Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently”

These words were spoken by Steve Jobs, narrating the infamous TV ad at the center of Apple’s Think Different campaign in 1997. He had just returned to the company he co-founded. The world was dominated by PCs, and Apple had a hard time being noticed after several disastrous product launches. It was on the verge of obsolescence.

Featuring famous innovators and thinkers like Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart, and Pablo Picasso,  the “crazy ones” ad showed that Apple shared people’s desire to make a difference and change the world. It encouraged people to challenge the status quo, be a “rebel” and take smart risks to achieve greatness. Apple’s campaign hit the mark with the creative community, helping to drive its market cap from $1.6B to $15.6B within two years.

Seeing things differently is what fuels innovation. But it isn’t an easy path to take. Challenging the status quo requires effort and comes with significant risk. One example is the streaming industry, led by Netflix and now joined by many others. It has upended the traditional TV industry, but the abundance of streaming options comes with its own problems, like how to make a profit. John Battelle interviewed industry expert Rich Greenfield, partner at LightShed Partners, on what the future of streaming holds for companies and consumers.

Barcodes were invented in the 1950s. It wasn’t until 1974 when the first Universal Product Code (UPC) was read on a pack of Wrigley Gum at an automated NCR cash register in Troy, Ohio. But the days of UPC barcodes are numbered. Signal innovator Kelly Schlafman explains efforts she is leading at P&G to create smart packaging that provides consumers more information, helps visually impaired people find the right products, and optimizes recycling.

Often new approaches to business challenges are fueled by creative use of available technology. Take, for example, small stores in Latin America. Many store owners don’t have the means to invest in technology. But they all own phones and use WhatsApp. This avenue has created a whole new way of doing business that is fueling the dramatic growth of small stores.

Innovation also applies to recruiting, especially in a tight job market. Increasingly companies are expanding their talent search outside of traditional channels. Where to look for promising candidates is less complicated than it seems: just ask your best employees where they would look to find new co-workers.

One of the most thoughtful and inspiring Signal 2023 conversations was with Publicis Groupe CEO Arthur Sadoun. He leads one of the largest advertising agencies in the world, and is responsible for creative ideas that help clients grow their business. He advises leaders to build trust and say ‘yes’ to powerful ideas that require big bets. They need to nurture the rebels that might just change the world. 

Steve Jobs felt the same: “They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Here’s to the “crazy ones” – all of you included.

Stan Joosten & John Battelle,
Editors-In-Chief, Signal360 / Co-founders, Signal P&G