What Makes Someone An Innovator?

what makes someone an innovator

Innovation is the gear that keeps humanity lurching forward. It offers access where before there were barriers. It offers solutions to the obvious problems, and the problems we didn’t even know existed. Above all, innovation has the power to radically improve the way we live, think, work, eat, sleep and do business. 

And behind every innovation is a person – an innovator. Someone who, through ingenuity, hard work or luck (often a mix of the three), crafts a new way of looking at the world. 

But what does it take to be an innovator? What essential qualities does a person possess that help them innovate? This article distills the innovator experience into three bite-sized takeaways – here are the 3 essential characteristics of innovative people. 

If you are working your way towards the next revolutionary idea, rip a page from your notepad and review the following three top personality traits of innovators. 

1. Dissatisfaction With The Status Quo 

If you are perfectly content with the way things are, you won’t feel motivated to change anything. I.e., if enterprising farmers in the stone age hadn’t grown dissatisfied with reaping the fields by hand, we probably wouldn’t have invented the wheel to hitch onto ox carts. Innovation often comes from a place of dissatisfaction, restlessness and frustration. 

Rather than bury that frustration and “just live with it,” consider how to change the status quo. Embrace your frustrated side as a square peg that doesn't fit the traditional round hole of society. 

2. Openness to New Ideas, Technologies And Approaches 

Part of being an innovator is being comfortable with – even excited by – big changes happening around you. According to entrepreneur and author Jack Canfield, “Change is inevitable in life. You can either resist it and potentially get run over by it, or you can choose to cooperate with it, adapt to it, and learn how to benefit from it.” 

This is true of one’s approach to ideas, technologies and emerging business methodologies. The moment you become inured to, sedated by, or resentful of the changes around you is the moment you stop innovating. 

These two qualities working in concert – frustration with the status quo and openness to new ideas – is a potent cocktail for innovator success. 

3. A Keen Eye For Opportunity 

On his Fast Company profile, real estate innovator and Nobul founder Regan McGee puts it plainly: “I witnessed my opportunity to create and lead a real estate revolution - and I took it.” He notes that his company introduced “transparency, accountability and simplicity at a crucial time, as recent regulatory changes, longstanding demand for industry advancement and an embrace of digital technologies have become too prevalent to ignore.” 

McGee’s forthrightness serves as a lesson about innovation – it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You could have the world’s greatest idea – born out of frustration and leveraging cutting-edge technology – but unless you seize the opportunity to showcase it, your idea will remain just that: an idea. 


For a neat summary, let's boil things down even further. To be an effective innovator, you need to be able to see problems, embrace the changes necessary to create a solution, and then seize your opportunities for deployment.

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