What Was Your Latest “I Should Have Thought of That” Moment?

How many times in your life have you said to yourself or out loud, ” I should have thought of that”. Well as a lifelong inventor it happens to me many times. As a result I have brought to market many items. Inventing is strictly the end result of pure observation. Something anyone can do. But most people ask me, what do I do next once I have an idea?

It is not rocket science but it is involved. If you want to bring it to product form:

1. Research online to see if something like your idea exists. Visit local stores to see if like items are available. If you see none continue to step 2. and so on.

2. Write it down. Make drawings. Take photos. Start the document process.

3. Protect it – copyright or patent or trademark.

4. Search for sources to manufacture or license it.

5. Manufacture it yourself.

6. Market product.

7. SELL IT! In retail, wholesale, online, direct TV etc.

8. Remember every NO is one step closer to YES!

There are hundreds of thousands of products that never make it to a store shelf because the inventor never turned their passion into actual effort. Even though it may seem like a daunting task, I assure you it is not impossible to master. The product you create regardless of its degree of difficulty requires equal amounts of attention and effort. The golden rule is to do ONE thing/task each day to further your product in its stages of creation. It can be as simple as making one phone call to research a source, a contact or someone to help you along in the process. Just remember ONE thing every day! And once you are in this habit you will see how quickly you will progress through the process and actually finish creating your product. The creating process, the initial thought is only 1 % of the concept. The other 99% is all the information needed behind each product that will bring it to life.

Some helpful places to look for information on existing products is: http://www.uspto.gov which is the website for United States Patent and Trademark office where you can do a free search for products like yours and see if something already exists. Or http://www.copyright.gov for copyright registrations already in place.

So from one inventor to another- Stop dreaming and start creating!

Using Ball Mills in the Energy Industry

Experimental studies on coals of different metamorphic grades and various fractional states were conducted in 2000 by the Institute of Thermal Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, at experimental thermal energy facilities. These showed that fine-ground coal, milled to a particle size of 15-30 microns, develops a highly reactive property that is analogous to fuel oil – to which it can become an alternative. The experimental facility was rated at up to 1000 kW, and equipped for use with ultra-fine ground coal (produced with an ultra-fine ball mill); burning (pre-furnace and furnace equipment); a plasma system and gas starter for ignition and supplementary firing; combustion control (an automated post for combustion control) and cleaning (a vortex scrubber). The results produced in these experiments can be used to establish the parameters needed in technological facilities for ignition systems and supplementary burning using coal-dust boilers – a replacement fuel for gas and fuel-oil boilers.

The conclusions from these theoretical and experimental studies pointed to the technical and economic viability of using ultra-fine ground coal as a new oil-free technology for the ignition and stabilisation of combustion in coil-fired boilers at power plants, in addition to the ability to replace liquid fuels in boilers.

The primary technological facilities for making use of this new technology are: equipment for ultra-fine milling (ball mills), and the supplementary equipment for supplying and combustion of coal. Technical designs for the supplementary equipment have been developed, which are essential for wheeling-out the new technology (muffle furnace apparatus, input nozzles for the coal dust, accelerating devices for igniting the primary fuel mixtures, feeders for fuel discharge, hoppers for storage, and so forth). Factories able to manufacture the new supplementary equipment already exist in Russia. The last-mentioned also produces milling equipment, and specifically ball mills for ultra-fine milling processes.

This new technology is low-cost, with a short return-on-investment cycle which will hit break-even in no more than 2 to 3 years. The additional financing costs are in producing the ultra-fine ground coal (the purchase of ball mill machinery) – the additional machinery also has a short investment payback cycle due to the economics of the fuel supply industry.

The new Plasma-fuel technology has now passed the final stages of certification – for pilot industrial use. This allows assessment of the risks of the new technology – and if required, it can be further honed to optimise its operation prior to finalising the business case which can be put to potential investors.

