Today’s guest is Kaihan Krippendorp, a corporate strategist and author of 5 books. Today he talks to us about his favorite of those books: The Way of Innovation. It’s a new look at the phases of creation taken from Eastern Philosophy. Whatever you are creating, you will go through these 5 phases. We find out that I am in wood, and Jani is in metal.
JOHN: Hi everybody welcome back this is the John and Jani show.
Host again John Khoury author of the book Quanology: Evolution & You and with me as always is Jani Moon from New York City.
JANI: Hello, Hello I’m a Media Coach here in New York City helping you make “You a star in life and in the Media!
JOHN: There she is she has a nice book there. Why does she have a nice book? This show is all about cool people doing cool things and we’ve got a cool guest today he is Kaihan Krippendorff. He is a couple of things, he is an author; he is a corporate strategist; a public speaker; he talks to companies about innovation and he’s authored four books. But today he is “going to talk to us about one specific book that is, The Way of Innovation.
We’re excited to talk to him about that. He is merging innovation strategies with sort of eastern philosophies. So we’re curious to talk to him about that and curious to talk to him about doing the things you love. He’s got some great advice as well.
Today’s show is brought to you by Hertog Jan beer. Never heard of this beer? This is the beer for people who think Heineken tastes like soap.
JANI: Okay. Jani can we see the cover of the book. She holds the book up and says this is The Way of Innovation: Master the Five Elements of Change to Reinvent Your Products, Services, and Organization It’s very beautifully written and I love it because you know I’m a spiritual person and it’s a spiritual slant on how you can be innovative in business. And it has some great case set in here as well. So let’s welcome our wonderful guest.
JOHN: As we said it takes only the second floor areas, straight out of the Greenwich Connecticut, this is the worst place to be. Is he on the show yet, come on?
JANI:` It looks neat though.
KAIHAN: There we go
JOHN: Kaihan welcome to the show
KAIHAN: Thanks for having me.
JOHN: So talk to us about your book the Way of Innovation. First, talk to us about yourself, I guest. You’re a corporate strategist, have I introduced you properly here?
KAIHAN: Yeah, keep calling me a corporate strategist, look at how I make money, primarily as a corporate strategist, you know my background is in business, work, business school Colombia, I have a Doctorate in this kind of stuff and I work with big companies. I worked at McKenzie and that is kind a like my formal resume kind of key bullets that would categorize me as a corporate strategist.
This book is kind of a departure for me I’ve written four books and this is my favorite book, also the book that sold the least.
JOHN: Isn’t that just how it goes?
JANI: It’s going to change, today, right now.
JOHN: It’s going to get the bump because we’ve got this huge audience that just loves …
KAIHAN: I know, I just want to say I’m so excited. The people who read this book I just want to say maybe most people who buy this book don’t read the book because it is so, like every chapter could be a book itself. This is the feedback my publisher eventually gave me like make this five different books because people like reading books that are like easy to flip through and this is kind a like, this is three years of notes that I collected as little things all crammed into these tight paragraphs and so it really is kind a like my work of love, you know, it’s like my masterwork I think.
JOHN: I know it’s like you have to have the whole don’t you sometimes, you can’t break things down you want to show people this entire picture.
KAIHAN: Yeah, yeah for me it was like a moment of clarity. It appeared in my life when I didn’t, I had time. I was living in Miami Beach, didn’t have kids yet, I had quit my job.
JOHN: Stop! Stop right there
JANI: You’re going to make him jealous
JOHN: Living in Miami Beach, no kids
KAIHAN: You know I’m not really a clubber. I would spend like three hours in the middle of the afternoon at the Starbucks on Alton Road and just write and it was just such a gift. I guess it was a moment of clarity for me. I could bring all these stuff together, all these notes and put it into one thing. I don’t know when I will next get that kind of opportunity; I crave that kind of opportunity. But I’ll get thrown at me like that, I don’t know when.
JANI: I want to know your use, because you know I’m so big into my Chinese medicine, my spiritual practices, meditation, yoga, all of it and I find it so fascinating you’re using the five elements as a way to teach people about innovation. How did you come up with that idea?
