A couple of nights back I was watching Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations featuring the international event “Cook It Raw” which took place in Japan. The episode featured talented chefs from around the world as they forage for ingredients to use in their dishes for the “Cook It Raw” event. There was a notable scene in the beginning as Anthony Bourdain sat with one of the chefs to dine and talk about the upcoming “Cook It Raw” event. They mentioned that “Success is the death of innovation.” In their chat, they described how a majority of chefs, once turned successful, tend to lose innovation. They commented that successful chefs tend to lean towards repetitiveness and cater more towards what the audience wants rather that what they want. Is success the death of innovation?
It’s a scary thought, really it is. Imagine all the hours one puts into growing success, to furnish his or her status, and gain the upper hand of the market only to be marked as a boring individual trapped at the dead end of innovation. Their ideas, once known as game changing innovative ideas, suddenly become mere specks of boredom floating through an endless sea of copycats. They feel at a dead lost with innovation hanging off a cliff close to death.
At the top of success lie the pressure and fear to lose it all in one quick move. As one moves up the totem pole of financial success, fear is ever present in each move. There is the fear to lose customers, to not do your job right or even worst, the fear of losing your job. Those fears drive a bullet straight to the head of innovation. So to cure that fear, one tends to fall in place, make safe moves, and moves along at a safe and steady pace with the rest of the world.
Yet, at the same time innovation is essential for success. Start-up companies are a great example of how innovation plays in favor towards success. Start-ups have the brains and the ideas to create new and attractive products. They develop products that set themselves apart from their bigger corporate competitors. Through their methods, they foster innovation with only the limited amount of resources. With only innovation, these great thinkers build a road soaring high towards success.
Innovation breeds success, but success kills innovation. That sounds somewhat incomprehensible. How can one thing build something great, but at the same time be the death of it? It’s strange isn’t it? But, maybe we can reword that phrase to accommodate balance. Innovation breeds success, but balancing success and innovation drives success further. That sounds more like it. That sounds more encouraging to future dreamers and entrepreneurs.
Since we, as a brand, are still youthful in this industry, we’re free to innovate. We’re free to make mistakes, refine our vision, and see what fits and feels right to our cause. We don’t have millions of readers and that’s perfectly fine with us. It’s in that leeway, we are free to make innovative choices. That invisibility allows us to experiment and see what works best in this world of ours.
Success doesn’t have to be the end of the road for anybody and it doesn’t necessarily mean that innovation will be blown into smithereens. Success should be treated as a rewarding checkpoint and a reminder to keep innovating, even if it may cost an audience or two. I find that it’s best to build your dream the way you see it, acknowledge the advice of others, and learn from your experiences. So rather than playing safe, keep innovating and see what works best. But remember, even the beautiful things in life such as success, can also be the most deadliest things in innovation.