Converting oil-fired boilers to run on ultra-fine ground coal

The primary task is moving to rejecting the use of fuel oil by the facility in future. Of course, in places where it is available, it makes sense to change to using natural gas. However, where this is not an available option, then such facilities can be converted to run on ultra-fine ground coal. The economic result of making the change from fuel oil to ultra-fine ground coal will be in the greatly reduced cost of fuel. Over and above this, there is an environmental gain to be made – since there will be a marked reduction in the emission of sulphurous oxides into the atmosphere. This has a further economic benefit, in terms of decreased payments to be made for such emissions.

When making the changeover to using ultra-fine coal, the issue of disposal of the ash waste which it produces needs to be addressed. For facilities currently using fuel oil, this can be problematic. In the first instance, this issue could be resolved by making agreements to remove the ash and slag waste from the boiler room to nearby ash dumps or industrial sites. This process could lead to a loss of some of the cost benefits of making the changeover. But in a more positive light, the ash and slag waste can be recycled as a component in the manufacture of construction industry materials, mineral components, and similar by-products. Installing a production line for the recycling of slag and ash is not only a responsible way of negating environmental pollution – but can similarly cull in economic benefits.

This means that the issue of converting oil-fired power stations to run on ultra-fine ground coal can be easily resolved both technically and administratively. Each individual case for conversion should properly be put through a business plan, including a technical survey of the boiler equipment, and the prevailing economic situation.

Evaluating the efficiency

Energy efficiency can be determined by making a comparison with the costs of fuel oil operation (i.e. the current costs), against the projected costs of transferring the facility’s operation to ultra-fine coal (the current costs, plus the cost of additional equipment). To make these estimates for the current costs, it follows that the costs of the current in-purchasing of fuel oil should be compared against the costs of purchasing coal, plus the additional electricity costs incurred in the grinding process. Particularly concerned with this latter cost, it pays to consider the choice of grinding machinery in the light of its electrical consumption costs. It makes obvious sense to purchase machinery with the lowest energy operating costs. Furthermore, when weighing up the decision to switch from fuel oil to ultra-fine coal, the operation of installing the additional equipment needed for ignition of the ultra-fine coal must be carefully considered.

Essential equipment:

The ball mill for grinding ultra-fine coal is essential. This kind of coal-grinding apparatus to create combustible fuel is traditionally divided into several categories. Quiet-Operation Slow Ball Mills operate with a rotation speed of 16-23 revs per minute. Fast-Action Tangential Mallet Mills have an operational speed of 590 to 980 revs per minute; and there are also Medium Roller Mills which rotate at 40 to 78 revs per minute. The table of ultra-fine coal dust obtained is below, depending upon the type of machinery chosen.

  • Ball drum mills are used for grinding anthracite and bituminous coal with a milling operational range of ≤ 1.1 and low volatility required fine grinding (6… 7 %). If the raw source material to be milled includes some presence of pyrite sulfur fuel ( up to SP > 6 % ) then only ball mills can be used.
  • Hammer mills are used for brown and black coal of relatively high volatility (Vg > 30 % ).
  • Medium Roller Mills are used for grinding coals with a milling operational range of at least 1.1 Wp and humidity of no more than 16 %, with an ash content of no more than Ar 30 %

Additional Equipment required for producing the ultra-fine coal fuel:

  • crusher
  • crushed coal bunker
  • coal feeder
  • high-pressure fan
  • coil-dust burner
  • muffle furnace extension
  • blowing fan
  • milling shelf
  • cyclone dust collector

The primary rationale for undertaking the technical changeover is to replace expensive and increasingly-scarce fuel oil – traditionally used for the ignition and stabilisation of combustion in coal-fired thermal plant boilers – and also to replace liquid fuel oil in boilers. Issues of economic efficiency in tandem with environmental responsibility should underlie decisions for making the changeover. Coal combustion can make up part or the whole of the combustion process in combination with other resources, and offers enhanced productivity for boiler equipment along with reductions in fuel consumption when producing energy through combustion processes, along with an improved level of cleanliness and purification in the resulting flue gases.

Intercepting the Digital Divide

“Today, high-speed broadband is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.” – President Obama, January 14, 2015.

Let’s pause and reflect on what we have.

In some parts of the world we have GPS controlled drones and in the rest, we have around 3.6 billion people, who do not have regular access to the internet. These are the people who are terminally failing to get the benefit of the internet as an economic engine.

