Investing Outside the Box to Get Stuff Done

Have you noticed where the most change seems to come from? Where your eyes least expect to find it.

Unexpectedly, innovative inspirations come from outside the formulaic.

As in the accidental invention of popsicles, when in 1905 Frank W. Epperson left a stir stick in his soda water, forgotten on the porch table overnight and in the morning found the first ‘popsicle’. The overnight temperature was the uncalculated element… and it wonderfully changed everything. It was an unanticipated chance happening, where all the elements for the extraordinary, plus one, were already present, but unrealized and undiscovered.

The ‘Plus One’ of New Ideas

What happens when you introduce a set of elements together in an intentional way, where you trust time, communication, and exposure to be your ‘plus one’ catalyst and then just expect to be amazed?

That’s what the brilliance of fellowships is all about: the intentional offering of time, space, and talented fellows, in an atmosphere of collaborative opportunity, the ‘plus one’. What follows is a patient wait for the steep of extraordinary results to brew.

Think-tanks make excellent use of fellowships, and of the 50 most influential think-tanks in the United States, one of the most impressive is the Aspen Institute, which offers several fellowships to advance development and problem-solving. Of particular note, is the Aspen Tech Policy Hub, where technology specialists and policy experts are encouraged to collaborate and develop into synergistic policy-leaders. Craiglist founder Craig Newmark enthusiastically financed the Tech Policy Hub’s start-up just this past January and Dr. Betsy Cooper, a Washington cybersecurity policy leader, are the driving force behind the initiative, believing technology and policy can be married together to positively strengthen the impact of new hybrid ideas on our culture.

Showing Off Those New Ideas

Bruce Cockburn famously sings about our disappearing woodlands and wonders aloud “If a tree falls in the forest, does anybody hear?” Great harm is happening to an ancient living resource and does anyone notice? Conversely, if the genesis of a great idea is born in a think tank but no one shares it, does it really exist to live on to inspire change in anyone?

“If a tree falls in the forest, does anybody hear?”

One way to ensure concepts get their due is to take a page from Hollywood’s walk of fame and make an ‘imprint in the concrete’. In the online world, a gallery of those generated ideas in an expressive portfolio of works, that captures the essence of each breakthrough ideation, works! Engaging with each fellow individually to interpret and showcase their new idea, the brand-and-web master can make what is invisible, visible, so the world can examine for itself the value generated by such progressive fellowship endeavors.

Great Portfolio Pointers for Fellows

Concept expression is tough… but blending the creative with the product of a genius-gymnast is more than doable… it’s exciting! With thousands of great portfolio examples out there, the below examples are just the tip of the iceberg. So here are a couple of those tips to keep in mind – any and all may be applied.

A Simple/Minimal Approach

Minimal but not boring! Kyle Dekker puts forward a proposition (himself!) in a very simple, colorful way that makes the discovery of his brilliant coding skill jump out and surprise you with the complexity underneath it all.
Check it out here…

Design the Visual with Visuals

If it’s visual, accentuate the visual! Pictures can communicate so much more when given a chance under the microscope of the close-up, so sometimes, the snap is enough. Mike Kus packs an eyeful in each glimpse… lookie here…

Distill the Non-Visual

When there’s less visual material and words are the star performer, a few well-placed vector graphics and animated strokes really make a memorable presentation stunning.

Story the Story

Some things are self-explanatory. When pictures and text work together, you are easily swept up into the story being told. Enjoy the star-gazing theatre at


Fellowships have been around forever and yet their function and purpose remain mysterious to most laymen, yet they really do produce some innovative, societal solutions from their collaborative efforts. Those results are multiplied when promoted online with a design-style that speaks for the purpose and objective at the heart of the project itself. Be surprising, be adventurous, and be attention-grabbing with outside-the-box choices in portfolio presentation. Unconventional is memorable and innovative think-tank concepts are worthy of top-billing internet web design.


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