A hot button topic today or any day is: What supplies the impetus to creative invention? Do you have to go to (or drop out of) the right schools? Do you have to set up shop in a garage in Palo Alto and network with other aspiring innovators? Do you need to be exposed to role models who fought for an idea and never gave up until its fruition? Probably no one would put on such a list something that I believe was the spark that led to the most important patent I received — and I’m a named inventor on dozens of them.
I, a first-time father, watched my one-year-old daughter walk for the first time. Well and good, you may say; but children, although life-enhancing, are emotionally draining and physically taxing. A parent has less energy to devote to work and the generation of new ideas. Women have to be encouraged to “lean in” because many will be tempted to drop out after they have children. Men are now encouraged to get more involved in the child-rearing process with the idea that their children will greatly profit from the time spent, even if this comes at some cost to the man professionally. In my case it was not the case.
I clearly remember being under the gun to produce a new idea for my stagnant company, often called a pivot. The emotional high I received from my daughter taking her first steps helped me create the idea and get through some harrowing days and sleepless nights until the patent filing was submitted. (CrowdOptic’s U.S. Patent No. 8,527,340 may be a key part of the data flow from wearable computing devices used in a live setting.) I was even inspired and able to compose some original guitar music for the second time in my life in honor of her steps for daddy.
Since I was spending so much time with my daughter, I was more removed from the mundane operations of my company than I had been in previous startups, and even this was a benefit. I feel that the distance helped me see the forest and not the trees and led to better strategic projections for the future and fewer hassles.
Endocrinologists claim that fathers who spend more time with their kids experience brain chemical changes due to the emotions they experience. Who knows, perhaps natural highs are the best creativity enhancers. At least, they keep one going.
Does this prove that having a baby is the key to innovation? No, but it may be that a stimulating personal life from any source creates an aura that keeps one going over the rough spots that inevitably occur in any business enterprise. So, fathers of the world and even masters of the universe, come on in and listen to the music of your babies.
Jon Fisher, CEO of CrowdOptic, is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, inventor, author and economic analyst. Earlier he co-founded and was CEO of Bharosa, an Oracle Corporation company, which produced the Oracle Adaptive Access Manager. Fisher is a named inventor on six U.S. and eight foreign patents, and three U.S. and 17 foreign patents pending. Fisher is a recipient of the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur Of The Year award.