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Welcome to the New Lantern blog. Our goal is to shine light on leading innovators and creative artists, and how your business can learn and profit from them. Companies large, medium, and small can benefit from employees who think more creatively. New Lantern may be just the source of inspiration your company needs to spark more innovative products, services, and processes.


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Archive for Tag 'risk-taking'

I Still Love Lucy

Posted by on October 15, 2014 at 8:13 pm

The I Love Lucy television show first aired on this day in 1951. It starred then-Hollywood legend Lucille Ball, whose zany and fresh comedic antics helped turn the sitcom into the most watched television show of its era.

Ball’s trademark blazing red hair and slapstick humor was an unlikely pairing with her co-star, Desi Arnaz. Arnaz, who played Lucy’s husband Ricky Ricardo, was also her real-life husband during the run of the show. Arnaz was a dark-haired Cuban American singer and bandleader, whose memorable heavy accent and exclamations on the show continue to resonate to this day.

CBS executives at the time questioned whether the U.S. television audience would accept the idea of an All-American redhead married to a Cuban. Those fears quickly turned to celebration as I Love Lucy went on to become one of the most popular television sitcoms of all time. Sixty-three years after its debut, reruns of I Love Lucy are still viewed by more than 40 million Americans each year.

On the show, Lucy and Ricky were joined by co-stars Vivian Vance and William Frawley, who played Ethel and Fred Mertz. Vance and Frawley were perfectly cast as the Ricardos’ neighbors, landlord, and best friends. To this day, I still laugh thinking about the scene of Lucy and Ethel working in the chocolate factory on the production line.

Lucille Ball not only broke new ground as a leading female character of a television sitcom, she also served as the first woman to head a television production company, Desilu, which she and Arnaz formed. As a very active studio head at Desilu, Ball “pioneered a number of methods still in use in television production today such as filming before a live studio audience with a number of cameras, and distinct sets adjacent to each other.”

Whether it’s a television studio, and large corporation, or a small or medium size business, chief executives need to be willing to move outside of their safe zone in order to innovate and try new approaches. Success in business comes from bold leadership, a strong team, and promoting a culture that embraces an inventive spirit.

How the Vietnam War Saved My Life

Posted by on April 14, 2014 at 7:12 pm

It was the summer of 1983, and the Police, Men at Work, and Duran Duran were playing on the radio. I was 12-years old and about to start the seventh grade. I had made the decision not to return to my dad’s home in South Dakota, but instead live with my mom in Maryland and go to a new school. A few days before school started my mom took my brother and me to the mall for new clothes.

About a mile from the mall is where my life changed forever.

Our car was violently struck by an 18-wheeler. The mammoth truck had run a red light, crashing broadside into our car. It crushed and flipped our vehicle like a toy, critically injuring myself and my older brother. My mom was not as lucky; she didn’t survive the initial impact.

I woke sometime later in the Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland hospital in Baltimore. My brother and I had been “medevaced” by helicopter directly to this world-class trauma center. We were surrounded by doctors and nurses working on our wounds in a controlled chaos. They were all wearing their trademark pink scrubs, the uniform of these “special forces” of the medical world.

The predecessor of the University of Maryland’s trauma center opened in 1960s, and was the first of its kind. It was the brain child of R Adams Cowley, MD, who is known as the “father of trauma medicine.”

After treating the wounded in World War II and working for years studying traumatic injury, Dr. Cowley came to the conclusion that treating critically injured patients during that first hour was crucial to survival, referring to this time as the “Golden Hour.”  He determined this first hour was the difference between life and death.

But how does the Vietnam War play a role in my survival?

At the time that Dr. Cowley’s trauma center was becoming fully functional in Baltimore, the Vietnam War was coming to a close. And it was during the Vietnam War that the use of helicopters for medical evacuations was perfected. Dr. Cowley recognized the value of helicopters, and they quickly became an integral component of the new trauma unit. This innovation, combined with top notch teams of trauma doctors and nurses, soon made the center a huge success. And this success has carried on to this day as the center remains a world leader.

As for me, my severe injuries in 1983 kept me in the hospital for months, followed by even more time spent at home recovering. I ultimately did fully recover, and 30 years later, I am married and have three children of my own.

It’s thanks to Dr. Cowley’s innovation to the medical world that people like myself, who are able to make it through that critical “Golden Hour,” survive traumatic, life-threatening injuries.

Dr. Cowley passed away in 1991, but you can help him receive the recognition he deserves by honoring him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Click the link to sign a letter of support.

You Can Get There From Here

Posted by on January 12, 2014 at 9:03 pm

You Can Get There From Here photo

“You can’t get there from here.” Chances are you’ve heard this oft-repeated phrase all your life. Admittedly, I’ve used it myself on many of occasions. Yet, when I stop and really think about what I’m saying, or what someone may be saying to me with this phrase, I actually take issue with it.

From where I sit, I can get to anywhere. Whether it’s to an actual place or state of mind, I can get there. Just ask Google Maps, or Bing Maps, or MapQuest, or your shrink, or your partner or spiritual guru. They’ll all tell you the same thing. “Yes, you can.”

