Undercover Innovators: Ian Lyons

I am always amazed that we often look overseas for inspiration or leadership before looking closer to home.

I see people being flown in to Australia from all over the world – to discuss topics, ideas and innovations. And while this is great. Inspirational even. It’s also disappointing to see that we ignore, fail to promote or support the innovation that is occurring in our own backyards.

Now, to be honest, I have also benefited from these types of programs. For example, I recently travelled to the US to speak to 50 of GE’s top global executives on the topic of digital and social media strategy. It was fascinating and challenging – and all over in a couple of hours.

But you’d be surprised who and what you can find close by. Sometimes you just need to scratch the surface.

This is partly why I am involved in youth not for profit, Vibewire – and a strong supporter of their monthly Fastbreak program (showcasing young innovators and entrepreneurs). It’s a constant reminder of just how talented and innovative people (and young people in particular) can be.

And it is also why I have started a new, regular section on my blog. Undercover Innovators is dedicated those talented people doing interesting and challenging things, often far away from public view (or in a niche area). I want to explore the way ideas can keep you awake at night, and what you need to do to make them a reality.

Last week I had the pleasure to speak with Ian Lyons, founder of SocialFocus.com.au, about his passion for innovation and the work he is doing with the Sydney Festival. Sorry about some of the sync problems – I blame Ian’s iPhone – but only marginally more than I blame my Flip video. Hope you enjoy!


Undercover Innovators looks beneath the surface to find and share the stories of innovators that you may know – or may want to get to know better. If you know someone who is a good candidate, be sure to drop me a line!

Is Katherine Liew the World’s Coolest Intern?

different1 Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore has been running a competition to find the world’s coolest intern for their mobile banking team. The winner of the competition gets a six month paid internship, some training in social media and a bunch of other perks. Sounds great, right?

Well, the competition is closing tomorrow, and the only Australian to make the final top 10 is Katherine Liew from Adelaide. Not only has she kept a campaign diary of her social media efforts, she has produced YouTube videos, and suggested product improvement ideas. She even writes a fashion blog.

And in case that doesn’t sound like enough, here, in her own words she covers off the other activities she has been undertaking WHILE finishing a law degree:

I’ve also been a part-time marketing freelancer/consultant for most of my uni career, quietly creating content and generating ideas in NFP, media, tech retail and health. I’ve also volunteered a lot of time for causes I believe in, such as being a Communications VP for AIESEC, Project Manager for GAPS Australia and intern for CSR Asia Singapore.

One of the things that I love about my (volunteer) work with Vibewire is coming into contact with inspiring, innovative and entrepreneurial young people. There’s plenty of them out there – and Katherine Liew is a great example.

I have a feeling that if she doesn’t win the world’s coolest intern spot in Singapore that there will be plenty of others willing to take her on.

Best of luck, Katherine!

Undercover Innovators is a series of articles that shares the stories of individuals who often fly under the radar.

Are You an Undercover Innovator?

UI-logo I have always had an interest in new stuff. In new ways of doing things. In working smarter, not harder. And I have always been interested in implementing change – not just talking about it.

In many ways, I have always been an undercover innovator – pushing away at the core problem, seeking to transform the businesses where I have worked. Sometimes this has brought me into conflict situations – though this is rare. Most of the time, while I have been the instigator of change or innovation, I have generally been happy enough to take credit for the transformation and its impact – I have never been good or particularly interested in self-promotion.

But I am certain I am not alone in this. I know a lot of people who are beavering away, working on amazing projects, doing interesting and challenging things – and are doing so largely under cover.

So I thought it would be interesting to do some interviews with these folks. The undercover innovators who are changing the way that we work and live. I will start by talking to people that I know – but here’s where you can help!

Are you an undercover innovator? Do you know someone who is?

Drop me a line or leave me a comment – I’d love to interview you. We can do video, podcast, Skype or even email interviews.