What is Innovation?

Innovation is the result of seeing the world differently :: Ashish Kothari

Episode Summary

Episode 72 of "What is Innovation?" is here! This week, Jared talks with Ashish Kothari, founder of Happiness Squad and author of "Hardwired for Happiness". They talk about the nine practices to unlock innovation. This episode also delves into the interconnectivity of productivity, creativity, and innovation. How do you upgrade your personal operating system to become agile? Are you losing your innovative ideas to a survival mindset? How can you blend work and creativity? Ashish's insights will help you establish practices to become hardwired for happiness instead of fear.

Episode Notes

Ashish Kothari is an executive coach, author, consultant and founder of Happiness Squad, a company focused on helping individuals and organizations unleash the power of happiness and well-being to achieve their full potential. In this episode, they talk about the nine practices to unlock innovation. This episode also delves into the interconnectivity of productivity, creativity, and innovation. 

More about our guest:

Ashish’s transformational approach, which he covers in his book “Hardwired for Happiness”, is interdisciplinary and integrates learnings across spiritual wisdom traditions, philosophy, positive psychology, neuroscience and organizational development. Prior to starting Happiness Squad, Ashish Kothari was a partner at the global management consulting company, McKinsey & Company and spend over two decades helping thousands of leaders succeed by building new mindsets and capabilities.

Episode Guide:

1:32 - What is Innovation?

2:37 - Critical pieces of innovation

6:23 - Happiness Squad

8:02 - Hardwired for Fear

9:27 - Losing innovation to survival

11:06 - Hardwiring for Happiness

15:02 - Work and Mind-wandering

17:00 - Creative 'time'

18:57 - New book: Hardwired for Happiness

19:39 - 9 Practices: Self Awareness

21:19 - Practice: Purpose

23:09 - Practice: Community Building

24:00 - Practice: Wellbeing

27:42 - Upgrading our operating system: becoming agile

31:34 - Advice for innovators

Resources Mentioned: 

Books / Articles:


OUTLAST Consulting offers professional development and strategic advisory services in the areas of innovation and diversity management.

Episode Transcription

/This transcript was automatically generated using AI; please forgive any inconsistencies. We are working to provide the correct and more concise copy of the transcript. For urgent need, please send us an email.


Jared Simmons  00:05

Hello, and welcome to what is innovation. The podcast that explores the reality of a word that is in danger of losing its meaning altogether. This podcast is produced by Outlast consulting, LLC, a boutique consultancy that helps companies use innovation principles to solve their toughest business problems. I'm your host, Jared Simmons, and I'm so excited to have Ashish Kothari.


Jared Simmons  00:29

Ashish Kothari is an executive coach, author, consultant, and founder of happiness squad, a company focused on helping individuals and organizations unleash the power of happiness and well being to achieve their full potential. As she she is transformational approach which he covers in his book, hardwired for happiness is interdisciplinary and integrates learnings across spiritual wisdom, traditions, philosophy, positive psychology, neuroscience and organizational development. Prior to starting happiness squad, Ashish Kataria was a partner at the global management consulting firm McKinsey and Company and spent over two decades helping 1000s of leaders succeed by building new mindsets and capabilities. Ashish, I am so excited for this conversation, man. It's always fun to talk to you. And I'm excited that listeners get to listen in this conversation.


Ashish Kothari  01:19

Yeah, it's my pleasure to be here, my dear friend, it's amazing to talk to you. I remember so fondly about our time together at the firm. So


Jared Simmons  01:26

yeah, I'm looking forward to the discussion and can't wait to dive in. So why don't we jump right in? What in your mind is innovation?


