Josh Linkner Wants You To Be A “Creative Troublemaker”

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“Start before you’re ready.” -Josh Linkner

JOSH LINKNER is a Creative Troublemaker. He passionately believes that all human beings have incredible creative capacity, and he’s on a mission to unlock inventive thinking and creative problem solving to help leaders, individuals, and communities soar.

He has been the founder and CEO of five tech companies, which sold for a combined value of over $200 million and is the author of four books including the New York Times Bestsellers, Disciplined Dreaming and The Road to Reinvention. He has invested in and/or mentored over 100 startups and is the Founding Partner of Detroit Venture Partners.

Today, Josh serves as Chairman and co-founder of Platypus Labs, an innovation research, training, and consulting firm. He has twice been named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and is the recipient of the United States Presidential Champion of Change Award.

Josh is also a passionate Detroiter, the father of four, is a professional-level jazz guitarist, and has a slightly odd obsession for greasy pizza.

Josh is a hiitide partner and his Micro-course for his book Big Little Breakthroughs is available on hiitide. Sign up here.

A candid conversation between Josh Linkner and author of Built to Serve,  Evan Carmichael about Big Little Breakthroughs

Evan is also a hiiitide partner and his 28 day Micro-course on his book Built to Serve is also available on hiitide. Sign up here

To see the full discussion click the link.


The concept of the book seems to be that you don’t have to have some big, giant breakthrough all the time. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to come up with the next Nobel Prize winning idea. When in fact, a lot of breakthroughs come from making little tiny but constant incremental improvements. Would you say that’s what this book is all about? 


That’s pretty close. The idea of big little breakthroughs is how small, everyday innovations drive oversized results. The whole notion is, instead of taking on this massive risk or trying to shoot for a billion dollar idea, which might be out of the grasp for many of us. We should keep our focus around cultivating small daily acts of creativity. “What this does is it makes creativity way less risky, more accessible to more people and allows us to actually build skills and enjoy great results all at the same time.” It’s a more pragmatic way of building and harnessing human creativity to drive the outcomes that we care about the most. 

Evan responds saying, “I love it! My audience is more entrepreneurs and less corporate.I think a lot of entrepreneurs don’t start because they’re working on too big of an idea. Then all of the sudden it’s three years later and they still haven’t done the thing because it’s too big. Now they need venture capital, now they need this giant team as opposed to just starting something, making tweaks, making changes and not worrying about the perfect plan. I love that message.”


How do you think this book applies best to the entrepreneurial market? 


Being a venture capital investor for years and years, I’ve been reminded over and over again of an old saying, which is that “more startups die of indigestion than starvation.” In other words they tried to take on too much. I think the notion of Big Little Breakthroughs is really a thoughtful, pragmatic approach to this problem. 

Backing up for a second, this is my fourth book, but I poured my heart and soul into this one. I spent over 1000 hours in research and interviews with CEOs, billionaires, celebrity entrepreneurs, Grammy Award winning artists as well as everyday innovators around the world. I tried to sort of decode things like: How do they think, What do they do every day, How do they build habits around creativity and What are their core mindsets and obsessions? 

In the book we cover the eight core obsessions of everyday innovators, but one of them hits it right on the head. It’s the idea of “start before you’re ready.” Too many of us wait for a directive or permission or until we have a bulletproof game plan and we end up missing our opportunity, if we even start at all. I believe it’s more about getting after it. “You may have to move forward in the face of ambiguity, you might not have all the answers, you might need to pivot and adapt and course correct along the way.” Regardless of the obstacle, it’s more about getting started and finding your way forward, using acts of everyday creativity each step of the way. 

In this conversation, Josh and Evan make it clear that the first step is just starting. For any project, entrepreneurial venture, dream or goal, we just need to start. If we wait for the perfect moment it never comes and so does the opportunity. If you’re looking for that first step and little habits that can have great big results check out Josh’s course with hiitide. Here are some of the benefits you’ll receive:

  • Identify Innovation in Your Everyday Life
  • Build Habits to Fuel Your Creativity  Muscles
  • Use Your Quirkiness to Your Advantage
  • Master “Squeeze out Every Drop of Toothpaste” Techniques to Improve Effectiveness 

Lesson One Big Little Breakthroughs | Online Book Club

Today’s activity centers around the concept of a 5% Creativity Upgrade. 

What is a 5% Creativity Upgrade? 

Well according to Josh Linkner, it is a growth spurt that is completely accessible to us all. Expanding your creative capacity by just five percent can translate into a disproportionately massive boost in your overall performance. Your 5 percent Creativity Upgrade will not only help you earn more, but it will also help you get more out of all the areas of life that matter most. And a five-percent upgrade is completely within your grasp.

When we upgrade our creativity, we are able to become innovators. According to Josh, creativity is something that is novel and has inherent value. When utility is added to creativity, it becomes innovation! Not all innovations are made equal…

Josh Linkner, “What Everyday Innovators Can Learn From Fresh Salsa”  

In the article above, Josh describes the three different types of innovation as salsa: mild, medium, and spicy. A flavor option for each of us! He says that not all innovation has to be all-caps INNOVATION that changes the world instantly or our spicy salsa. There is also our medium salsa or Innovations, the mid-sized innovations that come along a few times a year. He continues by stating that there are also lower-case innovations, small changes that lead to incremental improvements which are our mild-flavored salsa. We need all levels of innovation to create positive change just like we need all flavors of salsa. The person who creates a new way of collecting data at their job or the person who creates a new way to collect energy are all equally important and needed.

Ready to be more innovative? Curious what that would take? 

To experience a 5% Creativity Upgrade and be more innovative requires focusing on small changes every day. Having a daily creativity practice allows you to build on your skills and keeps you on the path for big little breakthroughs! Throughout this book club, you will start that practice (or deepen it) and learn how to unlock your potential and become an everyday innovator!

We are in this together! Let’s reflect! Grab a pen and journal or open up your notes on your phone.


  1. Think about your last innovation or if you don’t yet identify yourself as innovative, think about someone else’s innovation….
  2. What flavor of salsa would you say it was? And why?
  3. How would you describe what creativity is? How does it compare or contrast to Josh’s definition?
  4. If you could download a 5% creativity upgrade right now, what would it look like for you?
Agenda for the Entire Book Club:

Week 1: Decode, Direct, and Develop

Week 2: Infatuation, Ignition and Investigation

Week 3: Confrontational, Unorthodox, and Scrappy

Week 4: Perks, Perseverance, and Prosperity

Luke is someone who enjoys the useful application of knowledge through innovative technologies. In his past experience, he’s been a major part of building an AI children’s educational program. As a hiitide Curriculum Designer, he brings some valuable creative insight to the team.
Luke Height
hiitide Curriculum Designer

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