Why we ditch our ideas

Generating ideas and their execution is not as hard as it seem, I think we all can do this. Sometimes we can come up with ideas just by looking around us, taking a shower or using a product. I ask myself sometimes why I think so much how to improve, change, expand or even create stuff. The answer I find more appropriate is that I like creating them, bringing these to life, from a thought, to the drawing board (or digital) to the physical world. Some of you might have a similar "Good to Have Problem" as I do. You might think of lots of ideas, concepts, ways to change an existing product, websites, designs, businesses and so on. We all love for things to be adjusted to fit our own mold, our way of thinking and certainly our taste. I believe this is how we might tend to come up with ideas. 

I think we might all share similar patterns when we decide to Kill Ideas. We say to ourself things like: that might not work, it might not be liked, it's worthless, somebody else have already done it, nobody will care, too hard to make and the list goes on...... almost endless self inflicted wounds. Today, I can tell you that I'm in the process of bringing my first product to market, a train ride that I never thought possible to even come close to doing. 

Trust in yourself, gather feedback and follow your gut. (important: have fun while doing this <- secret ingredient)

Books I Enjoyed

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence People Dale Carnegie
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff--and it's all small stuff Richard Carlson
Don't Worry, Make Money Richard Carlson
Ignore Everybody Hugh MacLeod
One Simple Idea Stephen Key
Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality Scott Belsky
Rework Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson 

The lean startup Eric Ries

It's your idea, so push harder

It's getting close for an appointment with a small team I've reached out for help with a product I've been working with. I get ready, head out and arrive at the meeting 5 minutes late(got lost), somewhat exited, a little nervous and specially anxious to meet the group. Shortly after been greeted and after having apologized for been slightly late, I was told that It will be a while before they will be able to meet with me. Of course I said, "No Problem!", "It's Ok", "Sure!". What else could I have said? It's my idea and I definitely need help from them, I love my idea so much that "Yes!", of course I'll wait.


What happened during the next 2 hours:

  • I was listened to for 5 minutes only.
  • The complete idea was put into question.
  • Some expressed -> "I did the wrong sequence of steps".
  • Some said -> product  "might not work".
  • You should do this, that or wait.
  • What is your budget?
  • What you really need is this.
  • You won't be able to function without this.
The moral of this event is simple, sometimes tend to forget:

It's your idea, push harder!

I remind myself of this every day. Nobody believes, feels or cares as much as you do about your idea. After all, it's yours, not theirs. You though about it, conceptualized it, trusted your gut and push it. Don't forget this. It's fine to ask for help. In fact, I will strongly suggest you seek for help, any help, it will help you think and move faster also.

Take the punch, learn, go faster and sharper.

Yes, you can learn something from any situation, no matter how bad it was. Don't get discouraged with situations which might go against your belief or mostly your inner passion. If your idea is good enough for yourself, take that as at least a good indicator that others might think similarly. Do it, don't stop.

Generate Ideas Like Flash

It is easy to generate ideas. The work comes with separating the good from the bad and then executing a plan. I wrote a post a while ago named "Stop the Idea Frenzy", in which I explained how I managed to stop the impulse to gather ideas, and execute them instead. Some have asked what I do to come up with ideas so fast. Let's see... We talk to lots different people everyday.  This usually starts with the closest ones to us. This could include family, neighbors, friends, work colleagues, gas station clerk, your coffee server, etc). Now, consider how you would like to improve on something that affects your own and others' lives, then think about how you'll do it if everything you think is needed is already available. For  example, money, time, market, supporters... . Once you generate ideas, then you have 50 million people fill out a survey to answer any doubts on your solutions. Well, here's the trick: You cannot do  that type of survey for every single thing you believe could be better.

How I Generate Ideas

I ask my closest circle questions in this context:
  • Imagine if we had a ______ , wouldn't that be nice?
  • If you had something to do ____, how would you do it?
  • What do you think would work to make this useful?
To generate ideas that are useful, you must learn to ask the right questions to reinforce (not validate) your feelings, listen with your built-in mega recorder (your brain), play back your day as much as possible, and carefully mix your thoughts to find a common thread.  When you practice this type of brainstorming,  you will strengthen your skills and learn how to generate ideas like Flash. 

Is it possible to steal ideas?

After a two hour discussion on the subject of ideas and innovation, my mother in law introduced a question she believed I could answer. The question was as follows: "Is it true that the Facebook guy stole somebody's idea, as the movie portrays?" It was a very good question. I knew I could only answer by defining the idea of an idea.  I've seen the movie (good one by the way), but I really don't know the whole story behind the start of the idea , and I have never been interested in the conception of Facebook.  In fact, "The Social Network"  does not influence my thinking, but it has reinforced my feelings towards idea execution and business. I do not believe it is possible to steal ideas. 

My answer was as follows: "No, he didn't stole somebody's idea. Nobody "owns" an idea. You can't patent an idea. You patent the process. A working concept is a process being built, not an idea." I have come to understand that we tend to ask questions which consciously and unconsciously align in one way or another to our thoughts and needs for information. We complete our own theories with questions and we answer these with communication, reading and vision. This natural process helps us form opinions which in turn helps form ideas, concepts (sets of ideas which interact), and vision. The world is not inundated with "idea thieves", it is not possible to steal ideas.   There are many examples we could use around this topic. My belief is that this one in particular (Facebook), became popular because of its tremendous success as a social networking platform. An idea is a thought about how something should work. It is an answer to a question that has been generated by the mind. An idea is  not a fully proven step-by-step guide you can follow through with ease of completion. People have to build their ideas into concepts and then follow through by making and executing a plan.

People do not steal ideas.

However, people have been known to steal a plan. 

