The Importance of Diversity in Innovation by Julie Lenzer

On Episode 62 of The No Limits Selling Podcast, we have Julie Lenzer, currently the Chief Innovation Officer at the University of Maryland. In this role, she’s leveraging her national and international public and private sector experiences to drive innovation-based economic growth for the region.

Prior to that, Julie was appointed by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker to lead the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE). In her capacity as Director of the OIE and as Sr Advisor to the Secretary, she drove programs and policies that support innovative economic development such as innovation-based entrepreneurship and regional innovation clusters.

Prior to her appointment, Julie was the Executive Director of the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE) in Columbia, MD. She is also the co-founder of Startup Maryland and former CEO of the Path Forward Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a nonprofit that helped women expand economic opportunity by starting and building growth-oriented businesses.

An award-winning serial entrepreneur, Julie founded her first company, Applied Creative Technologies, Inc. (ACT), in 1995 as an IT solutions firm focusing on manufacturing operations and inventory control. With Fortune 500 clients, she grew the company to multi-millions in revenues, winning several national awards for workplace excellence. Through her 10-year leadership, ACT developed and commercialized ACTrax, a leading-edge production and warehouse management system, for which she negotiated the sale in 2005.

Julie was recognized as one of 25 Women Who Mean Business by WBJ in 2019, 2014 Influential Marylander, 2013 Trailblazer in Technology, and as AT&T's Innovator of the Year in 2011. She received SmartCEO's BRAVA award in 2014, the Athena Award in 2004, and was named to Maryland's Top 100 Women 2005, 2008 and 2014 at which time she joined the Circle Of Excellence for sustained service to the community. She recently held a Top Secret clearance. 

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The podcast features Julie Lenzer, the Chief Innovation Officer at the University of Maryland College Park, and is hosted by Umar Hameed. The podcast is part of the No Limit Selling series, which aims to provide listeners with insights from industry leaders to help them become better, stronger, and faster.

The Role of the University in Fostering Innovation

Julie Lenzer discusses the role of the University of Maryland in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. The university's startup initiative, Startup UMD at the Diamondback Garage, serves as a platform for students and faculty to bring their ideas to life. The focus is on execution and turning ideas into reality. The mantra of the initiative is "get shit done," emphasizing the importance of action over mere ideation.

The Importance of Diversity in Innovation

Lenzer highlights the importance of diversity in innovation. She believes that true innovation requires diversity of thought. The university encourages cross-pollination of ideas by bringing together students, faculty, alumni, and successful entrepreneurs from the community. This approach helps to extend stagnant industries and fosters a mindset of possibility thinking among students.

The Role of Students and Faculty in Innovation

The primary participants in the university's innovation initiatives are students and faculty. For students, starting a company while in college is often part of their learning experience and curriculum. Even if they don't continue with the same company after graduation, the experience teaches them to be possibility thinkers and realize that they can effect change in the world. Some students do go on to build successful companies, with Squarespace cited as an example of a company that emerged from the University of Maryland.

Faculty members, on the other hand, often make fantastic discoveries that they want to see get out into the world. A startup is often the best mechanism for doing this. Lenzer provides examples of faculty members who have made significant discoveries, such as curing MS in mice and detecting salmonella in produce within hours instead of days.


In this insightful podcast, Julie Lenzer, the Chief Innovation Officer at the University of Maryland College Park, shares her experiences and perspectives on fostering innovation and entrepreneurship within the university setting. She emphasizes the importance of execution in turning ideas into reality, the role of diversity in driving true innovation, and the value of cross-pollination of ideas among students, faculty, alumni, and successful entrepreneurs.

Lenzer also highlights the transformative potential of ideas, citing examples of significant discoveries made by faculty members. The podcast underscores the belief that every idea, regardless of its origin, deserves a chance to be successful and can potentially drive transformational impact.

Questions & Answers

Who is Julie Lenzer and what is her role at the University of Maryland College Park?

What is the primary focus of the Startup UMD at the Diamondback Garage?

Why is diversity important in innovation according to Julie Lenzer?

What role do students and faculty play in the University of Maryland's innovation initiatives?

Can you provide examples of significant discoveries made by faculty members at the University of Maryland?

What does Julie Lenzer mean by "emotional constipation"?

What is the main takeaway from the No Limit Selling podcast featuring Julie Lenzer?

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About the author 

Umar Hameed

Umar Hameed is an expert in changing individual behavior and improving team dynamics. He uses techniques and tools from the world of Applied Neuroscience and NLP to make individuals and organizations more successful. His business savvy and neuroscience combination gives him the unique ability to help salespeople become exceptional. Umar is an international keynote speaker who has done presentations in 16 countries. ✅✅✅He is the author of three books; the latest is Unleash Your Crazy Sexy Brain!


Importance of Diversity, Julie Lenzer

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