Ashish Kothari  01:36

Yeah, great question, Jared. So like, for me innovation is represents a breakthrough. A breakthrough in you know, it can be related to a product and how it's solving a problem. It can be related to a service, it can be related, actually to a fundamental change in process of how things get done. I think all of those are. But I think there is so many people who throw innovation, innovation, innovation, I really do think about breakthrough. So like not incremental changes, but real step forward step changes, right, right. In a way we are solving a problem,


Jared Simmons  02:15

right? You alluded to it, I had the pleasure of working with you a bit at McKinsey, and learned a ton. And one of the things that I always took from you was your ability to synthesize a problem and focus on the pieces that were most critical. And as you broke down your definition of innovation and being breakthrough product processes and services, what do you see as some of the critical elements of innovation, you know, when you're engaging with clients? What are some of the critical pieces, whether it's from a process standpoint? Or like, what is the nugget that you kind of focus on when you're trying to help clients with innovation work?


Ashish Kothari  02:53

So if I think about, you know, all the work I did, right, while I was at the firm, I think the most innovative things come from actually taking things from two, three very different disciplines and actually putting it together. Right, so stay within our space, there is only so much that you can get to right, I'll give you an example. Even if we are thinking about all the stuff that's happening in the world of data analytics, and big data and machine learning. Right, right. If you looked at what is becoming possible, even through voice recognition, and speech synthesis, and being able to take that, for example, and then tying it to the timeless, forever around processes, like claims management, or claims processing or underwriting Yes, yes, you know, you can have teams continuously trying to like figure out new better ways, slightly incremental ways, or you put them together, and all of a sudden, amazing breakthroughs happen. To me, that is where innovation comes from. Or like, you know, I think about swimming, we can keep innovating when we're looking at fibers, and we're looking at, you know, all the all the pieces around that. But for example, looking at how do sharks swim? And what is in their skin and their structure? And how can we actually replicate those natural structures into fabrics and products? Right, you know, so that's an example of a product innovation. Right? Right. You know, and in our own client service, right? If we think about, you know, the ways we serve clients, in fact, you know, we'll get into this. But one of the ways I'm thinking about innovating around this work I want to do around happiness squad, it's you know, it's similar. When people think about driving change in organizations, we always the historical model Jarrett, even when you and I worked, you know, at the firm, you need people, I need teams, and our people are the ones that do the work. Yes, we do it with the client, but you need teams. And this notion of how do we actually use technology? How do we use the fact that we have all of a sudden now everybody has lots of bandwidth As our technology in terms of video, audio recordings have gone up significantly, how do we, for example, take that content, put it together in a digital medium? And actually, instead of having teams a 345, all you need is a single person who makes it available to clients who then actually do the work? Right. Right. I think that is where I think big, big breakthroughs are possible. And that's what I'm innovating around, which is how do I actually make this work that I'm about to take into the world so accessible, so that it is available at such low prices, that we can truly democratize happiness? That innovation is at the heart of kind of what I'm swimming in right now.


Jared Simmons  05:43

Right? Right. I love that. I can't wait to dive into exactly what you're talking about the innovative element of this, to me, there are a couple pieces, there's the service aspect of innovation that you highlighted, how can you drive down the cost to serve, so to speak, to democratize it. The other part of the innovation to me is the process aspect of it. Because from what I understand about your process, and we'll dive into that is you're focusing in a completely different place. And then a traditional sort of process focused process oriented, data driven data, first mindset. And I really love that. So let's dive right into it. Tell me about happiness squat? And what led you to this new way of viewing the world?


Ashish Kothari  06:28

Yeah, and listen, and then also tie it to the why are we talking about happiness and happiness? Scott, on your platform evaluation, right? Yeah, look, we know, Jared, that the data is out there that we don't even need the data, we all individually, feel it in our bones, that happier people are healthier, they are actually more creative. And that's the leg, they're more creative, they're more adaptable, they're more resilient, they're kinder, and they're actually more successful. So it is not that the successful people are happier. Or if you are successful, then you're happy. It actually is quite the other way. The research is very clear on it. Hmm. happier people are more successful, because they are more giving, they are more charismatic, they are more creative. And hence they can solve problems very, very differently. Right, right. So to me, happiness is actually a really, really important element. And by the way, when it comes to innovation, I think it is extremely important. Because it's very hard to come up with innovative ideas when you're depressed or when you're down. Like it is physically not possible. We think innovation and creativity is something that we do. But I actually think it's not something that we do. creativity comes from a fundamental different way of being, we see the world differently than somebody else. And that's what allows us to get to the answer that gets implemented. Right,


Jared Simmons  07:53

right. Right. Right. Right. Yeah. So it's the different worldview that leads to the different outcome.


