Magazines are just broken iPads: Luke Williams speaks about Innovation with the Birmingham Venture Club

Magazines are just broken iPads: Luke Williams speaks about Innovation with the Birmingham Venture Club

Posted by Ethan Summers on Dec 13th 2019

What an incredible lunch with the Birmingham Venture Club!

Mayor Randall Woodfin spoke briefly, thanking the Club, the startups, and the investors for the progressive work we’re all doing here in Birmingham. “There’s a sense of a sense of energy and a sense of urgency in this room,” he said during the lunch’s opening remarks. 

If you’re not keeping an eye on Mayor Woodfin, you’re missing out. Initiatives like the Birmingham Promise are uplifting the whole city. But the keynote speaker blew us away.

Luke Williams teaches innovation like no one else. A professor at the NYU Stern School of Business. The Founder of the NYU Innovation Lab. A Frog Design fellow. An inventor of 50 patents. ATEDx speaker. And author of DISRUPT, which I bought a copy of during his hour-long lesson on how innovation is changing.

Some of our notes from his hilarious, rapid-fire conversation with the audience about innovation that ranged from babies thinking magazines are broken iPads to how two chairs are great but a third is just useless:

  • “Our society is obsessed with this idea that we have to prove the current idea wrong before we can accept the new idea.”
  • “We’re steeped in this culture of thinking it’s the things that matter, not ideas.”
  • “We have to challenge the idea that things (scarcity) and ideas (abundance) operate in different ways."
  • “When you’re in the realm of ideas, you’re always in the realm of increasing returns.”
  • “We’re stuck in an innovation cult of personality… Jobs, Musk. Where’s the process?”
  • “If you think you’ll find the idea when you need it… it’ll be too late.”
  • “You have to challenge existing ideas long before there’s any justified reason to do this.”
  • “Any new recipe is inherently both good and bad at the same time.”
  • “Leaders have to move away from an obsession with return on investment (ROI) to an obsession with a return on learning (ROL).”
  • “Ideas are never criticisms. They’re never saying the existing system is wrong. It’s just a discussion.”

And maybe most importantly for anyone in the startup space trying to operate their business while also taking advantage of their agility to grow and change:

  • “Innovation is a skillset that needs to be mastered by everybody. Innovation is the opposite of Continuity, but you need a comfortable fluency between both.”