What Does Innovation Mean to You?

Past BizBash innovators share their thoughts on the ever-evolving topic.

(Pictured, left to right): Maneesh Goyal, Cara Kleinhaut, Shai Tertner
(Pictured, left to right): Maneesh Goyal, Cara Kleinhaut, Shai Tertner
Photos: Dave Lieberman (Maneesh Goyal), Dan Hallman for BizBash (All Others)

“Innovation is about being creative and original in your work and thinking. Too often in our industry people confuse innovation with technology. Some of MKG’s most innovative work is not our most high-tech, but rather work that is entirely original. The people we admire innovate using smart thinking and a wild imagination; technology is simply a tool.”
Maneesh K. Goyal, founder, MKG, and C.E.O., Pineapple Company, New York
2011 Innovator

“‘Innovative’ is a word that is used haphazardly. Every brand, person, and product wants to be perceived as innovative, but what separates actual innovation from everything else is the idea of improvement. Without improvement, innovation is just a story created for its own sake. What separates innovators is the ability to be skeptical and not accept things as they are because that’s how they’ve always been done. Innovators are able to see solutions to things that aren’t perceived as problems.”
Coltrane Curtis, founder and managing partner, Team Epiphany, New York
2015 Innovator

“It’s like using a time machine to take a leap to the future and bringing back the ‘next best thing’—and always creating the unexpected.”
Shai Tertner, founder and president, Shiraz Events, Miami
2012 Innovator

“Innovation to me means to always be questioning ourselves about whether or not we’re doing the things we do to  address a real need, or just because we’ve become too comfortable. It’s about acting on the basis of our values  and taking the risks necessary to act upon what needs to be changed to be true to ourselves.”
Christine Renaud, C.E.O., E-180, Montreal
2015 Innovator

“Innovation does not always need to be about the new big idea. You can innovate by looking at something that you already know with a fresh perspective—and then make it better. For example, if you have guests returning to your event who ­participated in last year’s fund-a-need opportunity, they can be presented with a special ribbon or boutonniere when they arrive. Not only are you thanking them again for their past support, but you’re also identifying them as potential donors for this year. It’s a small token that often leads to a big return on investment.”
Lee Kite, director of major market gala product, American Cancer Society, Chicago
2011 Innovator

“It’s about always pushing for new ideas that are going to benefit our clients and the industry as a whole. For the past few years I’ve been passionately talking about how important it is for our events to be Instagrammable, and how we ‘design for digital.’ With the right lighting, pops of color, and best fit of influencers in the room, we drive explosive social media results for our clients. Always seeing how you can use the event spend to create content and drive value for clients in new ways—that  is innovation.”
Cara Kleinhaut, owner, Caravents Inc., Los Angeles
2011 Innovator

“Last year, I had a major epiphany where I surmised that ­innovation sometimes means accepting you might be wrong about—well, just about everything. To test that theory, I ­performed an experiment for two weeks where I lived in a world of wrong. Before I spoke, made a declaration, answered a question, or had an opinion, I paused and asked myself to consider that maybe what I was about to say could be inaccurate, inappropriate, or misplaced. I listened to the people around me on a deeper level and was able to see how my own narrow perceptions were limiting my ability to innovate and grow. Fast-forward a year later, and I am now working for a mission-driven organization that is modernizing elections and voting systems around the world. I have never felt more supercharged and alive about what I’m doing—it’s truly innovation in action.”
Midori Connolly, sales director, Everyone Counts, San Diego
2012 Innovator

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