In celebration of Thomas Edison’s birthday this month, The Bike Shop found GE Aviation’s Jeff Hauer, inventor and entrepreneur, to identify common characteristics for innovative success.

Jeff and his products, Travel Head pillows and accessories have been featured on leading entertainment and lifestyle retailer, HSN, and in Good Housekeeping’s, “9 New Inventions That Could Change Your Life.”

Here are 5 attributes shared by both Jeff and Thomas Edison:

  1. They’re practical. Both Edison and Jeff solved problems with their ideas. Edison gave us the light bulb (and captured another 1,000 patents.) Jeff figured out how to travel more comfortably with a new, uniquely shaped pillow and captured 2 patents.
  2. They’re determined. Edison was deemed “difficult” by public schools, and aggressively pursed self-education by learning independently. Jeff experimented by creating countless handmade shapes and silicone molds in his home workshop, to develop an innovative product for travel.
  3. They’re competitive. In his 40s, Edison publicly clashed with rival Nikola Tesla about the virtues of direct current vs alternating current electricity. Before winning a chance at the “Top 9”, Jeff competed against 700 other inventors for an opportunity to be featured on HSN and in Good Housekeeping.
  4. They’re collaborative. As Edison’s laboratory became more complex, his role transitioned from innovator to industrialist, requiring the addition of assistants for developing new inventions. Jeff partnered with a product manufacturer and a front-end sales manager to handle inventory and shipping.
  5. They’re successful. With the founding of Edison Illuminating Company – which later became the General Electric Corporation – Edison established the first investor-owned electric utility. In his first live broadcast, Jeff’s sales performance triggered an invitation for another pitch later this year to HSN’s ~96 million viewers.