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“Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?”

One of the biggest challenges in being an innovator is keeping faith in your belief as to where trends are going to take you.

You’ll find no shortage of people who will detract you from your goals, using one of the most effective innovation killer phrases: “that’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.”

Certainly history has taught us this lesson! Consider how some have reacted in the past to what proved to be very significant, transformative developments:

  • There will never be a bigger plane built.” A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that carried ten people.
  • There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.” – Albert Einstein, 1932
  • Computers may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.” – Popular Mechanics, 1949
  • There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” – Ken Olson, president of Digital Equipment Corp. 1977
  • This telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.” – Western Union memo, 1876
  • No imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?“- David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urging investment in the radio in the 1920’s.
  • The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives.” – Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project.
  • Airplanes are interesting toys, but they are of no military value whatsoever.” – Marechal Ferdinand Fock, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre
  • While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility.”- Lee DeForest, inventor
  • Radio has no future. Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. X-rays will prove to be a hoax.” – William Thomson, Lord Kelvin English scientist, 1899
  • Nuclear powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality within 10 years.” – Alex Lewyt, quoted in the New York Times, 1955
  • Video won’t be able to hold onto any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” — Darryl F. Zanuck, Head of 20th Century-Fox Studios, 1946

When in a period of transformative change — as many industries now find themselves – it is all too easy to use disbelief to cling to the past. In order to be innovative, you’ve got to be willing to ignore the naysayers!

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