"Innovation begins with an eye," says my friend, Tom Kelley (www.theartofinnovation.com), general manager at IDEO one of the world's best-known product development companies. What that means for everyone who's hoping to apply the principles of innovation to a mundane product or service, is that you've got to keep your eyes open for clues in the marketplace.

Jim Throneburg, one of the Alpha Dogs in my book, did just that in the late 70s when he created Thorlos (www.thorlo.com), sport-specific socks that were the perfect companion to the technologically advanced athletic shoes that ultimately replaced Chucks and Keds.