Innovation requires courage

Yes it does.

And it takes courage to even talk about it in some places.

I was talking to my partners recently about how Tijuana has a somewhat conservative view against creative expression. There’s creativity no doubt, but not of the likes you see in the capital of Mexico. Or Los Angeles, New York, Miami, San Francisco and Las Vegas, to use a few examples.

In Tijuana there’s a lot of ‘cross-dressing’. Meaning that businesses change their clothes but not their personality. As a result, the creative expression remains on the surface.

This conversation took us into looking at how an environment influences if people are creative or not, and how that is rewarded. As I explained to them, in my mid twenties I spent every other weekend in Los Angeles. A city with a unique mix of ingredients that spark creativity (and not just because of Hollywood). People would often ask me why I spent so much time there. They assumed it was because of the night life and going to see my favorite international DJ’s perform.

It’s actually because that’s were I felt more creative. I felt released.

Simply walking down Hollywood Boulevard is enough to spark your creative juices. Things, people, the look and feel is just different. Being in a different environment that’s not familiar has a huge influence in how you think. It sparks new ideas that you can adapt elsewhere.

While L.A. doesn’t appear on the top 20 most innovative cities list, it no doubt has a creative atmosphere. But what if you don’t live near a city like Los Angeles?

A few months ago I wrote about how we can change people’s behavior by changing the environment we live an work in. But changing how the scene looks is a little more challenging.

It takes courage.

Even going to different ‘scenes’ and then bringing ideas back to implement elsewhere takes guts. And doing it the right way is a another challenge.

Surface level changes are meaningless

For example a few months ago a new bar & lounge, Le Container, opened in Tijuana. It definitely looks different (see below) than anything else we’ve had there since Baby Rock.

Le Container Tijuana MX

As you can see the outside is made up of containers and the inside of the building is also interesting. This idea is not new, you can see it’s been copied from elsewhere. But that’s not the point. The point is, adapting ideas from elsewhere is tricky.

It’s not just copying bolts and nuts. For example, the problem this place has is the people who work there. They all look and act the same as in any other club or lounge in Tijuana.

Superficial differences don’t mean anything.

Must see beyond looks

This takes me to another discussion I had with a friend who is also thinking about launching a bar & lounge. My friend has been in the nightlife scene since we were in high school, yet even though he is well known around the city he’s still looking for his best hit. He told me this and asked me for ideas.

As I thought about it, I told him about trends on the world scale and about a few things I’ve been noticing about women and how an experience in Los Angeles gave me an interesting insight. I told him about a club called Les Deux in Hollywood and how it operates differently. How it deliberately uses an opposition strategy to compete (or not compete) for people’s attention. About how it purposely has a ratio of 10 to 1 women over men and how all these women are handpicked from universities such as USC, UCLA and others. This makes men (with money) salivate. I can tell you that the effect it has on our perception is staggering.

Les Deux is still relevant even in a place like Hollywood where there’s no shortage of money to throw around at new ideas.

How do I know this?

Because I celebrated my birthday there a few years ago and was introduced to the owners after noticing this madness.

My friend is intrigued but thinks it’s a challenge to adapt some of these ideas over here. I agree. But that’s the point:

It’s a challenge to introduce something different into familiar contexts. Innovation takes guts to break from the familiar.

For those of us who are born with guts, this doesn’t make sense. We just want to do it because it satisfies us. But for others, it takes courage to even think about wild ideas.

Still, it gives me great pleasure to see when something like Le Container, even if it’s a copy from elsewhere, is introduced in Tijuana. Because it means that the people behind it have guts. All that is left is to add a vision.

Guts and vision change everything.




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