I’m writing this post at 25,000 feet on a flight from Baltimore to San Antonio. While waiting for us to get past 10,000 feet so I could turn on my MacBook Air to do some work, I picked up the ever-present SkyMall catalog.
If you’ve never seen one of these, they’re really quite amazing. Everything you can imagine to solve a problem or make life more convenient is offered for sale. Just scanning through the pages, I found the following “can’t miss” items:
- The Thundershirt (a compression garment to put on your dog so they won’t freak out during thunderstorms)
- Gravity Defyer – shoes with springs built into the heel so you can stand up longer without hurting your back.
- MeshWerx – a small board with spandex straps that holds all of your pens, nail files, keys, etc. and keeps them organized inside your purse or carry-on bag.
- LitterKwitter – a system for toilet training your cat
- The FastFinger Alphabetical keyboard – for those dinosaurs who still “hunt and peck” when typing.
- The Sand-Free Multi-Mat – so you won’t have to deal with sand getting all over your towel at the beach.
What’s interesting about the SkyMall catalog is that somebody somewhere came up with these ideas. It’s the innovation of it all that really impresses me. It’s as if somebody is thinking about what annoys me now and what might annoy me in the future. Powerful stuff.
I wonder if that’s something all of us could do? If so, wouldn’t it really improve your value and make you irreplaceable at work? Think about it:
- What problems are we facing right now at work or in our industry that could be solved by something that nobody’s ever thought of before?
- What is our competitor doing right now that we could improve on?
- What problem isn’t even an issue now but could become one in the next 3-5 years? What could we do to solve it?
- What are we doing really well right now that could be made even better or more relevant?
I’m sure these are the same kinds of questions the innovators who have their products in the SkyMall Catalog have thought of. If you think everything that can be invented is already done, think again. After all, the SkyMall Catalog is updated nearly every month and I’m always seeing new products in addition to the old ones.
All of us can add value to our companies by becoming strategic, out-of-the-box problem-solvers. It just means asking “why” more often and putting ourselves in the minds of our customers and audiences.
Take some time this week to look at what you’re doing and think of ways to make it better and more efficient. Creative and more valuable. Innovative and more affordable. It’s the best way to build and maintain your place in the market and your job security!
Now if only I could invent a system to automatically smack the person sitting behind you on an airplane that pulls himself up out of the seat by grabbing onto your headrest!