Reputation borrowing – how do we amplify an idea?

Jeff Dyer Interview with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio (EP 769)


One of the amplifiers is what we call comparing. For novel ideas, we are trying to make sense of them and an analogy can really help. Especially if its an analogy that people understand and resonate with in terms of the opportunity.

Let me give you an example.

When an entrepreneur came to me, they were looking at trying to use an AirBnb model for storage. So we all know that in AirBnb we go and rent lodging from someone, and everyday people can do it. And they thought, you know there are a lot of people that may have extra storage space in their house or their garage or someplace. And there are other people that may need it.

So what if we created something, they called it ‘neighbor’. The analogy that they had come up with, which I thought was quite effective was – ‘this is the AirBnb of storage‘.

Being able to provide an analogy, especially of something else that’s successful, helps to whoever your trying to pitch on this, feel more comfortable that they understand what your offering, the solution, but they also understand that this is an opportunity and can be successful.

I think its even more important with complex new products or services.

This is an example of being able to create impressions about your idea, help people clarify and understand it and increase the likelihood that they will want to support it.

Now this analogy helps me to understand what it is, why it might be a viable solution and why it might be successful. That’s an example of something you can create impressions about your idea. Help people clarify and understand it, and increase the likelihood that they will want to support it.

Reputation borrowing

One of the reasons Tim Cook is called innovative is because he is the leader of Apple and has a reputation for innovation. It’s one of the things we recommend you think carefully about as far as your career goes. The companies you choose to go work for, are going to brand you – and you will borrow from that reputation.

So if you want to be viewed as innovative, then you want to go work for apple or SpaceX or Tesla, or maybe Google or Amazon. Right. You want to go work for a company that has that reputation, and that rubs of on you.

Clearly there are benefits that come from the organisation you work for and its reputation, that come back to you in terms of building your own reputation.

The company you work for and its reputation comes back to you in terms of building your own reputation.

Jeff Dyer

The book is called ‘Innovation Capital

In the book we basically suggest that companies build a level of what we call ‘Innovation Capital’. By that we mean that when your trying to get someones time or money to pursue an innovation project or initiative. they look at you and they make a calculation. And the calculation involves the following:

Components of Innovation Capital:

Does this person have a track record or history of innovation? Can I see that they are forward thinking? Do they have good creative problem solving things around the process? Do they seem to be good at persuading and having sort of social connections and connections with others they can pull to the project to make it a success?

All of that kind of comes together in your mind as a potential sponsor, someone who is willing to give resources or time. And people that have more of that combination are more likely to get a Yes when they ask for resources.

Now if you think about ‘Innovation Capital’ as a resource you build up over time. Which is also self reinforcing to some extent. In other words as I start to build a reputation for innovation, I can meet more people and bring into my social networks. They heard of me, they want to meet me. And then they may also bring me ideas, that sort of help me develop and hone new ideas and be forward thinking for the future and so on.

People sort of build this over time. So some people that get started on it are going to go further, faster, so I do think there is always going to be variance.

But the subtitle of our book is ‘How to compete and win like the worlds most innovative leaders‘. And the point of that subtitle is there is competition for resources out there, there is competition for attention, if you want to do something new, if you want to create new value. And what we’re trying to do is help you understand is how to be successful in that competition for resources. And i think some people are going to be better at doing it. And some people wont be able to be nearly as successful, as those who really put the time and effort in to understanding and building this sort of almost fly-wheel that they get going, to build their innovation capital.

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