As an entrepreneur and business owner I see examples of innovation everywhere, I think it is part of the entrepreneurial DNA! We have to solve problems every day but luckily most of them are not life and death situations. The world had an amazing lesson in innovation last month with the 33 Chilean miners who survived for 69 days buried a half a mile into the earth. Now that a few weeks have passed and we have been able to reflect on their ordeal, we can all take away key nuggets from their incredible experience:

Learn from the best
I have been so fortunate in my career to work in world-class organizations like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola with incredibly talented people from all over so I know first hand that great ideas and experience can come from anywhere. Latin Americans are very proud people but the leaders of the mining company and the country were immediately able to put their egos aside and tap into experts from all over the globe – Germany, Canada, Japan, United States, Brazil and everywhere in between -- to come together and find a way to bring the miners to safety. The Chileans were not concerned with who got credit here they just wanted to bring the 33 men out alive. Obviously trust played a huge role here. Some challenges are just too big for one entity to take on by themselves and the Chileans quickly knew they needed the help and support of others to be successful. It was open source innovation at its best with everyone sharing their best practices in a collaborative and collegial environment to get the job done. The trusted and believed in each other and it paid off.

Never give up
Or as Winston Churchill said “Never, never, never, never give up!” I am sure there were some very dark times over 2000 feet beneath the earth’s surface but they kept the faith and hung together through it all. It took 17 days for a rescue crew to find them by drilling tiny holes into the chamber. Until then they survived on dwindling rations of food and water. They organized themselves and a leader emerged. He kept their spirits up with a daily group therapy session where they showed their cards’ and discussed any disagreements, plans and achievements. But just when they had almost given up on day 17 they sent a note up through the rocks which ended up being the catalyst for their amazing rescue operation which saved their lives.

Hope is not a strategy, you also need a plan!
Millions of people around the world watched the human drama unfold as each one of the 33 miners were hoisted up by a cable and we all cheered as one by one they reunited with tier family and friends. It was so inspiring to witness what happens when you thoroughly plan and execute flawlessly. The collective sigh of relief and the boost of energy that everyone felt when we all knew they were alive and would be okay. I felt like I could accomplish anything on my to do list that Day no matter what, no excuses. The rescue operation was a remarkable feat of human ingenuity and character. When the leader of the group was the last one to emerge that was really the final lesson to me, he got his whole team out safely first and only then left the hole below. He lead from both the front and the back of the group with amazing strength and composure. He kept his team focused and strong and helped them work productively through their fears. He had the vision and kept them all on track until the very end.

Okay so what is your excuse for not doing the most important thing on your to do list today? Consider this your official kick in the pants and start working on a plan to get it crossed off your list. Who are the outside experts you can talk to for advice? What is your plan? And what are you waiting for, vamanos!

Author's Bio: 

Paige Arnof-Fenn is the founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls (, a global marketing strategy consulting firm whose clients range from early stage start-up to Fortune 500 companies including Colgate, Virgin and The New York Times Company.