Category Archives: Ideas
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs
There comes a time in a person’s life, when he or she reaches a moment of clarity…a moment of awakening. It happens at different times for different people. For some of us, it never happens at all. It happens when you set out to make your own mark on the world.
What the moment said to me, around age 27, was… “This life is meant for you and only you. You don’t need to follow in anyone else’s footsteps. Make your own footsteps. Despite what you’ve been taught, you don’t have to live your life constrained by what other people have done in the past. You are free to make your own choices and make your own mark on the world. You are in control of your own destiny.”
So get out there and do something new. Just because it hasn’t been done before by someone else, doesn’t mean it can’t be done or shouldn’t be done…by you.
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” – Bilbo Baggins
Creativity needs inspiration. Inspiration is usually found by going out, not by staying in. By going out and exploring the world, you often find your ideas in unlikely places. An idea needs structure, design, and simplicity. These elements can be found everywhere.
Get out of your house. Get out of your office. Get out of your comfort zone. Your next idea is right outside.
“How do you know when it’s done? It’s never done. That’s not the right question. The question is: when is it good enough?” – Seth Godin
Your idea doesn’t do the world any good sitting in your mind. Your idea doesn’t do your company any good sitting in your inbox. Your idea doesn’t do your client any good sitting on your desktop. If you are waiting till it is perfect to release it to the world, you are wasting valuable time (and a valuable opportunity).
The questions you need to answer: Is it valuable to the world? Is it simple enough for my audience to understand? Is it visually appealing? When those questions have been answered and put into action, your idea is good enough.
When it is good enough, go to market. Nothing is final, you can always improve. You can never get back the time you wasted trying to be perfect.
“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.”
– Roy E. Disney
Mistakes happen. We all err in judgment or make wrong decisions at one point or another. When you find that you’ve made a mistake; own it, be upfront and honest about it, but ultimately, you need to forget it and drive on. You can’t question decisions made in real time.
The best we can do is to prepare for the crossroads we will inevitably find ourselves facing. Have a clear set of values and a clear goal. Stick to those values and the difficult decisions will be made easier. They may not always be the right ones but standing for what you believe in (honesty, simplicity, creativity, focusing on design, producing high-quality products, offering low-cost alternatives, being user-friendly, or believing in customer-service) is more important than being right all the time.
“As you get closer and closer to the show, the pressure increases, and you start running out of time and that’s when more and more of the key decisions are made.” – Conan O’Brien
Whether you are in comedy, starting a business, writing a presentation, or planning for the future, you need ideas. Ideas need creativity. In this great article from Fast Company, Conan O’Brien gives his secrets on how he and his team spark creativity. Here’s what he can teach us about idea generation:
- Constraints, such as time, actually help the process. You are forced to make key decisions when time is running out. Decisions that would never be made unless you were forced to make them.
- Brainstorming is about 90% “bull-shitting” until the team can latch onto an idea and build something that works.
- Preparation is important. If you are speaking in front of a group, you need to have the material down cold. But you also have to leave room for improvisation.
- Creativity should be fun, seriously.
- Know what’s in your control, and what isn’t. Don’t dwell on those things you can’t control and exploit those things that you can.
* Source and picture from the Fast Company article “Conan O’Brien’s Guide to Creativity” by Chuck Salter
“You don’t win friends with salad.” – Homer Simpson
Salads are boring. They aren’t particularly fun. They don’t really stand out. It’s not like you look forward to eating a salad like you do pizza night. They are healthy, yet unremarkable…like most presentations; necessary, yet forgettable. But they don’t have to be. Try something different. You’ll win more clients being simple and creative than boring and unremarkable.
* picture of Homer Simpson courtesy of Fox’s The Simpsons by Matt Groenig