Hoby Darling on the Theory of Innovation

Hoby Darling, CEO of Skullcandy.

The Theory of Innovation

In anticipation of the inaugural Thin Air Innovation Festival, we sat down with several of our panelists and speakers, all thought leaders in their field, to get their views on innovation.
Below is our conversation with Hoby Darling, President and Chief Executive Officer of Skullcandy, Inc., which includes the Skullcandy and Astro Gaming Brands. Skullcandy is a leading audio innovation brand that reflects the collision of technology and creative culture. Astro Gaming is the leading premium gaming and lifestyle brand born from the pits of MLG. He was named to Sporting Goods Business’ 40 Under 40 in Sports and has been a contributor to media such as CNBC, Fast Company, Inc., Bloomberg, and the Wall Street Journal on topics around sports, business, workplace culture and innovation. Hoby received MBA degrees from the University of California at Berkeley Haas School of Business and Columbia University in New York, a Juris Doctorate from Northwestern University in Chicago, and a B.A. from Western Washington University.

How do you define Innovation?
Anytime we can improve on what has been done in the past—that is innovation. It is the constant pursuit of making lives and the world better.

How are you inspired by Innovation?

Innovation for me is all about people and making the world better. It is real—it is not about a testing lab or the work that goes into innovation. It is the outcome of creating something that brings someone a better life, even if just in a small way.

How do you inspire Innovation in others?

I think innovation has to be around passion and wanting to solve problems for real people. When the outcomes are real solutions and bettering lives I think from a pure human perspective is impossible to not get excited. We all want to help each other—that is part of being human.

What’s the most innovative project you’ve been involved in?

Wow, that is a tough question because innovation comes in so many shapes and sizes ranging from creating a headphone that costs $60 but sounds like it costs $300 at Skullcandy to trying to create a global ecosystem to help athletes and everyday people do more and feel better from when I was at Nike.

What is the future of Innovation?

It is only speeding up and the opportunities are endless. We get better and move faster every day.

Join Hoby, and other leaders in innovation at the Thin Air Innovation Festival in Park City, Utah, April 6-8. For tickets and more information, please visit thinairparkcity.com.

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