Confessions From MacGyver: A Look At The Last 30 Plus Years Of Using the MacGyver Secret

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[Note #1: So I’m thinking about giving away a free product for you . . . IF you’re potentially interested in really learning the ins and outs of the MacGyver Secret. It’s going to take some significant time to put together. But before I go crazy making this thing, I want to make sure you actually want it (so I don’t feel like an idiot). More details near the bottom of the article.]

[Note #2: In case you’re wondering, this post is a FOLLOW UP TO THIS POST which received dozens of comments from around the world! I try my best to respond to as many comments as possible, BTW].

The Story of How I Invented “The MacGyver Secret”

As most of you know, in the mid-80’s I created the TV series MacGyver (which has now been running continuously around the world for over 30 years now).

Which means that it was over 30 years ago when I first came up with the Secret that led to help creating MacGyver.

Even now I look back on that time with a kind of humbling awe that MacGyver would go on to become an international phenomenon and even end up as a verb in the Oxford English Dictionary…

But I digress . . .

How This Whole “MacGyver Secret” Thing Started
I remember the EXACT moment I decided that I was going to follow MY gut on how to solve problems, fast.

It sounds so obvious now, but as anyone who’s ever faced serious problems with no obvious solutions knows, it’s easy to get lost in other people’s ideas (they always say they know best).

I was smart enough, creative enough and experienced enough. I was good enough.

The Moment When It All Began

The moment it all began occurred in the middle of a long stretch of brutally demanding writing assignments.

As a TV writer, they came to me when they had a problem to solve. Need a story in a day? Ask Lee. Need a rewrite in an hour? Ask Lee. Need a completely new show concept to start shooting on Monday? Ask Lee.

Anyway, I was running myself ragged and crazy keeping up with the demands. I was working 16, 18, sometimes 20 hours per day to keep up.

I had Started to Have Hallucinations From Sleep Deprivation . . . Really!

That was my moment . . . all alone at 2am, sitting at my writing desk, desperate to have another creative break.

I woke the next morning from my “nap” with a new directive.

I went against the norm at the time . . . and started trying a new creativity technique I’d been toying with for a few months.

Instead of sitting at my desk hammering away for hours on end, what if I did more of the things that seemed to produce creative breakthroughs.

It didn’t make much sense, but if I was having breakthroughs in the shower, maybe I should take more showers! If insights were coming when I was driving, maybe I should drive more!

I tweaked, I experimented, I still banged my head against my writing desk, but I was developing something new.

Scripts starting coming more easily. New concepts started to emerge more regularly.

I had the naysayers who would say, “why are you always leaving the office and coming back showered” or “what’s with this method you’re working on”, but I kept at it.

I remember a producer telling me “I don’t know what you’re doing, Lee, but it’s working.” And I put that thought in my back pocket.

I started to help other writers finish their scripts, and I was more productive than I’d ever been. AND, I was less stressed

Somewhere in between all this, I got a big assignment.

A big show had been cancelled and they needed a replacement fast. The producers panicked. The team of writers were stuck. And production was starting in one week.

I had no idea if it would work, but I thought, this new technique is my best shot. What if, instead of my usual stress crunch, I just write down my problem, go for a drive and take a shower.

That sounds crazy, right!?

At that time there was very little in the way of creativity “techniques” . . .

. . . we didn’t even have the internet or Google (I am dating myself now!).

There were a few books out there on creative problem solving. . . but nothing with the kind of out of the box techniques I was coming up with.

I tried to find someone to mentor me or supervise me or even to brainstorm with me.

But to no avail.
There were no peers in my field to speak of or who were accessible.

I couldn’t find anyone who had any experience with an actual technique to solve problems.

There were no training programs . . .

. . . and the field of creative problem solving barely existed. So I ramped up my experimentation.

I taught myself, I used every skill I had developed, I tried new stuff all the time, and refined, refined, refined.

With each problem I solved, I grew and learned and modified.

I wasn’t sure if this was going to keep working, or I was suddenly just going to run out juice.

My passion (and flat-out obsession at times) for the topic and for producing great scripts and solving problems is what kept me going.

In The End, And After Some Work . . . All My Passion and Drive Worked . . And in a BIG Way.

When I finally put everything I knew together, and tried it in a crunch, with a HUGE opportunity on the table, the answer came.

And that’s how MacGyver, and the MacGyver Secret, were born.

Back when I started trying to figure out how to break through creative problems, I never dreamed I’d create a TV series known and watched by over 1 billion people. But never, in my wildest dreams, did I imagine that the technique I used to generate new story material would:

  • Be used by executives at Google and Zappos to solve some of their hardest challenges
  • Be taught to engineers at NASA to help them solve engineering problems
  • Be validated in a study at the University of Michigan
  • Or that entrepreneurs, inventors, school teachers and managers would start using it to solve problems in their daily lives
  • Or that I would be invited to teach and share this technique all over the world by businesses and institutions of all kinds…

But In Addition To Being Humbled By The Impact I’ve had, I’ve Also Been Blessed to Have A Very Gratifying Creative Process (My Friends Call It Amazing . . . I Just Enjoy The Process).

