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AFT Keynoter Entrepreneur Josh Linkner: Become the Disruptor

Josh LinknerAmerican entrepreneur and author Josh Linkner shared his vision during an inspiring CEO keynote address at the AFT 2018 Fall Summit in Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Linkner, who founded several companies including ePrize, an interactive promotion agency, and wrote “Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity,” asked what if there was a technology that could elevate businesses, serve clients, cut costs, drive growth, raise market values, and help recruit the best and brightest talent? “The hottest technology of all is not augmented reality or machine learning. It's human creativity. If you really think of it, that's the tech that has fueled progress and what can become a source of sustainable competitive advantage.”

The entrepreneur reviewed how some companies fail because they become intoxicated by their own success. An example he cited is Rand McNally, the mapping company founded in the 1850s and the first major map publisher to embrace the numbered highways system. They were the dominant map company as recently as 20 years ago. But today the Google Maps app leads as a location source.  Linkner pointed out Rand McNally failed to adapt and innovate; now they are not even a shadow of their former self.

“That's an avoidable trap. Make sure that we are the source of disruption rather than having it thrust upon us,” Linkner advised. “Make sure that we are harnessing creativity in every corner of our companies to meet the challenges of the day. Let's face it, things are very different than they were even a few years back.”

Linkner shared his five core mindsets of innovators:

  1. Every barrier can be penetrated. Linkner directed AFT Fall Summit attendees to not become overwhelmed by obstacles. When confronted with a problem he suggested asking: “Why, what if and why not?”
  2. Video killed the radio star. Sometimes solving a problem requires seeing things from a different perspective. “Too often we tend to overestimate the risk of trying something new or we underestimate the risk of standing still.”
  3. Change the rules to get the jewels. He suggested using a method he called the Judo Flip. “Ask yourself ‘what would happen if I flip it?” What would happen if you took a traditional method, and flipped it upside down.” Linkner said it's also a good idea to look outside your own industry and borrow ideas from other markets that worked.
  4. Seek the unexpected. When looking for a creative solution don’t just accept the initial idea but encourage people to stop relying on old patterns. “Using the unorthodox approach. That's what it's all about.”
  5. Fall seven, stand eight. “If you're not stumbling, you're not going fast enough. What a wonderful opportunity to innovate our way forward.”

Linker said, “Let's face it. Today, we live in a world of dizzying speed, exponential complexity, and ruthless competition.” He added that the way to rise above it is to embrace a secondary role of disruptor, innovator, and business entrepreneur. “Because these are the skills and mindsets required to win, to ride in competitive times.”

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