You, the Innovator

Through a series of fortuitous events, I have been given a book deal. Kind of. I’ve been asked to be the contributing author to a book about innovation, particularly innovation in tough times.

This is the real deal. This is a real book that has a top-five publisher and a cover and an ISBN. It will be published in March 2010. The book falls into the same category as Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling tomes (but with less hair).

Many of the stories we’re writing about in the book are fairly famous examples of innovation with a special spin on them to make them applicable to all those innovators out there today.

But what we’re also looking for are small stories of innovation that no one’s ever heard. That’s where you come in. Do you have a story of innovation–whether it be something you did or are doing, something your company has done, something a friend or family member did or is doing, or something you heard about elsewhere? I’m looking for complete stories, innovations carried out in full, not million dollar ideas that you never acted on.

The scale, type, and date of the innovation can be literally anything (although, scale will impact your chances of the story being published. The more people your innovation affects, the better your chances. It’s great that you thought of an innovative way to brush your teeth, but that’s not going to make the cut). Bonus points if the innovation happened during–or because of–tough times.

Also, keep in mind that an innovation is not just an invention. Innovations include inventions, but they also include any thing or action that improves upon its predecessor.

This is an opportunity for you to share a story to thousands of people who would never have otherwise heard of it. I want to uncover untold tales of innovation, tales of the common man, firsthand accounts of ingenuity, inspiration, follow-through, and success (or failure. As long as those other components are there, stories of eventual failure are interesting too).

The rules:

  1. By sharing your story with me, you give me permission to retell it the book.
  2. By sharing your story with me, I offer absolutely no guarantee that it will appear in the book. I hope to include several, but I make no guarantees.
  3. I must receive your submission by this Friday, October 23, at 9:00 pm CST. (If you send in a story after that, I’ll still read it, but due to our deadline you have a greatly diminished chance of your story being included after that point.)
  4. If the story isn’t about an innovation of your own, your name will be credited in the back of the book, not the body text. If you pass on this blog entry to a friend and they end up submitting a story, you will be credited for your referral if your friend tells me your name.

To submit your story, I need you to e-mail the following information with subject line “[Your Name]’s Innovation Story] to jamey.stegmaier AT gmail.com (do not post it in the comments section below):

  1. Your name as you’d like it to appear in the book
  2. What is the innovation?
  3. Tell me about the process of thinking of the innovation, making it a reality, and growing the number of people it affects.
  4. Was the innovation created because of tough times? How so?
  5. Some way for me to verify the validity of your story (the e-mail of a personal reference or a link to the story if you’ve already told it on your blog or read about it online).

Thanks for your help–I’m excited to hear what you have to share!