For example, instead of toiling over problems, stressing out and pulling out my hair, I cook great meals, build furniture, and take long walks. Sometimes I build models, or play Sudoku. 
I never would have dreamed that I’d get out of the rat race, have better ideas, and be able to do it stress free (so I can be more available for my family, my partner, Dayna, and my life!).

So Here’s What I’m Coming To . . . Here’s What’s Being Demanded Of Me . . . And Here’s What I Feel Compelled To Do

Here’s the deal. 
The demand for serious problem solvers dramatically outweighs the supply.
 And with each passing day, I’m finding over and over again that people in every industry, in every field and in every corner of the earth have major problems they need help solving.

Creative problem solving is one of the highest demand (and highest paid) skills around, and it’s needed everywhere. From the boardroom to the bedroom, from politics to computer science and everything in between, the name of the game right now is: Solving Problems.

The time has come for a formal Problem Solving training that can literally help anyone in any field or any situation to solve any problem.

It’s time for the problem solving method I discovered to be available to everyone, everywhere. . .and I’m on a mission to empower people around the world and give them the ability to solve problems effortlessly, all day, every day.

In my heart of hearts, I know that the world is confronting some major problems, and that we need all the problem solvers we can get. I’ve wanted this for a long, long time. And this is way overdue.

I’m Thinking About Making A Free Resource Kit For You, IF You’re Interested In Learning How To Apply The MacGyver Secret To Whatever Problems You Face

I’ve been really humbled by the buzz surrounding my last blog post. There has been A LOT of interest in the problem solving training program that I’m POTENTIALLY developing.

But to test the waters . . . I’m thinking about making a value packed, 100% free “MacGyver Secret Training” for you.

IF you’re serious about solving the problems in your life.

Here is what the free “MacGyver Secret Training” will include:

  • A recorded interview of my story with how I got started, my biggest breakthroughs, and the tips and tricks I’ve discovered along the way that make the BIGGEST difference.
  • A set of exercises you can start using immediately to refine your own MacGyver Secret process.
  • A list of the most useful resources I’ve found on the art and science of problem solving.

But Here’s The Catch

Because I’m a helpless perfectionist and will inevitably blog this thing way out of proportion and make it into a much bigger package than it needs to be (or you even want) . . . 
. . . I want to get a list of everyone who is interested in upping their game and having this free “Problem Solving Kit.”

  • So Here’s What I Want You To Do

I’m making a list of everyone potentially interested in getting my free resource kit AND getting in at the start of all this. 
Anyway, if you’re interested, then: (1) enter your email address below, and if I end up making it I’ll send it to you at the email address you list below (leaving a comment with any suggestions on what you’d like get from the kit would also help).

If enough people get on this “interest list” (I’m thinking 500 or more) then I’ll make this free thing and send it to EVERYONE on the interest list. 
If no one wants the free “Problem Solving Resource Kit” then no worries.

Yes, I want to be on the interest list!

* indicates required

To Solutions,

Lee Zlotoff


33 Responses

  1. Elaine Ingleson

    YES the world really needs this. Young and old we need this. Thank you and God bless for sharing your blessings with all of us.

    • Lee Zlotoff

      Elaine, Thanks for your encouragement. I hear you! Next week I’ll try to post a free new podcast. Stay tuned! Lee

    • Lee Zlotoff

      Terry, Thanks for letting me know. I’m working on it now and should have something to share with you next week! Lee

  2. Elke

    Great idea. Yes, please create this work kit. Are there different ways to solutions for different problems: personal, with people, creative, procrastination, doubts, run out of ideas?
    Thank you for sharing and your efforts!

    • Lee

      Elke, thanks for your encouragement. And, while there ARE slightly different ways to approach solving different kinds of problems, they really all start with imagining or accepting the concept that your Inner MacGyver is simply way better at solving anything if you have the courage and willingness to ask it. But stay tuned, because more of those details will be available to you– and everyone– as I dive into this new work kit. Best, Lee

  3. Will

    This is so generous of you. I can’t imagine that 500 people haven’t already signed up. You’d think that everyone in the world could use a solution to finding solutions! I’m waiting and hoping . . .

    • Lee

      Will, thanks for your comment. With every blog, more and more folks are asking for this so I think I’m going to step up to the plate. Because you’re right: people are beginning to realize how important it is for themselves– and everyone– to have a better way to solve problems about ANYTHING. So, hopefully, you won’t have to wait and hope for much longer! Best, Lee

    • Lee

      Gary, thanks for chiming in. I’m beginning to think you’re right, that I should just go for it! Stay tuned! Best, Lee

  4. Marsha Urban

    I am doing research to write a book. I know this would be a great help to me.

