When I run into fellow innovators, they often want to share their ideas with me and get advice. In many cases, they have an idea that they believe is the pinnacle of ideas. They love their idea to death and hold it close to them. While they may have a great idea, it has no value in this state.
Running Out of Ideas?
Having a mind-blowing idea without any execution is pointless. When I question these “idea hoarders,” I often discover a similarity. They are afraid they only have a limited number of great ideas in their lifetime. Fearing that somebody steals their idea, they don’t want to share it with anyone else.
The fundamental idea here is that once you succeed with that great idea, it will never happen again. This thought process is wrong. How many ideas did people like Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and Elon Musk create? They created tens if not hundreds of ideas that have changed our lives. Some people say these people are just special, but I say otherwise. I believe we are all able to innovate multiple game-changing ideas in our lifetimes.
Let me share my own experiences. I started off developing computer-based training for Deltek and Individual Software. At Individual Software, I created a product called Typing Instructor, which was my first award-winning product. Next, I worked at a consulting company started by my mentor Bob Davis. I ended up doing software for Apple on contract and developed some software for the original Macintosh. Next, I did consulting work for HP on the HP 9000, the first commercial computing platform built on a risk processor. The project was a big breakthrough.
Next, I became president at Teraplex, where we made a supercomputer. Then I went to Thumbscan and worked on biometric security technology. Next, I went to Telligent and built a product called Imagine, one of the first web-based online billing platforms.
My Two-Step Process to Successful Ideas
All these products I listed were award-winning products. You may look at me and think I am special, but that is not the case. Firstly, I did not do all of this on my own. I had the right teams in place to aid me. So how was I able to accomplish these feats?
There is a two-step process that I use. The first step is, whatever idea I have, I either execute on it or share it with others. I don’t hoard ideas for myself. Elon Musk is someone who also does this. While he was in the middle of dealing with SpaceX and Tesla, he came up with the idea of a hyperloop, which he shared with the public. As a result, we saw an explosion of hyperloop companies.
It would be best if you wanted to inspire others with your ideas as Elon did. If your motivation for innovation is solely money, then you have the wrong idea. My view is that if you do innovation for the right reason, the rewards and recognition will come.
The second step of the process is that when you’ve given them all away, then you’ve made room for more ideas. Your creativity will fill the vacuum you created by giving away and sharing ideas. I have found that when I give away ideas, its result is similar to exercise. When you work out, your muscles get bigger each time. The more ideas you give away, the better your next idea produced becomes. This practice becomes a never-ending cycle that leads to success.
To know more about creating successful ideas, listen to this week's show: Are You afraid of Running Out Of Ideas?