Publisher's Message:

“A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”
                                                                                    Mark Twain

In addition to being the publisher of Vermont Innovator magazine, I have a farm in southern Vermont. I go back and forth between my professional world of communications and my world of husbandry as easily as I change from a suit to heavy denim overalls – no straw hat.

I was at a local hardware store discussing farming with a store employee, talking about growing corn. I want to grow corn for feed for the animals and sweet corn for the table. Many of the workers at this hardware store used to farm in Vermont.

Immediately, the man went into the many reasons why I won't be able to grow corn on my farm. He was not aware that years earlier I grew corn on a much harder piece of property in northern Vermont. He was adamant that I would not be able to grow corn and that I should give up before I even try.

This was reminiscent of experiences I have had throughout my professional communications career and with different personal projects, including restoring a fourteen-foot Javelin sailboat and building Italian racing bicycles.

When I take on a project that is outside of my sphere of expertise, I look to those who have the knowledge and experience I need to complete my project.

I have found that often when I asked questions, the specialist would tell me the many reasons why it is too hard or not possible for a layperson to take on such a project. This rebuff is often more dismissive if I am not wearing the appropriate garment – deck shoes, bike shorts or whatever it may be.

Why are people so cynical about someone's wish to advance and do something innovative?

Innovators, such as Nikola Tesla, Louis Pasteur, or Gustave Eiffel have been portrayed in movies with the same premise: the innovator dedicates his life to the task at hand, and everyone, including highly-educated academics, ridicule the innovator relentlessly.

That is, until at the end of the movie when their innovation becomes a success. Then everyone, including those who tried to destroy the innovator politically, jump on the wagon and celebrate the innovator's victory.  Think of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Nikola Tesla was one of the most creative innovators of his time. Our modern world is based on his discovery of alternating current. We could not have the luxury of electricity, which most take for granted, without his innovation, vision and drive.

After years of hard work and ridicule, Tesla was for a moment a celebrated innovator, until he proposed to his New York investors that he could generate a field of energy that would create free electricity for everyone; he died broke and alone in a New York hotel.

There are many political, financial, social or emotional reasons why someone will try to diminish the spirit of an innovator. The most paralyzing effect on innovation is indifference and apathy.

Steve Martin once acknowledged that he had no idea how he became so famous. Living in Los Angeles, he’d met many talented writers, actors, comedians, and innovators on the outer circle of fame. These people never seemed to get the break, luck, or attention that he did, and he felt that many of these innovators were much more talented than he. However, Martin had broken through the blasé attitudes of those around him.

There are many reasons why people try to diminish the light of an innovator, but one truth does keep rising out of the ashes. Even when people are cynical, apathetic, or cruel and cause innovators emotional distress, in the end nothing will stop a true innovator from moving forward, even if what they have dedicated their lives to never sees the light of day.

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