Ashish Kothari  08:00

Exactly. Exactly. And I think for me, the often that worldview, the reason you know, so many people are unhappier, so many people are kind of stuck in the incremental thinking is, you know, this insight that I had, based on my research that as humans, we are all hardwired for fear. You see our brains that we think are very innovative, that, you know, we always have this Oh, man is so intelligent. You know, humans are so intelligent, look at how innovative we are, we've created this world. Our brains actually are wired for fear, you know, our brains have evolved over millions of years, with one purpose to keep our bodies safe and secure. Right, right. And they've evolved over that time to keep our bodies safe and secure from a very specific kind of threat, which is a threat from a predator, a carnivorous animal, right, right. Because 20,000 years ago, there were enough of those roaming around that we are all lucky descendants of people who is fight or flight, their ability to scan the environment for danger are so attuned, that they either spotted the tiger and there were enough of us and we ate it for dinner, right or spotted the tiger and actually went a different way if they were alone, so they didn't get eaten for dinner.


Jared Simmons  09:12

Right. Those are our progenitors. Those are


Ashish Kothari  09:15

the ones we are all descendants of those. Right, right. You talk about natural selection. So we are naturally selected with our brains, an amazing ability to be able to be out there scanning. Now the problem is we are actually I would say becoming less innovative as we go. Because the problem is our environment has completely changed. There are not that many tigers roaming around. But we have threats to our ego identity and psychological safety all day long. Because just look at what we're swimming in like most of us today. In the US. We're swimming in all of these forces, and they all affect us unconsciously. We are coming out of a pandemic. We are figuring out what the future of what looks Right, right, right, inflation has never been higher, right? We are more divided as a country as a political party. Racial tensions have never been higher. We have ecological disasters every day that we hear about, right? We literally have a fricking war going on, right, that can very quickly break into a world war. And if all of that wasn't enough, we have shootings, almost one shooting a week, if not more in that country. So you know, when we think about what we are swimming in, why it is not surprising that we are facing this epidemic of stress, anxiety, burnout, and Jarrett, as you and I know, if we are stressed, anxious and close to burnout, how creative can we be?


Jared Simmons  10:47

Yeah, that's not the mode you put yourself in that environment, or that I put myself in? Yeah, I don't, I'm not thinking about creativity, I'm thinking about survival survival,


Ashish Kothari  10:56

exactly. We're thinking incremental. And then we're like, you know, we have no space, and we're just constantly running around. And I think that's why I think for me, innovation, what we need to innovate is not how to get people to be more innovative in terms of the ideas they come with. But we need to actually help people fundamentally learn how to hardwire themselves for happiness versus hardwire themselves for fear. Because as we fundamentally change our way of being and experiencing the world, innovation will come.


Jared Simmons  11:31

It's almost a natural outcome, it will be the outcome. Yeah, yeah, I see. That makes so much sense. And it really tying it back to our survival and our DNA, so to speak, is really, I think, kind of freeing. Yeah, because it's easy, especially during the pandemic, we were so isolated, it's easy to feel like and think that you're the only person that's unhappy, or you're the only person that has these fear based mindset. And I think talking about it, and connecting it to the work that so many people do innovation, creativity, driving change. It's almost paradoxical, because we need that kind of thinking most to help us break out of the environment that we're in that is making it difficult to feel happy.


