Posts Tagged ‘idea generation’

YOURENOTCOVERAnother question to ask yourself is who will produce this idea. Who will take your idea and turn it into a tangible product. If it’s a one off product, like a work of art, or something that can be delivered digitally, you can most likely find a way to do it yourself. This book is an example, early in the writing process, my idea is to to self publish it and I have found the company online that can produce it and put it on the website of the largest retailer in the world. I plan to market it through my speaking engagements and online. Now I could also work with a regular publisher (and I still may make that decision). If I were to go that route, my first step would not necessarily be to write the whole book, but rather to create a book proposal and put that out to publishers who may be interested in this type of book. If I go that route, I have a better chance getting to a wider audience and into more major retailers. The downside is it will take close to a year to bring it out the public.

For most retail products, the way to go is to work with a manufacturer. If you go this route, the first step is to look for companies already manufacturing things in your space and then finding out how to submit ideas to them. Be warned, some will not accept outside submissions. Search out the ones that do. In some cases, it may be wise to have a patent in place, but be warned this can be costly. There are also some crowd sourced companies out there like that manufacture ideas and give you a percentage if you ca get enough online likes to get you into their consideration process. has a similar process in the world of design.

Speaking of design, In cases of design, like t-shirts and other products that we enhance with our art, words, etc. again there are a multitude of online companies that will produce your products for you in exchange for a percentage of the sale price. If you choose to submit your designs to companies and want to protect them, copyright is the usual vehicle, but be warned. You own the copyright to your design the second you create it (this also applies to written words, etc). The problem is copyright does not protect the idea, just your rendering of the design. I found this most distressing in the early days of my career, but have since come to realize that it is better (to my mind) to put my work out there and risk someone unethically taking the idea, than to keep it locked up here at home and never sharing it with the world. How you handle your ideas is up to you which brings us back to the point of this chapter.

The bottom line in all of this is you do have ideas, they are all around you, you just need to find them or create them and then find the way to move forward to the ultimate goal which is share it with the world.

YOURENOTCOVERSome ideas are just ahead of their time
I always remember the movie Big. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a watch. Tom Hanks plays a kid who was magically transformed into an adult. Through a series of events Hanks finds himself looking for a place to live, looking like a man but with the skills and experiences of about a twelve year old boy. By providence, he finds a job in research and development at a toy company where his child-like mind serves him very well. Finally he gets to pitch his own original toy idea. He goes with an electronic interactive comic book that will sell for about $20. The rest of the people laugh him out of the room and he realizes he needs to go back to being a kid. In the 80s when the movie came out, the idea of this interactive electronic book seemed absurd. Of course now we call it an iPad and pay 25 times that. Your idea might be like that. This is another reason why it is imperative that you find a way to record and store your ideas.

Are you too broad?
Another reason people think they don’t have any ideas is because they are looking too broadly. They are looking all over the universe to find that magic idea that will put them on the map. Sometimes it works, but most of the time we need to narrow it down and get really specific. Start with thinking about a problem that needs to be solved (remember problem solving is the essence of creativity), then brainstorm as many ideas as you can to solve it. Then work the process to find your best idea and do it.

Or maybe you’re wanting to create a product, let’s say a toy. Now as you well know the category of toys is practically a universe unto itself. You will probably need to narrow it down. Rather than say I want to make a toy, think of who will use it and what will they do with it. Maybe you want to create a toy that will teach a toddler the alphabet or a board game to be played by the whole family that will teach strategic thinking along with being just plain fun.

Ultimately asking yourself a few questions about who will use your product and what they will accomplish with it will take you a long way toward getting and then refining your idea.

YOURENOTCOVERSo you’ve now got a few workable ideas, what’s next? Well one possibility is to begin to share the idea. Do this very cautiously and only with people you trust. I’m not talking so much about having someone steal your idea here. That can happen but it usually doesn’t, so be cautious but not paranoid. No, what I’m talking about here is people killing your idea. At this early stage in the process, the idea is somewhat fragile. It’s not yet ready to stand up to harsh criticism or even some hard questions. Too many questions and criticisms in the early life of an idea, will take you to a negative place and may even make you give up, hence killing the idea.

What you need instead are people you can trust to be honest with you, but who can also help you to refine without killing. These are the people who can be both objective and visionary. They can imagine with you and dream with you while at the same time steering you away from something that is truly a bad idea (when you’re done brainstorming, bad ideas become real again). It should be a person that knows the area your idea will “live” in and who is willing to help you through the process or at least help you find the next steps.

