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How To Find Easy Ideas For Innovation Using Just Two Words

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It’s not always easy coming up with a good idea – particularly when you are challenged to come up with an idea on demand. Do you go through a bottomless brainstorming exercise? Take a walk to find some inspiration? Phone a friend as if you’re on a game show?

All of those COULD help but here is an incredibly easy option. In fact, you’re already doing some of this every single day.

I talk about the two words that inspire invention and innovation but, to be honest, they’re not really words…they’re more like sounds or emotions.

There is a famous phrase when it comes to innovation: Follow the Frustration. Very wise words but I could see some of the people at companies I work with were struggling with this. How do you know what’s frustrating? Where do you look for it so you can follow it?

I developed a fun little strategy that should help!

The two words that make problems and opportunities surface are UGH! and OH!


This is by far the easiest way to spot problems as we evidenced during a corporate keynote, I delivered last week to 100+ marketing geniuses. When someone mentioned to me that they wanted others to step up and take some initiative, I sensed it had to do with this word.

Ask yourself (or your prospects/clients/team members/colleagues/dog walker…ANYONE) what FRUSTRATES them, and you’ll find something that needs improving. Desperately.

The way I describe this is, “Anytime you think, feel or say ‘UGH’, it’s innovation waiting to happen.”

You can put this into practice by retracing your steps for just one day. You’ll find dozens of UGH moments. Alarm clock too loud? Ugh. Someone moved the milk? Ugh. Emails too long? Ugh.

To think like an inventor means that you don’t just experience these moments, you acknowledge them, analyze them, and put them on your list to fix.


On the flip side of frustration is, what I like to call, your inspiration. Every day we’re treated to the exceptional and clever. This is rarely where we are expecting it which makes it even sweeter to watch for.

OH moments are anytime we see, feel, or experience something that makes you say, “Oh! That’s super smart/clever/useful/fun/valuable/efficient/simple/etc.” You fill in the blank.

Quite simply, it’s a sign that there is inspiration to be had! What cool and wondrous thing have you experienced that you could apply in your own life or work?

Challenge yourself to be inspired! Most inventions are not NEW – they’re simply creative repurposing or clever combinations. After all, UBER was just AirBNB for cars, right?

I hope you’ll grab a notebook and start capturing your UGHs and OHs so you can do something with them. And when you do, you’ll be thinking like an inventor!

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