Frans Johansson
Best-selling author of The Medici Effect


  • How does innovation happen?
  • I wrote The Medici Effect. The idea for the book is based on intersection.

  • Groundbreaking ideas come when we combine very different ideas.
  • Put words together like: termite-architecture; ice and beds; and bikinis and burqas. 
  • Diversity drives innovation
  • A man in Harare, Zimbabwe learned from the way termites built their home structure to build a large office building that cooled itself without air-conditioning. 
  • This man was able to combine ideas from two drastically different fields to break new ground by learning from termites how to build an energy-efficient office complex that remained cool and comfortable without air-conditioning.

At the intersections of  different ideas and cultures, the Medici effect happens!

  • The Medici effect was named after a family in Florence, Italy with the same name. 
  • Several hundred yeas ago they gathered the leaders of different disciplines in one place. The result was one of the most creative times in all of Europe’s history.
  • The key to this happening was in how they brought people together to collaborate.
  • How did these people in Florence Italy interact in such a way to make this come about? 

The best ideas emerge when very different perspectives meet!  At this point an idea can change the world!

  • Normally when we associate a new and creative idea for female swimwear we would associate that with the beach. 
  • Discussing bikini+beach is an easy association for us to make.
  • But how about bikini+burqa, this is not a normal association for most of us.
  • One lady who had move to Australia took the idea of bikinis and combined it with the burgas that most Muslim women went swimming in and she designed a burqa style swimwear for Muslim women that incorporated the material and colors of bikinis she observed on the beach. She made them stylish, and attractive. Now the are being sold all over the world.

Innovations seems obvious after the fact, the trick is to come up with them before they are discovered!

People that change the world come up with new ideas, strive for new ideas!

  • The people who change the world try a lot more ideas than other people because we are actually terrible at predicting what will work!
  • For example, Einstein published 240 papers and most of these were not referenced in any way.
  • Google has launched 100 of products that have failed.
  • Picasso painted 20,000 works of art, most of which did not make it to the walls of museums, but instead are dusty in basements around the world because they were not very good.
  • Richard Branson—Virgin Brand, tried lots of businesses that have failed, but has a number that are very successful.
In order to be successful you must first understand you won’t always be successful, failure is part of the journey to success. 

  • Many fail to reach their goals because they have an idea and lofty goal that they are shooting for. Due to their approach they use up all resources trying to reach the goal right out of the shoot. They have then failed and no resources to move forward.
  • Now I know what the goal should be, but have no resources…

Is there better way to do this?

  • Let’s take the example in Sweden now known as the Ice Hotel.
  • His original idea was to sell the winter which they have an abundance of it in Sweden.
  • He did not start trying to build a hotel made of ice, but instead took a stair-step approach to building his dream of attracting people to Sweden during the winter. 
  • He first begins with an idea to sell the winter.
  • The first winter sells ice sculptures from Japan, he had an exhibition and it was only modestly successful. The sculptures began to melt due to an early spring and this was a set back. 
  • The second winter he tried a snow gallery. He had artist hang paintings inside an ice building. 
  • The third winter he created an event hall with everything made of ice. This even included a movie screen.
  • Some skiers wanted bed made of ice and he made them a bed out of  ice and they loved it.
  • The next year made whole hotel made of ice which became The Ice Hotel, which Newsweek named one of the ten coolest hotels in the world.
  • The rest is history.

The Path to Success

  • Let’s take a look at the path to his success.
  • The path of any successful idea.
  • Could you have done this?
  • He didn’t know it was going to be ice hotel.

Your first step to change the world.

Once you think of idea, just get started!

  • He built The Ice Hotel after putting together an intersection of  ideas over several years of trying different things, some of which were failures until he eventually reached his summit.

Steps to Success

  • You have to start with an idea.
  • You have to take a first step with that idea, take your first step to change the world.
  • The best way for you to come up with an idea is at the intersection of different cultures and ideas.
  • You must figure out something you can do and then make it happen.
  • This man had no idea he would create a hotel out of ice, he just had an idea and took a first step, acted up on it and over time he connected the dots into his creation, The Ice Hotel.
  • What will be your Ice Hotel?
  • Yes, the world is connected!
  • Ice=sleeping, does not seem like a logical connection, but it is.

Yes, the world is connected and there is somebody is making those connections and I think it should be you!


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