It’s easy to take the existence of today’s great brands and institutions for granted. Be mindful, however, of the fact that each one of them was started by real people at some point in the past, at great risk. And the path to success was rarely a straight one: in the early days, there were invariably plenty of twists, turns, brilliant maneuvers, and missteps, plus the ever-present impact of timing, opportunism, and the almighty rota fortunae. Through highs and lows, there was never a dull moment.
Origin Stories of Innovation™ is a podcast series featuring interviews with founders, successors to founders, Presidents, Chairmen, and CEOs of great enterprises. The host, Paul Earle, begins each conversation with a basic question—how did it all begin? – and guides interviewees through a recounting of their own fascinating stories. Each tale is unique, but across very different verticals and even generations, there are commonalities. A “beginner’s mind” to do things differently and disrupt the category, optimism, a genuine love of people, and good old-fashioned common sense are just a few of them.
We have a great line up for Season One; guests are: Gordon Segal, co-founder and former CEO of Crate & Barrel; Rocky Wirtz, owner and Chairman of the Chicago Blackhawks; Andy Friedman, co-founder and former CEO of Skinny Pop; Robert Pasin, CEO and grandson of the founder, Radio Flyer; Kelly Leonard, former President/theatrics and successor to founders, The Second City; and Marc Bushala, co-founder and former CEO, Angel’s Envy Spirits Co.
Season 1 premiered on April 13, 2017 – click here to listen.
Check back here later for news about Season 2, tentatively planned for release this fall.
Special thanks to Leo Burnett, Lowercase Inc., and Sodada for their contributions to this production.
Paul Earle & Co. is led by Paul W. Earle, Jr., a brand and innovation professional, entrepreneur, intrapreneur, and lecturer with significant experience in design, the development of new products and services, new venture formation, intellectual property licensing, marketing communications of all kinds, and traditional brand management and strategy. His professional experience entails innovation roles at several top global creative agencies, most notably and most recently Leo Burnett, where he co-founded and led Farmhouse, its new product and service innovation center. Paul also has substantial experience in private startups, as founder and President of the brand acquisition firm River West Brands, which became part of Omnicom Group in 2007, as well as being part of the founding team that created and launched Angel’s Envy, the brown spirits company acquired by Bacardi in 2015. Paul is also an adjunct lecturer of innovation and entrepreneurship at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, where he co-leads the popular “Corporate Innovation & New Ventures” lab class. Paul’s full biography can be downloaded here.
Simply put, Alliance Partner and Advisor Craig Dubitsky is one of the consumer product world’s most acclaimed innovators and entrepreneurs today. A passionate champion for design of all kinds, Craig was one of the founding investors and Board members of Method Home Products; co-founder of Eos; and currently is founder/CEO of Hello Products. He also sits on the board of a number of important and successful design-driven new enterprises in the consumer space, such as Flow Water, Finally Light Bulbs, and several others. Among many other accolades, Craig has been named to the CREATIVITY 50 as one of top 50 most creative people in business, and most recently was named Innocos’ first runner up for “Innovator of the Year.”
Alliance Partner and Advisor Stephanie Farsht has been a leading pioneer at the intersection of innovation and retail throughout her career. Currently a faculty member at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and active member of a number of emerging enterprises, she was previously a senior leader at Target Corporation, where she led and managed the team charged with evaluating acquisitions, joint ventures, and partnership opportunities on the cutting edge of what’s next in retail. She also led and developed Target’s relationships with key digital partners (Facebook, eBay, Google), venture capital firms, and startups. Stephanie founded and led Target’s first-ever Digital Advisory Board, and previously held a senior corporate development role for the company.
In the world of innovation and product design, Alliance Partner and Advisor Craig Sampson is one of the top practitioners and academics. A Stanford engineer by training, he was an early protégé of David Kelley and member of David Kelley Design, one of the predecessor companies to what would later become the famous innovation firm IDEO. Craig later founded IDEO’s Chicago office, which he led successfully for years. At IDEO, he stewarded the conception and creation of a number of famous consumer products and services in the market today across a wide range of verticals, and in particular later served as head of their global healthcare practice. He subsequently led innovation at World Kitchen, and served on the leadership team of Farmhouse, the innovation center at Leo Burnett. He is presently a faculty member at Northwestern’s Segal Design Institute and an investor in a number of early stage companies, amongst other endeavors.
