The first time I pitched my white space idea to a few colleagues, it was shot down. “This is not a product idea, it’s a blog post,” one guy said. I stood there stunned and a little upset with the reaction.
I spent most of my day feeling frustrated. Then it dawned on me that what happened was actually a sign of future success. I tried to recall all the moments in my life when someone told me I couldn’t do something. You are not a dancer, so don’t bother. You are not pretty, but you are kinda smart. You will never be a Product Manager. This list goes on. These words changed my life; feeling rejected actually fueled my desire to succeed. I learned how to dance despite my lack of grace and coordination, married an awesome guy despite my average looks and became a Product Manager at Intuit. Despite the many challenges and detractors, nothing was going to stop me from working on my idea.
I believed in my idea and with the encouragement of a few supporters, I decided to take my idea to Incubation Week. Incubation Week at Intuit is a week long program to supercharge innovation. Small teams are taught how to design and code their ideas in just five days.You can learn more at Intuit Labs site.
Below are eight valuable lessons I learned in and out of Incubation Week.
1. Anybody can innovate
You don’t need to be a rockstar product manager or have mad programming skills to be at this event. All you need is a BIG idea and an even bigger drive to make it real.
2. Fuel your idea with passion
It has to come from within. You really have to believe in your idea because your passion and belief will get tested every step of the way. This is what Scott said to me during our coaching session. “Your whole story started with emotion and I really think you are on to something powerful. You felt something inside, read that and thought what could we do with those emotions.”
3. Find your “unit of one” supporter
A unit of one supporter is that one person who really believes in your idea. For me, it was Ben Blank. When Ben jumped off his chair and declared that my idea was a great idea, it really restored the confidence I had lost in myself and my idea. Thank you, Ben. I am forever grateful for your support.
4. Do a “Crazy Ivan”
When Ben and I were working through our app workflows, we were going around in circles and couldn’t break out of it. That’s when Ben said, “let’s do a Crazy Ivan.” For those of us who are not familiar with submarine terms, it’s an abrupt maneuver to reposition the vessel. We were able to quickly reposition and move forward.
5. If Scott Cook can ask for feedback, so can you
At the end of the week, we had our MVPs, great advice from Scott (Intuit’s founder) and a glow on our faces. But something happened that totally surprised me. We all were asked to give Scott feedback on his coaching skills. I mean, for real! Learning never stops, so always ask for feedback.
6. Innovators need time outs
It’s important to revisit these questions. Take the time to reconnect with your baseline. Where did you start? Why? What did you feel when you first thought of the idea?
7. Have fun
You’ve heard this before. If you can’t have fun doing it, then don’t bother. Incubation Week was loads of fun. It will always be my favorite Intuit memory.
8. Do what you love (Check out my previous post on this here)
A few weeks passed and I found myself wanting to go back to Incubation Week. Why can’t every week be like Incubation week? The question was perplexing. I finally realized that the answer is very simple. It’s so easy to get sucked into meetings and revisions of power points. Find a way to work on what you are passionate about. That’s what keeps you going and so will your BIG IDEA!