If there is one thing that can carry us through these tough economic times it's hope. We can have high hopes for the future because we are consistently seeing the most innovative products and services coming out of today's big thinkers. Here's our favorites.
[click here FOR Lee's NEW BUSINESS BOOK "No BROWN M&Ms" AVAILABLE FOR KINDLE]
Retail is not dead. In fact, Apple has found the formula for success by taking retailing and turning it on its head.
[TAKE A LOOK AT AN APPLE STORE]
I know, Amazon.com isn't a brick and morter store, but it has changed the way we buy (and read) for the better through innovative ideas.
[READ QUOTES BY AMAZON.COM FOUNDER JEFF BEZOS]
3. Trader Joe's
It just goes to show how "Old School" can still work in this new world of analytics and micro marketing. They win you over with great products and a superior staff.
[HOW TRADER JOE'S GOT STARTED]
1. Apple iPad (and the Latest and Greatest new iPhone)
Apple has done it again . . . and again with two new big ideas.
[STEVE JOBS TALKS ABOUT BEING AN INNOVATOR]
2. Beats Headphones
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would pay $400 for a pair of headphones. You know what, my Dr Dre / Moster Cable headphones are worth every penny.
[FROM PACKAGING TO PERFORMANCE, THESE ARE THE BEST HEADPHONES MONEY CAN BUY]
3. Orville Redenbacher's Pop-Up Bowl
A microwave popcorn package that transforms into a wide mouth bowl. Innovation is about reinventing something old in addition to creating something shiny and new.
[MORE ABOUT THE POP-UP BOWL]
Maybe you heard the story of how the clothing and shoe retailer took back a tire—and it's true—but I know from first-hand experience that the people at Nordstrom truly are the best at exceeding expectations. (I should disclose that my wife has worked for the company for more than 15 years.)
[READ MORE ABOUT NORDSTROM'S LEGENDARY SERVICE]
When you grow from zero to one billion dollars in sales in just over ten years, you are doing something right—and Zappos is doing a lot right.
[click here tO SEE A SLIDESHOW ABOUT ZAPPOS CUSTOMER-FOCUSED CULTURE]
3. Southwest Airlines
This airline's philosophy is to treat others how you would like to be treated—and that means treating customers well.
[READ ABOUT HOW SOUTHWEST CARES ABOUT IT'S CUSTOMERS]