Paul Earle & Co. is also fortunate to be able to leverage relationships with prominent players throughout the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem, including the top growth specialist Clareo, other proven entrepreneurs, myriad capital sources, myriad retail outlets (both established and new), top creative agencies, incubators and accelerators, academic institutions (including students and tech transfer offices), consultancies, and beyond.
Whatever the challenge, Paul Earle & Co.—a small team by design, but one with wide reach and the right reach—is positioned to help its partners succeed.
When it comes to innovation in a corporate setting, so much more is possible.
Granted, the big guys are already great at R&D, consumer and marketplace insights, business analytics, concept development, and—if they have the right partners—design of all kinds.
But where they often struggle, by their own admission, is getting promising ideas through their own systems and into marketplace where they belong.
Burdensome size. Lack of speed and flexibility. Risk aversion. Red tape. Impossibly high financial hurdles. Corporate politics. These are just some of the forces that are hostile to the quest for innovation within many established corporations.
What makes this predicament even trickier is this: while most big players still wrestle with the old demons above, the outside environment is changing around them every minute. We have reached a historic inflection point, and established corporations may find themselves at a competitive disadvantage if they don’t do… something.
The membrane separating The Corporation from the ecosystem of external innovation must become increasingly porous and pliable, recognizing the material difference between entrepreneurial and entrepreneur. And therein lies the opportunity.
Enter Paul Earle & Co., a unique, modern collective of entrepreneurs, innovation experts, and creative professionals committed to helping top established companies—and their people— transform MIND INTO MATTER™. Led by private entrepreneur, corporate entrepreneur, and Kellogg innovation professor Paul Earle, as well as an extended network of some of the most accomplished doers and thinkers in their fields, Paul Earle & Co. was formed to provide a new alternative for large corporations seeking to commercialize more, better innovations, faster.
Paul Earle & Co. was forged from a strong belief that advancing promising ideas out of the proverbial top drawer and into the marketplace, even as an experiment, is the morally right thing to do. Corporations have a responsibility to their shareholders, to their employees, and to the consumer populace at large to do much more to have the gifts of their considerable creative capital actually realized. We exist to be a champion for the advancement of great ideas and the people behind them in corporations everywhere.
Consider Advance Party™, a process designed to short-circuit internal development systems by fast-tracking promising ideas to market directly via a transactional route, forming coalitions of external operators, financial capital, and other relationships. You could almost think of Advance Party™ as a dot connection service. The fundamental mission of a corporate innovation program is to create a portfolio of options on the future, and this helps companies form and realize many more of them.
Then there’s Kernel™, a process designed unlock the profound latent innovation that already exists amongst a corporation’s considerable and talented employee and franchisee base. You can think about it as open innovation, mining for kernels of great ideas, just inside the company. A corporation may have some Rembrandts in the attic, or maybe even Rembrandt himself… yet most have no systems in place to even know it. That ought to change as well, and we’re doing it.
Whether it’s through the delivery of the two offerings above, or any number of other special projects, or speaking engagements geared around spreading the gospel of entrepreneurship and innovation to corporate leaders and employees, Paul Earle & Co. aims to emerge as the corporate innovator’s most valuable friend and ally.
And all of our work is backed up by a clear set of insights and principles about what innovation is… and isn’t… based on decades of experience in the arena. It’s downloadable by clicking the image below.
Thanks for visiting. We look forward to helping you make your ideas real, and to a bright future ahead.
Established corporations have nearly identical problems: they’re great at developing ideas but often struggle to get them to market in any reasonable time frame, or at all.
Rather than try to develop everything completely internally, what corporations should often do is form an Advance Party™.
Inspired by the old maritime tradition of launching small groups of brave adventurers to explore new territory in advance of a broader landing, an Advance Party™ is a coalition of external operators, retail solutions and capital to bring ideas to life in the only place that matters: the marketplace. And Paul Earle & Co. will make it all happen.
