Not your regular corporate coffee break Ft Sam Zellner – Coffee + fun + lots of learnings

Wondering what’s Coffee Break with RJ (aka Rohit Jaswal)?

GreyB has been running coffee breaks with RJ for quite some time now, and we’ve had the pleasure of meeting some great personalities and inventors virtually. RJ is responsible for maintaining the culture at GreyB and ensuring that we all are always learning something new.  He interviews some creative people from around the world every fortnight, and we also get a chance to directly ask questions. 

We recently had a fun and insightful session with Sam Zellner.

Sam Zellner is a Prolific Inventor- with more than 200 issued and pending patents worldwide. He is the CEO of InspireiP, an Adept Portfolio Manager, and the Product Lead for PQAI. You can see why we were excited to meet him, right?

The meeting turned out to be even more interesting than any of us had imagined. In addition to constant laughs and fun stories, there was so much to learn from his experiences.

So, let’s have a look into the mind of the great inventor – Sam Zellner.

Sam Zellner’s way to life and work

Soon after receiving the email, our curiosity to learn from Sam took the form of several questions, and GreyBians for sure made the best of this opportunity.

So, let me take you through the series of questions and answers that took place in the session!

Why is the transition from school life to work-life difficult?

Sam: The reason why the transition from school life to work life’s difficult is that the things taught in the school might not apply in your work life. Like we are told there is a right answer and a wrong answer but in your corporate field, we observe there is no one right answer. Moreover, you are not working only for yourself but for your whole team.

I couldn’t agree more with him on this- when I took my first job, it was a tedious transition. The things I learned about teamwork, I had to put them in action and unlike in school/college – you are not the only one rewarded or punished for your work, it’s the whole team.

Moving to the next question.

What things does an inventor need to keep in mind when taking an idea forward?

Sam: While inventing, application of the invention plays an important role. Inventors are driven by a problem, and it is important to understand the need. Many times, I even come up with some idea, but with deep thinking I understand that this idea cannot be commercialized or the idea isn’t going to be successful in a particular sector. 

One tip for engineers who have the mindset of an inventor and want to have their ideas patented?

Sam: Focus on significant problems, not little ones. “Patenting is like throwing a dart into the future.” If your idea can happen right now, it might not be patentable. 

Ask yourself, Sam says, “What are people doing today? Why would they use your idea instead of what they are doing? 

Also, not every great idea is patented so – Assuming an idea is great only if patented is wrong in itself.”

Being an engineer myself, I could relate to everything Sam had to say. For an engineer who wants to level up to an inventor, the above questions hold a lot of weight.

The next question was about taking compliments for his invention.

What is the best compliment you have received regarding your patent?

Sam: Instead of a compliment people look at patents with obviousnesses. And that is okay because patents are obvious yet no one has thought of it before. 

Moreover, instead of people actually praising you – people will call you STUPID. If you had an idea but did not commercialize it – You are STUPID.

If you had an idea, commercialized/patented it – Everyone will say it’s common, you are STUPID to spend time on it. In nutshell – you are never gonna impress people. If you are an inventor, you are STUPID.

We all live in a society where pleasing people can be quite a task and why should we do it is a question with no answer. I believe Sam put forward each one of our thoughts in a wonderful way. If you are still wondering how to be a people pleaser! You DO NOT have to. Because no matter what – you aren’t gonna be any good for everyone and you do not need to.

For a person who does so many things, the next question was a necessary one and was saved for the last.

Work and personal life balance seem hard to maintain! How did you do it?

Sam: I guess working efficiently is one way to attain work and personal life balance. I used to work really hard but realized it is all about smart work and not just working hard. 

Again this question has been at the top of my mind ever since I stepped into the corporate world. With experience, I have realized what Sam is trying to say. Gaining experience in your field eventually makes you do your work in less time and ultimately you can strike a Work-Life balance.

You see, the session turned out to be an amazing experience for all of us.

And I am not the only one who felt the need to share these learnings. My colleague Sahir has beautifully put forward the main takeaways from this coffee break session.

Now, isn’t that a coffee break worth having?

Can’t wait to join another one. Thank you, Sam, and cheers (Coffee shots only) to many more such sessions.

Authored By: Annie Sharma, Creative Team

We talk a lot about the culture at GreyB and how we do things internally. If you are interested in reading more about it, you can go here – Life inside GreyB

Next Read: Here’s how GreyB is making reading a sustainable habit.

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