Digital divide is the gap in availability and access to information and communication technology (ICT) among individuals and communities. Numerically, this gap, i.e. people with no/limited access to computer or the internet, is three times the Indian population. The idea of digital revolution cannot be achieved when 50% of the world population is excluded. In other words, this population can’t compete on an equal footing in the labour market. The ‘optimistic path’ surmised by UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 9 and Agenda 2030 also envision avant-garde industrial revolution dubbed Industry 4.0. As this industrial breakthrough is heavily dependent on the adoption of technological innovation, the population disconnected from this technological grid will be less informed and under-represented in the capital and labour market.

The ability to access computers and the internet depends on many interwoven factors i.e., social, and economic dimensions. Nonetheless, the digital split can easily be bridged if these factors are broken down into specific action plans. Aside from these obvious barriers, the following would help narrow the gap:

Develop physical infrastructure: The Mason Analysis shows that the lack of proper infrastructure conducive to internet connection is more prevalent in the developing countries, especially in Africa. In this regard, key inputs such as development of terrestrial connectivity between the submarine cables, development of training centres and data module are perquisite to overcome the induction barriers of digital divide.

Promote investment and cooperation: The cardinal element to independent development of physical infrastructure is the liberalization of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) investment. Such a measure would boost investor confidence and could maximize the effectiveness of new investments conducive to financial and infrastructural resources. At this stage, policy remedy is required to lower licensing cost and high taxes on equipment and services. At the same time, integration of internet into the service delivery of government agencies and usage of communications infrastructure should also be highly prioritized.

Develop customized content: Developing physical infrastructure and providing training modules are not enough if local demand is not met. To welcome the next billion users, technologists need to deeply engage with local communities to understand their demands and ways to use this access. That way, internet and communications networks can be built to serve the demand. Responding to internet’s actual demand is equally important as devising new schemes.

Less dependency on social media: Excessive indulgence into social media cannot help uplift the internet penetration because of its limited use. People can disregard the real power of internet penetration and benefit of usage if they are confined into the 140 characters on Twitter or the square boxes of Facebook profile. The challenge to adopt and apply the divergent tools of internet can be overcome if internet platforms and its hosting devices are used in smarter ways.

With its ubiquitous and inclusive presence, internet is the key to next-gen technological access. Realizing it, companies such as Google and Facebook are assessing the form factors of attracting more people online. Individuals, government, and corporations are equally responsible in bringing the mass people into the internet bracket. At the same time, the government should also have smart policy interventions to combat the handicaps brought by the usability divides and any other forthcoming obstacles for digital divide.

Unleashing Group Genius: 4 Key Benefits of Collaborative Idea Generation

At some point virtually everyone who works in an organization will be invited to attend a meeting where ideas are generated – in other words, a group brainstorming session.

Brainstorming may seem like an obvious activity, something we just do instinctively. But in fact, it’s generally held that brainstorming, as a process, was “invented” back in the 1930s, by a group of advertising professionals led by Alex Osborn (one of the founders of BBDO Advertising).

Apparently Osborn was onto something. Ever since its introduction, group brainstorming has been, and continues to be, the most widely utilized process for generating ideas in organizations. Every day, in conference rooms around the world, tens of thousands of people gather, and put their heads together to come up with ways to solve problems and capitalize on opportunities.

While group brainstorming as typically practiced isn’t all perfect, it does provide some significant benefits to the creative problem solving process.

