When you generate ideas everyday, do you stick to a particular area or are you all over the map?

Rich Collins ‏@richcollins: When you generate ideas everyday, do you stick to a particular area (i.e. your current projects) or are you all over the map?


Yes, go all over the map. The key is not generating the right idea. The key is that you are making your brain sweat.

If someone told me, “Come up with 100 things Congress can do to make the country better” it will be hard for me. My brain will hurt. Maybe I can come up with 10 really quickly (privatize and sell off all highways and schools. Flat tax of 10%, etc) but maybe around 20 or 30 my brain will start to hurt. Just like my arms would hurt if someone kept adding weights to a bench press. But keep pushing. As they say in the gym, “push through the pain”. It’s only your mind in the way. Get your mind used to sweating past that hard moment where you hit your personal idea frontier.

You want to expand out that frontier. It doesn’t matter how. Come up with ideas for books, for businesses, for art projects, for your friends’ businesses, for recipes you’ve never thought of trying, for movie sequels, for whatever you want. It’s your head! Put the whatever the hell you want in there.

For the first six month it will be like any learning curve. Your idea muscle has atrophied. So for six months it will get better super fast, the way you would increase your golf skills every day if you are a total beginner and start playing every day with a pro. Then at six months it will be harder but that’s ok. You’re already on your way to being an idea machine.

Once you are an idea machine, then you can say: “I want to come up with an idea for a new business” and your brain will work magic for you. It will be like pulling ten beautiful rabbits out of a magic hat. And all the rabbits will live and flourish. You just have to decide which one you will want to keep as a pet and which ones you will give away. You will be so full of ideas you can give and give and it won’t matter. People can steal your ideas, people can give you no credit, your ideas can end up bouncing across the waves and end up marooned somewhere where you can’t touch them. But it doesn’t matter. You will always have more.

And not just in business. In everything. Your car stuck in the middle of the desert? No problem. You will know what to do. Your kids don’t know what to do for their vacations? No problem, you’ll figure it out. Your date treating you like crap. No worries – you’ll dump her/him and quickly find the next one.

Ideas are the way we navigate the zombieland that most people live in. Suddenly you’ll realize they are all moving in slow motion. And you’ll find the path to safety, the path to riches, the path to your home.