What is your innovation legacy?

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innovation legacy

One thing that I’ve been thinking about lately, especially given my recent announcement, is what will be my innovation legacy.

Another person who pondered this question was Alfred Nobel.  Alfred teamed up with his brother and father and opened a lab in Stockholm to study nitroglycerine.  In 1866, he discovered that by mixing it with keiselguhr powder, made from a white chalky rock, he could stabilize nitroglycerine.  He named the new invention dynamite.

His new invention was immediately embraced by the mining and construction industries.  However, it didn’t take long before the military also found a use for it.

In 1888, a rumor that Nobel had died led to the publication of his obituary in a French newspaper under the headline, “The Merchant of Death is Dead.” The first line of the obituary read, “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.”  Nobel was horrified by the thought that he would be remembered primarily as an arms manufacturer whose greatest discovery, dynamite, enabled warring nations to kill their enemies more efficiently.

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He set himself on a path to find a way to improve his reputation and leave a legacy that would benefit the world.

Upon his death in 1896, it was announced that he had set aside a $9 million estate to form a foundation which would award an annual cash prize to individuals who had made the most significant contributions to physics, chemistry, literature, and peace.  The foundation awarded the first Nobel Prize in 1901.


I’m proud of the products that define my current innovation legacy.  But I want to do more than just live off the past.

What is your innovation legacy?

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3 thoughts on “What is your innovation legacy?

  1. For me, the legacy of fostering and supporting enquiring minds is the best possible legacy.

    While all legacies are important, I hope that mine will be more about people and processes than products per se. Of course, successfully making and marketing of “innovative products and services” is the holy grail. But an equally important outcome, IMHO, is to act generously to colleagues and collaborators, as I’ve been supported by the many folk who’ve given me a legup overtime.

    I still can’t articulate this better than I did almost four years ago, toward the end of a piece discussing innovation, incubation and startups in my local precinct in the CBD of Adelaide, Australia.

    “My collegiate and incubatory instincts have been honed thanks to: Phillip Frazer, for the publishing smarts learned at Rolling Stone and The Digger; Ian Reinecke, for the telco and comms expertise gained at Reed publishing; Frank Maloney, for the federal regulatory ride at ACMA; Claire Luckett, for the corporate legal publishing gig at AAR; Tennyson Andrew, you little incubator, you, at ISMVDS; Martyn Duckmanton and Conor McKenna for consistent (and persistent) support on the iholder project, and Michael Youds, it goes without saying; Peter Slattery at JWS, for offering a ringside seat at Australia’s second largest M&A transaction in 2006, the $6Billion acquisition of Patrick Corp by Toll Holdings; and most importantly my parents for insisting on the primacy of an enquiring mind.”

    The full story is online at:



    Michael Zerman

  2. I turn 50 next month…and I have 3 to date that I am proud of: The Zululand Community Foundation and Community Park – a massive regional hub for community capacity building that I created, The Amplify Festival – a catalytic event that’s grown out of an internal employee only event at AMP into Australia’s largest business innovation event, and now…a spin-off start-up from past Amplify Festival…an event engagement ecosystem for audience activation and tracking the spread of ideas and influence from events. But hopefully, it ain’t over yet! I am an Aspen Institute First Movers Fellow this year and working on a fun idea for business and social innovation and I am also the mother f 2 teenagers who will no doubt be innovators too! More about Catalysing Magic inside corporations at http://www.itwire.com/profiler/51070-amp-its-catalyst-for-magic

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