Ashish Kothari  12:19

100%, right. And by the way, not only do we have so much of this in our environment, so right, there's this notion of we can all hardwire individually for happiness, we can hardwire ourselves to be ways in which allow us to support us to be more creative, and more innovative. But you know, the issue runs even deeper. So one of the issues that we face, and all of the work that I did at the firm, but even run into now is let me ask you a question. Will you be more innovative? If you feel you're in a culture where you are psychologically safe, and you coming up with big ideas? You're not going to be judged or not? Right? It's kind of a rhetorical question. But like, yes, yeah, but how many places are actually ones that run on? Hey, it's okay. It's okay to take risks. I want you to think big, right? People don't have that. First, we are not ourselves in a place that can be at our best, the most creative. And then we operate often in environments today, where we feel will be judged. We don't want to say something stupid. Yes, exactly. When we shut off that part, when we are Conway's questioning the big crazy ideas. Don't come right. Don't come from there. Right? Right. In fact, I'm reminded, you know, just the other day I saw this ad, but I'm reminded, we don't want to be called crazy. You're just crazy. Man. I don't know what you're thinking. Right? Go back to the ad from Apple, where the ad that was all about Here's to the crazy ones. Yeah, here's to the rebels. Because they are the only ones who can change the world who can take it forward who can actually bring innovation, right? It's a reminder for us as leaders to make sure that the environments we craft in our organizations, actually support those rebels actually create spaces for people to dream and come up with wild ideas. Because without that, we won't have innovation.


Jared Simmons  14:17

Right? Right now that's so well said. What comes to mind for me, as you're painting this picture is this hardwiring for fear in an innovation context leads people to focus on risk management. Yes. And the hardwiring for happiness to me sets you up for more of an abundance mindset. And to me, that's where innovation thrives when you are operating from a mode of scarcity or risk management, when you've done the right things to kind of create the sandbox, where you can suspend risk in suspend the implications of things because that's the only way you're going to unlock these things. That's what I'm kind of taking away from what you're saying.


Ashish Kothari  14:57

100% 100 Plus sent, you know, the other thing I will tell you is, there is such a big movement of mechanistic movement almost towards this work, right? Where we are also in this mode of ever increasing pressures to perform. Are you working? Are you working hard, right? How soon can you get this thing out? Go, go, go, go go. And you know, if you look at the research, in fact, one of the things that is kind of really amazing that's evolved. And again, it's a key element of hardwiring for happiness, is this notion of how do we actually create moments when our mind? On one hand, mind wandering is really bad? On one hand, mind wandering actually can be really good. Sure. But we have eliminated almost all places now. Before the smartphone, if you and I were standing in a queue, what did you do you stood in a queue? Right? Exactly. You looked around at people, right? What do we do now we have our phone out. So we have eliminated that space. For mind wandering, we've eliminated that space where creativity can emerge. And there is all this research from you know, Berkeley and Harvard that clearly shows that people if they integrate this notion of mind wandering, you know, rather than just fill their mind constantly with Go, go, go, go go doo doo doo doo doo, will be more creative will be more innovative. Right? Creation needs space to strike.


Jared Simmons  16:27

It does, it does, it's like you have to make space for these moments of inspiration that you can then allow to germinate into ideas. And I think part of the challenge is, you don't always realize, okay, this idea came to me while I was waiting for this thing, no, but I feel like your brain is kind of working in the background in these moments of mind wandering, and it's not always conscious. And I don't know if we fully appreciate what we're losing, as we start to kind of squeeze that out of our existence.