KAIHAN: You know I think I’m just very practical. I like looking for what works and I think that the frameworks that have lasted for millennia- this is one of those frameworks. My first two books are based on another Chinese set of frameworks if you will. I mean these frameworks have been around for five thousand years.
JOHN: So is this personal for you? Are you a Buddhist or are you into eastern philosophy or is this just a found matched?
KAIHAN: I have been reading eastern philosophy from the time I was I don’t know, 10, 11, 12. I won’t consider myself an expert but you can name any kind of book or files, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, archetypes, who Allan Watts is, I mean I know a lot, I mean I read, I’ve read a lot about it. I think about it. I think I’m more of a ballast but I don’t go to the temple or whatever you do.
JOHN: Kaihan you’re just fascinated with these subjects and they seem to match with a lot of the thoughts you have in terms of business and innovation and stuff like that.
KAIHAN: If this survives it must work, could we use it to explain how innovation happens? Could it be used to explain how an entrepreneur creates a company? Or how a company build, or a social movement happen or a revolution moves to a new country. Used to explain that if it really knows how changes happen in the world. We should be able to use it as a useful framework to explain changes in the world.
JANI: Can you tell us about the five phases because you have the five like metal, water, wood, fire, earth?
KAIHAN: Yes, and I think those are metaphors for different past, different experiences or chapters in our experiences that we’re pushing in innovation.
Metal – it begins with a state of discontent. Discontent the first necessity of progress, you’re just frustrated and there are certain drivers that create that discontent.
Water – you start dreaming about the future.
Wood – you’re pushing but you’re putting a lot of energy in and not getting a lot of energy out but you can’t see a tree grow but you know a tree is growing. Your innovation will experience that phase, then
Fire – it takes off. Customers love it, your employees love it, investors want to invest in it and then the competition also breaks in. So everyone jumps in and say hey this is a great idea. I’m glad I gave it to you a year ago and you ran with it. When a year ago they were saying you were crazy right. That’s the fire phase and then comes the earth phase where you start protecting, claiming your innovation. Naturally, the innovator usually wants the innovation to stop which if mismanaged leads back to metal .
JOHN: The innovator wants the innovation to stop? Why would you want the innovation to stop because you want to protect?
KAIHAN: You want to protect. I’m not saying you should want the innovation to stop but it comes naturally. Machiavelli said there’s nothing more dangerous than to take a lead on introduction of the new order of things because those who have power under the old order will resist the change. I’m paraphrasing it. So you’ve made all this money, you’ve made all this success, you’ve changed the world. You’ve shaped the world in a certain way that you wanted it to be shaped in and that was because of innovation you introduced and now your natural human tendency will be to not change it again.
JANI: Can you give an example like a case study which take in the previous five phase so I can get a more concrete?
KAIHAN: Yes so you know my mom is from Bangladesh and because of that I got to talk to Mohammed Yunus who is Bangladeshi and he is a Nobel Peace Prize winner. He is the creator of microfinance and you can track, I mean there are now micro financing programs all over the world which impact millions of poor people who can now borrow five dollars, twenty dollars to buy some ice cream and start selling ice cream.
JOHN: Keycap, (8:38) for instance my kids bought stuff from Keycap.
KAIHAN: Oh yeah except that’s all inspired. Before Mohammed Unis people, the way to give social was to give huge grants to governments, you know development projects. Anyway he goes to Bangladesh, he is an economist, and he’s frustrated because he realizes there are these poor women who can’t afford to get out of poverty. Right he’s just discontented, now that metal it has to do with three different factors which is a connection with some pre-existing commitment act. Something you care about and were planted in you many years ago. For him it was his commitment to Bangladesh, the Bangli people and then he goes into water. He’s just coming with this idea and the idea does not exist in the real world it just exists on paper it’s a vision.
What if you give small pieces of loans to these poor women and give them it at an interest rate that was affordable to them, how would that work? Thinking and planning then he starts implementing then he moves into the wood phase. The wood phase is the transition from when you’re talking about it to when you are doing it.