Now this is not to say that your desired destination may not be hard to get to. It very well may.  But that didn’t stop Rosa Parks from getting on that bus in Alabama in 1955. It didn’t stop Neil Armstrong from stepping out onto the moon’s surface in 1969. And it didn’t stop 64-year-old Diana Nyad from swimming from Cuba to Florida last year – after failing to do so in her four previous attempts.

Likewise, it shouldn’t stop you, your company, or your organization from going to wherever you need or want to go.

So the next time someone cavalierly tells you that you can’t get there from here, set them straight. Tell them they’re wrong. Hell, take them with you. They may learn something on the way.

Fear No More

Posted by on December 7, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Have you ever had a good idea for your company, but felt if you raised it to your management, they might scoff at the idea – or worse, tell you to mind your own business? Fear is one of the biggest obstacles to innovation in any company. Fear of ridicule. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of being told that your idea is stupid.

Too many companies unfortunately promote an environment that embraces this fear. It starts with managers who fear that their direct reports might actually outshine them with a creative or ingenious idea. These fearful managers exist at the lowest levels of the company, at the highest levels of the company, and every level in between.

There are also structural factors that promote innovation-killing fear in a company. “We’re the Office of Corporate Strategy.” “We’re the Office of Innovation.” “We’re the Office of the CEO.” Or, “We’re the number one product group for the company.” “You stick to your day job, and let us worry about the company’s new ideas or innovation strategy.” Sound familiar?

These are also the same companies which many times find themselves slipping from first, to second, to way back in the pack, while younger, hungrier, and more fearless companies eat their lunch.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Start by leveraging the laws of statistics. Challenge every single person in your organization to stretch his or her thinking. Promote a culture that holds to this axiom: no idea is a bad idea. Of course, you’ll need to point out that only a few ideas will be worthy of pursuing. Yet, your odds of finding a pearl are increased as you open up a larger number of oyster shells.

Try it. You have nothing to fear, but fear itself.

Breaking with Convention

Posted by on September 17, 2013 at 8:44 pm

On this day in 1787, a small group of delegates met in Philadelphia on the last day of their Convention to sign the Constitution of the United States. For nearly four months leading up to this date, the 55 men deliberated over the contents of what is regarded as one of the most important documents ever written.

George Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention, which comprised other “Founding Fathers” such as James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton. Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania chaired the Constitution’s drafting committee, which also included Madison, Hamilton, William Samuel Johnson of Connecticut, and Rufus King of Massachusetts.

The document and the process were not without their detractors. Rhode Island refused to send delegates. A number of delegates refused to sign the final document including George Mason and Edmund Randolph of Virginia, and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts. Mason felt strongly that the Constitution include a “Bill of Rights,” which was not part of the original document that was submitted to the states for ratification. The Bill of Rights, which contained the first ten amendments to the Constitution, was later introduced in 1789 and ratified in 1791.

The Constitution prescribes how the federal government is to be organized, outlines the role and powers of each of the three branches, and defines the government’s relationship with states and its citizens.

It starts with a simple yet eloquent Preamble: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

I marvel at the wisdom of the framers of the Constitution. It was not a perfect document; on the contrary. In its very creation, the Constitution contemplated a process by which it could be amended, and it has been 27 times.

Foresight, experience, perspective, and flexibility are key ingredients to any major endeavor. In order to accomplish great things, you need to develop a sound game plan with the input of other key stakeholders. You’ll also need to build in a process by which the plan can be modified if and when the need arises.

Your plan most likely will not need to support a nation, nor endure more than two centuries. But it will require your best thinking, and need to stand the test of time and the strain of events that will inevitably come your way.

The Art of Managing (The White House)

Posted by on February 6, 2013 at 11:28 pm

Can you imagine having 300 people counting on you to keep daily operations running smoothly? Now imagine one of those people is the newly inaugurated President of the United States, and the rest are his closest advisors and staff.

If this isn’t enough to think about, remember the country and world are watching.

Here are 10 strategies I learned during my five years serving as the Operations Manager for the White House, Executive Office of the President.

1.  When the Oval Office or anyone in the West Wing calls, you make things happen, quickly.

2.  Treat all who need your help as if they too work in the the West Wing.

3.  Get to know your customers and act as their liaison. Be the bridge between your customers and the experts who will help you solve their problems.

4.  View each challenge as an opportunity to showcase your skills and learn new ones. With each challenge comes risk for great success and equal failure. Commend others who helped you be successful, and own your failures.

5.  Always have a back-up plan so that any failures are quickly fixed.

6.  It can be prudent to ask questions such as, “Why are we doing it this way?” If the answer is, “I can’t remember,” or, “This is just the way it has always been done,” it could be time to rethink your solution.

7.  Change is constant – be able to adapt and improvise. There may be times when the best plans go south, this is when you must think on your feet, move fast or get run over.

8.  There is a solution for every problem; use your imagination and creativity to find those solutions.

9.  Mentor and train others – this is both challenging and rewarding. Showing someone the ropes and training them will ensure their success, while also ensuring your team’s legacy will continue.

10.  Lastly, one of my favorite sayings I used while working in the White House – “The impossible is possible, it just takes a little longer.”

The photo above was taken by Tina Hager (former White House photographer).