  1. Diversity in viewpoints, knowledge, and experience – You’ve heard the expression “two heads are better than one?” Well this can be especially true when it comes to brainstorming. In fact, the more diversity there is among the participants, in terms of personality type, age, background, knowledge, skills, and experience, the wider the range of insights and innovative ideas the group will be able to generate – a far greater range than any one person alone can typically produce alone.
  2. Cross-pollination and rapid development of ideas – Kicking around and exploring lots of different possi­bilities with others can stimulate the spontaneous cross-pollination of ideas. In other words, one person’s idea can quickly spark a dozen or more new and different associa­tions from the group. We call that phenomenon the “pop­corning” of ideas. The opportunity to build on one another’s ideas is a key benefit of the group problem-solving process – be­cause often one person may come up with one part of a solution, while others provide the missing pieces.
  3. “Group Genius” – The phenomenon known as group genius occurs when a group of people becomes single-mindedly focused in its creative problem-solving activity. All sense of time, place, and self-consciousness or ego disappears. Everyone feels highly alert, engaged, and on top of their games. Everything flows. It’s under these conditions that a unified sense of effortless collaboration emerges. The group begins to function as a single, collective mind that intuitively knows the best ways to build upon, amplify, or refine one an­other’s ideas.
  4. Greater productivity: a wider range of new and dif­ferent ideas – When a group is able to work at maximum effectiveness, under the guidance of a skilled brainstorming leader, they’re capable of accomplishing a great deal in a relatively short amount of time. Groups can easily generate dozens, if not a hundred or more ideas in a single, highly productive brainstorming session.

As you can see, there are a lot of advantages to gener­ating ideas as part of a group… greater diversity in thinking, knowledge and experience; enhanced productivity in less time; and perhaps most important, the ability to generate a wider range of different types of ideas than one can when working solo.

Participating in a group brainstorming session can be a highly enjoyable and rewarding experience, when conducted properly. The more group sessions you participate in, the more you’ll appreci­ate the feeling of accomplishment that comes from solving challenges through creative collaboration.

How To Keep A Sharp Focus On Your Best Ideas

Faced with an ever-increasing workload, a man talked to his accountant about stepping up from being a one-man work-at-home business to employing some staff. It would, he thought, ease the pressure.

The accountant, a money management expert par excellence, had other ideas, and was blunt in his reply. All he said was: “The next time you say that, I shall put you in a cupboard and beat you with a broom handle until you change your mind.”

The reasoning behind his brutal assessment of the proposal was simple. Not only was the extra work insufficient to support another employee long-term, but the business model was a poor fit. The business was home-based, and simply didn’t have the space for another employee, long or short term. What’s more, he hadn’t considered the expense management dimension, but had been looking from only a workload perspective.

Hiring staff for a spike in workload is always going to be a bad idea. It will solve short-term problems, but will bring with it new headaches of its own, starting with the recruitment process, and going on to all of the background commitment involved in employment law.

The more effective option

Far better, said the accountant, to seek the help of other self-employed people to help lift the short-term burden, which would have a dual benefit. Firstly, the pressure would be eased, and secondly, a channel would have opened for work to flow in the other direction, thereby making at least two companies more profitable with no extra legislative and HR burden.

And so it proved. But the same thinking is equally effective is sorting the wheat from the chaff for all business ideas. Every individual has ideas; the clever part is in which deserve to be called good, and which deserve to be ditched.

A further illustration of this is in the TV ‘reality’ show The Apprentice, where the sharing of an idea comes under intense scrutiny. Certainly the programmes are voyeuristic, and intended to be good television, but the principle holds true. What the candidate thought was a sound and solid foundation turns out to be anything but, through hyperbole or simply plain misunderstanding of the numbers.

Where to get a second opinion

Examining ideas through the prism of someone else’s perception makes you acutely aware of which are good, and should be followed up. But where to get the right kind of opinion? Don’t ask family members, by and large. Their view is likely to be skewed, because they’re family, for one thing. For another, they may well not have the right kind of business experience.

Accountants are good people to ask. These days the right one is much more than a number crunching expense manager, but will have lots of sound advice they’d be willing to share. It’s in their own interest, as well as yours, to see that your business succeeds.

And what to do next

And when you’ve got the advice and acted upon it, remember that measuring the success of your idea is vital. Never forget either that the reason you’re in business is to generate income to sustain your lifestyle, so make use of one of the money management apps in common use today. Naturally, we’d recommend you to use an intuitive expense manager app that will let you see where you’re spending, and to initiate controls if that’s what’s required.

How to Become a Master of Your Work

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that you either are, or you want to be, good at what you do. I’m going to take that even further and assume that you either are, or want to be, great at what you do.