You can think of Advance Party™ as a creatively-enhanced, hyper industrious dot connection service. It’s a decidedly modern and relevant approach: it tackles the increasingly severe problem of corporate innovation malaise with the increasingly potent solution of leveraging the thriving ecosystem on the outside.
The process is very simple:
1) Assess the corporation’s portfolio of idea “inventory,” as well as external forces;
2) Accelerate the best ones through the infusion of strategy, story, and design; then;
3) Actualize the idea by placing it in an Advance Party™ that first commercializes the concept, operating outside of the corporate structure.
The obvious beneficiary of Advance Party™ is the corporation and its shareholders, as well as external partners brought in for the challenge. But not to be lost is the additional benefit of this approach to the individual inventors, innovation and marketing leaders, and so many other brave souls within the corporation who work on ideas—which are always intensely personal undertakings. They will be given a new pathway for their creations to be brought to life. We’re here for them.
There can be many mechanisms in place to ensure that the corporation retains considerable value in the new endeavor, and further possesses future options once it shows potential to scale.
Proof: Paul Earle has successfully led dozens of complex intellectual property transactions, ranging from trademark licenses to joint ventures and beyond, with companies of all sizes operating in virtually all classes of trade. He has also been directly involved in the conception, financing, and growth of a number of successful private enterprises, in addition to his past role as a corporate entrepreneur. It’s a unique profile, and required in order to implement the Advance Party™ model above. What’s more, the Mind Into Matter™ track records of Paul Earle &Co.’s advisors and partners are quite considerable too. We’re ready.
If you think you have the next big thing but want an alternative to the legacy approach to commercialization, consider forming an Advance Party™.
Feeling adventurous? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Fact: large corporations have a veritable treasure trove of potentially hugely valuable intellectual property on their hands.
And most of it is generating $0 in value. Because they don’t even know it exists.
Introducing Kernel™, a platform designed to help corporations capture the value of ideas generated by their most important resources: their own people.
It’s a simple system that helps companies take inventory of employee and franchisee ideas, and importantly, provide proper recognition to the submitter—financial and otherwise. What’s more, Kernel™ can help sift through the submissions to identify the best patentable concepts, and through our partners, take the first steps towards commercialization.
Sure, once in a blue moon, an employee or franchisee idea finds its way to the exact right place at the right time, and gets produced. But that’s a rare occurrence, and relies on luck as much as any other factor. Bottom line is, the potential for growth and value creation from internal ideas is too vast to be left to chance. What’s more, empowering a corporation’s own people to be product creators is a tremendous talent recruitment and retention tool. And that, too, is good for business.
Proof: Paul has long been a champion for the advancement of employee ideas, and ultimately would co-author the strategy that led to the largest open innovation platform ever in the creative agency space. What’s more, our development partner on this initiative is Edison Nation, the world’s best open innovation engine for the general marketplace.
Do you have a few Rembrandts in your attic? Or maybe Rembrandt himself? Let’s find out.
Paul Earle is a highly experienced and dynamic public speaker with a track record of delivering great experiences for audiences of all sizes and kinds. He has delivered keynote addresses around the country on topics ranging from branding, to innovation, to entrepreneurship, to design writ large. Whether you are producing a large public conference, a smaller gathering for senior management, or simply desire an inspired workshop, Paul may have the right stuff to give your event a boost of energy, and some fresh perspectives.
Looking for a fresh voice, and perhaps a squirt of dopamine? Contact email@example.com
Paul Earle & Co. has the highly-specialized experience and network to help companies transform Mind Into Matter™ in many unique and valuable ways beyond its Advance Party™ and Kernel™ offerings. Special projects and collaborations include:
• New brand creation (naming, nomenclature, visual ID and beyond)
• Reboot of existing brands of all kinds (big, small, dormant)
• Business development (licensing, partnering) approach to brand extension and growth
• External open innovation and crowdfunding
• Trademark search, acquisition, and divestiture
• Story-driven innovation (including archive mining)
• Strategy and structure of an innovation organization
Interested in maximizing the value of your intangible assets? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org