October 25, 2019

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*This piece was originally published on March 15th, 2019.

Obsessed with work, insensitive, socially detached, and neglectful of family and friends. Those may not be the most endearing qualities, but they are just a few of the common characteristics that longtime innovation researcher, Melissa Schilling found when studying some of the world’s most famous and prolific inventors in the fields of science and technology.

Schilling, a professor of management and organizations at New York University’s Stern School of Business, explores the ingenuity of eight outstanding innovators, including Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and more. She’s the author of, “Quirky: The Remarkable Story of the Traits, Foibles, and Genius of Breakthrough Innovators Who Changed the World.”

Three Takeaways:

  • We can’t all be famous creative geniuses, but much can be achieved by parents, teachers, and managers to “nurture the innovation potential that lies within us all” and to build self-efficacy, says Schilling. She believes there is a lot to learn from the “quirky” traits of Benjamin Franklin, Dean Kamen, Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, and the other famous innovators she has researched.
  • What does it take to be one of the world’s great innovators? Rule number one: there are no rules. According to Schilling, to be a breakthrough innovator often means going against social norms and not worrying about what other people think of you. Steve Jobs was no fan of deodorant or license plates, she explains.
  • It takes a “weird tolerant world” to appreciate breakthrough innovators, Schilling says. She thinks schools, businesses and other organizations should try to embrace outliers and “crazy ideas” to encourage innovation.

More Reading:

Albert Einstein, Sci and Tech, Marie Curie, Thomas Edison, Melissa Schilling, Quirky, innovation

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