ideas

My toothbrush is better than yours

My toothbrush is better than yours

Even if your toothbrush is newer, cleaner, fancier, more colorful, electrically powered or emits ultrasonic wave, I still prefer mine. After all, why would I want to use someone else’s toothbrush. Yuck!

This is fine if we are just talking about toothbrushes but in reality, we have the same concept towards other peoples’ ideas. We tend to prefer ideas we came up with rather than those from others. This is known as the Not-Invented-Here bias or the Toothbrush Theory.

Stop being so damn lean

Stop being so damn lean

 The Lean Startup is one of those books that changes the way you approach, validate and build a product. It encourages an iterative process of experimentation and validation to learn more about customer needs and reduce risk and waste of resources.

In other words, it is about learning and getting as much feedback as you can from the user and use that to guide your product development process. Too often, startups spend their time building the product in isolation without any contact with users until release.

Ideas and Insights

Ideas are usually born from some insights. Google founders' insight was their PageRank algorithm.  They realized they could sort the web by their link popularity. The more incoming links a page has, the higher it ranks. For Showtimes.my, the simple insight we had was to deliver what the user wants (showtimes) in the fastest possible manner. This meant showing all the movies that are shown in your area at once and format the showtimes nicely so it's easier to read.

Obviously, the better the insight, the better idea will be.  So far, most of our ideas are developed from rather simple and common insight. Hopefully, one day we'll have some rare insight to a problem and build a solution for it.

Taking action

Around the same time I started this blog, I also started a brainstorming group with a few close and smart friends. We called it Idearum and met up every fortnight to share ideas and discuss certain issues. Then early this year, we restarted the group and with some new members and started discussing about business ideas and things we can do. We all agreed that instead of just brainstorming ideas, we should try implementing some of them.

Inline with this new direction, I've decided to start an online community that encourages people to take action and work on their ideas. Hopefully, with the support and resources from the community, it will be easier to realize your dreams and bring ventures to life.

At this moment, we are still developing the site itself so hopefully soon we'll be able to launch it and inspire more people to take action and create value. After all, life is too short to not do something that matters.

If you got an idea that's been stuck in your head for a while, it's time to take action and work on it. Start a newsletter or work on that painting you always wanted to do. Lead a movement or build that iPhone app you wanted.

Whatever the idea, nothing will happen unless you start taking action. And maybe, just maybe, with enough of people doing great work and stuff that matters, we might be able to change the world.

Inspire action

Simon Sinek says he found out why some people and organizations are so inspirational. In his book, Start with Why he codifies the method for us to lead better and inspire change. He calls it the Golden Circle.

All organizations and careers function on 3 levels. What you do, How you do it and Why you do it.  The problem is, most don’t even know that Why exists.

Influential and inspirational companies like Apple starts from the 'why'. It sells you a story of why they are different. Simon argues that most companies start with a story that tells their customer what they are selling. They should instead focus on telling their customer what they believe in and stand for.

Here's a talk from Simon at TED that you should watch. If you are leader of some sort or want to inspire action and change, do NOT miss this.

Thirst for knowledge

Do you have the urge to find out more about something new you learned about? The curiosity to know how and why things work. The drive to learn more about the world which we all once possess as kids. With power of Google and the vast amount of information found on Wikipedia, it's never been easier to satisfy your thirst for knowledge. You can even learn stuff they teach in school online through the Khan Academy.

As I've said before, everyone needs googling skills and there's no excuse to not learn something new everyday. The web is the best teacher you'll ever have since you can control the pace and the topic of your study.

The best way to secure your future is to invest in increasing your own personal value. Turn your thirst for knowledge into your motivation for a brighter tomorrow.

Too many ideas, too little time

If you have too many ideas and you don't have enough time to execute them, you should check out this article by Scott Belsky on how to overcome the idea-to-idea syndrome. By now, I hope you understand the real value of an idea is in its execution. But there's another problem that arise while you are executing your idea. You might get bored and lose your initial momentum and creativity. And being addicted to ideas, you come up with a new one to keep yourself interested and abandon the old one.

Scott proposed some tips on how to stop yourself from going from idea to idea. First we need to restrain ourselves from coming up with too many ideas. Execution of the idea is still the main goal. Stop being addicted to inspiration and start the perspiration.

We also need to run our idea through the others, the ones that live in the real world. Their input is invaluable if you want your idea to go mainstream. Scott calls them the sober monitors.

Try skipping meetings and appointments that doesn't align with your goals. Because when idea-lovers get together, all they can do is just generate more ideas and prevent you from actually bringing yours to live.

I suggest you keep an eye on the next article of the series to get more tips on how to turn your ideas into reality.

Tagging in the real world

In Flickr, you can tag your photos to categorize them. On Facebook, you can tag the faces in your photos to link them to the actual person. (or spam others) Now, stickybits gives you a way to tag objects in the real world with digital content like photos, videos or messages. Tagging is done by scanning the bar-code on the item using their application that is available on iPhone and Android. If you are the first to scan the bar-code, the content that you tag onto it will appear first. There is also a history log to track if there's new content being attached to the item or when it changed location.

Currently the business model is selling packs of vinyl bar-code stickers so you can tag any items you want by simply stamping the stickers on them. There's nothing stopping stickybits from charging for exclusive rights to add content to items first and maybe even show related items when you scan something. Google Adsense for the real world anyone?

Now this is a brilliant idea that is well executed.

Will it work?

Everyone has some idea of their own, be it a brilliant business plan or an ingenious way to turn off the lights from their bed. If you have problems coming out with ideas, you should read this post from Seth Godin about fear of bad ideas. You need to come up with lots of bad ideas before you find one that's good. Having an idea is the first and last step for many. Some people are so protective of their ideas that they miss the chance to improve and get feedback on it. An idea is nothing until you turn it to reality.

To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions. - Derek Sivers

Knowing all that, working on an idea takes enormous effort and often requires an unhealthy dose of optimism. If your friends, family and cat start questioning your sanity, you are probably on the right track. No one knows if it will work out or not, so the best way to find out is to try it.

Every really new idea looks crazy at first. - Alfred North Whitehead

If you have some ideas you been wanting to try, stop worrying if they will work out or not and start focusing on their execution.