Killer Innovations with Phil McKinney
An award-winning podcast and nationally syndicated radio show that looks at the innovations that are changing our lives and how their innovators used creativity and design to take their raw idea and create game-changing products or services. Phil McKinney, retired CTO of HP and the creator, and host of Killer Innovations 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".

Making creative ideas into tangible products takes time.  Anything that can optimize the process will give the advantage.  Developing the next evolution of cloud computing is Mutable, which offers public edge cloud.  This translates into low latency, increased security and maximum efficiency. Antonio “Pelle” Pellegrino is Founder and CEO of Mutable.  Pelle joins me to discuss his innovations using edge computing.

 

Bowling Alley to CEO

Pelle’s career has been an interesting one.  From working in his parents’ bowling alley to streaming E-sportscasting, he gained business sense and startup initiative.   Four years ago, he saw the potential for innovations using edge computing. With Nathalie Zadocks, he founded Mutable. It was self-funded and revenue-based in its inception.  The company is now charging ahead as part of the CableLabs Fiterator program.

 

Solving Problems of Latency and More

Speed is no longer the metric.  Latency is what is measured, especially in gaming.  Latency depends on distance. How does Mutable managed the distribution of edge computing assets?  Through automation, from networking to server management to deployment, Mutable uses software to bring all the pieces together.  It’s a platform that makes things seamless for developers. With its innovations using edge computing, Mutable is a market maker for shared compacity.

 

Retrospective Advice  

Pelle’s experience starting up Mutable has given him some perspective.  His words of advice ring true for startups and innovators.

Innovating cable services, Mutable meets the demand in lowering latency.  To track what Mutable is doing, visit https://www.mutable.io/edge.html.  For the latest, check out their Twitter account: https://twitter.com/mutable.  

 

Five Minutes to New Ideas

Can you teach an old dog new tricks?  Great leaders know when it comes to others, there’s always more than meets the eye.  When it comes to creativity, everyone should know all the tricks, right? The truth is most people need to be taught.  Five Minutes to New Ideas explores how to recognize potential in your team’s creativity.  What will you learn from teaching your team creativity?

Direct download: Innovations_Using_Edge_Computing.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

Being connected has become an essential part of our daily lives. Wireless has made huge strides over the past two decades.  IoT is connecting our world in ways we would have never imagined.  With the growing demand for constant connectivity, one area that needs fine-tuning is battery life.  All these devices we use throughout the day require battery power. Today’s guest saw this as the opportunity.  David Su is CEO of Atmosic.  His company is innovating battery life.  Creating technologies to reduce battery usage, Atmosic develops solutions that keep things powered up.  

Stanford to Startup

Much of David’s career has been in the wireless space.  With a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford, David joined Atheros Communication in 1999 as its fifth employee.  David continued with Atheros as it grew and went public. He stayed on when Qualcomm acquired Atheros. After some years, David felt his time at Qualcomm had run its course.  He ventured into new areas.  With four former work colleagues, he started a new company.  

Atmosic’s Vision

In the wireless world, battery power can be a boon and a bane. Reliance on wireless means dependence on batteries for power. When batteries lose charge, things can come to a standstill.  Limited battery life also means a lot of batteries get thrown out - to the tune of three billion per year.  Two and a half years ago, David and fellow co-founders started Atmosic with this in mind.  David, Masoud Zargari, David Nakahira, Srinivas Pattamatta, and Manolis Terrovitis brainstormed.  They sought advice from experts in the field. Their vision began to coalesce - to keep connected devices powered with little to no battery usage.  


With the vision in place, Dave and his team went to work innovating battery life.  They started with battery powered Bluetooth devices.

Solving Core Battery Problems

The advantages Autmosic’s technologies will offer:

  • Lowest power usage without compromising quality.
  • Turns device off when not in use with system level check that transmits only when needed.
  • RF energy harvesting, enabling the battery to last forever.

Long-term vision:

  • “Battery-free utopia” – ecosystem in enterprise applications.

Lessons Learned

What has David learned along the journey towards innovating battery life?  David has some tips for people whether they’re starting a company or pursuing innovation.  

  • Interoperate – work with what is already known and improve it.
  • Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and be willing to listen.
  • Make sure what you are doing is what you truly believe in and are passionate about.
  • Ground what you are doing in reality.  

By innovating battery life, Atmosic is focusing on a problem that affects us all.  Powering down to power up will keep us connected in a sustainable way.

To track what Atmosic is doing, visit www.atmosic.com.   For the latest updates, check them out on Twitter and LinkedIn.  

 

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Five Minutes to New Ideas

Writer’s block happens to the best of us at one time or another. What is the solution to writer’s block? Doing a weekly podcast has forced me to exercise the creative muscle and fight writer’s block. Five Minutes to New Ideas explores how to cure writer's block and recharge your creativity.  What creative exercise are you going to do today?

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Direct download: Innovating_Battery_Life__Powering_Down_to_Power_Up.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

Before becoming CTO at Comcast, Tony spent a good part of his career as the number two guy.  At Rogers Communications, Inc., people counted on Tony to get the job done. From there, he moved on to TCI in the number two role.  His innovative vision soon got him recognized.  A phone call from John Malone surprised Tony.  John had a problem that needed to be solved. With two weeks to mobilize, Tony brought the right people together and came up with a solution.  John was impressed. About three weeks later, Tony was promoted to Chief Technology Officer.  Success to Tony is when opportunity meets preparation.

Steps a CTO Needs to Take

What are some of the first steps a new CTO should take?  Focus on your vision, belief, and financing.