Ashish Kothari  16:58

We don't you know, the other time when we are at our most creative, the most creative is actually when we wake up. Oh, okay. And how often do we now we wake up to the alarm going off on our phones, and the first thing we do is hit snooze. The second thing we do is we open up the phone and actually look at the emails and we are gone. And we lose the space again for inspiration to strike. Right? Right. How many times have you been in a shower? And when you were just showering that Oh, my God, what a great idea. You know, Where's that coming from? That's coming from the mind, not focused on trying to solve the problem. But from lateral thinking that only becomes possible. When you're not actively right. So this notion, I always, I think it's so important. It's a key practice for me around hardwiring for happiness. But I think it's a really relevant practice for people. All the innovators out there actually need to integrate these practices into their life. Because these are the moments that also, as I said, those things that make us happier, also make us super creative.


Jared Simmons  18:04

Right? Yeah. And that's a link that is not emphasized. It's


Ashish Kothari  18:07

not Yeah, you want to go far. You got to work hard, you got to go, go go. Right, you can work harder, you can work smarter,


Jared Simmons  18:14

right? Yeah. And you're talking, I just made a note of productivity, creativity and innovation, and what impact do they have on each other? As I think about some of the work we did at the firm, some of the work I've done with clients, since I'm sure some of the work you've done since productivity, especially in an inflationary environment, is front and center. And the challenge, I think, is how does that sit with creativity and innovation? And what does that do to productivity in the long term in a technical organization?


Ashish Kothari  18:46

Oh, no, absolutely. Right. So I'll tell you like one of the things I get really excited about, and I love this, as you and I know, through the conversations we were having, I was researching. And this book that it just comes out now and October 11, right? It's all around hardwiring for happiness. Originally, what I was looking at was what helps us move away from fear, to freedom. It's the fear that holds us back was the original, my thesis that I was working on, and that I just found that all those things I was finding from neuroscience and psychology and spirituality, actually, also allow us to be happier. And it's that that allows us to break away. Right. But if you will, right, let me walk you through Jared. I was curious. I was thinking about our conversation today. And I was thinking, I think it is such a powerful set of practices that we can apply to actually unlock innovation. So if you will, let's play with that for a bit.


Jared Simmons  19:38

Let's do it. Yeah.


Ashish Kothari  19:39

So at the heart of these practices, the nine practices is actually is the practice of self awareness. Right at the center. Yeah, Harder, Better self awareness. And a big part of self awareness is how we make sense of the world. Because we all see the world differently based on our beliefs, based on our work. We have feeling in our body, I'll be exhausted, I'll be tired Are we at our best, and the mood that's present for us. And we can consciously actually shift the way we are seeing the world to be more innovative by two or three simple ways we can take stances of, for example, keeping our arms closed, are actually really opening ourselves up looking into the horizon like somatically, we can get into states that are more innovative,


Jared Simmons  20:27

right? And that's literal, literal, literally opening your posture. Yes, yes.


Ashish Kothari  20:33

Right, if he just changed that, open your posture, lift your legs up, look into the horizon, almost, you know, put your hands even behind and allow yourself to dream. You're looking out there. How many people are engineers are trying to be innovative, scrunched over their shoulders, looking into the computer, you know, think about the body when you're compressed? how innovative can you be versus when you're open, right? So a real simple practice around how from just even where we are, or don't try and come up with amazing ideas when you are feeling angry, or you're feeling tired, because you don't have the capacity for that. Instead, take a nap for 20 minutes. Right? Or go out for a walk. Self awareness, right can be really big. 


Ashish Kothari  21:19

The second practice is that of purpose, finding your purpose, defining your meaning, right. And there again, you know, oftentimes, when we are solving for something, it's this notion of knowing the forest from the trees, right, holding the bigger space of what am I really solving for? What is the real problem that I'm solving? Even just taking that step back and seeing the bigger picture? What are the other forces at play here can allow us to come up with more innovative solutions rather than incremental solutions? Because we're only here. Right? Right. If we have just in the trees, we can't actually see the forest. And so this notion of like really holding the bigger purpose of what I'm working on, and how is it going to make a difference in the world? What are some things that can actually support it? Right, I think that'd be a really, really powerful one.