 "The unanswered question is the one unasked." - Unknown

How to Use Feedback

We tend to depend on feedback to decide whether an idea is valid or whether it should be tossed aside.  Over time, I have learned that negative feedback is considered to be criticism. There is even a special name for it. It is called "constructive criticism", but what does that actually mean? Criticism is not constructive unless you know how to use feedback to build on your success. Gathering both positive and negative feedback is indeed an important part of forming ideas, both in business and in every day life. It should not be confused with validation. 

I've trained myself to abstain from replying to the feedback of others. It doesn't matter whether I hear it, or read it.  I collect this information in order to use feedback. I analyze it, and put the results into action.

How to Use Feedback Constructively

Ask yourself:
  • Why did I ask for feedback (not sure, different views, spot checking, opinions)?
  • What can I accomplish with it?
Remember: Feedback is not only about validation.   When compiling feedback, go through the answers you receive and ask yourself: Should I respond to it with anything with another question (another feedback request),  or simply thank the responder for their input? Whether it is positive or negative, we must stop arguing about it, and learn how to respond to and use feedback.

Executing Ideas Is Not About Speed

I've come to learn (the hard way) over the years that executing ideas is all about motion, not speed. So what do I mean by motion and  not speed? Let me explain.

We entrepreneurs, creatives and visionaries are:
* great thinkers (over thinkers too) * confident of our own intelligence * unique in how we feel * driven by motivation I believe and have learned from experience that idea execution is all about motion not speed. This is proven. If you want to be successful, concentrate on executing ideas, not the speed. Sometimes we stop moving the ball forward with nonsense considerations trapped within our heads. This is often caused by our own impatience. Rather than keeping ideas in motion, we are overly concerned with how fast we can implement those ideas.

A reader compared this to the story of  the tortoise and the hare. My response was "Exactly!". In order to make ideas come to life we have to focus on  executing (staying in motion) ideas better and not on trying to get "there" faster.  Do not push so hard that your once-wonderful ideas exhaust themselves and end up resting by the roadside. Execute ideas with the determination of continuance.

The Death of an Idea

The death of an idea is not always a bad thing. You most likely have at least 20 ideas that you strongly believe could succeed if you could only figure out how to implement them. Some of these do become a burden. You may even endlessly ruminate on your own unproven theories without stopping to realize that your theories may not be built on good ideas. If you evaluate objectively, you will start to find ways your idea could fail. Rather than giving in to the endless evaluation, you might consider that it is time to kill it.

If you are not able to invert thoughts towards thinking of ways these could succeed and how you'll best execute, kill the idea. I mean scratch it; delete it; overwrite it... just get over the death of an idea and move on. I have done this many times.
Your time is precious, so you better use it on ideas that have a chance at life. Hint: I apply this iteration method to just about any thought. It WORKS.

Form Ideas Without Trying to be Nostradamus

We all form ideas around how we can make or improve on things.  I probably have 200+ ideas for creating web applications on my list, some of which are new, unproven concepts. The cold truth is that we think too much about consequences when we form ideas. I call these the "What If's".
I am not saying that we shouldn't plan, contemplate, compare, analyze competition, or take time to be sure of what we're embarking on.
My point is simple: Doubt and uncertainty will always exist to some extent. The key is in training yourself to trust yourself more, follow your gut, and believe that every successful idea ever created started the same way -- as a simple thought. Unfortunately, most of us cannot predict the future, but we can decide where we want to go. In my case, I've decided I wanted to dedicate my life to working with computers, programming, technology, entrepreneurship, family life, ideas, helping people... Don't try to predict the future....when you form ideas, you can't be Nostradamus!

Think Less of these:
  • What if it doesn't work?
  • What if people don't like it?
  • What if I run out of money?
  • What if I'm completely alone?
  • What could happen?
  • What will it take?
  • What if others think I'm crazy?
Do more of this:
  • Gather feedback, good or bad.
  • Figure out how you'll explain your idea to others in less than 150 characters.
  • Decide what you want to pursue in life (or which ideas to execute).
  • Measure your passion about what you're doing.
  • Find out what's holding you up and overcome this (fear,past experiences of failure,innovation,perception or the What If's)
  • Trust yourself when you form ideas

Quitting Your Day Job Nuts?

This is not intended for us as a guide which could ultimately lead you to quit your day job and/or abandon your daily responsibilities. I'll try to explain my reasoning behind the decision to leave a very cool day job as an Information Technology professional where I really was pulling in enough money. Some would say that making the decision to quit your day job when it offers financial security is completely nuts.

 There are a few things to point out before we dive into story mode.....
  • I'm not a professional blogger (please bear with me).
  • I do like to write and share my experiences (good or bad).
  • I didn't have tons of money saved or ready to burn (enough to reset, I'll explain more).
  • I didn't have anybody suggesting I should quit my day job. (really...).
  • I had previously run a small business for 5-6 straight years (with both good and failures).
  • I like telling you about my story.  I think you'll get something good out of it.
I have to admit that through the years while operating a small consulting / web design office,  I became addicted to working on stuff I created, conceptualized, planted, built on so much that it' has become a part of me. Interestingly enough, I've found out that what I appreciated  the most about running the business was not the freedom or the money, it was the relationships I was able to build with people. I've come to realize, after being five years out on the entrepreneur wagon, those relationships are what I've missed the most ,and of course the building blocks part (custom web, systems, design, etc) which was the door or medium to start those relationships. You see, I was good at web design and computer consulting, but it was the passion behind it that made the business work and the relationships grow. I still use my passion. I may be nuts, but still, I  was able to quit my day job.  If you think you might be nuts to quit your day job, consider this: If you have that gut instinct -- that passion, you can make a go of your ideas without feeling that you have sacrificed too much.