There was a time in my career when I freelanced for a licensee of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was one of those Charles Dickens/Tale of Two Cities/Best of Times/Worst of Times scenarios. The business end of working with this particular licensee was at times extremely difficult, but I was working on the hottest property in the world at that time, and even now decades later, when I tell people I did that, they will usually say, “Wow, that’s really cool!” But I’m not namedropping here. There is a point to this.

I was thrilled with the Turtles, from the time I first heard of them. “Why?” Because the idea was so delightfully weird. Two buddies, who were comic fans, started drawing this goofy idea that was sort of a parody of everything in the genre. It could have faded before it ever made it to the public, but instead, they kept at it. They took their weird idea and they ran with it and as a result, reaped benefits that had to have exceeded their wildest dreams. That’s the answer, you know.

Ideas are incredibly valuable, and not just the good ones, or the safe ones, or the popular ones.

Ideas can reap benefits that are huge, but only if they connect with people. I don’t know how many times I have looked at a product and said, “I had that idea 20 years ago.” and I’ve known many other creatives with the same lamentation. But do you know the difference between my idea and the person who cashed in. I had an idea and I kept it to myself. They took their idea and shared it with the world. More than that, they took the idea and did the work to make it reality. Yes I could have beaten quite a few people to the punch, but I had a dream, they did the work. The ones who win are always the ones that have the courage to claim their idea before the world and do the work. My goal is to never lament another idea that found completion at the hands of someone else.

Your ideas are valuable and there has never been an easier time to get your ideas before people to find an audience. You just have to do it. Think about the Ninja Turtles one more time. A lot of people, I’m sure, thought it was a stupid idea, it might even be a stupid idea, but I’m also relatively sure that Eastman and Laird, couldn’t care a lick about the people who think it’s stupid. Why? Because they put their work out there and found legions of fans who thought it was the best thing ever.

Don’t create idea that you think everyone will like. Things that everyone likes are usually painfully boring. Instead look for the unusual, the remarkable, the unique, and then do the work and put it out there for the world to see.

Your ideas are valuable, but only if other people know about them.

Assignment: Look back over your life and think of as many of your ideas as you can remember. Look for one you can get behind and create a list of things you can do, right now, to make it a reality.

 

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