The Parable of Pop Rocks Candy – My Takeaways from Leapfrogging by Soren Kaplan

LeapfroggingAt the January First Friday Book Synopsis, I presented my synopsis of Leapfrogging: Harness the Power of Surprise for Business Breakthroughs by Soren Kaplan.  A good book, it reminded me that the “same old same old” will simply not cut it in today’s short-lived business-success-cycle era.

Here’s the definition of Leapfrogging, from the book:

I define leapfrogging as the process of overcoming limiting mindsets and barriers to create business breakthroughs.

And what he really means is that a business has to offer a new, “surprising,” surprise – a surprise that feels like a genuine surprise.  That when a customer uses your product, or service, you have to come up with some unexpected plus – something that is so different, so new, so satisfying, that it completely surprises in a good way.

Pop RocksThe most tangible example he gives in the book (the most tangible to me), was his description of the first time he ever tasted Pop Rocks Candy.  Do you remember your first taste – the candy “exploded” in your mouth.  How cool was that?!  It truly was unforgettable, and I “tasted” Pop Rocks as I read his description, even though I had not bought a package in years (make that decades).  That kind of utterly enjoyable surprise is what we have to provide with our products or services in order to “leapfrog” over the competition.

In the book, Mr. Kaplan proposed a Leapfrogging Life Cycle, which describes the movement from “Loose Ideas” to “Concrete Focus with Results.”  Here’s the Cycle:

Sparks of surprise
followed by
Engaged Exploration
followed by
Tangible Focus
followed by (almost, and/or at times, derailed by)
Fear & Doubt
threatened by
The Failure Zone
(hopefully) followed by
Market Surprise

And here are my takeaways from the book:

1. Work on your listening.
2. Work on your empathy.
3. Start paying attention to surprises – look for them.
4. Look at what you do, and how you do it – seriously, how can you do it in a surprising and wonderful new way?
{5. And – travel, network, and read more widely. Literally, get outside of your comfort circles}.

So, ask yourself – is anyone in your company working on how to “surprise” — surprise for the better — your customers?  If not, you’ve got some creative work to do…


My synopsis, with the audio of my presentation plus my comprehensive handout, will be available soon from our companion web site,

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