December 21, 2011

Awhile back, I was at a fancy client event making small talk, which I’m secretly allergic to, and a gentleman approached me. He proceeded to use fancy words to describe his fancy job and fancy friends. (I’m not a fan of these things. Three strikes thus far for this fancy fella.)

One of the impressive words he used was “orthogonal.” Little does he know, the introduction of this word has now impacted my life, business, keynote speeches and my first book, which I’m writing at the moment. When I heard the word for the first time, while pretending to listen to his uh-mazing fancy stories with eyes glazed over, I soon deduced it would be awkward to ask Suri to define “orthogonal” mid-conversation. So, I refrained and checked my trusty dictionary app instead:

Orthogonal: (or·thog·o·nal)

Intersecting or lying at right angles, a matrix which preserves length or distance.

Word. Call it orthogonal bliss. This word struck me. It owns charisma. And so, “orthogonal” was immediately incorporated into a keynote which I delivered the following week. (Gracias, fancy man.) Previously, I spoke about the “Intersection of Innovation,” demonstrating where a person’s passion, skill and purpose intersect. Now, I call it “Orthogonal Bliss.”  Innovation revolves around this orthogonal matrix and I’ve previously written about the ingredients of innovation.

Orthogonal Thinking Leads to Innovation:

  1. When you intersect things that haven’t been crossed before, you innovate.
  2. When you collide these things, you must weather adversity because “they aren’t meant to be mixed.”
  3. To innovate, you must inspire others to see the value so they embrace the mixture with their own passion/purpose and share it with others. It’s an obligation of believers to collide with non-believers and then recruit.

A few examples of Orthogonal Bliss:

  • Purpose, Passion and SkillAs mentioned above, this was the genesis behind my orthogonal obsession. I have a team mostly comprised of amazing young professionals. What motivates them? Happiness. Not money. When purpose, passion and skill collide, happiness resides.
  • Social Media and the Corporate World – These new communication channels aren’t about marketing. They’re about innovating business. Real, raw conversations are colliding with the corporate world.  Often times, an uncomfortable blissful intersection.
  • Health and Wealth – We tend to think about utilizing our life earnings when we retire. Sometimes we don’t have our health at this point. Why not collect on the intersecting blissful point when our health and wealth collide? Recently, a couple told my they’re taking a year off to venture across the globe (with an 8 month old baby) because this is when their health and wealth are intersecting. At this point, I introduced the world “orthogonal” into their vocabulary and urged them to start blogging (with a domain that includes “orthogonal” in there somewhere).

Orthogonal Bliss (Amy Jo’s definition)

Color outside the lines by combining, mixing and intersecting things that typically don’t jive. Expect adversity to follow as society fears and fights the interruptive, abnormal mixture. If the mixture is bliss, mass adoption will eventually occur and soon you’ll have diffusion of innovation.

The conversation ROI with the fancy gentleman was quite high. Wish I could remember his name. Thank goodness for his fancy words.

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