But are you committed to becoming an absolute master? Possibly one of the greatest of all time? And, if so, how do you get there?

My brother-in-law Steve has a Ph.D. in musicology. He’s one of the world’s foremost Beethoven scholars. [An aside: There’s nothing quite like touring Beethoven’s birth house in Bonn, Germany in the company of one of the world’s foremost Beethoven scholars! Someday I’ll have to return the favor and take Steve to Liverpool.] In addition, he also wrote the definitive biography of French composer Erik Satie. So, when I asked him who he thought was the greatest composer of all time, I was a little surprised when he answered, without hesitation, “Bach, of course!”

Johann Sebastian Bach is, arguably (very arguably), the greatest composer of all time. He was inarguably a complete master of his art. Which brings me to an article I was just reading about Bach which talks about how diligently he studied everything that had come before. The article sums it up beautifully this way:

“Bach became an absolute master of his art by never ceasing to be a student of it.”

(By the way, art historians would probably say the same about Picasso.)

You become a master of your art/craft/occupation/calling by never ceasing to be a student of it.

And, because you’re a leader, you need to be a continuous student of two disciplines:

  1. Your industry.
  2. Leadership itself.

If you want to be a master leader in the widget industry (the one that they’ll be writing articles about 267 years after your death), you need to be a voracious student of both widgets and leadership. Which means you subscribe to Widgets Monthly as well as Harvard Business Review. You read Widget Design in the 1800s as well as Maxwell, Cialdini, and Bill George. [Full disclosure: I don’t think there is an actual book called Widget Design in the 1800s.]

The point is that what came before matters. Bach knew it. Picasso knew it. And you should know it too. Yes, you need to stay on top of current trends. But only by studying what came before can you put the present into context. And it’s from within that context that you can see the patterns (if you look for them) that can help you predict the future.

Bach made musical breakthroughs because he was a student of music. Picasso made artistic breakthroughs because he was a student of art.

And, as a leader in your field, you will make breakthroughs-and become a master-only when you become a student of both leadership and your field.

Are You The Problem?

In these uncertain times, I am increasingly getting asked to look at businesses that have been successful and had meteoric growth and suddenly the growth plateaus and try as they might the owner cannot seem to sort things out.

One I visited recently had been built up in the social media world and the guy who started it had really worked hard over 3 years to build a rather substantial company employing 50 staff and servicing 100’s of clients.

I had been recommended to the owner by two or three people as someone who could possibly throw some light on to what was happening.

I must admit that when we met I wondered if we would be able to work together as he had a very defensive attitude and was questioning right up front whether he really needed any intervention.

We spoke for awhile and agreed that I should just monitor things for a while and then report back to him.

I spoke to key members of staff and even spoke to some clients everyone appeared very happy and all the staff were extremely competent.

I then got invited to a meeting that involved some key clients and some management staff. The meeting was very casual affair and people started reminiscing over the past 3 years laughing and joking about how things were when they had started and all the hurdles and headaches that were solved by creatively re organising things in those formative years.

After about 2 weeks I arranged a meeting with the owner and said that I had found the reason that the company had plateaued and was in fact starting to fall back. He said “Thank God for that” I said, “It may not be what you want to hear” he then replied “Just tell me what the problem is” and I said, “It is you” The tirade of abuse that followed is best left unwritten, but you can imagine.

When he had calmed down, I explained that during the formative years when he was building the company he had made quick decisions and he was in a position to see possible problems before they appeared and also he made himself the engine of the company by being at the head of every decision and always putting in the extra effort whenever it was needed. Now the company had grown to such an extent he still wanted to be involved in everything but other duties had swallowed up so much of his time he now had decisions to make about finance, HR issues, staffing problems etc all things that creep up on you very quietly but consume lots of non productive time.

I suggested that he get someone qualified to steer the ship and handle all the parts of the business that had become his responsibility by default. I also told him my famous line, That if he chose the right person, they would bring their wages with them.

He agreed and now 3 months later the picture is totally different, the company is growing again the new CEO has implemented systems that have streamlined the whole operation and the owner now has the title of Chief Creative Officer ( CCO ) He has put his creative hat back on and can see the business from a distance enabling him to do as he did at the beginning and see possible hurdles and problems before they happen.

