Is it possible to get better and coming up with new ideas, especially ideas that are useful and good? What if I told you that there is a simple process, one I’ve borrowed from a successful author, podcaster, and investment banker, that allows you to generate 10 new ideas every day? What if I told you that some of those ideas would be good ones and, maybe more importantly, the process tends to get you in a more creative mood which brings about even more ideas during the course of the day? That’s exactly what James Altucher’s idea generating process does.
I first came across this concept around 3 years ago. I was well into my PhD program, and also teaching an undergrad class, and was looking for ways to get my own creative juices flowing. I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled across the link, but when I did I hoped I had found something useful. Altucher outlines 4 steps he uses to generate and implement ideas along with some pointers for getting into the right mindset. I started using this approach and after a few months started seeing easily identifiable results. My lists themselves haven’t produced much, but getting into that mindset has helped me be more creative throughout the day.
How I’ve Put It Into Practice
I’ve kept his template as a starting point
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’ve read several other people’s posts to see what they’re doing and how it has benefited them and developed my own approach
Chris Winfield has an excellent post on using different tools. I’ve taken to using Evernote for my own lists like he does. Also, I do try to get all 10 ideas in the morning but allow myself days when the ideas come intermittently.
Mike Fishbein’s post was so similar to my own original thoughts for this post that I figured it would be best just to share it here. He gives 7 really good benefits of trying to come up with 10 ideas every day.
Two samples from one list
I decided to do a list of restaurant concepts one morning and came up with some pretty funny ones that, while a bit kitschy, might actually work. These don’t fit the full template, but follow the general idea closely enough.
Think of a more specialized version of Noodles & Company. Many Vietnamese restaurants also carry French items from the days of French Indochina. In this concept you get Pho, one of the trademark Vietnamese dishes, combined with Italian noodle dishes. Open a small, local chain of these in the NYC boroughs and go from there.
Au Jus Wish
An obvious play on “As You Wish” from the Princess Bride. Theme the restaurant either around the movie or just a pirate theme in general. Build the menu around creative “dipping” sandwiches with a signature French Dip. Probably a good fit for a theme park.
What Are You Going To Do About It?
What do you do when you need an idea? Do you have a process or are you sitting around and hoping inspiration strikes?