1. They start small
We may think of Facebook as a massive success now, and it is. But when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had the idea, he started with one site that was available for use on the Harvard University campus. Steve Jobs didn’t create every single Apple product right out of the gate: he started with the Apple 1 which wasn’t even an entire computer but needed a keyboard and monitor in order to work. And Sheryl Sandberg’s revolution began with two simple words: "lean in." Innovators know that it all begins with one idea and one small thing or product. Then you expand and create an empire.
2. They think big
Just because companies like Facebook and Apple had fairly humble beginnings doesn’t mean that Jobs and Zuckerberg weren’t thinking big. Innovators have a vision for their success, and they follow their dreams.
3. They know being easy to work with doesn't matter
It’s no secret that innovators like Zuckerberg and Jobs have been difficult to work with. Jobs was known for his temper and being more than a little intense. And Zuckerberg, apparently, is "demanding." But that’s what seperates the innovators from the rest of us. Being easy to work with or for is not on the top of their agenda when they’re creating amazing things.
4. They don't always say yes
Jobs once said, "I’m as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to a thousand things." You wouldn’t be much of an innovator if you said yes to every single offer that came your way, would you? Being an innovator means being able to sort through the chaos and find what will work the best.
5. They know their brand
Do you see Bill Gates suddenly starting a make-up line, or Bethenny Frankel making laptops? Innovators know their brand, and they stick to it. Even when they expand their product lines, they’re always creating stuff that is completely relevant and part of what they do. The rest of us could learn a thing or two from the branding of innovators -- it doesn’t always work out so well when we try to be someone else, right? Whether we’re lying about our past on a first date or wondering if we should change careers even though we know that what we’re doing is right for us, it’s always best to be authentic.
6. They want to change the world
Even if we think that innovators simply create things like computers or phones, those things are changing the entire world. Think about a society without the smartphone or the laptop or even the television set. Innovators know that products can alter the entire make-up of society. And on another level, innovators change the world by participating in a variety of charities and using their money for more good than harm. Take this talk that Bill Gates gave at a college, as an example. He stated that "innovation" and technology are necessary to alter the problems facing education in the United States.
7. They're not afraid of working extremely hard
If you think you can go to work from 9-5, five days a week and clock out at the end of the workday and still call yourself an innovator, you need to think again. Being an innovator means expecting to work as hard as humanly possible, or even harder, to get the job done. Gates, for instance, would spend 36 hours straight on his schoolwork and used that routine for his own innovation.
8. They know that every issue has a solution
This might be the biggest thing that separates innovators from the rest of us. While problems that come up at the office make us scratch our heads and wonder what we’re going to do now, innovators thrive on problem-solving. In fact, coming up with a product involves thinking of a problem and deciding on a solution. The product, in effect, is the solution.
9. They know starting from nothing is okay
If we want to quit our jobs and start our own business, we’re terrified to start from scratch when we’ve had a steady paycheck and the comfort of being part of a company. When innovators start their businesses, they’re literally starting from nothing and it doesn’t phase them in the least. You can’t be concerned with your humble start if you want to succeed. You have to think about the big picture and what you want to create.
10. They keep reaching for the stars
Did you ever hear of an innovator who created something and then said, okay, that’s enough, I’m done? Innovators want to keep striving for success, and they will keep going. Let that motivate you the next time you feel like taking a sick day off from work.
See Also: How to be a Social Innovator
Allow the way that innovators think differently to inspire and motivate you to perform at your optimal level. Innovators don’t take sick days, and they don’t say they’re tired or bored. Instead, they continually strive to be the best they can be at what they do. Follow their lead today.
Do you think that you are an innovator?