By Gijs van Wulfen

As you know, innovation for most of us is a frustrating business. Few people are extremely successful in it, though. I just wondered what their innovation secrets are and what we can learn from them.

That’s why Siemen Eijkemans and I studied ten very successful famous innovators. The list of famous innovators is of course very subjective, I know. We picked 3 typical innovation insights of each of them and a wonderful quote. I hope their insights and quotes will inspire you on your innovation journey.

Jeff Bezos (founder

  1. Be a thorough researcher;
  2. Bring together a talented diverse group of people
  3. Ideas are easy. It’s execution that’s hard.

Quote: “Be prepared to tread into areas where others have never trodden before”.

Richard Branson (founder Virgin Group):

  1. Step outside of comfort zone;
  2. Mix business with pleasure;
  3. Take calculated risks.

Quote: “The challenge is to follow through on a great idea.” 

Michael Dell (founder Dell computer corp.):

  1. Have a big dream;
  2. Break the regular value chain (sell direct);
  3. Spend time with customers.


 “You don’t have to be a genius or a visionary or even a college graduate to be successful. You just need a framework and a dream.”

James Dyson (founder Dyson company):

  1. Be curious;
  2. Use new technology to solve common day problems;
  3. Make the perfect product.

Quote: “You never learn from success, but you do learn from failure”.

Steve Jobs (Co-founder Apple):

  1. Be committed to perfection;
  2. Say no to 1,000 things;
  3. Sell dreams not products.

Quote: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

Ingvar Feodor Kamprad (founder IKEA):

  1. Break the pattern;
  2. Simplify;
  3. Persist.

Quote: ‘Only those who are asleep make no mistakes.”

Shigeru Miyamoto (Creator of Super Mario, Donkey Kong and Nintendo Wii):

  1. Start from scratch;
  2. Be the first one;
  3. Listen to your inner voice.

Quote: “To create a new standard, you have to be up for that challenge and really enjoy it”.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin (co-founders of Google):

  1. Improve the lives of as many people as possible;
  2. Give value for free;
  3. Don’t take yourself to seriously.
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Quote Larry Page: ‘great just isn’t good enough”.

Elon Musk (Paypal, Tesla and SpaceX):

  1. Work 80-100 hours a week;
  2. Pick the right team;
  3. Know when to grow.

Quote: “You want to have a future where you’re expecting things to be better, not one where you’re expecting things to be worse.”

Desmond Tutu (Social innovator, Archbishop and social rights activist):

  1. Be authentic;
  2. Be critical and speak out;
  3. Never give up.

Quote: “I wish I could shut up, but I can’t, and I won’t.”

Summarizing these 30 insights, it comes down to five essential ones:

  1. Think Big
  2. Be Original
  3. Be Perfect
  4. Stay Critical
  5. Persist.

Wishing you lots of success innovating your private lives, your jobs, your organizations and our planet earth.