This is a very common problem with entrepreneurs they make themselves a part of the company and they carry too much workload and they cannot see what is going on because they are bogged down doing things that they should have passed over on the way through.

As a business person if you are under the bonnet working 24/7 to keep things afloat, how can you possibly steer the ship? Once you come out from under the bonnet, you see everything so much clearer and you start making the decisions that benefit the company not ones that momentarily ease your workload but are not good decisions for the overall picture.

Have a reality check and see if you are actually the problem for your business not running smoothly and becoming stagnant.

By moving aside you often inject a new energy into the business and you get your life back.

How Will Robotic Process Automation Change Outsourcing Forever?

There is no doubt that in recent years technology advancement in industry has increased exponentially, but so has customer expectations. These days customers expect to have their questions answered and needs met nearly instantaneously, putting an added burden on companies to keep up with consumer demand while somehow maintaining cost of doing business at a reasonable level. Businesses must evolve to survive in the current climate and Robotic Process Automation may be the catalyst needed for companies to take the next leap forward.

What is Robotic Process Automation?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA), is a type of software that is created to mimic mundane or repetitive human tasks. The software can remove the burden of repetitive processing tasks from humans themselves, allowing people to handle the more complex tasks or problems within a company. Automation software can be programmed to do a wide array of technological jobs, following all of the rules that it is given to follow.

Types of Businesses that can benefit from RPA

Put simply, many businesses that utilize technology can benefit from intelligent automation, but here are a few examples.

· Computer/IT and Telecommunication companies: These types of companies require a lot of customer support, much of which can easily be accomplished using automation software. RPA can help by creating electronic tickets and then responding to them when a customer sends in a question or request for service. The tickets can then be transferred to the correct human worker to be completed.

· Accounting firms: Automated software can contact clients, confirm that payments are being made, and even sync with banks online, taking human error out of the equation.

· Online stores: Online stores can and do use RPA in order to accept orders and communicate with customers, all without the need of a live person. This will enable a customer service agent to handle any inquiries of higher priority or that require critical thinking.

· Insurance companies: RPA can aid insurance companies with claims processing, payroll, and even email.

Future of Outsourcing

RPA can change the way in which companies outsource. Companies often outsource to foreign countries as a way to get tasks completed when they cannot afford to hire workers locally. This sends company money to other countries to pay the outsourced workers, removing income from the local economy while risking that customers might not receive the best quality of service. Automation software takes the outsourced worker out of the equation, filling in for the jobs that were previously handled by a foreign worker.

Not only will this keep company employee expenditure within the country where they do business in, but it removes the stress and stigma that is associated with hiring staff from other countries. A company who chooses to invest in technology is ultimately investing in the satisfaction of their customers and longevity of their business.

Intelligent automation enables organizations to keep local workers on staff to handle the complex tasks while letting the technology handle the more mundane duties. This will dramatically cut down on costs while increasing the quality of service. As a result, a company’s bottom line should see improvements while consumers begin to receive greater support and service, likely helping a business develop a more loyal group of repeat customers for years to come.

What to Look Out for in Cosmetic Packaging – 2018

Cosmetic packaging covers a vast range of products in the beauty and skincare market. If you’re designing a new brand or have an established business model. You may be on the lookout for iconic product lines that could lead the way in a new trend for 2018.

Matching Product Agenda

When starting out with a new product type, it might be wise to pick something that comes as part of a collection. Let’s say you are thinking about a new lipstick line. Your launch goes well and within 12 months you have ‘new’ and ‘repeat’ consumers. You then decide to launch a matching mascara product that fits in with your brand guidelines and existing product. If you chose a lipstick that belongs to a collection line in the first place, this can make it easier for you to pick a mascara that works with your lipstick.

In packaging, this is known as ‘Matching Product Agenda’. This simple technique can save you some serious money in production and manufacturing costs.

Many good cosmetic suppliers will have pre-manufactured collections or ranges to choose from. If you’re starting out in the cosmetic industry, it might be wise to use this technique in the early stages.

