You Have to Be Odd to Be Number One

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A few of my favorite quotes on being different:

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them, because they change things. They push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.– Steve Jobs

There are those that look at things the way they are and ask why; I dream of things that never were and ask, why not?–Robert F. Kennedy (paraphrasing George Bernard Shaw)

Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. –The Walt Disney Company

I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking. – Albert Einstein

An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all. – Oscar Wilde

An idea on your desk is yours; once it is on the wall it is everyone’s. – Dan Beaulieu

How do these quotes strike you? Do they make sense to you? Do you think they apply to you? To your company? To our industry?

I use these quotes and others like them in my training and presentations. I love quotes like these; I find them liberating and inspiring. They make me believe that anything is possible. They give me hope that there is always a better way, and that everything we know today can lead us to do things in a better way tomorrow.

But there is always someone in the room or in the audience who is a non-believer, one who refuses to believe that anything can get better; that there is no better way and that the way we did things in the sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties reflects the proven method of doing things and that there can never be a better way.

This person will say things like:

“New ideas might work in other industries, but they can never work in ours. Not in PCBs”

“Our industry is like no other industry. That’s just the way it is and there is nothing we can do about it.”

“If we did things this new way (whatever the new way is), this would happen (some horrible thing that he made up), so we should never even try this new way.”

“We tried that in 1973 and it didn’t work so why should it work now?”

Or my personal favorite:

“There is nothing new to be done in our industry; it is too basic…just build the boards and shut up. Forget about any new ways of doing anything, it has all been tried and failed. Our product is a commodity and we just cannot sell it any way but like a commodity.”

Don’t you just love these? Just go back for a minute and compare the quotes at the beginning of this column to the ones I just cited. What a difference, right? Which quotes would you rather believe in? Which world would you rather live in?

To those who say there is no room for innovation because what we sell is a commodity, I would dare ask them if shoes are a commodity. Certainly shoes are more of a commodity product than printed circuits right? I would then ask to go to Those people found a new, exciting, innovative way to sell shoes? Shoes! What is more a commodity item than shoes? Certainly not PCBs!

Or how about eyeglasses? That’s a pretty basic item isn’t it? There cannot be a new way to produce and sell eyeglasses, right? Right. Go check out Warby Parker.

Or books? You know this one…Amazon. Or clothing…the examples are too numerous to list here.

People are coming up with new and innovative ways to sell everything under the sun, and they are doing so with the clear vision and bold determination of those who refuse to look back, those who have a complete belief and conviction that they can actually change the world and make it a better place.

Where are our innovators? Where are our different ones? Where are those in our industry who would rather see things as they could be and ask why not? They are coming. Yes, they are on their way and I must warn you they are going to come right out of college or even high school and they are going to think differently…they are going to look at the way we are doing things today and have been for 50 years and ask why, and then they will look for a better way. Make way for the crazy ones.

It’s only common sense.









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