Product Development | Hardware | Outdoor Adventures

The Power of Avoiding James Dyson’s Mistakes

Dyson G-Force Cyclone Vacuum

In 1982, Dyson initially thought up the cyclone vacuum. The first version of the vacuum launched in 1987, licensed to a Japanese brand that insisted the product be bright pink.

Intent on world-wide distribution, his team released a new design, the first “Dyson” vacuum, in 1993, a fifteen year journey.

The story of Dyson vacuums offers examples of nearly everything that can go wrong, but what’s amazing is the persistence through it all.

“While it is easy, of course, for me to celebrate my doggedness now and say that it is all you need to succeed, the truth is that it demoralized me terribly.”

Where the tortoise went wrong

James Dyson notoriously built 5,127 prototypes before he started production on his best-selling cyclone vacuum. But he could have worked with a team to get it done faster!

It’s a romantic vision of the single inventor toiling away in his garage for years, but Thomas Edison had an entire team!

The most powerful way to work involves collaboration, but through stubbornness James Dyson persevered— and he almost lost his house along the way, refinancing multiples times to have the money so to keep his business going!

** You might also enjoy The Success in Amazon’s Enormous Fire Phone Failure about the multiple successful products that came out of the ashes of a flop. **

Be obsessive about learning in your field

I watched an inspiring talk by Bill Gurley to the business students at the University of Texas – he titled it Runnin’ Down a Dream. He emphasizes the value of role models and mentors in your field or industry.

Danny Meyer opened his first restaurant at age 27 and later ran a three-Michelin-star-rated restaurant in NYC. He went on to start Shake Shack and he epitomizes this technique.

Danny made a list of the 12 people doing the most innovative things in the restaurant industry. He studied their writings and personally connected with 100% of them.

And Bill Gurley did this himself early in his career as an investor by connecting with leading figures. He was obsessed with learning in his field and in the 1980’s sent out a “newsletter” via fax to other investors.

“Read everything you can; knowledge is the competitive equalizer.”

— Chip Wilson (Lululemon)

For months now I have set a daily reminder to write 3 tasks to help or connect with others. The question this leaves me with is, “who are those 12 people for me?”

With all the podcasts and videos available today you can learn from so many incredibly successful people by consuming the content they share!