Retail Observer

January 2021

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 45 of 67

RETAILOBSERVER.COM JANUARY 2021 46 M y friend Scotty Ziegler is an inventor. Yes, it's a job you can actually have, and Scotty does it for a living, but you won't find a listing for it on And you may be a bit surprised by what it takes to be an inventor. Scotty makes a living, and a good one, from creating things people haven't thought of yet that solve problems. Lots of people come up with really interesting ideas, but an inventor invents. To do that, the inventor has to take ideas and turn them into reality. For Scotty it means tinkering with an idea that solves a problem someone has, and figuring out how to make it happen. He did this with a paper cup sip adapter. Here's the story. He was thinking about how children are constantly spilling their milk, their juice and their water. It's not their fault that they don't have the dexterity to hold a cup. But it's a problem that needed solving. So Scotty began playing with ideas, lots of them. One idea had possibilities: he took the top of a coffee cup lid with a sipping hole and turned it upside down. Voila! By upending it and making the hole smaller, no more spills for cup lids. So then Scotty set out making prototypes. He played with materials, drinking hole sizes and locations. He tinkered with the prototypes until he found one that worked reliably. Then he set off to present his invention to companies that already sold products to parents with young children. Long story short, Fisher-Price bought the idea and Scotty's version of the spill-less lid was born. Note that the product wasn't born when he had the solution. Nor was it born when he played with hundreds of prototypes. Nor was it born when there wasn't a buyer to produce, market and distribute the idea. Scotty had to do it all. He had to think differently. He had to have the perseverance to play with prototypes. He taught himself CAD programs to make the prototypes. He learned about safe drinking materials, a variety of plastics that could be easily washed. And he considered cup designs and cup sizes, lids, spills and children (which he already had at home as test subjects). And then he had to sell it to a caring company that understood the problem he was trying to solve and had the means to bring it to market. It takes all of this to be an inventor: have an idea that solves a real problem, do the hard iterative work to test prototypes, and get it ready for the world. Then tell the world about the idea in a way that makes sense for them. Here's the inventor's toolkit: Imagination. Experimentation. Hard work. Stickwithitness. Honed skills. Craftsmanship. Confidence. Noticing. Communication. Generosity. Salesmanship. Does this sound familiar? An inventor marries imagination with hard work to create a new reality. Entrepreneurs are inventors, too. Most business leaders are inventors. Creatives are inventors. There's a long lineage of inventor entrepreneurs. You know them now by their names or their brand names: Ford, Michael Dell, Hewlett Packard, Harley-Davidson, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak of Apple, Elon Musk of Tesla, Alexander Graham Bell, George Eastman of Kodak, Richard Branson of the Virgin Group, Martine Rothblatt of United Therapeutics, and many more. All of these invention-centric leaders work in the world of possibilities. But they don't simply stay in the realm of possibilities, they see their inventions through to fruition. Those who travel the inventor road are willing to do the hard work to bring their ideas to fruition by solving real problems. Some questions for you: • What's your invention that's ready to be birthed into reality? • What problems do you see in the world that need solving? • Which of those problems can you solve? • What do your customers need that they haven't asked for? • What are you willing to do to bring your solution into the world? Be grateful for the problems that need solving, as they are the opportunities for your next invention. Go ahead, the world is waiting for your invention. For the past 25 years, Steve has served as an advisor and consultant on brand strategy, organizational life, and humanized marketing strategy. He has worked with companies such as Samsung, Habitat for Humanity, New Balance, Sony, LG, Amazon, NFL and MLB franchises and is a regular speaker for TEDx, Creative Mornings, CES, HOW Conference, Social Venture Network, American Marketing Association, and AIGA conferences. Steve has published two books, Brand Love and Loyalty and Humanizing the Customer Journey, as well as a forthcoming book, The Evolved Brand: How to Impact the World Through the Power of Your Brand. He has been featured in Business Week, Brand Week, Ad Age, Conscious Company Magazine, MarketingProfs, and HOW magazine. Steve leads his own brand and business strategic consultancy, Mth Degree. Contact:, 619-234-1211 or RO Steven Morris On Brand BEHIND-THE-SCENES-STORY OF AN INVENTOR

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Retail Observer - January 2021