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Innovation/Global Risk

Innovator: Don’t Just Complain – Do Something!

A Man. A Van. A Plan. 

By Shlomo Maital  


 Faithful reader Jeff A. draws my attention to a great Planet Money blog about the key difference between those who complain bitterly and those who do something.

  Adam Humphreys, who lives in NYC, wanted to travel to China.  He filled out a long form, downloaded from a website, and showed up at the Chinese Consulate only to learn he had filled out the wrong form.  At the nearby Internet café, where he went to get the right form, he found many others in the same predicament.

     Reaction?  #$%%%#%&*(!!!!!!!   Anger. Grumbling. And …resignation.

     Not this time.  Adam called his friend Steven Nelson. They rented a large Penske cargo van. They parked it in front of the Chinese consulate.  And they mounted a sign:  Lucky Dragon Mobile Visa Consultants.  Inside the fan: Two Mac laptops and a printer, an old couch, “cozy as a dorm room”.  Confused visa applicants line up outside.  Adam and Steve first charaged $10.  They were over-run.  They then charged $40.  Too high.  So they settled on $20, with a $5 discount for Buddhist monks.  Sweet spot!  Just right.  Just like Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ porridge.   

    Adam says he can make $500 a day, but, he’s cagey about disclosing real numbers.   After all, someone else can park a van next to theirs.  It’s called capitalism.

     How many times have I complained about bureaucracy, red tape, delays, incompetency, rudeness…   and stopped there, rather than finding an initiative, taking action and offering a solution or work-around?

     That, clearly, is the difference between an innovator and a complainer.   Not IQ, brains, creativity, or anything else. Simply – willingness to act, to do something.  Recall that da Vinci, that great creative brain, never actually built most of his amazing inventions, but simply drew them.  Five centuries later, we venerate him, but most of us would like to change the world a little faster. 



Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital
January 2012
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