For Tony, the most important thing is to bring people with you.  The people on your team need to be fully on board and passionate about your vision.  Steve Job’s team is a great example. His team brought the innovative ideas.  Steve made those ideas into bigger things. As a CTO, you need a credible plan to sell to your team, to your peers, to the CEO, and the Board.  Then you need to execute.  

CTO Lessons Learned

Looking back on his career, Tony shares some lessons learned.  Do you have your sights on a CTO role? Here are a few words of CTO advice for the innovator:  

  • Be willing to take a step backwards to go forward.  
    • There have been times in his career that Tony has taken a step backward to gain experience.  The value of experience outweighed the financial down step.  
  • Set high expectations for yourself and your team.  
    • Tony feels at times he could have set higher expectations and would have achieved more.

 

CTO Challenges and Success

From my experience as CTO at Hewlett Packard, a CTO has a divided focus.  The challenge is to find a balance between thinking of present goals and thinking years ahead.  Senior leadership support is crucial.

Another bit of advice for the innovator is to vary your experience. What helped me find success was my wide range of experience. For long-term career success, having a variety of experiences can make the difference.  You have to step out of your comfort zone. Be willing to try different roles. Be a part of teams that you would not normally be comfortable in. Having different experiences gave me the confidence I needed to be bold in innovation.  

If you have questions or comments about today’s show, drop me a note.  Join the conversation on this and other topics at The Innovators Community.

 

Five Minutes to New Ideas

What is the opposite of bravery?  The opposite of bravery is not cowardice, but conformity.  The economy demands creativity not conformity. Five Minutes to New Ideas explores the different ways to succeed in a creative economy.  Could these tips further you and your company’s success in today’s creative economy?

Direct download: CTO_Advice_for_the_Innovator.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

Early in my career one man who had a huge impact on me, my mentor Bob Davis, told me to pay it forward.  As Killer Innovations kicks off Season 15 this week, we reflect on what it has meant to pay it forward.  Challenging and encouraging others toward impactful innovation has been my passion. Kym McNicholas joins me on the show as we look back at the Killer Innovations evolution from simple podcast to syndicated radio show.

Worth It

Having enjoyed success as a career innovator, I decided in 2005 it was time to pay it forward by inspiring impactful innovation on a larger scale.  I owe much of my success to the people in my life who have mentored me and led me in the direction for success. As my way of giving back to my mentors, I chose to encourage others in innovation.  Jumping back to Season 1, the feedback from listeners all over the world for Killer Innovations has motivated me to keep going.  Having an impact on people through their innovation journey is the impetus.  Along the way, I’ve developed lasting friendships with many long-time listeners worldwide.

Getting Started

As podcasting emerged in late 2004, I began experimenting with it.  The critical piece of technology enabling podcasting, the enclosure tag, allowed for media distribution.  By March 2005, I jumped in with my first Killer Innovations episode.  It was a bit like the Wild West.  I modeled myself after Earl Nightingale, a motivational speaker whose tapes and cassettes inspired me.  With a laptop and a microphone, I began the podcast from a hotel.  That was the start of it.

Making an Impact Then and Now

One eye-opening comment I received in the first year of the show has stuck with me.  It was from an avid listener whose son, a young listener of nine years old, took the inspiration to heart.  He started taking items apart in the home to “innovate” them. That boy is now 23 years old and I would love to hear from him.  I hope he’s doing creative and innovative things.

Guests I’ve had an opportunity to talk to from across the country are doing impactful innovation.  With the Mobile Studio, we’ve been stopping in small towns to find innovation in unexpected places.  Guests in the past year from Fin Gourmet Foods are innovating in such unique ways on multiple levels.  The workforce is one facet of that innovation - investing in the lives of people who need a second chance.


[shareable cite="Kym McNicholas"]Some of the best innovators take those really big, calculated risks.[/shareable]

Fin Gourmet Foods is a great example of how innovation doesn’t have to be tech or happen in Silicon Valley.  Helping people innovate their own lives is impactful innovation at its best.

Guests Who’ve Inspired Us

Guests are an integral part of the show.  As they share their innovation experience and lessons learned, we gain some valuable lessons.  One guest who has inspired us is Noah Scalin. His strategy to spark creativity is another great example of impactful innovation.  An artist based in Richmond, VA, Noah faced a creative block.  To re-ignite his creativity, he started the Skull-a-Day project.  

Another guest who’s personally inspired me is Tom Fishburne.  His on-point marketing themed cartoons show the power of creativity and influence.  His impact on people through humor is amazing.

Evolution of Killer Innovations

From starting out in a hotel room to now rolling around in the Mobile Studio, Killer Innovations continues to grow and change.  Kym recalls how she and I met - chasing the latest Tech at CES.  Now the Mobile Studio, a fully equipped 44-foot custom bus, is my studio and office while on the road.  In addition to the Mobile Studio, the show has gone from being fully funded by me to having sponsors. With the sponsorship, we are now able to pay it forward with ads for nonprofits such as Hacking Autism and Pioneer Education Africa.

The community of listeners, like Chris Woodruff, continues to impact me and others.  Innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Recently, we created The Innovators Community.  Open to anyone interested in innovation, it’s a place where people can share their ideas and ask for advice from others in the innovation game.

 

Five Minutes to New Ideas

Don’t fall into a rut repeating the same formula to solve every problem.  You need fresh eyes. Look at things in a new light. This week’s Five Minutes to New Ideas will challenge you to use fresh eyes to find game-changing innovations.   

 

Glad you could join us for the kick-off of Season 15.  Thanks for taking the time to listen to the show. If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you.  Drop me a line.

Direct download: Season_15_Inspiring_Impactful_Innovation_Since_2005.mp3
Category:Past Shows -- posted at: 12:00am PDT