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The Surprising Job Skill Most Managers Forget

Source | LinkedIn : By Ryan Holmes

Several years ago, I developed back problems. In fact, the pain left me unable to sit at a desk for more than an hour at a time. My doctor recommended that—on top of improving my sleep and diet and doing yoga—I look at getting a standing desk.

I did some research online and and was shocked to find models priced at hundreds, even thousands of dollars. So I grabbed a spare cardboard box and some duct tape and rigged myself up a really basic standing desk. At the time, I had no idea that this would lead to a brand new side business (more on that below) and—more importantly—an invaluable business lesson.  

Namely: Creative thinking is absolutely key for leaders in any organization. A recent IBM study revealed that CEOs regard creativity as the single most important leadership quality for success in business. Yet, it remains an ability that’s widely overlooked and undervalued. For business leaders and managers, it’s all too easy to get consumed with relentless cycles of meetings, managing employees and planning. In the end, this can leave little time for truly creative thinking and also sap energy from your work.

I get it. You don’t even realize this is happening … unless you happen to be pulled away from the daily grind and given a fresh chance to flex your creative or entrepreneurial muscles. That’s exactly what happened to me thanks to my jerry-rigged cardboard desk.

Almost right away, employees started asking where they could get a standing desk of their own. Apart from being cheap, my little contraption was also super portable. You could put it on your desk when you needed it, or fold it flat and store it away when you didn’t. I realized I might be onto something. So I contacted a pair of local designers and shared my concept. Together we began sketching out product designs and thinking about whether we could bring this idea to market.

This quickly became a passion project for me, something I did on the side while running my company.  What followed was months of finalizing product design, defining a marketing strategy, sorting out supply chain and distribution and more with my tiny standing desk team.

Then, earlier this year, we finally unveiled our $25 cardboard standing desk,dubbed the Oristand.

On launch day, I was nervous in a way I hadn’t been in years. Would it crash and burn? Was the website ready to handle the traffic? What was the media going to say? And—most importantly—what were actual customers going to say?

But feedback started to trickle (then flood) in on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. It became clear that we had addressed a real pain point for customers. Super-cheap, portable standing desks had been something that people were desperate for, and we were actually making a difference.

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