We are builders.

We are solution architects, change catalysts, software developers, engineers, visual designers, illustrators, linguists, data miners, ethnographers, financial modelers, and a whole lot more.

We build because we believe each person can have a profound impact through unleashing their creativity. As Nikola Tesla said, “Every living being is an engine geared to the wheelwork of the universe.”

We are coaches.

We have been incredibly lucky to work with creative geniuses like Ken Burns and Jay Chiat, great leaders like General Colin Powell and Coach Mike Krzyzewski, and legendary entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Dave Thomas.

Here are some of the questions they have been asked and how they responded — combined with a little advice and perspective from us.

How do I know if my idea is a good one?

How do I know if my idea is a good one?

You can’t know, but you can find out. Before Ken Burns wrote, filmed and produced his documentary miniseries Jazz: The Story of America’s Music, he knew nothing about jazz. But he asked an interesting question, “Who is the Babe Ruth of jazz?” He thought that if he understood the foundation of the music, then he’d understand everything that came later. What’s important is that Ken tested his idea with people who knew and loved jazz. That’s how he knew he had a great idea. (By the way, Ken believes the Babe Ruth of jazz is Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong.)

How do I get people to support my idea?

How do I get people to support my idea?

You need an MBA – mop bucket attitude. That’s what Dave Thomas, Founder of Wendy’s, used to say about getting support for any idea or project. In fact, Dave used to joke that he earned his MBA without ever attending college. His point was simple: get your hands dirty. People need to see or experience your idea. When you get your hands dirty and build something, people will begin to support you. But everything starts with you picking up the mop.

How do I build a great innovation team?

How do I build a great innovation team?

You need fifty percent of your team to be insiders and the other fifty percent to be outsiders. David and Tom Kelley of the innovation consultancy IDEO like to say about insiders, “Can’t innovate with them. Can’t innovate without them.” You need insiders to focus on the efficiency side of innovation – operations, productivity, and profit. But you need outsiders to focus on the value side of innovation – alleviating stresses, making emotional connections, and overcoming resistance. Great innovation teams have both skillsets.

Why do people always try to kill ideas?

Why do people always try to kill ideas?

They are afraid. David Owens writes in Creative People Must Be Stopped that there are six ways people try to kill innovation. They object to: the idea, design, technology, organizational demands, cost structure, or societial constraints. Regardless of how people try to kill innovation, the root cause is fear – afraid of losing control, power, or influence. Your job is to overcome these objections with a battle-hardened, time tested set of responses. Preparation is the mother of vicory.

What do I need to do as a leader?

What do I need to do as a leader?

Innovation is hard so you need to lead with your heart. Coach Mike Krzyzewski believes great leaders (and great teammates) must: communicate, be trustworthy, responsible to others, care, and show pride. If you do one or two of these things, then Coach K says you’re vulnerable just like exposed individual fingers. But if you do all five things, then you’ve created the power of a fist. Don’t be afraid to be passionate. And don’t be afraid to use your fists.

What's your question?

We are Dukies.

Ok, only a couple of us graduated from Duke University, but we work closely with the Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative. We bring Duke professors into our workshops to share with you the latest thinking on a variety of topics.

We also use Duke workshop space in downtown Durham  and a Maker’s Lab on campus. We hope the immersion into this culture of bright, young minds will help fuel your ideas and inspire you to new heights.

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We are here for you.

We help kids go to college.

We give back a percentage of our time and services to non-profit organizations using innovation to change lives like The Emily K Center.

Located in Durham, NC, the center was established in 2006 with a mission to inspire students to dream big, act with character and purpose, and reach their potential as leaders in their community.

The Center’s educational vehicle, the K to College Model, serves academically-focused, low-income students in out-of-school programming designed to help them achieve in school, gain entry to college, and break the cycle of poverty in their families.

So if we’re lucky enough to work with you, rest assured you will be promoting innovation in communities that need it most.