You have to know who the right people are for each phase of an idea. I have some people who I will share an idea with right out of the box. They are visionary and are pretty good at dreaming past the flaws. Other people are better once you have most of the flaws figured out. By then your idea is pretty tough and can stand up to a little critique. The more concrete thinkers can help you smooth out the edges and get the thing ready to release to the world, or occasionally show you why it simply won’t work.

You have to let some ideas go

Don’t be afraid to stand up for your idea, after all if you don’t, no one will, but also don’t be blind to it’s weaknesses. Ideas can be like our children and sometimes we love them so much that we are the last ones to see their flaws. Here’s the thing your idea is not a child, it’s a thing but like a child it can cost you a lot of time and money. Children are always worth the investment, but the same cannot be said about every idea. Sometimes we have to let one idea go to develop something truly outstanding. Sometimes a harsh critic will save you a lot of time and resources in the long run. Remember time is the great equalizer, we all have the same 24 hours from the richest to the poorest person and ultimately how we invest those 24 hours may well be the difference between success and failure. Don’t be so in love with your idea that you waste your time on something that will never work.

YOURENOTCOVEROkay this is almost as bad as the original lie, that you’re not creative. Of course you have ideas, even the idea that you don’t have any ideas is, you guessed it, an idea. Ideas are everywhere. A lot of them are bad ideas, but they’re ideas nonetheless. Now when I talk about bad ideas (because I’m about to encourage you to have them), I want to be clear what I am not talking about. Criminal activity is a bad idea but it’s not what I’m talking about. Picking a fight with a ninja is a bad idea, I’m not talking about that either. I’m not talking about anything that will get you hurt, killed, incarcerated or that will destroy your key relationships or reputation.

I’m talking about ideas that will make people shake their heads. Those are all around you and they’re a great place to start. Why? Because not all bad ideas are really bad ideas. Some of them are actually the seed of a really great idea. Often, when we say we don’t have any ideas, what we really mean is we have ideas, but the inner critic or one of the billions of external critics has dismissed them as bad. We actually often talk ourselves our of things that could really be great for us and we have to stop doing that.

The way to overcome “having no ideas” is to brainstorm. Brainstorming is the act of coming up with as many ideas as you can as quickly as you can. I know what, you’re thinking (or at least I have an idea, see what I did there?). You’re thinking”…but my problem is I don’t have any ideas.” I refuse to believe that. What you mean is you don’t have any good, feasible ideas, and that may be true, but in thinking that, you are overlooking the first rule of brainstorming, which is, at this phase, there are no bad ideas. When you brainstorm, you turn off the inner critic and silence the outer ones and you record EVERY idea—every last one—good bad or indifferent. You’ll refine later, but for now, write them all down. Do your best not to edit yourself or dismiss anything at all. This is al about getting as many ideas as you can.

Now, and this is important, once you have all the ideas together, look at them as open-mindedly as you can. Some of the worst ones will start to filter out, but some others that at first glance seemed improbable are probably starting to trigger imagined possibilities. Highlight these for further study. What will eventually happen is the winning ideas will start to surface. These are the ones you will develop further. What do you do with the rest? File them, you never know what will surface in the process of development.

createbetterWell here we are on the last day of a 48 day journey. I thought I would spend a little time reviewing and a little bit looking forward. First of all I want to say, this project has been fun and really uplifting. I have enjoyed it immensely and have grown quite a bit in the process. Just past the middle of this project, I had a major setback in my personal life, one that could have derailed the whole thing. I decided not to share what happened as part of this project, but it left me with a choice. Give up or press on. It was an easy choice because giving up rarely leads to a better life (unless we’re giving up negative behaviors, thought patterns, habits, etc.). Instead I decided to treat this challenge as a challenge and hit it head on. I stayed to my usual schedule, working on this project predominantly in the early mornings and then getting on with my day.

This project inspired me to finish another major project that was largely complete but sitting on the back burner because I needed to make a few decisions. I am pleased to say that the decision have been made and the project, Creativity Kickers will ship when I deliver Create a Better Life early next month. I am excited to see what it does.

Create a Better Life has had its fair share of missteps and course corrections. It has evolved from a day long workshop/seminar to a webinar and may morph one more time as I finish researching a delivery service. I have an idea for it that may work, and it would accomplish another goal I’ve had for years. Please note, the vision hasn’t changed. I still plan to do the live workshops/seminars. I just decided that something else must be done first. I decided it would be better to deliver some online content and allow that to help promote the live events. Part of the reason for this is logistical. While I love the one on one contact I get when I do live events, I have yet to master being in more than one place at a time. I truly believe that Create a Better Life will help a lot of people, so I wanted to create it in such a way that people can get the materials and use them at their leisure. Let’s face it, most of us will create a better life while working around jobs and other obligations. Having something that is available at any given time is crucial.