JANI: Is this the hardest phase? What’s the hardest phase?
KAIHAN: Yeah I think that’s the hardest phase. You’re putting these pieces in place, you’re pushing, you’re pushing, you’re selling, you’re building your pipeline, you’re getting people to believe, you’re getting backers you’re getting donors and it keeps falling apart and you keep pushing and pushing still and you’re putting a lot of energy into it trying to make it happen and you’re not making any loans, you’re not making sales, right. And that’s where I think most innovators give up because that is a necessary part of the process. Like he pushes through and then he kicks off, that’s fire and then earth where he doesn’t want things to change. Then banks start to offer things that look like micro credit programs but they’re for profits, profit driven and they charge high interest rates and they just see this as a way to put poor people into more debts. And so he has to fight for the kind of basterdization (10:49) of micro finance so that it stays true to his mission – protected. Now he has done that cycle.
(11:09) He won a Nobel Peace Prize the Grameen bank exists and it has impacted millions and millions of people around the world. Hundreds of millions of people and now he stared the next cycle which is the renown social enterprises. That’s the next cycle.
JANI: Why is this cycle so beneficial for entrepreneurs and business owners to follow?
JOHN: It sounds like this cycle is inevitable, it’s happening so it’s just something you need to recognize.
KAIHAN: Yeah, yes it’s like recognizing, it’s like driving around and using GPS. If you are driving around and you have no map, no GPS you’re nervous, you’re scared, you don’t know what’s around the corner. If you have the cycle you can say oh I’m in the wood phase, what’s supposed to happen in the wood phase? Oh this is natural, and gives you the confidence this is normal.
JANI: John, which phase are you in?
JOHN: I’m in the wood phase too. It sucks. Now I just wrote a book too and I told myself you’ve got four hours to get this thing done and I’m on chapter five and I just think this has to happen.
JANI: KAIHAN which phase are you in right now?
KAIHAN: I feel like I’m back and forth wood, fire; wood, fire. It’s like I’m about to catch fire, when I catch I’ll be busy and then I pull back so I’m figuring out how to stay at fire.
JOHN: What about you Jani what phase are you in?
JANI: Water. I’m really in the water I might need a life preserver.
JANI: Are there phases that are harder or more exciting? It sounds like fire is a happy phase.
JOHN: Metal sounds like fun.
KAIHAN: Fire is an exciting phase but it’s like nerve racking. It’s like a pace of change exhilarated. Wood is slow. Wood is like you’re frustrated going too slow then all of a sudden in metal it takes off. You see it’s almost in every company where one year it’s like it’s going too slow and suddenly it takes off. With metal you see it in every company where all of a sudden it’s going too fast. And so that transition stops.
JOHN: I can imagine some people more in line with one phase than another. Like some people more up front with the metal phase. Some people like guys who wrote things to do and stuff like that.
KAIHAN: Yeah I think that’s a great insight. I think that if you are building a team around you, you want to have people around you that represent each phase. Like, you know one person who is always discontented and one person at the water stage like Jani, the visionary the one who talks about the future. You need your wood person. You need the person who takes your visions and start implementing them or making them happen.
JANI: I need a wood person. You can take your metaphors for all places.
JOHN: Watch out for the late night edition of the John and Jani Show.
Alright we want to take this back to the individual show. So how do we transition into all this? We want to deal with the cool things to spark some of the passion you talk about right?
KAIHAN: I think when I did the research it was the most eye opening experience was this metal to water phase. Is that we think of it as an entrepreneur someone who can read the market, see where things are changing and then they say oh I’m gonna get that you know. And our model for that is Jeff Bezos. He didn’t care much about books but he knew the Internet was happening and that books would be the first thing to sell on the Internet. He has never been to Seattle but he knew that Seattle is the right place to put the company because it offers no tax to the rest of the country. That’s not how most entrepreneurs start. They don’t see the opportunity and cease it. There are three elements:
One is the system is changing, people want something they are not getting
Two the competition is not reacting, they are not giving people what they want
The third element is almost always this pre-existing commitment. Something that happened twenty years ago in high school and someone said something to you and you made up a story about yourself and that thing has been nagging at you ever since and it sounds like.
