Over the years we have met with many skeptics. We find the following helpful when someone has tried to “pop our balloon.” It is far better to give an idea a chance….or at least to not immediately shoot it down….than to be one of those who always says “Won’t work,” “Bad idea,” or “Too risky;” and so, never doing anything great!
- This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” Western Union internal memo, 1876
- “The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?” David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920’s.
- “The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C’, the idea must be feasible.” A Yale management professor in response to Fred Smith’s proposal for an overnight delivery service. Smith is the founder of Federal Express Corporation.
- “A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make.” Response to Debbi Field’s idea about starting Little Debbi Cookies.
- “We didn’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” Decca Recording Company rejection of the Beatles, 1962.
- “If had thought about it, I wouldn’t have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can’t do this.” Spencer Silver on his invention of the Post-It Notes
- “So we went to Atari and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or, we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary; we’ll come work for you.’ And they said, ‘No.’ So, then we went to Hewlett-Packard and they said, ‘Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t gotten through college yet.’ ” Apple Computer Inc. Founders, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.
- “Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.” 1921 New York Times on Goddard’s revolutionary rocket work.
- “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” Charles H. Duell, Commissioner of the U.S. Office of patents, 1899.
From Phi Delta Kappa