Back To All Stories
Josh Linker - image for blog

GREAT IDEAS: Disciplined Dreaming by Josh Linkner

Jazz musician and tech entrepreneur coaches us in creativity

Jazz is a wonderful teacher for business.  You have to play brilliantly, beautifully, without all the notes on the page. You have to think on your feet, shine independently, but also listen to your colleagues.  Josh says Jazz is rather dangerous. You have to learn how to recover from failure quickly.

Instead of “Idea, Develop, Sell”, try “Idea, Sell, Develop”. When Josh ran e-Prize, a promotions company, his team spent $7 million over two years developing one product idea that ultimately failed after launch. They did better once they started showing clients 10 ideas a month, and developing only the ones clients loved.

Creative people let go.  Josh interviewed 200 successful and innovative CEOs, thought leaders, musicians and heads of not-for-profits, and found commonality in their willingness to let go of the past in favour of the possible. Innovators don’t cling to what was - they lean it to what will be. They always prioritise creativity. And, if they fall seven times, they rise up eight.

Three Magic Questions and a success story.   When one of the founders of a start-up asked Why do socks come in a pair? Little MissMatched was born. The U.S. company has made millions selling mismatched socks in threes or fives. The three magic questions they asked were: Why? What if? and Why Not?  

5 Step programme:  Use this to solve problems creatively.  1. ASK (pick at the problem, obstacles and challenges) 2. PREPARE (prepare team and culture) 3. DISCOVER (before brainstorming, gather information) 4. IGNITE (bring new ideas to the surface, generate sparks) 5. LAUNCH (evaluate which merit further exploration).

Eight Commandments to print out and pin up to shut down the “idea police” - so fear doesn't stifle creativity:  
1.     Thou shall not judge
2.     Thou shall not comment
3.     Thou shall not edit
4.     Thou shall not execute
5.     Thou shall not worry
6.     Thou shall not look backwards
7.     Thou shall not lose focus
8.     Thou shall not sap energy
Great Eight:    
  1. Favourite book:  I’m an avid reader. Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win by William C. Taylor and Polly G. LaBarre; Linchpin by Seth Godin, and The Monk that sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma.
  2. If you could co-author a book with anyone, who would it be, and what would it be called?:  Co-authors: Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, also unsung jazz musicians. Each of us has unlimited sparks inside us. I’d like to do a book on that.
  3. Best Advice:  Ancient Chinese proverb. Chase two rabbits and both will escape.
  4. Best Quote: Man who says it can’t be done, should not interrupt man who’s doing it.
  5. What’s something about you we don’t know: I have four kids: two children in university and two in diapers. That’s a little bit crazy.  
  6. Daily ritual: Having time to reflect. When your head’s down you don’t notice the world around you. I try to have heads up time every day.
  7. Secret to success:  There’s not a silver bullet. Be a continuous learner. I always like to say I’m going to put the Josh of 6 months ago out of business with the Josh of today.
  8. Prediction for 2025: Machine learning, robotics, intelligent robots printing technology. But the hottest tech of all will be (human) creativity.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Josh Linkner – who started his career as a jazz guitarist - has been the founder and CEO of five tech companies, which sold for a combined value of over $200 million.

He is also a deeply experienced business leader, venture capitalist, top-rated keynote speaker, and author of four books, the New York Times bestsellers: Disciplined Dreaming and The Road to Reinvention, as well as his latest book, Hacking Innovation. And yes, he still plays a mean jazz guitar.

The Growth Faculty Members can view the full video interview by logging into the On Demand platform  View Josh Linkner's interview

If you are not currently a member of The Growth Faculty, click here to become a member to access our On Demand platform and discounts on LIVE events