There shouldn’t be poor people in the world
Authors should be recognized
Everyone should have a possibility
There is something there and it’s that pre-existing commitment that will create the spark that will begin the cycle.
JANI: It’s like their creation story, their birthing story, why they’re the company/service per product to make a better place.
KAIHAN: Right, that story and the product company is like a manifestation of their creative story. What that means though is that you cannot only look to the future you have to look for the past and most importantly, the idea that is right for you if it’s a really good idea will be a bad idea for someone else. You will be the right person for that idea.
JOHN: It will be a bad idea for someone else? Explain that.
KAIHAN: As I said with Yunus before no bank would want to do what he did because it would be a bad idea for them because they are invested in a certain way of operating business to be sustainable. You can’t have bank managers, you can’t have loan officers right otherwise you have to give loans that are thousands of dollars. To give loans for twenty five dollars you have to start from a certain place where he started from. You have to be in a rural area and you have to have no assets, right? So it was a terrible idea for banks and that’s why it was a good idea for him.
JANI Part of his divine blueprint this is why I love this book so much, The Way of Innovation. Where can people buy it?
KAIHAN: You can get it on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com. You can get it in digital format in print format. You can go to my website www.KAIHAN.net order and I’ll send you a signed copy.
JANI: That’s awesome but last parting words, last parting words Kaihan.
KAIHAN: Wow man, I think you know it should all come down to finding what you love, us finding what the world needs and knowing where you are in the process and just trusting the process.
JOHN: Trusting the process, that’s a nice word. Trusting the process, I’m going through that right now.
Kaihan thanks so much for being with us it’s been a very fun show for us. It’s a very educational one. I’ve checked out your book, I’m very excited to read the rest of it and to the rest of you KAIHAN.net it was check out The Way of Innovation on Amazon.com
JOHN: Bye thanks. Jani we talk to you next time.
JANI: Bye, thank you.
JOHN: So that was Kaihan Krippendorff what a cool book, what a cool guy.
JANI: That was super fun you know. I loved when we figured out where we were in the phases, you know and I wished we had more time with him. You know what I wanted to ask him is what happens when you get stuck in a phase, I’m stuck in water I really am.
JOHN: We’re going to have to have him back on that. I might be stuck in wood and not know it at some point. I’m stuck in this chapter because I don’t want to move to the next phase but it needs to be done oh no God help me. If you know the next time I look at the book then oh no this will change totally.
JANI: I mean the other thing too is that it is an organic process maybe I’m answering the question for myself. It’s like this organic process so eventually I may end up moving into wood it just may be like ten years from now.
JOHN: Maybe that’s the way it goes. Two people have different speeds and everything too. Maybe you’re more of a person who is to be in a certain phase and you just hanging in there. I’m definitely not supposed to be in wood that why I’m hanging out there so dam long.
JANI: Or maybe we have to pool together our A-team of people to help us get out of that like it’s our responsibility to find you know mentors in other people support to help us move through the phases if you feel stuck.
Another good question is how do you know when you are stuck in a phase?
JOHN: Jani maybe we’re not stuck, maybe you’re not stuck either, I don’t know.
JANI: This is very Jedi
JOHN: We’re going to have to get him back on the show that sounds like a plan.
JANI: My God learning the special effects
JOHN: It teaches very well learning every time there are not enough ads and not enough sponsorship
Hertog Jan beer, best touch beer you ever heard of. I get to drink because it’s freaking nine o’clock at night.
JANI: Yes you do. You get to drink because it’s nine o’clock.
JOHN: Bye Jani
Our guest next week
JANI: Mike Maroni owner of Maroni’s Restaurant in Long Island. He is a character. He probably gonna cuss every other word just FYI. You have got to be fined fifty thousand dollars.
JOHN: Have a great fucking night everybody
JANI: The Way to Innovation, buy it.
John: Thanks everybody The Way to Innovation, see you next week. Goodbye.