Think outside of the box!

PEPSI Innovation (PDF)
PEPSI Picture Slides (PDF)

A: I love watching TEDTalks. You should check it out.
B: Oh. I’ve watched them, but I find them a little boring. They’re not really my cup of tea.
A: What? They are really inspiring and eye-opening. There’s so much food for thought.


To check something out (pv): to see, to watch, to examine, to try.
Something/someone is not one’s cup of tea (i)(s): something or someone is not your style.
Eye-opening (adj): something that is fascinating, enlightening, or mind-blowing.
Food for thought (i): something to think about, mental food for thinking

A: I’m beat, a little burnt out because I pulled an all-nighter. I came up with a great idea for the new story that we’re going to pitch to the producer.
B: Hit me! I’m psyched.
A: It’s a story about a girl who falls into a hole and wakes up in a magical land. She meets a rabbit, a smiling cat, and someone with a crazy hat…
B: Wait a minute. Aren’t you ripping off the story of Alice in Wonderland? That’s not going to fly. You really missed the mark.
A: I didn’t copy anything. It’s my original idea.
B: Face it. It’s the exact same story! What were you thinking? Let’s just call it a day and touch base tomorrow.


To be beat (s)(adj): to be tired, or exhausted.
To be/feel burnt out (i)(adj) | To burn oneself out (pv): to feel exhausted, to make oneself tired.
To pull (off) an all-nighter (s): to stay up all night to study or finish a project.
To come up with (pv): to think of an idea or a plan.
Hit me (e)(s): tell me.
To be psyched (s): to be excited. Synonym: to be pumped up.
To rip something off (pv)(s): to copy something.
To rip someone off (pv)(s): to cheat, steal money or overcharge someone.A rip off (n)(s): too expensive, and/or poor quality. An imitation product. Synonym: A knock-off.
Something is not going to fly (i)(s): when something won’t work, will not be successful.
To miss the mark (i): to fail the target, to reach the result that was expected
(Let’s) Face it (e): accept it, accept reality, we must accept the truth.
To call it a day (i): to stop doing something for the day, to go home, to retire.
To touch base (i): to connect with someone, to follow up, to make contact briefly

A: I can’t take my mind off work. Our competitors just released a groundbreaking product. There’s so much at stake. What should we do?
B: Why don’t we make something similar? We should reverse-engineer the technology, change it a little, and brand it as a new product.
A: That’s not innovation. No, we need a different game plan. We need to think big if we want to gain the upper hand. I don’t want to just jump on the bandwagon.
B: There’s no time to lose. How about we consult Charlie on this? He’s a smart cookie, great at thinking on his feet. Plus, he can play the devil’s advocate.
A: I have mixed feelings about that. Don’t you remember? The board pushed him out a few years ago. I don’t think he’ll help us.
B: I know it’s a long shot, but we’ve hit a wall. It’s either him, or it’s back to square one. He’s phenomenal at thinking outside of the box.
A: Okay. We have no choice. Give him a call.


To take one’s mind off something (i): to cause you to stop thinking or stop worrying about something, to do something to help you forget about something.
At stake (i): at risk, in danger of being lost.
A game plan (s)(n)(sports): a strategy, especially in sports, politics, and business.
To think big (i): to be ambitious, to have plans to be very successful.
To gain/have the upper hand (i): to take control and have power over something, to be in the dominant position. Origin: playground games (baseball bat), poker, couples holding hands.
To jump on the bandwagon (i): to follow the crowd, to join a trend (bandwagon effect, herd behaviour).
There’s no time to lose (e): don’t waste time, something must be done immediately or as soon as possible.
A smart cookie (i): a smart person. Expression: You’re one smart cookie.
To think on one’s feet (i): to think and react quickly, and intelligently, especially when under pressure.
To play the devil’s advocate (i): to pretend to be against an idea in order to make people discuss or defend their argument. Origin: Devil’s Advocate was employed to argue against someone being made a Saint.
To have mixed feelings about something/someone (i): to feel positive about one aspect, and to feel negative about another aspects. To feel uncertain because of conflicting emotions.
To push someone out of somewhere (pv): to make someone leave a job, or stop being involved in an activity or project, to force someone out.
A long shot (i)(n)(sports): to do something with a low chance of success. Origin: ship guns were effective only at a close range.
To hit a (brick) wall (i)(s): to be forced to stop because of an obstacle, to be extremely physically tired.
To go back to square one (i): to go back to the beginning, to return to the starting point. Synonym: To go back to the drawing board. Origin: board games.
To think outside of the box (i): To think creatively, unconventionally, and/or differently.

PEPSI Discussion Questions 

  1. What’s not your cup of tea in terms of movies, music, food and people?
  2. Do you know any websites that offer a lot of food for thought?
  3. When was the last time you pulled an all-nighter? How long did it take you to recover from it?
  4. Have you ever been ripped off when you were traveling? Have you ever bought any rip-offs?
  5. What do you do when you want to take your mind off something or someone?
  6. Do you enjoy gambling? Tell me about a time when a lot of money was at stake (gambling, betting).
  7. Do you often think big? What are some ambitious goals you have in your life?
  8. Why do people jump on the bandwagon? Did you do or buy something because everyone else was also doing or buying it?
  9. Are you good at thinking on your feet? What jobs or business situations would require you to think on your feet?
  10. Who would you describe as a smart cookie?
  11. Imagine you had to make an important decision. Is it important to ask someone to play the devil’s advocate? Who would you ask to play the devil’s advocate? Why?
  12. Do you know anyone who was pushed out of a company they founded? What happened?
  13. Tell me about something or someone you have or have had mixed feelings about.
  14. Have you ever felt like you’ve hit a wall or gone back to square one? Explain.
  15. Are you good at thinking outside the box? What are some ways that help you think outside of the box?