Josh Linkner

Josh Linkner

Five-time tech entrepreneur, hyper-growth CEO, NY Times bestselling author and venture capitalist.

The 1995 movie SEVEN was one of the creepiest I’ve ever seen. It was based on the 14th century’s Seven Deadly Sins, and sent chills down the spines of viewers and critics alike. Even 23 years later, we shiver with fear when reflecting on this intense and horrifying flick.

While the original seven deadlies devour the human soul, there’s a new set of seven that is making carnage of our creativity. We know that developing our creative chops is job #1 in today’s hyper-competitive world, yet there are a few evil forces looking to deplete our most valuable natural resource:

1) Fear – The granddaddy of all creativity killers; we let our worries block our imagination. Our most brilliant creative sparks can be extinguished in an instant by the fear of looking foolish, embarrassment, or even fear of success.

2) Rigidity – Business leaders pride themselves in being “heads down,” yet that narrow worldview prevents us from sparking our imagination. Allowing yourself to be “heads up” will help you discover new possibilities for change and growth.

3) Premature Editing – Great ideas get killed in the blink of an eye when we inject our linear, analytical left-brain into the creative process too early. Brainstorm sessions are geometrically more successful when you check your left-brain at the door. Let all the creativity pour out, and invite the editor in after the fact.

4) GroupThink – Thousands of breakthrough ideas are suffocated each day by the destructive forces of GroupThink. Don’t let the fear-mongers dice up your idea to the point where it loses potency. Have the guts to stand by your original ideas, even if it ruffles some feathers.

5) Outdated Traditions – Blindly saluting the flag of the past is no way to craft a successful future. If you run across a system, process, or idea that has “always been done that way,” you’ve just stumbled upon a beacon desperately calling for reinvention.

6) Playing it Safe – It turns out that playing it safe has become the riskiest move of all. Don’t let perceived safety lull you into inaction.

7) The Status Quo – Complacency kills. The big wins go to those who challenge conventional wisdom and mock the status quo rather than succumb to it.

Don’t let these Evil Seven poison your thinking and murder your imagination. Remain vigilant and, when these nefarious forces emerge, don’t wait for the authorities to arrive – take matters into your own hands. Keep them at bay, and you will enjoy prosperity and fulfillment. But if you let them infiltrate your mind and your culture, not even Morgan Freeman can save you from painful treachery and the agony of defeat.

Making Mistakes
In school, we're taught that mistakes should be avoided at all costs. We learn that getting something wrong somehow means that we're wrong as a human beings, that each mistake translates to a lower self-worth score. These dreaded slip-ups can be so hurtful that we learn to recoil from the very thought of stumbling, much like we avoid the hot sto...
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The Mother of Dragons
Spoiler Alert! (if you haven't caught up on GOT, stop reading and JUMP to "SPOILER START" below) Wow. How incredible that the woman who built her career on kindness and empathy turned every heartfelt follower to ash this week. The power of the loyalty that she built was, prior to this week, unstoppable. Her motives pure and sincere, and those th...
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The Last 10%
I was nearing the end of my three-mile run (I'm no marathon candidate), and was feeling awful. Tired, hot, sore, and ready to throw in the towel. Looking at the fitness app on my phone, I realized that I only had 10% remaining. As much as I wanted to quit, I forged ahead and completed the full run as planned. That moment of difficulty, angst, an...
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Leadership Lessons from the Most Feared Jazz Song Ever Written
Ask any jazz aficionado about the most challenging jazz standard ever written, and you'll likely get a knowing smile followed by two simple words: Giant Steps. The tune, composed and performed by legendary saxophone genius John Coltrane, has sent chills down the spines of would-be performers since its release nearly 60 years ago. Performed at ...
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How Google Kills Ideas to Drive Killer Innovation
According to its tombstone, Trendalyzer was a data trend viewing platform that lived a happy life from 2007-2017. Latitude, a location-aware feature of Google Maps, was just over 4 years old before it was euthanized in 2013. Fabric, a platform that helped mobile teams build better apps, was sentenced to death after only one month of life. All in...
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Nine Simple Pre-Game Questions to Maximize Business Results
There's an old saying in the boxing world: "Champions don't become champions in the ring, they are merely recognized there." The implication, of course, is that hard work, day after day, in the cold gym is what enables a fighter to win. This makes sense in many areas of life. "Sweat more in practice, bleed less in war," is the basis of the Spa...
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Lifelong Kindergarten
Peeking into a typical kindergarten classroom, you'll see a vibrant setting of creativity and collaboration. The colorful setting is messy, playful, and expressive as students smile with delight and their imaginations run free. Unfortunately, the creative wonder we experience as small children often declines in each subsequent year as we confron...
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Is Your Work Environment a Greenhouse or a Prison?
A friend of mine's passion is growing orchids. We're talking perfect, exotic, contest-winning orchids. To get the best results, she does her work in a greenhouse. An environment that is perfectly situated to maximize growth. It fosters the ideal conditions for the natural act of creation. It's pretty obvious that orchids grow better in a lush gr...
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11 Leadership Lessons from Jazz Musicians
For over 40 years, I’ve proudly worn the title of jazz guitarist. Deeply passionate about the art form, I performed my way through college and continue to savor the delicious melodies of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Dizzy Gillespie. Ironically it was jazz – not B-school – that gave me the foundation to win in the business world. While on the ...
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You're Always Interviewing
You hardly slept the night before and arrived to the meeting 25 minutes early. You were wearing your favorite outfit and were fully prepared to put your best foot forward. No, I'm not talking about your first date, but rather that job interview that landed you your gig. Think about how you were fully present, asked thoughtful questions, and ...
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