Innovation Beyond Fritos

Posted In: Confidence and Control
Posted On: 8/25/2014


Long ago and far away, I was the associate brand manager at Frito-Lay who brought the world a new product: Chili Cheese Fritos. (You are welcome.) I was just reflecting on that accomplishment this weekend after sorting through old files and finding the November 3, 1986 Forbes article where there was the chili cheese story plus a picture of me at age 27 with this headline:  Product Manager Jane Miller, two years to reach the top. The top!  My top at age 27!  Seriously? But what I found more interesting as I reread the article was the passion that I had for Fritos and what I was doing at the time.  And I do remember feeling like I was making a big difference in the world of food.  Again, seriously? Yes and yes!  Because each one of us will have many “tops” in our careers and the way we get there is to have passion for what we are doing!  Being proud of all of our accomplishments is something that I write about extensively in my book, Sleep Your Way to the Top (and other myths about business success).  Each accomplishment builds your story and makes that story unique to you. So what takes the place of Chili Cheese Fritos in my life at this moment?  I feel like I am in a vortex of innovation with many of the projects where I am blessed to be involved.  Here are just a few and why I consider them innovative: FG Press. The guys and gal there are reinventing the way authors partner with their publisher.  It works. Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network. This is a network of serial entrepreneurs who are coaching high growth companies in Colorado.  For free. ReWorkA new model of recruiting company that matches exceptional people with impact companies at a crossroad called meaningful work. Yeah, I know, wow. Natural Food Works, LLC. This less-than-one-year-old company is creating a partnership with natural and organic start-ups by becoming their total supply chain solution.  Spoiler alert:  big idea here! Unreasonable Institute and Unreasonable Group. Solving the world’s biggest problems takes an amazing network of mentors and funders.  Got to see it to believe it! So that is just a sampling of what I am getting excited about these days!  Funny how my definition of innovation has changed from delivering a line extension to working with a myriad of interesting companies. Want to redefine your definition of innovation? Check out Sterling Rice Group. These guys do innovation as a profession and have been conducting a major summit focused on this topic for the last several years. Whatever your innovation is—be passionate about it!