Jared Simmons  22:11

Right? Yeah, I could definitely see how that would unlock a different set of tools and and a different set of avenues for solving the problem when you pull it up into that life or purpose frame.


Ashish Kothari  22:24

Yeah, in fact, you know, some of the greatest innovations have come from this notion of really not solving the problem that you're told, but actually redefining the problem, which is what this is about, is basically saying, what's the job that needs to be done? Right, right? And how can my solution that I'm creating allows somebody to do their job better? That notion of what's the job that the consumer I'm solving for is trying to do with this product? That is the purpose that is what's the purpose of this product in that person's life, right, I think can be so huge, can lead to such breakthroughs, stop thinking from me out, start thinking from them in from the consumer end, right? Right, really, really huge. 


Ashish Kothari  23:09

The other one of these nine practices that I think can be so powerful, is community. Community is at the heart, for example of networks like InnoCentive, and others, like crowdsourcing, we can actually expand the set of perspectives we can bring into the mix to solve the problem. And community can be a big part of that. And by the way, community also allows us to be happier when we are engaging with different people supporting them, and they're supporting us, it brings us so much joy. But that practice of community consciously building community,


Jared Simmons  23:45

right? Yeah. And I think that the conscious construction of it is so key, because it's going to be something it's going to have a character, it's going to have an impact. And if you don't shape it yourself, it can grow into something that you don't want it to be


Ashish Kothari  24:00

exactly. I mean, the other practice I talk about as well being and wellbeing for me is all about how do we actually increase the base level of energy we have? And how do we manage our energy throughout the day, so we can be at our best, right? And, you know, going back to our conversation we were having before, if you're trying to be innovative and you're tired, or if you haven't slept enough, right? You know how many people today are going with six hours of sleep, six and a half hours of sleep five hours of sleep? And I'm telling you, if you look at the research that sleep scientists have done, if you go 10 days with less than seven hours to sleep for 95% of us seven hours per night, seven hours per night, right? Over 10 days. Yeah, our ability to think clearly is at the same level if we go hold 24 hours without sleep.


Jared Simmons  24:50

Wow. So less than seven hours of sleep per day for a week is equivalent to staying up 24 hours.


Ashish Kothari  24:57

Yes. Wow. We don't feel that Because the degredation is so slow, but our ability to think clearly is so low. So even the simple thing of let's get seven hours of sleep can actually increase our ability to be creative.


Jared Simmons  25:15

You know, that's interesting, because I noticed that when I go on vacation, take a vacation or whatever. But day two or day three, I'm excited and ready to get back to work. Because all of a sudden, everything feels simpler and clearer and easier. And that's probably part of it is getting more restful sleep


Ashish Kothari  25:33

100% 100%, right. And you're creating space where, again, you're not thinking directly about the problem, right? And so you're allowing all of these ideas to emerge. That's fascinating. I can go on and on. But like, I think my invitation to your listeners would be look at the framework and ask yourself, if you really integrated that practice into my life? How could I be more innovative? Right? And if I integrated that practice into my team, how could my team be more innovative?


Jared Simmons  26:07

Right, exactly. And then by extension, the culture


Ashish Kothari  26:11

by extension, that culture, exactly. And that's what I meant when I started this podcast, you know, our conversation before, which is a lot of the advice out there is, oh, use design thinking, here's what you should do, here's what you should, you know, my big thing is all the doing comes from a bass state of being. So I'd say work on your state of being. And if we work on that, we will be way more creative than just trying to implement a bunch of things in the outer world.


Jared Simmons  26:43

Right? Right. That's so well said and it inverts the traditional kind of approach to organizational problem solving. We normally lead with process, we don't lead with how, yes, and what you're saying is, let's lead with the core, and what's going on with the individuals not the bigger process and construct that they are part of


Ashish Kothari  27:06

100%. Interesting, I think it'd be want people to come up with innovative solutions, we have to fundamentally help them change the way they see the world. Like Einstein said this beautifully, we cannot solve problems with the same level of thinking that created the problem, we have to actually elevate our level of thinking and our way of being and our ability to actually deal with complexity to come up with innovative solutions.


