Innovation Weekly: Nothing is too Far Outside the Box

I remember when the internet really started to feel like a community. It started out with groups of lifestyle bloggers sharing their stories and rapidly evolved into a gigantic worldwide network of people thanks to Facebook and YouTube. Suddenly all these truly mesmerizing people from all corners of the globe took to the spotlight. It was captivating to see the weird and wonderful passions that the internet had turned into careers.

But there was more to it than fame and fortune for some of these newfound celebrities. Scattered among them were truly ingenious creators, innovators, and thinkers who could now make a living from making the impossible possible.  


Today, I want to dive into the stories of two inspiring people who used the internet as a stepping stone for their own innovations. People who go beyond being entertainers and taught themselves to trust in their ability to do the impossible.

Plumber turned mad scientist

People say that ‘necessity is the mother of all invention’. While that might be true in most cases, others feel that invention IS a necessity for personal fulfillment. UK born inventor Colin Furze, is one of these people, a man who simply can’t let a great (or seemingly crazy) idea go to waste. His ‘go big or go home’ attitude has led this garden shed inventor into multiple Guinness World Records and some seriously groundbreaking inventions.

Think I'm exaggerating? The list of successful inventions includes (but is not limited to):

  • A working grappling hook
  • The world’s fastest mobility scooter
  • A chainsaw powered lamp (who knows why???)
  • An actual hoverbike (Definitely worth a watch)
  • Portable fireplace in a briefcase…

What’s most impressive about this whole thing is that Colin doesn’t have any background in practical sciences. In fact, he dropped out of school at the age of 16 to become a plumber. When YouTube really took off, he explored new technologies, taught himself video editing, and taught himself brand new skills. Today, his channel has more than 8 million followers, of which the primary demographic are engineers themselves who are looking for a little inspiration.

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You might wonder how this relates in any way to software development? Simply put, trusting your own instincts is a powerful skill for any innovator to learn. In order to deliver truly groundbreaking technologies or ideas, you can’t let the biggest ideas go to waste because you’re afraid they ‘might’ not work out. So be like Colin and challenge yourself. You’ll be surprised how often it works out in your favor.

“Queen of sh*tty robots”

At some point, we’ve all wanted to automate the most mundane parts of our day. Think about how easy life would be with robots cleaning your dishes, making your breakfast, and grooming you. It’s a dream that 29-year-old Swedish inventor, Simone Giertz, aims to make a reality - kind of. Self-proclaimed “Queen of Sh*tty Robots”, Simone has created machines for just about every household job you could think of.

- Simone Giertz, building the robot of all our dreams

Despite being an extremely capable engineer by all accounts, Simone’s inventions are intentionally created to only be ‘almost functional’. Why? She outlines it really well in her 2018 TED talk, "The true beauty of making useless things is this acknowledgment that you don't always know what the best answer is. It turns off that voice in your head that tells you that you know exactly how the world works. Maybe a toothbrush helmet isn't the answer, but at least you're asking the question."

Something that we all face is that inherent fear of failure. But, taking somewhat of a more humble approach and testing even when failure is inevitable still gives us learning opportunities. After all, if you’re taking any steps forward at all, you’re still doing better than the person standing still.

Unfortunately, Simone’s story isn’t without adversity. In early 2018 a noncancerous tumor had developed on her brain. This came at a time when her career, the pursuit of sciences and a planned expedition to Antarctica, were in full swing. Simone pulled through after surgery and in her true off-kilter style, sent the removed brain-tumor to Antarctica in her place.

- Ever wondered what a brain tumor looks like on a glacier?

What are the key takeaways here?

You have to learn how to trust the little voice in your head which keeps whispering you grand ideas. The ones which you would normally dismiss as being a little too much. Because reaching your true innovation potential is about breaking through personal and technological barriers.

Challenge what’s standard, look in new directions, and look for the right technology to get you where you want to go.