Matas Olendra: Innovators Aren’t Magicians, It’s All About Principles

Mar 15
Kilo Heroes

I’m Matas, and when asked, I refer to myself as an intern — always learning. However, research, strategy, business development, and idea generation are the cornerstones of my work.

I want to pull back the curtain and give you an inside look at what my work really entails, including everything you need to know about idea generation and the misconceptions surrounding creators. Hint: it’s more calculated than it may seem. 

Let’s dive in.

What do I do?

Being the Head of Innovation means I am hired to create new and innovative products and assist others in creating theirs. The goal is to ensure these products have high quality and a unique marketing strategy.

In essence, innovation is nothing extraordinary. It’s just a magical term that is difficult to describe and seems to have this mystique around it. However, I would describe it as taking two old things and figuring out how to create something new from them.

It’s very rare that we come up with something entirely unique — it’s often more about developing something that originated long ago.

So, I encourage specific principles of thinking in a team. I also help people step into a certain framework that aids in structuring somewhat creative thinking, in order to come up with more imaginative ideas and better products that would appeal to the market.

The principles of generating ideas

Not a single top innovator or creator in the world was a magician or possessed superpowers. They simply followed principles that helped them reach their solutions. Let me briefly explain these principles.

The number 1 principle is research. You need to know as much about the world as possible and nurture your curiosity. Research the niche that’s relevant to you and gather as much information as possible.

The next step is to examine this information. Narrow it down and search for patterns between what has been created, and what failed, and analyze it. Do some experimentation.

The 3rd principle is to do nothing related to what you’ve researched. This is what artists and musicians also do — they step back and do nothing. Instead, they focus on something new. What do I mean by this?

Let’s take a look at some famous examples. As some believe, Newton was lying under a tree when an apple fell onto his head, and he had the realization about gravity. Edison got the idea for the lightbulb while sitting on the toilet. Ideas just popped into their heads while they were doing something unrelated.

This happens because the first step you take is extensive research and experimentation. After you leave the topic, the information consolidates, and the brain filters out everything that is unnecessary and connects patterns between what makes sense.

The 4th step is when you have to put in the work. You figure out the concept, create briefs, and prepare pitches. Think about how you’ll talk, explain, and write about this idea. This also involves creating an MVP prototype, and so on.

I’ve noticed all of these steps being talked about in different settings, but the one I admired the most is in a short book called “A Technique for Producing Ideas” by James Webb Young, which I highly recommend reading. 

The best startups begin in your mom’s garage

To be honest, creators and innovators are often very glorified. People think that those who create something are mysterious and special beings. However, creating something is just hard work. There is a book called “How to Fly a Horse” by Kevin Ashton, which analyzes a lot of great inventions and their inventors and, in great detail, defines their attitude through their life stories. 

As Kevin Ashton described, and I can highly agree with him: creating is more a monotony than adventure. 

It’s the early mornings and late nights: long hours doing work that will likely fail or be deleted or erased — a process without progress that must be repeated daily for years. The beginning is hard, but continuing is harder. 

Those who are after a glamorous lifestyle shouldn’t pursue art, science, innovation, invention, or anything else that requires novelty. Creation is a lengthy journey filled with many wrong turns and dead ends. The most crucial thing creators do is work. The one thing they avoid at all costs is giving up.

It all comes down to the amount of time, effort, and work you invest in thinking and problem-solving. 

I’ve noticed that engineers create the best products because they immerse themselves in a field for years and then say, “I see a missed opportunity in the market, and I can address it.”

Moreover, there’s a saying that “the best startups begin in your mom’s garage.” This is because it serves as the creator’s and inventor’s laboratory. They shut out the world, read, search, experiment, analyze, and so on.

It doesn’t matter where it happens as long as you become knowledgeable and know how to translate that knowledge into perspective. You must figure out if the world needs your idea and if it solves a problem.

Your passion is the greatest driver for innovation

Every idea starts with a desire to solve a problem, whether it’s your own, your dad’s, your neighbor’s, or the world’s.

Ultimately, the most groundbreaking ideas are those that save lives or improve them. As a species, we all strive to create a better environment for ourselves – it is coded into our DNA. We are like parasites seeking to thrive in our surroundings.

I’ve also noticed that ideas fueled by passion are often the most successful. Because you’re attempting to solve a problem that personally affects you — you have a pain point.

The greater the pain, the greater the passion to solve it.

Do you feel like you have one of those ideas? Check out our Co-found Program.

Matas Olendra
Head of Innovation

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