Jared Simmons  27:39

Right? Right. That makes a lot of sense.


Ashish Kothari  27:42

And this work for me is all about upgrading what I would call our operating system to the next level.


Jared Simmons  27:48

Yeah, that's exactly where I was headed. It's still so structured, and so tactical. It's just structure aimed at an individual and not aimed at this broader process or broader organizational structure. Not at all. Yeah, not at all. Yeah. And that's what I really love about it, because it still has the elegance of a very effective process and a very effective framework. But it's about you, it's about me, it's about the people that we work with.


Ashish Kothari  28:14

Exactly. You know, there's so many conversations that I've had in the past with people who are saying we do Agile. And I'm like, Well, you can't do Agile if you're not agile to begin with. Because, you know, if you're not willing to give up command and control, and really inspire and lead from purpose and give the power to the people who you're asking to be agile, how will you be agile, right? Right? If you're still in a risk management mindset, how will you actually you tell out, do rapid iterations, you're going to rapid iterations to things that you're 100% sure are not gonna break. It's okay to break about yourself. It's okay, write something that's fine. We're not gonna learn right? You know, who was at Edison, who said, I didn't fail 1000 times I just figured out 1000 ways in which the light bulb didn't work. Yeah, exactly. That I came to my 1000. You know, again, that comes from changing our way of being, people aren't going to come up with these amazing, great ideas. If they're constantly saying, Oh, my God, my team is gonna like think I'm an idiot. I'm crazy. Like, they're gonna judge me.


Jared Simmons  29:20

Yep. Yeah. I've watched people swallow so many million dollar ideas, you can almost see it in the room. We've done these sessions, workshops and things and there's always a dynamic that emerges. You know, there are people who are allowed to talk at a certain time people who aren't people who know who's gonna get to speak first and all those things and facilitators work against that and try to balance it, but you can almost see when someone has an idea has a thought, and then decides that they can't share it. Yes. And if we see it happen in workshops and things where it's facilitated how many times that probably happened in a meeting, or when it's someone feels that culture weighing on them. To the point where they don't feel safe to offer up that.


Ashish Kothari  30:02

Yeah, exactly. And frankly, even you'll build on that dirt. And then there's so many of us, you know, who frankly, also walk around with these stories of fixed mindsets and views of who we are. So you know, it doesn't even need somebody else to do it. We do it to ourselves. So true. I was told growing up, I'm not creative, right. So the next time somebody is doing a brainstorming session, am I gonna put up my hand and give my idea? No, I've learned from childhood. Everybody's told me I'm not creative. No, everybody can be creative. Yeah, it's about are you willing to you know, it's all the core of Carol Dweck 's work, right? growth versus fixed is a mindset we can actually learn to grow, we can be anything we want. So I think in this work, we almost have to kind of as much about making sense of the world, we have to make sense of ourselves, what are we willing to actually give up? Wow, how can we be in a growth mode, we want to be creative. We want to be innovative. Innovation comes fundamentally from change. And so we have to at least accept that we can change to


Jared Simmons  31:10

that is so good. And it speaks directly to my lived experience. Some of the things I've seen and heard from clients is really humanistic, the way you've outlined innovation and happiness, and fear, and this risk mindset versus abundance mindset, and all of the things that come along with that. It's been a great conversation kind of unpacking this, I want to make sure that before we parked, I want to make sure I'll give you a chance to offer some advice to innovators out there.


Ashish Kothari  31:45

Yeah, I would say three big things for people to consider. Look, I hold the same number one is be selfish. And culture is all about selflessness. I'm saying be selfish, be selfish, because to make sure that your cup is full, that you are well rested, you're refreshed. Because if you don't have enough, you can't pour from an empty cup. Right? Right. So if you want to be innovative, take care of yourself, take care of your energy, be selfish, because your nature of being right, whether you are where you are energetically is going to determine how innovative you are. So do less, don't do more. Okay. 