So where do we go from here? Well will go back to being about creative arts ministry. I will no doubt post updates from time to time, but if you want to follow Create a Better Life, subscribe to and/or follow us on Facebook. Some time during the week of June 10, the initial webinar (or whatever incarnation it takes on) will drop. The main Create a Better Life project is finished, so updates will come via but I will be sharing other content there as well. Marketing of the webinar will also begin this week. The editing of the workbook continues. There are a couple formatting issues that I think I need to address, but I want to keep to the day by day format. Look for an announcement about its availability next week.

So what did I learn from the project? Keep your plans flexible and allow for course corrections. Setbacks happen and we can power through them. Sometimes you need to take a break. Meeting deadlines is important, but so is making it right. Do your research thoroughly. Creativity is even needed in projects about creativity. Mainly I believe what I have always believed. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (The Bible) Secondly, the future belongs to those who create it. (me) Finally, you can do this. You just need to push fear aside, do the work and get creative.

You really can create a better life!

createbetterSecond last day of the project, and one thing has become apparent, this won’t be the second last day of the project. I’ve had a setback. The service I was planning on using for the webinar is not going to work. As you recall I am trying to do this project entirely with free resources so that anyone, on any budget, can do it. The blame for this setback falls firmly on me. I didn’t research as well as I should have. Remember also that I said early on that I was going to share the missteps and course corrections. This would be one of those. It’s a setback but not nearly enough to derail the project. I just need to adjust.

In the mean time. I received a short free video course in my email on the subject of promotions and product launches and It gave me some great ideas not just for promotions but also for a way to deliver some of this content. I need to research this a little further but it may be a much better way to bring this content to the public. This course has also shown me a few things I could have done better in the promotion of this product, and I may make a few adjustments based on what I learned. I am also researching other delivery ideas for this content. More on this soon.

This setback will also effect my delivery date and that is really disappointing. I am not giving myself a lot of leeway here, but setbacks happen in these types of projects. That being said, I have also stressed several times in this project the importance of deadlines and delivering on time. This setback could have been avoided with a little more careful research. That being said, the worst thing a creative person can do is beat himself up over an error. Believe me that has derailed more than one project for me and for countless other people I’ve talked to. Don’t let that happen to you. I made a mistake, I can make excuses, I can give up or I can make a correction and move on to a better life. I’ve decided to give myself another week and deliver this content some time in the week of June 10.

Setbacks happen, we can dwell on them or we can learn and press forward and focus on successes. I’ve decided to do the latter. Working on this project and sharing the whole process with the world has been a bit daunting and yet also rewarding. I have written a book in a little over a month, using the early morning hours before my work day began. I am still working on the edits and seeing a few adjustments that need to be made, but that too is progressing and should be done in time to be delivered with the webinar. I finally finished a pretty major project that I want to offer as an ancillary product to create a better life. I call it Creativity Kickers and I am really excited about it. I have had most of the creative work done or Creativity Kickers done for months but kept holding back because I couldn’t figure out the best way to deliver it. Now I can’t wait to share it with the world.

Creating a project like this is a journey. There have been other obstacles, missteps, false starts and setbacks, but those happen to us all. Pressing through them is the key to creating a better life!

createbetterSomewhere in the midst of day 45 of a 48 day project, it happened. I should have been ready for it, because it always happens, but my confession is it hit me like a ton of bricks. Steven Pressfield, in his book The War of Art, calls it the resistance. Essentially it’s this voice that pops up and says, “Who are you to do (whatever it is you’re doing)?” It strikes nearly every creative project on a seek and destroy mission to keep you, the creative person, stuck, unproductive and not moving forward. The resistance is awful, and it’s a lying voice that needs to be silenced.

For me it went this way. “Who are you to tell people how to create a better life? After all you haven’t made it yet. You’re not rich. You’re not famous.” From there it goes downhill all the way to “You have nothing to offer. This project was a mistake. Quit!” Here’s the thing. I confessed all of this on day one. I didn’t position this project as “Hey, I’m a huge success, follow my ten easy steps and become a mega-bazillionaire!” Instead I said “Join me on a journey, to creating something better.” I didn’t even define what something better was, because that is an individual choice. Instead I shared what I am doing and principles that will help you to get where you want to be. The truth is, only you can define what your better life looks like. By this point, the people who were in this looking for the easy route to wealth and fame have probably given up. Anyone who is still with me at this stage of the journey is probably part of the audience I sought in the first place—people seeking to do the work of creating something better. For me to give up now would have been to let a lot of good people down.

