5 ways to spark new thinking - FP Advance

5 ways to spark new thinking

BY brett

One of the big challenges for adviser-owners is finding the right balance between ‘working in’ and ‘working on’ your business.

I thought I’d share with you my top 5 things I’m using, reading or learning right now. They might provide a new spark for an idea you’re working on, or a new perspective if you’re struggling for ideas.

So here goes:

1. Outthink The Competition

by Kaihan Krippendorf

What is it? 

A book.

Key Ideas

Krippendorf, an ex McKinsey consultant, provides a range of strategic thinking ideas that I found useful in trying to generate new ways of looking at the marketplace.

For example, his first strategy is called, Move Early To The Next Battleground:

  • Don’t play for today – play for tomorrow
  • Skate to where the puck is going to be (paraphrasing Wayne Gretzky, the ice hockey legend)

Another strategy he calls Force A Two-Front Battle.

When your business is about more than just the product or service you provide, you make life difficult for your competitors.

For example, Starbucks realised they were not in the coffee business serving people, but in the people business serving coffee. And so they switched their focus onto looking after their team, giving them health care, shares in the company and decent pay; what’s now called the shared value model. 

  • What business are you really in? (This changes the decisions you make)
  • How would that kind of company behave differently?

When it could be valuable

If you’re trying to position your business for the next decade, not the last one, this is a great place to start. 

2. Reimagining Capitalism

by Rebecca Henderson

What is it? 

A book.

Key Ideas

Henderson, argues that business can make a positive difference to things like climate change and social inequality while also making profits and generating economic growth. 

The book is full of great examples of shared value business models.

When it could be valuable

If you’re someone (like me) who is apoplectic at the way some businesses and policymakers act at times, then here’s the vision for a future which you may already be leading in your own business. 

Here’s an insightful story from the book:

“I will never forget a conversation I had once at Motorola’s paging division. I was in a windowless conference room, holding a rough prototype of something that looked very much like a smartphone, several years before anyone had heard of a Blackberry—let alone an iPhone. I had been preaching the benefits of making a significant investment in the new technology, but the divisional manager looked at me sceptically and said:

“I see. You’re suggesting that we invest millions of dollars in a market that may or may not exist but that is certainly smaller than our existing market, to develop a product that customers may or may not want, using a business model that will almost certainly give us lower margins than our existing product lines. You’re warning us that we’ll run into serious organizational problems as we make this investment, and our current business is screaming for resources. Tell me again just why we should do this?”

New ways of doing things nearly always look profoundly uncertain and are nearly always less profitable than existing ways of behaving. But grasping them often yields rich rewards, while denying them—as Motorola did—often leads to disaster. Twenty years of research have taught me that the firms that were able to change were those that had a reason to do so. Purpose is the fuel that provides the vision and the courage that is required to reimagine capitalism.”

3. The Innovators Dilemma

by Clayton Christensen

What is it? 

A book.

Key Ideas

No matter the industry, Christensen says, a successful company with established products will get pushed aside unless managers know how and when to abandon traditional business practices.

When it could be valuable

When you’re looking to identify the threats to your existing business model and find ways to innovate and stay relevant into the future.

I believe financial planning is in the midst of being disrupted. 

I covered this idea in a webinar I did for the PFS in late 2020, The Future Is What You Make It, although I’ve written and spoken about it for a long time now.

4. The Membership Academy

What is it? 

An online membership community for anyone looking to create an online membership community. (I know, it’s brilliant)

Key Ideas

This is the A-Z of building memberships and subscription models. It covers everything from technology, to content creation and marketing.

When it could be valuable

If you’re thinking of building a subscription business model then this is all the resource and support you’ll ever need (in my opinion).

If you want to know more – check it out here.  

If you decide to join and want to use my affiliate link (for which I will get paid an introducers fee) you can do so here.

5. Life of Focus

by Cal Newport and Scott Young

What is it? 

An online course about how to live a more focused, less distracted, and enjoyable life.

Key Ideas

If you’ve read Cal Newport’s book, Deep Work, or Scott Young’s book Ultralearning you’ll get the gist. The online course is a 3-month step by step guide on how to implement the learning from these ideas in your everyday life (work and personal). Both of these books are worth reading too.

When it could be valuable

When you’re looking to be both productive AND happy. You can join the waiting list for any future courses here.


What about you?

What resources are you finding useful at the moment? Drop me a line at [email protected] with your suggestions.


To generate new ideas you need to be seeking new inputs.


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ABOUT BRETT DAVIDSON When you work with FP Advance you work with me, Brett Davidson, directly. My motto is ‘advise better, live better’ and I practice what I preach. I’m straight talking and get to the heart of an issue quickly. There’s no beating about the bush, just a focus on helping things improve. Ask my clients – what I teach works.