Steve Garguilo has led a grassroots movement to transform the culture of one of the largest companies in the world, started a company of his own, and traveled to 98 countries. He is, in every sense of the word, an innovator.

However, when Garguilo hears the word “innovation,” he cringes.

“If it means everything, it means nothing,” he said. “Let’s stop using that word.”

The word he would rather use? “Action.”

“There are a lot of people who like to talk about ideas, and that is nice,” Garguilo said. “But what I really admire and what I really respect most are the people who actually make these things happen.”

A relentless pursuit

Garguilo’s passion for putting new ideas into action began at a young age. He was always the tinkerer type, taking things apart and putting them back together, even trying to build computers.

“I’m on a relentless pursuit of new experiences and new insights,” he said.

This pursuit has taken Garguilo around the world, always chasing the next big adventure. He recently completed the Mongol Rally, a car rally from London to Ulan Bator, Mongolia. He and adventure partner Nate Mook traveled more than 10,000 miles in a 750CC Fiat Panda to raise money for the African Prisons Project.

For his next adventure Garguilo hopes to embark on the Rickshaw Run, a 3,500 km adventure across India in a “weed whacker on wheels.”

Garguilo’s need for action has also made him an instigator in school and work. In 2010, he spearheaded the creation of the first TEDx event at his alma mater, Penn State. His goal was to create cultural change at the school and break down barriers between students and organizations by giving them an opportunity to “come together to have critical authentic dialogue about new ideas.”

Garguilo had a similar goal in mind when he took on the role of Emerging Markets Customer Development Leader at Johnson & Johnson. While working with business partners around the world, from Russia to Sub-Saharan Africa, to understand and implement solutions, Garguilo also began a volunteer TEDx program to allow associates to come together and share ideas. The first event was met with positive reviews and led to the establishment of TEDxJNJ, the world’s first global corporate TEDx program.

Today, Garguilo is the Senior Manager of Creative Engagement at Johnson & Johnson. He has led the establishment of several leadership, problem solving, and ideas-to-action programs, which have been organized in over 94 Johnson & Johnson locations, spanning 58 countries.

Action Surge

But Garguilo does not want to stop at revolutionizing just one company; he wants to help individuals and organizations everywhere bring their ideas to fruition. That is why he, along with friends Matt Kane and Surge Skoryk, founded Action Surge. The three asked professionals in a variety of fields, from psychologists to drill sergeants, one key question: “What holds people back?”

Garguilo has found that one of the most common factors preventing people from taking action is a misunderstanding of their own creative capacity.

“A lot of people think that creativity is something you are born with, something that some people are just better at,” he said. “I think that that’s nonsense. Creativity is just like a muscle. You need to exercise it.”

Using the answers they received, they designed a variety of tools to help people surge forward, exercise their creativity, and make their ideas happen. At the center of the program is the Action Surge Blueprint, an ten-step process for taking action on an idea. The process, which Kane outlines in his his udemy course, covers how to draft a clear, concise idea statement, develop a plan of action, and live an action-oriented life.

Garguilo will be bringing some of these tools with him to Drone Focus 2016.

“What’s really exciting is that over the course of Drone Focus, people are going to be exposed to so many new things,” he said.

The problem, according to Garguilo, is that these ideas can get lost after attendees walk out the door and back into a life of meetings, emails, and phone calls.

“What my goal is is to help people take some of those amazing insights and take some of those synapses that will be firing and put them into action,” he said. “We’re going to sit down and do it right now.”

Garguilo urges those attending his workshop to bring along one idea. By utilizing the Action Surge Blueprint, as well as the opportunity to collaborate with other innovators, Garguilo intends to send every person out with something more valuable than an idea– a plan to put that idea into action.


Learn more about Steve Garguilo and develop your own action plan at Drone Focus Con 2016, June 1, 2016.

Feature photo courtesy of udemy.

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Katie Beedy