Innovation in the Manufacturing Industry - Part 2, with Sarah Calidcott

Episode 37 | Challenges: Technology

Guests: Sarah Calidcott

In this great part-two episode, Jason and Jim continue their conversation with Sarah Caldicott. Besides being an extremely intelligent student of business and innovation, Sarah is an author and the great grandniece of Thomas Edison. Her study and writing is largely based on her own interest in her famous relative who was not only an amazing inventor, but also a manufacturer in his own right. Listen in to hear tales of Edison’s life and systems and why his contributions to the manufacturing industry continue to impact us today.

Thomas Edison’s “systematic innovation”

Edison had a process that he followed to not only innovate in his own thinking and processes, but to encourage innovation in his employees. It was a different way of thinking which included many aspects, including collaboration, product creation, and looking at issues from a variety of angles. He demonstrated that true innovation comes about by truly getting outside the conventions that exist to approach situations and problems in different ways that provide new solutions to the problem. Listen in as Jim and Jason chat with Edison’s great grandniece, Sarah Caldicott.


“Charismatic optimism” is how Sarah Caldicott (Thomas Edison’s great grandniece) describes his attitude

It’s more than a “rah-rah” mindset that is filled with unrealistic fluff. It’s a “can do” mindset that sees opportunities where others see obstacles. Edison was legendary for that kind of optimism even in the face of incredible difficulty or tragedy. In this episode Sarah shares quite a few instances of how Edison pushed through difficulties to accomplish incredible breakthroughs and turns a corner to help you see how that kind of attitude can become infections in your company, enabling you to accomplish more, innovate to a greater degree, and become more profitable. That’s on this episode, so listen in.

Better educated employees make for a more productive and innovative company

Thomas Edison had a library IN his manufacturing facility that contained over 50,000 volumes. He encouraged his employees to borrow books from the library to read, learn, and grow at all times. His belief was that employees who were growing in their knowledge and in their ability to see and recognize patterns. He believed that individual growth in his employees would make them better employees and enable his company to thrive and innovate even more. Hear the entire story by listening to this episode of Making Chips.

When you assess things, how are you at “engaging other senses?”

Thomas Edison had a summer home in Florida, at which he had a manufacturing facility, garden, and many other atypical things. He loved to get out into the gardens and feel, smell, and experience natural things. He believed natural things could be used as inspiration and even elements of the design itself. As an example, the first filament Edison used in the light bulb was made of bamboo. Listen in to hear Sarah Caldicott’s take on how manufacturing leaders can engage all of their senses in the manufacturing realm, all on this episode.

Outline of this episode

  • [0:58] Do you know what the “L” at the end of a metal designation means? (sponsor)
  • [8:14] Thomas Edison’s “systematic innovation” and what it means for manufacturers today.
  • [10:01] The different way of thinking Edison used and how it integrates with collaborating with others, creating products, etc.
  • [11:43] How Edison’s positive mindset helped him differentiate himself from others in industry.
  • [12:35] How non-product-creating manufacturers can bring innovation to their organization.
  • [14:05] How anticipating a client’s needs is powerful in helping them make the decision to go with your proposal.
  • [15:09] How to move forward in collaborative ways once an order is placed.
  • [16:10] How you can develop your brand with potential customers.
  • [17:00] What is charismatic optimism and how can leaders employ it to be better leaders and business owners.
  • [18:09] How a tragedy in Thomas Edison’s career was turned around to become an opportunity instead of a liability.
  • [19:59] The reason Making Chips exists and how Edison’s story inspires that goal.
  • [20:50] How Thomas Edison encouraged learning in his employees, and why he did it.
  • [22:05] How Jason is following Edison’s model to raise the bar for his employee’s productivity and the company’s success long-term.
  • [23:01] How Edison was a fan of “engaging other senses.”
  • [24:43] Thomas Edison’s experiments with using natural substances for manufacturing.
  • [25:34] How manufacturing leaders should use a notebook as Edison did.
  • [29:38] How to connect with Sarah.

Links mentioned in this episode - Thyssen Krupp’s website - our sponsor.

Midnight Lunch - Sarah’s book

Innovate Like Edison -  Sarah’s other book

Sarah’s website -

Or call us at 312-725-0245

Tweets you can use to tell others about the episode

[shareable]Learn the #1 way to boot up your mind and become an innovator[/shareable]

[shareable]What was in Thomas Edison’s notebooks, and how it can help you innovate[/shareable]

[shareable]Why Thomas Edison encouraged his employees to learn and grow… in this episode[/shareable]

[shareable]What is charismatic optimism & how can leaders employ it to be better leaders & business owners.[/shareable]

[shareable]How non-product-creating manufacturers can bring innovation to their organization[/shareable]

Use the promo code mentioned in Part 1 (Episode 36) for 15% off at


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