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Innovate vs. Imitate? The Biggest Successes Are Imitators

Most rags-to-riches stories are about the excellent execution of a simple idea. Successful people know this. Everyone else is still catching up.

While Bill Gates is one of the richest men in the world, Gary Kildall has the distinction of being "the man who could have been Bill Gates." In the beginning of the PC revolution, Seattle was the land of innovation and Kildall was its king. As the creator of the first computer operating system, he was the one IBM called when they decided to enter the PC market.

Unfortunately, while Kildall missed deadlines because he wanted to debut the most innovative operating code of the time, Bill Gates offered IBM a paltry, second-rate product. Gates got the gig and Kildall got forgotten by history.

Surveys of fast-growth businesses show that simple ideas, executed well enough, are at the core of more success stories than the fantasy of some "big idea." However, this myth remains in the era of Instagram. 

For my book, Business Brilliant, I examined the difference between myth and reality. Watch this video, based on the chapter, Imitate, Don't Innovate, to discover what's really behind most rags-to-riches stories.

This video was shot at Maison 140 in Beverly Hills.

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Last updated: Feb 25, 2013

LEWIS SCHIFF | Inc. Business Owners Council

Lewis Schiff is the executive director of the Inc. Business Owners Council. His latest book is Business Brilliant: Surprising Lessons From the Greatest Self-Made Business Icons.

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