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Don’t Limit Innovation to Be Just About Product or Tech

Several years ago at SXSW, I was at a dinner with business leaders and was pleasantly surprised to find myself in the company of Chick-fil-A CEO, Dan Cathy. Quite frankly, I did not expect a CEO of a company of the scale of Chick-fil-A at an event focused on creativity, design, and innovation. Yet, along with the thousands of other conference attendees, he was taking in the emerging trends that technologists, creators, and designers were shaping for the world.

A comment Dan casually made about how he decided a few years back to “be more like an entrepreneur” caught me…


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Photo by Duncan Kyhl on Unsplash

Uncovering the Disruptor Within Us All

“Our company executives don’t get it!”

I just finished giving a speech to a company about the power of innovation and disrupting the status quo in corporations. As I finished, two (very frustrated) employees came to talk to me. They were in a role that put them at the intersection of understanding customer needs and helping their company build products and solutions to meet those demands. It is a powerful place to be within a company yet they felt helpless. …


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Venture Atlanta 2020

A 2020 Venture Atlanta Panel with Jay Bailey, Duriya Farooqui, and Barry Givens

So many things go into building community. I know that’s true. But it wasn’t until I was backstage at Venture Atlanta 2020 that I really realized how much the intangibles matter.

I was at the conference to host a panel about Building Unique and Powerful Innovation Ecosystems. It was an exciting opportunity. The topic is a passion for me and the panel was composed of Jay Bailey, Duriya Farooqui, and Barry Givens. Each one of these excellent people is helping to shape the Atlanta innovation community, and I call each of them a friend.

This was the first event in…


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Atlanta United’s Catie Griggs Bridges Generations to Lead the Team Behind the Team

“I did play soccer. I was terrible.”

While she is a senior executive for Major League Soccer club Atlanta United FC, Catie was humble and honest about her personal soccer skills during this live session of the Disruptor Studio podcast recorded during this year’s DIG SOUTH virtual event. But it is clear she has a passion for the game and knows how to embrace the spirit and energy of this sport.

Catie Griggs is one of the most influential sports figures in Atlanta. She might not be a star player on the soccer pitch, but in her role as the…


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Photo by Eric & Niklas on Unsplash

In business, we often undervalue the power of creativity and those who make it possible

We all have creative DNA. It’s the instinct and capacity for ideas that exist outside the status quo, the confines of our environment or industry, or even historical ‘best practices.’ We all have it. For some of us, exercising it is natural. For others, tapping into it takes a courageous act. Regardless of how you feel about putting it to work, your creative DNA is an essential part of your capacity for innovation. Whether micro or macro, progress doesn’t happen without new thinking.

The problem is, creativity is rarely viewed or embraced properly, particularly in the business environment. There’s a…


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The Cast of The Baker and the Beauty at SCAD aTV Fest

How my life journey prepared me to be an innovator and change leader

I did not expect to open the door to my origin, culture, and pride at the Savannah College of Art and Design aTV Fest in Atlanta. As part of this festival celebrating television arts, science, and design, I was able to attend a sneak preview screening of The Baker and the Beauty, an ABC TV romantic comedy-drama centered around a Cuban family.

As I sat in the dark theater watching the pilot episode, I was quickly drawn into the celebration of Cuban-American culture. (Oh, the food!) The show centers on a middle-class family that owns and operates a bakery in…


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Photo by Mathias Jensen on Unsplash

How Kat Cole and Ben Chestnut Inspire Greatness

As I continue to explore the DNA of an innovator it is clear that the most inspiring leaders have a special ‘X factor’ grounded in their authenticity. But what keeps them authentic? What lets them be laser-focused on achieving what may sometimes feel impossible? What enables them to be able to stay inspired while inspiring others to follow?

It is purpose.

These individuals, people like Focus Brands’ Kat Cole and Mailchimp’s Ben Chestnut, are purposeful in what they do. They also have a clear purpose for those who they lead. …


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Alex Gonzalez with Marc Gorlin at the Dig South Tech Summit

Why entrepreneur Marc Gorlin is an inspiring innovator and leader

It was the day before our keynote fireside chat at the Dig South Tech Summit in Charleston, South Carolina. I was checking into the hotel and although Marc Gorlin was nowhere in sight, he was very present. The front desk associate noticed I was registered as a speaker for Dig South and asked me what I was speaking about.

“I am hosting a fireside chat with the CEO and founder of a company called Roadie,” I said.

She immediately said, “I met him! He checked-in earlier and gave me a Roadie hat. He was so fun to talk to.”

That…


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Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash

Impactful, lasting innovation requires a willingness to be uncomfortable while embracing needed disparate ideas.

It’s ironic, but a picture-perfect day with my son provides an ideal example of how important it is to be confusion tolerant. As someone who works in innovation and strategy, I understand the progress that can happen through discomfort. And a college visit provided a great opportunity to share that with my son.

We were walking on the lawn of a college campus. I was enjoying it but my son appeared conflicted. We were at one of our final campus visits and my high school senior was struggling to figure out which school to attend. …


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Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Five Ways to Remain Focused, Efficient and Impactful

We are in unprecedented times with a public health crisis that is impacting the lives of families all over the world as loved ones are impacted by COVID-19. The pandemic is also causing a major economic crisis as the economy struggles causing massive job losses, crippling many small businesses, and straining large companies.

It is easy to see why leaders and professionals in corporate growth, innovation, and marketing functions feel vulnerable. Especially at a time like this, uncertainty challenges our objectives and purpose. Financial realities force cutbacks in budgets and teams. …

Alex Gonzalez

Innovation, brand, and corporate strategist with more than 25 years of experience in corporate, entrepreneurial, and civic roles. @disruptorstudio @atlchamber

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