As you may imagine, The Inventor’s Planet is a place with zero gravity. The inhabitants are free to jump about and do things that would be restrictive on any other planet.
On the inventor planet creativity is a raging river irrigating the creative needs of those around it. The sky is Blue, or Red, or Purple…or whatever your mind’s eye may see, and the air is filled with tenacity and hope. While the people spend their days harvesting the crop of invention planted months before from seeds of innovation.
All in all, the inventor planet is a happy creative place where anything goes and the limits are all in your mind – But don’t look for any money on the inventor planet, there is none. For that you have to go over to the Business planet.
The Business Planet is a much different place. It’s a happy place as well, but for different reasons. On the business planet there is a strong gravitational force that governs a set of rules ensuring everything runs efficiently. The gravitational pull of manufacturing, the gravitational pull of consumer wants, the gravitational pull of money, and even a gravitational force of luck. All work in synergy to ensure it all functions correctly.
On the business planet the mighty river of commerce flows swiftly as people constantly throw new things in and fish others out. The sky is a constant, but beautiful, emerald green, the air is full of hope and tenacity. While most nights you can stare into a star filled sky of profit waiting for the next day to arrive and offer a new opportunity.
Sure, there’s often a lack of creativity, and the sky is always the same color, but on the business planet it all works well to make sure everything functions within the gravitational limitations of the planet itself. It’s not a bad place at all – just a different place than the inventor planet.
So – how does one move between the Inventor Planet and the Business Planet? – On a bridge of course.
Inventors always seem to think the problem in our industry is the business planet. Envisioning gangs of thugs running around just waiting to jump out and mug the first inventor that happens by – Wild gangs, intent on stealing the inventor’s money, their ideas, and their dreams.
Yet people on the business planet look across the bridge and conger up visions of these creative trolls locked in their basements toiling away on ideas that most people don’t really want or need – A greedy bunch that puts far more value on their invention than the rest of us do, demanding to be treated better than others when they grace the business planet with their presence.
Are either really correct? Maybe in some cases both are correct, but how do we fix this overall mischaracterization people on both planets have of each other?
The key is education, and that’s where the bridge between the planets becomes so important – it represents the ability to educate ourselves.
The bridge is a span between two known worlds. Each planet having its own environment, its own risks, customs, even personality. By educating yourself about what you will find when you arrive, you dramatically increase your chances of fitting in when it comes time to make that trip.
That entire educational process happens on the bridge.
You see, the bridge is constructed of knowledge – built from planks of information dried in the kiln of experience. Google, Books, CD’s, DVD’s… Blogs, Forums, Radio shows, Magazines, even simple Conversations are all planks on the bridge of knowledge.
Some inventors take years to cross the bridge, soaking up the knowledge on every plank. When they arrive at the other planet they are truly prepared and the result is that they are generally successful. Other inventors want to run across the bridge, they bypass all the really important planks and in record time they have reached the other planet. The result is predictable – they normally fail, walking back angry and dismayed ready to tell all of us about the roaming gangs of thieves, and lack of appreciation and understanding the other planet has for inventors.
The bridge is built of education and best traveled slowly and with persistence. It is in fact, an exercise in personal responsibility and the success you have when you reach the other side is directly relevant to the amount of time you took to cross it.
When you do get to the end of the bridge – some people take a cab to get around.
We know there are two planets, the Inventor Planet and the Business Planet. We know there is a bridge between them designed to get you ready for what to experience when you get to the other side. But what about navigating the many roads and being able to get from place to place once you are there?
When that time comes many inventors charge off with little more than desire and a sense of what they think they know is correct. Others – well they take a Cab.
Not a Cab in the sense of a bright yellow car, but a Cab in the sense of using someone more familiar with the area to do the navigation for you. In the inventing industry those “Cabs” are the group of service providers waiting at the foot of the bridge as you step off onto this planet you know little about.
Picture this – you are on a cruise and you walk down the gang plank into a beautiful little island port. Waiting for you are 3 Taxi drivers.
You don’t know it at the time, but one will take you directly to your destination and charge you a fair price to do it. The second will take you to your destination but in a rather long rout that racks up your bill a bit. He’s not directly stealing from you, but he knows you don’t have a good sense of where you are or where you are going so he bumps it a bit for his own advantage. The third Taxi, well he’s fully aware you are clueless about where you are and how to get where you’re going. So he promptly drives you around the island twelve times only to drop you off very close to where you started.
How do we keep this from happening? It’s simple – we get a map of the island before we get off the boat and use it to understand where we are and where we are going. If you had a map in the third Taxi you would have seen very quickly what the driver was doing. The same could be said for Taxi number one. A map would have shown you very quickly that you could trust this driver and each time you needed a ride from that point on you would have looked for him.
Working with service providers in the inventing industry is really no different. There are all three types of “Taxies” ready to greet you when you walk off that bridge onto the business planet – and with little effort and a few conversations they will know if you are holding a “map” of the process.
Don’t get me wrong, its fine to use service providers. Just understand while many are like Cab number one, there are some like Cabs two and three. You don’t know when you get in what Cab you have, but if you have done your homework and figured out where you need to be going and what the stops are along the way, you will quickly be able to tell which Cab you stepped into and if you should take the ride, or get out before you spend all your money.
Planets, Cabs and Bridges are all just metaphors of course for a process that many inventors make much more difficult than it really is. The lesson is easy – do your homework, take responsibility for your own inventor journey and be humble enough to learn. Remember those simple things and you should not only have a great experience, you should become successful.
Mark Reyland is Executive Director of the United Inventors Association.
His blog can be found at http://inventoropinion.blogspot.com/
Ron Reardon, Patents & More, Inc.