    • Lee

      Marsha, thanks for your comment. Because I KNOW this would be an awesome tool for anyone like you who’s digging down into something to write a book. Good luck with it! And, if you like what I have to offer, I’d be curious to know how much it helps. Best, Lee

  5. Lloyd Halasz

    This would be the icing on the cake. Sounds excellent. I would be very interested in having a list to help day to day challenges.

    • Lee

      Lloyd, thanks for checking in. Because, with what I’m thinking of offering now, you can create THE PERFECT LIST of what you need to deal with all those day to day challenges. So stay tuned! Best, Lee

  6. Sid Boldt

    Perhaps one good way to organize the product for me is in nutshell summary statements of what is useful followed by details described in layers of increasing depth to suit individual needs for explanation. However it is done, I am interested in all you have to share. Thanks

    • Lee

      Sid, thanks for your comment. Because what you describe is exactly how I’m thinking to try and put this together. A general overview of the crucial topics, with more detail underneath so people can go right to what they need or want to help them face any challenge they might have. And, once I get this all worked out enough to share, I’d welcome your feedback as to how it works for you. Stay tuned! Best, Lee

  7. Rabih

    Wow, Lee, that’s so generous of you! Can’t wait!
    There’s no shortage of problems that I need to find solutions to asap. All sorts of them.
    Financial, Personal, and more. And perhaps as importantly, seemingly unsolvable heavy problems that some very close and dear people around me are being burdened with, who are in dire need of rescue!

    • Lee

      Rabih, thanks for your kind words. Because, like many others, I’m beginning to realize that GIVING IS RECEIVING. So, while it may appear generous on one level, the fact is, the more I give, the more seems to come back to me. Even if the connection between those two is neither obvious or direct. And, like you, we all have problems we could use some help with, either for ourselves or those we love. I’m hoping what I’m trying to offer will do both. So hang in there. Because help is on the way! Best, Lee

  8. Jennifer

    Hi Lee
    If this reaches you
    By naming something problem solving aren’t we just inviting more problems than we can actually resolve ?
    Just being an advocate for all angles
    Thank You 😊 J

    • Lee

      Jennifer, thanks for your comment and, yes, it did reach me. And I hear what you’re saying. But the fact is, what I’m working towards is more than just ‘problem solving’, though most folks find that a useful and helpful way to approach it. And I don’t think that by having a way to really address the problems in our lives, we invite more problems. Stuff happens to all of us, whether we invite it or not. That’s just life. But what this REALLY is amounts to a whole new way of LOOKING…at ANYTHING. So, while it may be called ‘problem solving’, it’s so much more than that. And, if you decide to come along for this journey, I hope that will be clear to you. And something perhaps even you can really use. So stay tuned! Best, Lee

    • Lee

      Michael, Great. Because it’s comments like yours that keep me going as I try to really dive into this and offer you– and everyone else– what I can. Best, Lee

  9. Ilona Former

    Dear Lee,

    Such a wonderfull idea!!!! The world need it in this time of solving problems in different and onusual
    needed ways! Amazing and great!
    If you look on internet their are so many new ways of solving problems. What you have to offer can speed up these creativity, and that is exactly what we need now, to create a better world for our new nearby future.
    The McGyversecret will help you exactly what you need to now to develop the Kit and give it to the world. You will be guided 😇!

    Warm greetings and thank you
    for the courage to share and ask
    I’m looking forwards to your results but I know it will be fabulous ✨😊.
    Ilona (the Netherlands)

    • Lee

      Ilona, thanks for your words of support and encouragement. And I couldn’t agree more. Whatever approach people may choose to use, whether it’s the MacGyver Secret or something else, just wanting to find better ways to solve problems is something this world needs now more than ever. Because, no matter how you slice it, we ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER NOW, and the more of there are looking for better solutions, the more likely we are to find and implement them. So stay tuned! Best, Lee

    • Lee

      Sandra, Thanks! It’s people like you who keep me chasing this crazy dream! So stay tuned! Best, Lee

  10. konstantinos aggelopoulos

    I not only want it.I m begging you go forward with it..please create it!

    • Lee

      Konstantinos, thanks for your comment. Your encouragement and interest mean a lot to me. And make every difficult obstacle I confront in this process that much easier to face! Hopefully, what I create will prove worthy of you and everyone else out there pushing me to make it. Best, Lee

    • Lee

      Sue, Thanks for your comment. It may be brief but I hear you loud and clear. And I’m doing what I can to get there! Best, Lee

  11. Rich Schell

    Lee, sounds great, sign me up. I’m looking forward to it. Hope you get enough to make it go.

    • Lee

      Rich, thanks for your words of encouragement. Like you, I’m hoping there’s enough interest to bring this thing to the world. Stay tuned! Best, Lee

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