Ashish Kothari  32:24

I think the second is, I think it's extremely critical for us to build in periods, where we allow ourselves to do nothing, create that space where we are not actively working the problem, but we're creating space for inspiration to strike for our minds to wander and come up. We are living in such busy lives, everybody has back to back to back to back to back meetings, they will be run exhausted. And then we wonder why innovation is dead. There is no space, there is no space. It's a little bit like starting a fire when you stuff a stove with a wood. If you don't leave Air, Fire can't go. Right. And so we got to stop, we got to take all that out. We need space for innovation to strike. So my second advice is, look, I will even be making it very specific. Okay, and only for the sake of being provocative, right? Make sure 30% of your calendar is empty, every day.


Jared Simmons  33:24

30% that is provocative,


Ashish Kothari  33:27

if you want people to say if you really feel like oh my god, what will people think, literally put a block and says innovating.


Jared Simmons  33:35

I love that. That is fantastic,


Ashish Kothari  33:37

right? If you really want to be innovative, make the space 30% I'm innovating. So I think that's the second big thing, right, which I would say. One is make sure you are at your best physically, mentally, spiritually, you're well rested, you actually have enough. The second thing is actually create the space, make sure at least 30% of your calendar, especially for innovators, right? People who we are counting on to change the world. drive innovation, not incremental, you know, if you're a process engineer driving incremental changes, maybe you don't need 30% Even there, I think you do but right, fine, I get it, like you say, but if you really are expected to be innovative, make the space, I think that's the second big thing that I would say, truly have be innovative. And I think the third big thing that I would say is just increase your level of self awareness about the beliefs about ourselves and the world and the problem we are solving and what is that enabling and what is holding that back? And the only way we can actually do that is through dialogues with others to collect as many different perspectives about what's going on what's about ourselves, right? So like really honed that practice of self awareness. Because innovations come when somebody looks at the problem that everybody else looked at it one way And they look at it from a different angle and then say, Wait, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, we all think the answer is here. The The problem is not even this problem, the problem is this right? And the answer is this. Right? Right. It requires an ability to step back. But to step back, you have to first become aware of what are you stepping back from?


Jared Simmons  35:18

Hmm, that's great, then it's fantastic. Be selfish. Build In periods of time for innovating, and practice self awareness. Yes. Love it. Those are great. That's fantastic. I finish this has been, as always educational and inspirational. And I'm so excited to have you as a friend and hopefully future collaborator. And I really, thank you genuinely for taking the time to chat with us today.


Ashish Kothari  35:46

Yeah, my pleasure, Jared. It's absolutely a pleasure. And you know, for your listeners, if they want to learn, and really learn more about these practices and how they integrate, they can go to happiness. squad.com they can follow me on Instagram. I post daily videos 60 to 90 seconds. Yeah, get a handle on the book. It should come out October 11. And I promise you I think as people take and start to integrate these practices into their lives, they will be more creative, they will be more innovative, but even more importantly, man, they will be happier. Yeah. And that will result which is also a wonderful thing, because by being happier, it feeds, they will allow themselves to be more creative, innovative, more giving.


Jared Simmons  36:32

Thank you so much. This conversation has made me happier. As he Scutari innovation is a breakthrough is both October 11 hardwired for happiness. So excited. Can't wait. Thank you again for your time.


Ashish Kothari  36:45

My pleasure. Take care, buddy. All right. Take care.


Jared Simmons  36:53

We'd love to hear your thoughts about this week's show. You can drop us a line on Twitter at Outlast LLC. out L A s LLC, or follow us on LinkedIn where we're at last consulting. Until next time, keep innovating. Whatever that means.