Saturday, April 14, 2012

On the Sex Habits of Ideas

By James Altucher

I want you to be an idea machine. For the past 20 years all I’ve done is come up with ideas. Most of them bad, horrible. Ugly, stupid. I got thrown out of graduate school for having too many bad ideas. I wrote four unpublished novels. I’ve had 20 businesses in a row fail on me.

I lost the first home I bought. I lost all my money. Fifteen million cash. I went to zero. I was literally crying on the floor while my baby was crawling over to me to get to her toys. I couldn’t get a loan of a few hundred dollars just to ensure I could provide diapers and food for the weekend. From my own parents! Nobody trusted me.

But WHENEVER I’ve been stuck on the floor I knew the only way to kick into action was to start building my idea muscle again. Because it is in those moments that my brain had become smaller, damaged, and my idea muscle had atrophied. And from that moment it takes six months (on average) to 100% change my life around.

If you were sick in bed for ten days and then tried to walk you wouldn’t be able to. How come? Because your leg muscles have atrophied. Just two weeks of non-use and you might need six months of therapy to walk normally again.

We’re in a world that is running 1000 miles per hour. If you let your leg muscles atrophy you will get left behind.

The idea muscles in your mind are the EXACT same way. They atrophy in about ten days of non-use.

So start now, every day list 10 ideas. I make a list every day. It can be a list on anything. Today I did a list of 10 kindle singles I can write. One of them I will pick and do within the next 2-3 weeks.

The other day I did a list of ideas I could maybe use as standup material.

The day before that I did a list of 5 Ways in which Procrastination is Great.

In my first successful business, Reset, I would come up with 10 ideas a day for each of my clients. Ideas that could help them improve their websites.

In my business, Stockpickr, I would come up with at least 10 new ideas for features every day.

When I was running my fund of funds I would come up with 10 ideas a day to get new clients.

Other days I make list of businesses I can start. And some days I make list of features that can be added to businesses I’ve already started. Or blog post ideas. I have 80 blog posts in my Drafts folders as a result. Most of them have good lists but I’m not satisfied with the writing yet.

So what happens after a year: you have 3650 ideas. Out of those maybe one or two might be decent.

BUT, the more you do it, the better the muscle is. Then people will start saying, “Man, you are an IDEA MACHINE!”

I want you to be an idea machine. I really want it for selfish reasons. I need some help on something. Once you are ready you can give me ideas on where this blog is going.

STEP 2: WHAT IS AN IDEA? An idea is not just “I will start an airline for outerspace”. That may or may not be a good idea. An idea is a tuplet. It looks like this:

[idea, spec of the whole idea, next step to execute, timeline]

So, for instance, if I have an idea for a Kindle Single it might look like

["I am Running for Vice-President" kindle single, (then I list the table of contents), expand these 5 blog posts and then write X,Y,Z original material, download the kindle single guidelines from Amazon and then put the text in the right format and upload to Amazon, I can work on it for 3 hours a day and be done by next week]

THAT is a full idea. Write ten of those.


I bet you didn’t know that ideas have sex. And they have children.

The more ideas you have running around in your little rabbit cage, the more rabbits you will get. And generations evolve fast. When I started Stockpickr it was the mating of my ideas on the Internet with my ideas for a new hedge fund. The best ideas always come from mating. Think of Hollywood. When they pitch an idea its never just “I have this idea”. Its always “It’s “James Bond” meets “the Titanic” ”

Read the rest here.

No comments:

Post a Comment