Ron Klein is known as the grandfather of possibilities. His innovations and creations, things that we don’t really think much about, have become part of our everyday life, like the magnetic strip on the credit card, MLS for real estate, and voice response for the banking industry, among others. He shares that keeping it simple is the key to being an innovator. His innovations stem from solving a problem and how you go about doing it. What he does when he wants to convey an idea or a concept of how to simplify or come up with a solution to a problem is how he communicates. Get back to the basics, break down the problem and solve it. Everything else is the minutia in the journey.
We’re going to talk about problem-solving. As a special guest with a short interview, I have Ron Klein. Ron Klein is an ordinary man who accomplishes extraordinary things. He is a problem solver and every solution that he has come up with has resulted in monumental change, either in a new invention or a simple solution. His innovative ideas have changed the world. He is the inventor of the magnetic strip on the credit card, the credit card validity checking system, and the developer of computerized system for real estate, which is the MLS, Multi-Listing Service, which millions of people use around the world. He has also developed a voice response for the banking industry and bond quotation and trade Information for the New York Stock Exchange. This man is an innovator, is creative, and most importantly, he’s a problem-solver. Ron’s latest patent is for a device that enables a visually impaired person the ability to identify an item when in physical range of the item. It utilizes a special smart phone and special coded adhesive labels. He is solving various different problems and I wanted to bring him for a short interview so that you could hear what and how an innovator of this type solves problems.
Listen to the podcast here:
Keeping It Simple with Ron Klein, The Grandfather Of Possibilities
With this premier of Take Back Time, a new podcast that I’m doing, I’m meeting some amazing people, Ron Klein. I can’t even talk about all the accomplishments that he has achieved and the inventions that he’s done. He’s such a strategic thinker, such an incredible person as well. Ron, I wouldn’t do you justice in talking about some of the things that you have invented. I’d love you to introduce yourself and tell us what has meant the most to you in those accomplishments.
The ability to solve problems and provide benefits for people and give back. The thing that is so exciting is I am not empty yet, and I can still contribute, so that’s what’s important to me.
What are some of those problems that you have solved? Some people might not be familiar with your work.
A couple of simple things. I invented the magnetic strip on the credit card, MLS for real estate, voice response for the banking industry, when you get your account information back in voice. I automated the New York Stock Exchange, provided program in trading, developed a bond quotation and trading system for corporate listed bonds, the treasury system.
What sparks some of these ideas? Is it a problem you’re personally having that you go to solve? Did somebody come to you and say, “I have this problem”?
[Tweet “To be an innovator, you have to be smart, daring and different.”] I never classified myself as an inventor. I say I’m an innovator because inventors sit there and think about, “What am I going to invent today?” I don’t do that. I look at things as if someone comes to me with a problem or a challenge, I identify that challenge, I simplify everything tremendously. I identify what’s the given that I’m working with and what is the solution we’re looking for. I don’t get caught up in the minutia, the journey in between. Those things we solve along the way because to be an innovator, you have to be smart, daring, and different. When I say smart, I don’t mean a PhD from Harvard. I mean be aware and learn something new every day, pay attention. There’s an offer from everybody that can teach us something new. To be daring, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not learning anything. If you painted the wrong color the first time, paint it a different color. The last thing that’s so important, we don’t sell ideas, we provide benefits. If you provide a benefit that you’re smart, then you’ll reap from it.
I want to come back to simplicity. You know that somebody has a great gift when they can simplify something. It’s easy to make things complex and it’s hard to make things simple. What do you do to stay away from the minutia, from all those noise that keeps you from being clear?
We learned that in eighth grade in school when they gave us word problems. All the ancillary information that was combined and condensed in the word problem, you have to sift out what is the issue? What is the given that you have to work with? What do you personally want to solve or what do you want to solve business-wise? Everything else is the minutia in the journey. Along the way, if you hit a roadblock on the interstate, get off and get back on at some other location. That’s pretty simple.
If we go back to the basics of what we learned in grade school and in our early learning process, we learned how to keep it simple and how to break down problems, and then somewhere along the line, we forget.
I always say, “I refuse to have a battle of wits with another person.” What I want to do is if I want to convey my idea or my concept of how to simplify or come up with a solution to a problem, I find out what it is that the other person can understand or is familiar with that I can equate my challenge to them so that we begin communicating. That is what is so important.
Work at understanding that there’s no difference between work and play, it’s just how you govern your time.
Thank you so much.
The podcast is going to have great people like Ron Klein and other amazing business experts, leaders, and entrepreneurs that I’m going to share their wisdom with you. It’s Take Back Time.
That was Ron Klein who’s the grandfather of possibilities, an innovator that has brought great change and innovation to our day-to-day life. He does it through keeping it simple, through getting very clear on what the problem is that he’s looking to solve, and to block out all the other noise that is irrelevant. He looks at the facts the way that they are. He doesn’t make things better than they are or worse than they are. He understands them just as they are. That’s one of the things that’s going to help us to take back time is being able to solve problems faster, to be able to get very clear on what the problem is, to break it down, and then to solve the problem. I want to add a few things to what Ron said to get clear of how you can simplify things and use techniques to take back time regarding faster problem-solving.
