viewed as negative, because it brings that professional closer to reaching his or her potential.
  • Edison draws from contemporary Winston Churchill: “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm” and “Resilience in the face of adversity is the greatest long-term predictor of success for individuals and organizations”
  • Edison on Goal Setting: Edison points out that a goal “must connect the emotional component with its rational component”. This dramatically enhances the likelihood that the goal will not be put aside, but actually be met with enthusiasm. I know for myself, I don’t set goals because they aren’t exciting. If I can intentionally set ones that I am emotionally attached to, I’ll get more excited about them, and will actually WANT to attack them.
  • Edison on Success: Edison claimed that he “continues to find my greatest pleasure, and so my reward, in the work that precedes what the world calls success.” This reminds me of the great John Wooden, the basketball wizard who won more NCAA basketball championships than any other coach, would continually claim during retirement, that he missed the practices more than the games. It’s not the destination, but the journey.

To further whet your appetite, the book is organized around Edison’s 5 competencies of Innovation:

  1. Solution-centered Mindset
  2. Kaleidoscopic Thinking
  3. Full-spectrum Engagement
  4. Master-mind Collaboration
  5. Super-value Creation

I like books like this, in which you can pick and choose your topic of interest; not having to necessarily read the book cover to cover to gain valuable lessons. I encourage you, if you work for a company that can use a kick in the pants in any of these 5 areas, or on innovation in general, to either share this book with your company, or better yet, to have Sarah come and speak to your company. She is available, and has an uncanny ability to share Edison’s approach, and tie it into 21st century challenges. That is her gift; not to mention being a descendant of the Edison family lineage.

Have a great month, and fight to stay above the line. We need you there!



Pathfinder Binder Cover

About Erik Carlson:

Erik Carlson is a sought after speaker and entertainer. His keynote topics blend the experiences and wisdom from his successful business career, and couples it with side splitting comedy magic that will leave your audience astonished and inspired.

Erik is the author and creator of his pathfinder self study course which is a step-by-step roadmap to discovering true prosperity in your career.

Watch Erik's Promo Video or book Erik for a speaking engagement.

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