A good cosmetic supplier already has a design team who are responsible for creating and building new product lines all the time. It’s a good idea to have confidence with their experience in the industry.

Trending Factors to Consider

For 2018 some innovating ideas have come forward and made it through the manufacturing process. These include:

  • Double brush and applicator mascara capsule
  • Magnetic lipstick containers
  • LED and mirror mascara applicators
  • Miniature purse jars for balm and lip enhancers
  • Matt foil packaging decoration options
  • Compact containers with detachable applicators

These new innovations have been designed around lifestyle. Life is busy and fast, people need products that work and put them in control without any fuss.

Essential Luxuries

Consumers expectations for products has also risen dramatically. Quality is at the top of most lists when consumers are out purchasing. Iconic luxury packaging attracts attention as it portrays style and trend. Cheap; gets lost and unfortunately doesn’t get spoken about.

Cosmetic packaging suppliers create a range to suit budgets. However, try and select something that puts your brand in the spotlight.

Packaging Decoration

When it comes to the final look of a cosmetic product, a few things can help you look professional and established. These include:

  • Use a good font or logo which is easy to read
  • Solid colours work with cosmetics. Busy colours or designs look confusing on small containers
  • Matt colours are trending for 2018
  • Black is a classic colour for cosmetics
  • You can use hot foil blocking to bring your containers alive
  • Will gold and white set the trend for 2018?

A good packaging supplier or manufacturer can give you excellent advice on these essential factors.

How Are You Filling Your Idea Pipeline?

I’ve just been reading a terrific new book called High-Profit Prospecting by my friend and colleague Mark Hunter. Mark is a consummate sales professional, and his book is about how to keep your sales pipeline full so that you never run out of valuable prospects.

I’m not a sales professional, but I am an idea professional. And, just like I think it’s vital for people in the sales business to keep their sales pipelines full, I think it’s equally vital for people in the idea business to keep their idea pipelines full.

By the way, as a leader, you are in the idea business.

In his book, Mark talks about the importance of not leaving prospecting to chance, not just waiting (and hoping) for prospects to fall into the pipeline. He says that a true sales professional should have weekly (preferably daily) dedicated prospecting time scheduled on the calendar. Because keeping the pipeline full is that important.

Likewise, leaders should schedule time weekly (preferably daily) to fill their idea pipeline. Because it’s that important.

So, how do you do this? Through four primary sources.

1. What you read.

There’s a reason why Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Elon Musk read voraciously. They understand the value of keeping their mental pipeline full of new ideas.

“But I’m too busy to read, Bill.”

Really? Busier than Bill Gates? Because he’s pretty busy. And pretty rich. And he reads 50 books a year. I don’t think these are unrelated. So, I’m sorry-what’s your excuse again?

Schedule time to read. Every day, if possible. (And it is possible.) I’m not talking about Grisham and Patterson. They’re fine for the beach. Read about ideas. Read about things you don’t already know.

2. What you listen to.

To those of you who have horrendous commutes, congratulations! You’ve got a great opportunity to fill your idea pipeline! Instead of listening to the news (depressing), or the generic pop music station (mindless), why not try out one of the literally hundreds of great podcasts available? My guess is that there are at least a few podcasts out there for your particular field. Or, try one of my favorites, the TED Radio Hour podcast.

3. What you watch.

Although this probably won’t help you with your commute, there’s plenty to watch online-and some of it doesn’t involve kittens. For example, in addition to listening to the TED Radio Hour podcast, you can watch actual TED Talks Or, if you want something more in-depth and academic, Stanford University (among others) puts many of their courses online, absolutely free.

4. Who you meet.

I’ve saved the best for last. There are actual people out there, freely roaming the earth, who have knowledge, experiences, and ideas that you don’t have. They can be found in your town, in your workplace, sitting next to you on the plane or train. But here’s the caveat: if you only hang out with the same people you always hang out with, you’ll never meet these others. And that’s to your detriment, as a leader, and as a human being.

So fill your pipeline! Feed your brain continuously with new ideas. It’s the highest profit prospecting you can do.