Killer Innovations
The award winning Killer Innovations™ Podcast and nationally syndicated talk radio show (on +30 radio stations) is hosted by Phil McKinney, an award winning innovator of technologies and products used by hundreds of millions of consumers and businesses worldwide. The podcast is Phil's way to "pay-it-forward" by sharing his experience and expertise in innovation so that individuals and organizations can achieve success in the innovation/creative economy. About the Host: Phil retired as the CTO at Hewlett-Packard where he led the product/R&D for the $40B PC, Mobile, Display/TV and Workstation business. He is currently the President and CEO for CableLabs, the non-profit R&D and innovation lab for the global cable industry. Phil shares his rule-breaking approach to innovation and creativity in his book "Beyond The Obvious" and via the podcast. He has been credited with forming and leading multiple teams that FastCompany and BusinessWeek list as one of the “50 Most Innovative”. His recognition includes Vanity Fair naming him the “The Innovation Guru”, MSNBC and Fox Business calling him "The Gadget Guy" and the San Jose Mercury News dubbing him the "chief seer". For more information on Phil visit his blog at

Helping companies and teams to unlock their natural creative ability can be daunting to innovation leaders. One method that I have found incredibly useful is to use improv comedy skills as a way to get team members comfortable being uncomfortable since in improv, you never know what's going to happen next.

Kelly Leonard, Executive Director of Insights and Applied Improvisation at The Second City and Second City Works, shares his experience and insights from Second City being part of the training for such creative talent as Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, Steve Carell, Keegan Michael Key, Amy Sedaris and others.

So what role can and does improv comedy skills play in helping teams and individuals boost their creative output?

Through Second City Works, Kelly and his team bring the skills, training and experiences of improvisational comedy to help companies such as Coca Cola, Microsoft, Memorial Sloan Kettering and DDB Worldwide unlock their teams natural ability to be highly creative.


Improv Comedy Skills

Leonard shares there are two core basic skills that directly apply:

  1. Careful listening: In one exercise he uses with clients, a group has to create a story one word at a time by having each person in a circle add one (and only one) word to the story based on what has been said already. It forces people to have to focus on their listen skills and not their talking skills since 90% of this exercise is about listening.
  2. Building on the ideas of other by using "Yes And ..": In a second exercise, Leonard sets a rule that for the first team minutes, any comments ideas must build on the ideas of others by starting each statement with the words, "Yes - and ...". This reinforces listening skills and offering positive reinforcement to the original idea and the premise that the best ideas on built upon the ideas of others.

For more exercises and how they apply to the business world, check out Kelly Leonard's book, Yes, And: How Improvisation Reverses "No, But" Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration--Lessons from The Second City.

Kelly shares a number of other experiences and examples of how improve comedy can boost innovation. To hear the other examples, listen to the audio from show below ..



What inspirations feed your ideas for innovation? In this case, seeing a news report on a tragic death of a 6 month old baby let a young entrepreneur to create an innovation that could save kids left in the car.

Bishop Curry is headed into the 6th grade this fall. Its was a the tragic death of Fern Theford, a six month old infant, in 2016 that was the inspiration to innovate a solution to prevent this accident from happening again.

In a Washington Post article on the accident, the author Travis M. Andrews shared:

The temperature in a car can rise rapidly, and children left inside — even for just a half hour, even on a relatively cool spring or summer day — are almost immediately in danger.

Christopher Haines, director of pediatric emergency medicine at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, told WebMD that most parents don’t understand how quickly an innocuous errand can turn deadly.

“On a day that is just 72 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature [inside a car] can increase by 30 to 40 degrees in an hour, and 70 percent of this increase occurs the first 30 minutes,” Haines said.

In addition, a child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s, according to the Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Bishop went after the problem and figured out a way to save kids left in the car

Through a series of prototypes, he came up with a solution. To raise the funds needed to move the idea forward, Bishop's parents setup a GoFundMe page with a target of raising $20,000. So far it has raised more than $45,000 and its still going.

To secure the idea, he has begun working with a patent attorney and has plans to build some early prototypes so that they innovation can be refined.

So what are the lessons?

  1. Don't let age or experience hold you back.
  2. Don't be afraid to try an idea because it might fail.

Hear it from Bishop himself in the audio from the show below ...

More on Bishop Curry:

Bishop B. Curry, V is headed into the 6th grade in the fall. He lives in the Dallas Texas area with him Mom and Dad and younger siblings Isaiah (9) and Anistyn (2). He came up with the idea for Oasis when Fern Thedford (6 mo) died tragically in a hot car last summer. Bishop's ingenuity is God-given and to supplement what comes natural, Bishop attends an engineering camp every summer when school is out. When he grows up Bishop plans to be an inventor and an actor.

Press on Oasis ...

