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Josh Linkner Quotes

Josh Linkner Speaker

Josh Linkner quotes: the speaker’s spiffiest quotes.

“Want the thing you’ve never had? Then do the thing you’ve never done.”

“The first step is, you cannot be all things to all people because the world does not accept it. No bureau is going to embrace that. You’ve got to pick something. Pick what you’re absolutely passionate about and what you’re best at and go super deep in that. Once you’ve selected a lane that people understand then you have to find what makes you unique and different inside that lane.”

“You can’t be great at everything, but you are world-class at something. Go. Figure out what that is. It’s how you win.”

“Pin up to shut down the ‘idea police’… so fear doesn’t stifle creativity: thou shall not judge, thou shall not comment, thou shall not edit, thou shall not execute, thou shall not worry, thou shall not look backwards, thou shall not lose focus, and thou shall not sap energy.”

“People equate job titles to levels of creativity. We think that musicians are creative while accountants are not. Job title has nothing to do with human creativity. In fact, we all have enormous creative potential. Even those that often state with authority that ‘I’m not creative.’ With a systematic approach to building creative capacity, we all have the opportunity to create and leave a mark on the world.”

“One idea can be transformative. One idea can change your career, your life, your community, your family, and even the world. I truly believe that each of us have at least one special game-changing idea inside us right now. The trick is, how do we get it out?”

“You don’t often see the words ‘discipline’ and ‘dreaming’ in the same sentence. But I believe this duality is critically important to win in both business and life. Dreaming without discipline is fantasy land. Discipline without dreaming creates rigid and stifling bureaucracies. Having a process to enable the creative process will help liberate the creativity that lives within every organization and individual.”

“Innovators don’t cling to what was; they lean in to what will be. They always prioritize creativity. And, if they fall seven times, they rise up eight.”

“Ask, prepare, discover, ignite and launch.”

“Most think as an ‘or.’ This ‘or’ that. The most successful among us think as an ‘and.’ This ‘and’ that.”

“Is the game plan you are currently running the most direct path to your destiny?”

“Ask yourself this: if there was zero chance of failure, what would you do? Now, go do that.”

“Fear is the single biggest barrier to creativity. Unless we’re brave enough to risk looking foolish, we’ll inevitably find ourselves sticking to the status quo. That fear is disabling. One of the things we need to do as business leaders is build and nurture cultures that encourage responsible risk-taking so making mistakes is okay.”

“Mistakes aren’t fatal; they are merely the portals of discovery.”

“A winner makes mistakes. A loser blames others for them.”

“The leaders at software giant Intuit have a saying: ‘Fall in love with the problem, not the solution.'”

“Creativity is not a talent; it is a skill. A talent is something you are born with. A skill is something you learn.”

“Creativity is what will separate the winners from the also-rans in the emerging world of business, and life.”

“The inhibitor of creativity isn’t potential, it’s fear. Fear is the single biggest blocker of creativity. We worry about saying the wrong thing or looking foolish so we govern our imagination.”

“I admire mold-breakers. People that bust free from traditional thinking and change the game completely. Steve Jobs. Charlie Parker (jazz saxophonist). The Groupon guys. Seth Godin (author). People who dare to be different and end up creating something truly different and remarkable.”

“There’s an old saying: ‘You’ll never hit a target you can’t see.’ Defining a creative challenge is an important step in focusing your creativity toward a specific problem or opportunity. A creative challenge can be something big such as a revolutionary new product or a cure for disease. However, it can also be much smaller such as a new package design or an efficiency gain in a manufacturing process. It starts with clearly defining the challenge and desired outcome.”

“We can no longer rely on the rules of the past to win.”

“Today, nearly every competitive advantage of the past has been commoditized. Creativity is the one thing that can’t be outsourced. The one thing that can separate a company, team, or individual from the competitive set. Today, precision execution is merely the ante to play. Sustained differentiation can only come from breakthrough creativity.”

“Build creative cultures, and work with purpose to unleash the creativity of your team. Creativity is the most valuable natural resource in any organization, yet it is often a resource that is largely untapped. The leaders that prioritize and invest in creative cultures will be the Wall Street darlings of tomorrow. In fact, they’re the darlings of today: Facebook, Groupon, LinkedIn, etc.”

“Anyone can notice wrong answers. It takes the creative person to notice the wrong questions.”

“Curiosity is a key building block. The more curious you are, the more creativity you will unleash. A great way to do that is to ask the three ‘magic questions’ again and again. Those questions are simply, ‘Why?’ ‘What if?’ and ‘Why not?’ Asking these questions constantly focused you on the possibilities and away from how things are at the moment. You force yourself to explore what’s possible and not just what is.”

“When we teach kids to follow the rules, that there’s only one right answer, and to avoid mistakes at all costs, we’re resigning them to average.”

“In the business world, there are systems and processes for just about everything else. Yet creativity and innovation, arguably the most important aspects of progress, are often left to happen by chance. The system provides a scaffolding for creative support and exploration, yet is open enough to avoid curbing creativity or outputting cookie-cutter solutions.”

