What if we could paint over our mistakes?

Liquid PaperWhen electric typewriters became popular in the 1950s, the ribbons made it harder to erase typing errors—a problem noticed by Bette Nesmith Graham. Graham worked two jobs: bank secretary (and heavy typist) by day, commercial artist at night. One night while doing artwork, she wondered, What if I could paint over my mistakes when typing, the way I do when painting? She filled a small bottle with a paint and water recipe and brought it to the office. Her “miracle mixture” made it easy to cover over typing errors, and soon Graham was supplying hundreds of other secretaries with her correction fluid. The year before she died in 1980, Graham sold Liquid Paper for close to $50 million, giving half of that to her son, the former Monkees band member Mike Nesmith—who used it to fund innovations of his own at the pioneering multimedia recording company, Pacific Arts.

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About the Author

Innovation expert and questionologist Warren Berger has studied hundreds of the world’s foremost innovators, entrepreneurs, and creative thinkers to learn how they ask questions, generate original ideas, and solve problems. He is the author or co-author of 12 books, including his three books on questioning: A MORE BEAUTIFUL QUESTION: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas; its follow-up THE BOOK OF BEAUTIFUL QUESTIONS: The Powerful Questions That Will Help You Decide, Create, Connect, and Lead; and BEAUTIFUL QUESTIONS IN THE CLASSROOM: Transforming Classrooms Into Cultures of Curiosity and Inquiry. Warren’s writing has appeared in Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, and The New York Times, and he writes the “Questionologist” blog for Psychology Today. He lives in Mount Kisco, New York. Follow him on Twitter at @GlimmerGuy and subscribe to his blog posts