So we know there’s a downside to too much passion for your business, but what about too much focus? You can be blind to a project that isn’t working, but you can also be so myopic you don’t see opportunities for innovation.

A great way to prevent myopia is info-sponging. Entrepreneur Jeff Hoffman, who was part of the founding team of Priceline and is co-founder of ColorJar, crystallized this concept for me in a talk I attended earlier this year.

The idea behind info-sponging is taking time every day to explore topics unrelated to your industry. Broaden your perspective, and you’re less likely to develop tunnel vision from drilling too deeply into areas you already know well. Here’s how you can make it work for you.

Recognize the Opportunity

Priceline is a result of info-sponging—even if at the time the team didn’t know that’s what they were doing. Absorbing information from different industries and making connections is how we innovate. Whether that’s selling hotel stock at last-minute for discounted prices or taking the concept of drive-through banking and applying it to fast food.

Take a step back to truly assess where there is opportunity to be creative and expand your business. Using info-sponging successfully means seeing connections no one else sees!

Step Outside Your Bubble

I’ve talked a lot about the value of magazines over the years, and I’m going to do it again here! To info-sponge, buy magazines you’d normally never buy and really read them. Listen to a new podcast or browse an obscure Wikipedia articles about groups different than your own. Info-sponging will keep you grounded, and will open your mind in ways that surprise you. We’re not just looking for inspiration for new products, but also for opportunity to use what you currently offer to fill needs you didn’t know about before. Or to start appealing to demographics that were once foreign to you.

Don’t Get Distracted

The main risk with info-sponging is too many competing opportunities presenting themselves. Don’t get stuck in one place, unable to move forward on anything, because you don’t want to pass up any good ideas.

Embrace info-sponging but have the discipline to let ideas go when you need to. Focus only on the best and the brightest. Don’t waste time and money pursuing something that will never work!

Knowledge isn’t just power; it’s opportunity.


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