What would you think if your child, grandchild, niece or nephew came to you and said that they were skipping college to start a business?

Almost a year ago, I interviewed Nick Titus who was soon to be a High School Senior about his science fair project that was quickly becoming an innovation that could impact the lives of those who had lost mobility. To get an update, I invited Nick back to the show to share an update.

To start off, Nick and his friends have decided to take a "gap year" and skip college to start a business. That business is Myonic. Myonic is taking what started as Nick's science fair project to hack a TENS device so that people who had suffered a spinal cord injury or stokes could regain movement.

Since we last talked with Nick, he has achieved some major milestones including:

At the same time, Nick and his team has advanced the product to now allow mind control. This allows the user to think what action they want to perform, such as close the hand. By combining that with other motions such as gritting teeth, the device knows that you want to crush a pop can versus wanting to gentle pick up a raw egg.

While we talked about this feature a year ago, Nick and team have not only worked out the technical issues, they have created a working prototype.

So what's next?

They are on track to close a round of pre-A funding while announcing that will be opening up access to their product to beta testers. If you are interested, please check-out their new web site at

So what lessons did Nick learn trying to finish his Senior year of High School while also being a CEO? Focus. He shared that prioritization and focus became the challenge while trying to juggle all the demands on his time. Welcome to adulthood.

Listen to the full interview below.

More on Nick Titus:

Nick Titus is the CEO and Co-founder of Myonic Technologies Inc. Myonic has created a wearable device that allows paralyzed users to regain control of their muscle. He founded the company after developing the medical device in his high school engineering lab for a science fair project. He saw the good that this device could bring to people's lives first hand and decided to launch a company to get this technology in the hands of more people around the world.

You can follow Nick and Myonic on FacebookTwitter or on their website.

Direct download: Skipping_College_To_Start_A_Business_S13_Ep19.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 5:25am PDT

This is for CxO's or those who want to eventually be a CxO. How are you thinking about innovation within your organization? What are you doing to ensure that you have the right innovation leader in place?

Why Is Innovation Important?

A recent McKinsey & Company surveyed more than 2,000 executives and asked how important is innovation to them. Not surprisingly, +80% responded that innovation was extremely or very important to their companies' growth.

If that wasn't convincing, The Boston Consulting Group found that nearly 80% of executives put innovation as one of the top 3 priorities for their companies, and more than 20% made it the single top priority.


Research has shown that consistently innovative companies hold 6 times the market share and make 3 times the profit than the average in their industry.

So - what things should your innovation leaders be able to bring to your organization?

The 8 Things Your Innovation Leader Should Bring To Your Organization

#1 - They Bring Experience: They've lived the front line of taking an idea and turning it into a success. Having a failure under the belt is a big plus. Consultants are not experienced. While they can help you understand the theory and maybe implement a process, they do not bring the experiences you need for innovation success.

#2 - Build A Culture For Innovation: Building and extending a culture for innovation is critical to an organizations success. If the culture is not aligned with innovation, the innovation leader needs to have the skills to do the hard work of re-building the culture.

#3 People: Innovation leaders understand that innovation is about people. It's human ingenuity that sparks that ideas that transform organizations. At the same time -- innovation DOES NOT happen from a single team and the role of the innovation leader is to help other leaders in the organization succeed when it comes to innovation.

#4 Executive Presence: The innovation leader must have the executive presence and ability to communicate at the most senior levels within the organization. Their role is to act as translator. They translate innovation so that executives see and understand the what and the why. They also translate executive speak so that the innovators understand what the innovation objectives are.

#5 Great Ideation Facilitator: The innovation leader knows how to create the right BHAG (Bold Harry Audacious Goal). This is what enables teams to create ideas that become game-changing innovations. The innovation leader has a proven ability to use team diversity (much broader than the HR definition of diversity) for generating better ideas.

#6 Innovation Metrics: The innovation leader has a proven track record of creating, measuring and delivering against innovation metrics. They know how to define innovation metrics tailored to the organization.  They commit and take responsibility to deliver against the metrics even though they are beyond their direct control.

#7 Coach and Mentor: The innovation leader understand the difference between coach and mentor and knows when to apply each. A coach provides specific instruction regarding how to improve your performance. A mentor becomes more of a trusted adviser in areas that can cross personal and professional lines.

#8 Great Collaborators: Collaboration is fundamental to innovation success and great innovation leaders model collaboration. NIH (Not Invented Here) doesn't belong inside ANY organization just as fighting over credit is NOT collaboration. Innovation leaders are focused on getting the best out of others and not worrying about who gets credit in the end.


While I started off addressing this show to CxO's its a good scorecard for those of you who want to become innovation leaders insider your own organization.

So how would score yourself against each of the 8 items??

Don't sweat it. No one has all eight. There are a few items on the list that I need to work on myself.