About your Book:
Naked Visionary describes what drives those motivated forerunners who bring their visions to life. It puts a spotlight on creative change and the visionary process itself. But it also speaks to the creative capabilities lying fallow within us all—how each of us can blow on our own sparks of brilliance for the answers we desire.
Targeted Age Group: Adult
Genre: Non-Fiction – Creativity
The Book Excerpt:
Build a Better Mousetrap Maker
Ralph Waldo Emerson sounded the rallying cry for innovators: “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.” To the sorrow of many who developed their own form of a better mousetrap, it usually does not work out that way—certainly not as smoothly as they expected. The world shrugs, and those eager to launch “the next big thing” feel misled.
Emerson’s essays encourage us to act on our flickers of genius, and many on the visionary path attest to his motivating influence on them. His abiding gift is urging us to roll up our sleeves and do something about our inspired visions. If Emerson’s advice is to serve as more than glib rhetoric, however, there better be a mousetrap produced sooner or later.
The Sayings of Ralph Waldo Emerson
• An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.
• What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.
• To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
• Genius always finds itself a century too early.
• You must not worry about your success or failure. It does not concern you. Your duty is to work each day, quietly, to accept the failures which are inevitable and to leave to others the care or measuring of the applause.
• The high, contemplative, all-consuming vision, the sense of right and wrong, is alike in all. Its attributes are self-existence, eternity, intuition, and command. It is the mind of the mind.
• Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of science.
• Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.
• Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.
• Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.
• The man of genius inspires us with a boundless confidence in our own powers.
• The reward of a thing well done is having done it.
• The sum of wisdom is that time is never lost that is devoted to work.
• The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck.
• To be great is to be misunderstood
At a point in my life when I was launching an invention of my own, I had a friend who was a venture capitalist (though not an investor). He told me that before moneymen like him decide whether to back a new product or project, they are especially concerned about the quality of the person behind it.
An invention or untried idea cannot stand on its own without the driving force of a committed and capable champion. Investors are placing their money bet on the person as much as their idea.
They will not risk their money without considering the advocate’s track record: Does the person have the needed skills? Are they capable of working out the nuts and bolts of the endeavor all the way to the payoff? Is this their first mousetrap? As with first love, an upstart creator cannot imagine the world won’t want and embrace what they have done—once the word gets out about how great it is.
Has he or she survived the disappointments of that naïve phase (sadder but wiser), then taken an idea through the stages to follow? In sum, how likely is the person to pull it off? Bernard Girard even has the figures to show how important it is to have prior experience in The Google Way.
In a 2006 study titled Skill vs Luck in Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital: Evidence from Serial Entrepreneurs, Paul Gompers and colleagues at Harvard University calculated that ‘entrepreneurs who succeeded in a prior venture (i.e., started a company that went public) have a 30% chance of succeeding in their next venture. By contrast, first-time entrepreneurs have only an 18% chance of succeeding and entrepreneurs who previously failed have a 20% chance of succeeding.’ In a market fraught with high risk, this sort of expertise is invaluable.
But there is a larger view to notice as well, beyond the practical outcome of the undertaking. While the innovator developed and launched what they assumed was the next eagerly awaited “mousetrap,” they had also been remaking the mousetrap maker (himself or herself).
They were becoming more vision-focused than before. What the person went through in devoted service to their over-riding mission refined their discernment and proficiency. It also expanded their perceptual lens, to bring more kinds of know-how and judgment to bear in any future undertaking.
Less apparent, the person was not simply more capable but was a step removed from their prior frame of reference. They had disengaged from where they started, to some extent, and thereby changed their long-term trajectory.
To paraphrase Emerson, “Build a better mousetrap maker, and the world will beat a pathway to your door.” The world desires and needs better mousetrap makers much more than a larger selection of mousetraps. Anyone who can find original and ingenious solutions to what people want, as well as reinvent who they are in the bargain, is sure to make waves.