That’s exactly what the resistance desires. To stop good things, and good people, in their tracks, by asking “Who are you?” and “What’s the use?” The resistance is the guardian of the status quo at best and diabolical at worst. It kills great ideas, knocks down great solutions to great problems and strangles dreams. It makes problems seem insurmountable and it makes us feel too small to do what it takes. The resistance is to be resisted and on the other side of resistance, great things happen. Do not let it stop you.

Vincent Van Gogh, the great artist once said, “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” This is how to defeat the resistance. You do what that negative voice says you cannot do until it shuts up and goes away. So let’s answer that question once and for all. Who are you? Well you might be the person who makes things better. You might be the person that makes a difference. You might even be the one who changes the world. You have within you the ability to at least help one person and maybe many people. You’ve got a story to be told. You’ve got a battle to be won. My faith says you were created on purpose to do good things that were prepared in advance for you, by a creator who loves you sacrificially. (Ephesians 2:10) There is a real purpose in your life and a real resistance that comes against you and that purpose. Resist it and live.

Who are you? You’re someone creating a better life, maybe even, in some big or small way, a better world.

Fight the resistance!

createbetterToday is one of those days where I force myself to look at logistics and all the other stuff that makes my creative eyes glaze over, but that need to be done for the good of the project. I continue to work on finalizing all the details of the presentation for the webinar ad the work book. Also I am pretty dissatisfied with the designs I posted last post so I need to reconsider them. (I could still use comments from you on those by the way.) One of the struggles of creating things is there are times where you are so close to the project that you have a hard time seeing what needs to be refined. A second set of eyes is always helpful. The main thing though is the deadline.

I have decided to make a slight adjustment. I am definitely still on board for finishing the project by May 30, but I have decided to put the webinar itself off until June 5. The reason for this is really simple. I want to make the most of this project and opportunity and I have been so consumed with creating it and working out al the details that I have really not promoted as I need to. The landing page still needs some work and I feel I need to give a few days for people to get signed up. So look for the webinar on June 5. Still working out a time and I would love your input on this as well.

Thanks for joining me on this journey. Together we will create a better life

createbetterToday I worked on cover designs for the work book and a graphic for the webinar. In truth I am not sure I am happy with these designs yet, but I did say I was going to share steps and missteps. I’d be interested in your opinions on these pieces. What could be done to make them better? Do they communicate what I am trying to say?

A word about design. For some of you, design like this is in your wheelhouse. You design for a living or you are a gifted amateur. For the rest of you, this is the time to bring someone in. It doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many people out there that are trying to get started in the business of design and some of them would be willing to help you out. If you are on a low budget, seek them out at art/design schools, social media, etc. There is something to consider here though. I have done hundreds of pieces of art for free, because I have either believed in the cause or I just volunteered to help someone out but I would never ask someone else to do something for free and you shouldn’t either. You may not have a huge budget, but “a workman is worth his hire” as the saying goes. Be as generous as you can to get the best work you can, and whatever you do, do not ask someone to do something for “exposure.” No other profession is asked to work in that way. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The idea behind the men holding up the pictures is that amazing and scary time when we have to take what we created and share it with the world. As I draw near to this point, I am really feeling that tension. How about you?

Make no mistake about it, it is on the other side of that presentation that the better life begins.

createbetterWell by this point, five days from the end of the project, most of the content has been created, much of the work has been done. I’ve got lots of detail work to do but it’s pretty mundane. Today I am working on a product that will be offered in my webinar. All the writing is done, so it’s really just an assembly and editing project that will take a few days. The webinar needs to be assembled as does the downloadable workbook. A good bit of work needs to be done, but the details will be somewhat boring. There is something else to considered and this is what I wanted to touch on today.

You see today is a holiday. I’ve recommended taking one day off each week, but what do you do when a holiday falls in the middle of the week. It depends on your perspective and your level of determination, but I do want to say this, this is not religion, this is work and there are times where you can put work aside for a while, especially a holiday. Please keep something in mind, and I know I have said this before, but we are building a better life and the people we love are a huge part of this. If we push them aside, I don’t know what it is, but it’s not a better life. There will come a time in our lives where we will regret the times we’ve missed. Do not sacrifice the moments that make life worth living. Holidays are a gift. Use them well.

Create a better life, and live.