The first thing might sound counterproductive but you need to make more time for defining the problem. That may sound counterproductive but the fact is it’s not because many people define the problem either too high. The problem is unsolvable because it’s not specific enough or they’re working with others and they don’t have a common clear definition of what the problem is. Each of the different people who are working on the project have a slightly different understanding of what the problem is. You want to get clear on defining the problem. To reinforce this fact, Einstein has a quote and he said, “If I had an hour to save the world, I would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution.” Here’s one of the great thinkers, along with Ron Klein, who have said that defining the problem is absolutely key. The first thing is to make sure you’re defining the problem in the right way. You have to challenge assumptions that come along with what your initial solutions are that you’re thinking about. Challenge your assumptions around the problem. That’s going to help you get even more specific about the problem and it’s going to help you to eliminate some blocks that you might have because of assumptions that you’ve made that are not relevant, that are more noise that keep you from getting to the solution that you want.
[Tweet “Challenge your assumptions around the problem.”] I want to give you a business example that will help you to take a look at that. I was working with a flight school organization and they were looking to get more people into their flight school. What happened was when I came into the picture, they had just hired a company to do their search engine optimization, which was to bring in more traffic to their website because their assumption of the problem was that they needed more traffic. That in itself might be fine. That is a strategy to get more sales, but when we looked at the big picture and understanding all the facts of where their business was, and we looked at the website itself and who it was targeting and how it was targeting the group, they actually were not using the right language, the right pictures, and they were doing nothing to capture any of the people that were coming to the website. Therefore, spending money on generating traffic for the website is a great strategy when that is the current problem. That wasn’t the current problem because they weren’t going to be able to capture anybody who came to the website and they are not attracting the people that they were doing the search engine optimization for were not being spoken to on the site as it was.
They were a step ahead of themselves. They didn’t define the problem in the right way for where they were at that time. They were throwing money away. What we needed to do was to go back in and define what the problem was. We understand that the goal was to make more sales. That was the goal. They had a very specific goal of how many new people they wanted to be registering for flight courses and training every single month. Then we need to look at who is it that they’re targeting. Are we targeting the right people? That was the problem with where they were at that point in time. It was they were not targeting the right people for this training. The website needed to be completely updated and also have a place to capture information that when they drove people to the site, they’d be able to immediately capture information for those who were ready to take the next step. That was the problem at that particular time.
That’s why it’s so important to define and understanding clearly where you are now. If this is your business and you’re looking for innovation in your business. What is the current problem? What is the first thing that you need to solve, so that you can then get to the next thing and then the next thing in the bigger picture? You need to break it down. The higher level problem was they weren’t getting enough people, but you need to break that problem down into as specific as possible because if you think about it, at the high level that the problem is we’re not getting enough people to sign up, it’s too high level. Therefore, you might think it can be solved in a lot of different ways because it’s so high level. When you can get more specific about where exactly is the problem for you right now with where you stand, then you’re going to be able to come up with a much clearer and better solution that’s going to solve the current problem. You can then find out what the next challenge or obstacle is, so that you can get to the bigger problem.
I hope I’ve made that clear for you and that you’re able to walk away with breaking things down, make it simpler. Ron said, “It’s about simplifying, it’s about removing the noise. The way that you do that is you break that problem down and you spend time understanding the problem.” As Einstein said, “You take probably more time than you think you need to in making sure that you define the right problem, because the solution comes quite easily and quickly when you’ve defined the problem in the right way and you’re going to be challenging it and then you’re going to make a decision and you’re going to move forward.” In that whole process, that’s going to make you more efficient and effective. It may take a little bit more time upfront, but it’s going to save you time on the backend because you are going to be coming up with better solutions and they’re going to be implemented faster. They’re going to be getting you the results that you want rather than coming up with a solution like that flight company did that spent a lot of money. It wasn’t the right thing for that particular time in their business.
This can be applied in any area of your life. This can be applied according to weight loss, if that’s where you’re looking to be more effective in your problem-solving and identifying that the problem is in your nutrition or finding out specifically where the area is that that you need to solve that problem. The choice is yours what you do next with this information. It’s not just about understanding and hearing it. It’s about putting it into practice in your life. Where can you simplify, block out the noise, and get clearer on what the challenges are that you face in specifics so that you can solve those problems.
Join us again next time when we’re going to bring other great interviews. We’re going to bring other great tips and we’re going to help you to take back time.
About Ron Klein
Ron Klein is an ordinary man who accomplishes extraordinary things. He is a PROBLEM SOLVER. Every solution has resulted in monumental change, either in a new invention or a simple solution. His innovative ideas have changed the world. He is the inventor of the Magnetic Strip on the Credit Card, Credit Card Validity Checking System and the developer of computerized systems for Real Estate (MLS) Multiple Listing Services, Voice Response for the Banking Industry and BOND Quotation and Trade Information for the New York Stock Exchange.
Ron‘s latest patent is for a device that enables a visually impaired person the ability to identify an item when in physical range of that item. It utilizes a smartphone and special coded adhesive labels. Visit www.EnvisionEli.com for additional information and to download the free app.