“Separate out the creative act from the act of editing and execution. Make it a two-step process. First, let ideas flow and encourage every idea to make it to the whiteboard. Don’t criticize, judge, edit, budget, or worry. An idea on the wall can’t hurt anyone, so let them rip without restriction. After any and all ideas have the opportunity to ‘come out to play,’ only then should you apply your analytical and logical side to the effort. Don’t mix the creative process with the editing process or you’ll kill your ideas before they even get a fighting chance.”

“Most people believe a new idea must be fully baked and ready-for-primetime. That is like saying a newborn child should have a college degree and be self-sustaining on day one. Like children, new ideas need to be nurtured, shaped, and protected. People often hold back ideas since they are not ready to defend sharp criticism. Companies that celebrate ‘creative sparks’ and reserve judgment while ideas mature are the ones that enjoy significantly more creativity and innovation.”

“Rapid experimentation not only drives innovation, it reduces risk. Too often, we place the weight of the world on our shoulders, believing we must dream up a transformative innovation and then bet the company on its success.”

“If organizations are focused on a purpose, something that will make the world a better place and leave a big impact, people can rally behind that mission. If a company is only about making money, it’s hard to unleash passion. If there’s a big why that the company is working to solve, passion will flow like the amazon.”

“The lesson is clear: quickly adopting future trends rather than clinging to yesterday’s success is the only way to ensure long-term survival.”

“To me, leadership is about first defining purpose. Why does a company exist and what problem does it solve for customers? How is it different than everyone else, and what difference do they plan to make in the world? Companies (and people) should be measured based on the impact they make in the world. If the purpose and solution are solid, the money will follow.”

“It’s better to over-pay for A-level talent early on, even if you can’t afford it. They will drive exponential value and help you win faster.”

“I had a degree in advertising, was a life-long tech geek, and loved design. When I first saw the internet, I knew I found my home. I realized that while only 2% of companies had a website at that time, it wouldn’t be long before every company had one. Someone needed to design, build, and host them so I seized that opportunity.”

“I started my career as a jazz guitarist, and I would often take gigs because I was playing music and trying to make a living, and also it’s an improvisational art form. People would call and say, ‘Hey, I’m looking for a guitar player for Saturday night’s thing.’ I’d say, ‘Awesome, sign me up. Let’s go.’ The reason I bring this up is that for me, what’s been the driver of my success, both in jazz as well as a lot of success in business, is the ability to improvise, the ability to make the best of situations that aren’t scripted, and innovate in real time.”

“I started playing jazz when I was 10. It’s been a passion of mine. While I’ve had the privilege to do that a bit in the world of jazz, I’ve had more experience actually in the business world: starting, building and selling five tech companies and then launching a venture capital fund and investing in about 100 other startups.”

“For me actually, playing jazz was the best MBA I could have had because those skills are totally transferable, whether you’re running a start-up or you’re running a larger organization. The thing is this, in the past maybe the metaphor of leadership was that of a classical conductor, one person standing in the center of the room, the CEO commanding the troops to play the notes exactly as they’re written on the page. It was all about alignment and precision and accuracy.”

“Being on a lot of stages playing music was a wonderful prep for being on a lot of stages as a keynote speaker. There are really some elements of that, I think especially in the sales process, when you’re adapting to a client’s needs, when you’re innovating to their desires and their objectives for sure. If you just run your script and game plan, I don’t think that the speaking world today wants that. You have to be good at the craft.”

“I still to this day, years and years later, I watch tapes of other speakers, I watch tapes of myself. I study storytelling, I look at the technical aspects of the craft, everything from gesture to posture to vocal intonation. To me, I try to apply the same rigor and discipline that I had in playing music and ultimately growing a business, to the world of professional speaking, and that has been about 10 years or so in the making.”

“It reminds me of the old quote that, ‘The more I practice, the better I get.’ Yeah, so that’s true in sports, in music, and really all forms of professional pursuit. I would just encourage people to look at it exactly like that. If you study medicine, you go to medical school for 18 years and then you work on your craft and you’re an intern, and then you’re a resident and then you really learn your craft.”

“I’m always trying to improve and it’s not a destination point, it’s an ongoing practice.”

“Today, that world doesn’t exist. Today we live in a world of dizzying speed, exponential complexity and ruthless competition. We have to perform at our best with the notes not on the page. We have to make it up as we go, and so the skills that I learned playing jazz in smoky clubs around the country are perfectly translatable into the world of entrepreneurship and even, larger organizations. That’s what we basically have to do today to win. We have to be jazz musicians. We have to innovate, we have to improvise, we have to adapt, we have to be agile and that’s exactly what I learned from playing jazz.”

“Ancient Chinese proverb: ‘Chase two rabbits and both will escape.'”

“[Favorite quote] ‘Man who says it can’t be done, should not interrupt man who’s doing it.'”

“There’s not a silver bullet. Be a continuous learner. I always like to say I’m going to put the Josh of six months ago out of business with the Josh of today.”

“It’s not easy to have the focus and energy to deliver peak-performance on a regular basis. But it’s a small price to pay for the disproportionate rewards you’ll savor. A simple shift in mindset can help blast you to new heights. Keep the hunger and energy of an interview—in both business and life. This approach will ultimately lead to your next advance.  And, of course, many more after that.”

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