Good Friends Push Each Other Off The Cliff

giving birth to new ideasI attended World Domination Summit (WDS) last weekend with one goal in mind: To solidify an idea I have in my head about the evolution or next iteration of Big Leap Creative and figure out how to communicate (and sell) that idea.

Often with new ideas, the issue is executing them. That’s not my problem. I actually have a whole list of to-do’s surrounding my somewhat infant or unformed idea. I want to write a manifesto followed by a book (which I’ve already started), interview people on the subject, and create a client process around this idea. The hold-up is a fairly important one. This idea is still somewhat nebulous. I can’t pinpoint exactly what problem I will solve.

Cut back to WDS in Portland. Let’s talk about the name first because it kind of bothers me. I promise, it’s not some imperialist organization about taking over the world; maybe your own world. Ask five people what WDS is to them and you’ll likely get five different responses. I describe it as a big idea retreat. Take a vacation in one of the best cities in the country and put your ideas into action.

I picked up a few themes in my two days and I want to first talk about

Giving Birth To New Ideas.

I wish there were a five-step process to do this, but let me attempt to put a framework around based on all my experience.

Be able to communicate the idea

This might seem obvious to some of you, but some ideas are stuck in our heads, and we can’t clearly get them out. You can’t achieve anything if you can’t communicate your idea. Nancy Duarte gave a fascinating talk on public speaking, i.e. communicating your ideas. I feel it applied to everything in life. It was a framework for telling a story. The crucial point is to think in terms of how you want your audience to be changed. What do you want them to do? Don’t think of yourself as the hero of this story (yourself being you personally, or the product/service. Your audience is. So what does the story look like when my idea collides with their lives?

This is the big idea. Write it down.

Why is the idea important?

This came from Pamela Slim’s workshop on Putting Ideas Into Action. I was almost shut out of the session but they let three more of us in and I was one of them! Elation!

Answer the question why your project is important. Why does it matter? Then, invoke the four-year old in you and ask why again. I need to give Mana Ionescu credit for this one. Mana wrote about asking why five times when defining strategy somewhere a long time ago. Ask why one more time. This is going to help you get super granular in why this project or idea is important.

Get feedback

Getting feedback might be hard from some of us because it makes us vulnerable. I watched former NPR Marketplace Money host Tess Vigeland stand up on a stage in front of 3,000 people admit that she left her job without a safety net, was just rejected for her absolute dream job last week, and doesn’t have any answers. She doesn’t know if she has any worth. She doesn’t know if anyone will want to listen to her again.

In the silence of the room someone in the back shouted, “Yes we do, Tess!” and the audience roared and she teared up. Just an intimate conversation with 3,000 people. Vulnerability is good. It creates a very real connection.

Talk about your idea

Get a small group of people – choose wisely. You want people who are constructively critical, people who might be your target audience. Practice communicating your idea and see what they say. Their reaction will be highly educational. In Pam’s workshop, I shared my idea with two strangers sitting next to me, and they both lit up. They had questions, ideas, people I should talk to, and comments about how it would affect them personally. I scribbled notes furiously. This is what will shape that idea. Plenty of ideas start one way and evolve 180 degrees.

Set a deadline and a timeline

Now comes the execution part. I am about 85 percent to my idea which is why I’m not ready to talk about it here yet. I know the next step is to finish the outline of the book and continue to write the stories. Next, I’ll set up three calls with people to discuss my idea for feedback and begin scheduling the interviews. I’ll create a short list of interview subjects and my last question to each person will be for them to suggest a person I should interview so I can break out of my own sphere of influence.

Take the big leap – aka have a friend push you off the cliff

My friend Tom Garrity just launched an inspirational project called One Medal. This is a place for those of us who compete in races in memory or in honor of someone in their lives. You are invited to share your story over on the site. I can’t wait to have Tom blog here soon to tell us more about it. I said to him I didn’t realize he went live with the project already, and he texted me that a friend had pushed it out on Facebook so he thought he better ramp up.

Good friends push you off the cliff.

I know, I know. It might look like I need a push off the cliff as well.

I’d love to hear your process – or maybe you need a push too?

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*Gorgeous image by Nicafemme.


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  • Bob Phillips

    This “birthing” is Edison’s 99% perspiration. The other 1% is the problem of “getting impregnated” with the idea’s inspiration.

    • Lisa Gerber

      Ohhhh I might have used the wrong word – I didn’t mean the execution. To me that’s the easy part. The communication or formulation is really damn hard some times!!!

  • Bob Reed

    BOOM! Awesome post Lisa. I’m in the execution phase of two ideas, as well as germinating a concept for a book (non-business). Eager to learn about what you’re hatching.

    • Lisa Gerber

      We must catch up some time. two ideas plus a book? Wow! And a non-business book? Are you doing fiction?

      • Bob Reed

        We will. The book is non-fiction, but with a bit of a twist. The main characters will only have nicknames. The working title is “The Trip of a Lifetime.” It chronicles a cross country trip I took with my mother, step-father and younger brother in 1978. Six weeks, 9,000 miles from New Jersey to California and back.

  • Kaarina Dillabough

    I’m pushing :) Cheers! Kaarina

    • Lisa Gerber

      Thanks, Kaarina. :)

  • Jessica

    totally pushing you off this cliff! :) (right after we finish our cosmos, of course)

    • Lisa Gerber

      I’ll jump off any cliff after those cosmos we had! That was fun!

  • Ralph M. Rivera

    “Be able to communicate the
    idea” That’s the core concept of my classroom. In the years of teaching, I
    often see students turn on their computers and try to develop a
    product/site/graphic without knowing what they are trying to accomplish. I
    always tell them that being able to concisely express what they are trying to
    accomplish will reduce the amount of time they work. Alas, I don’t
    always win that battle.

    • Lisa Gerber

      It’s waaaaay harder than it sounds! Keep fighting the good battle, Ralph!

  • Laura Click

    I think we totally need people in our lives who push us to be better. It might be friends. It might be a mentor or colleague. I think it’s healthy and good to have that.

    On another note, sounds like you loved WDS! I’m a big fan of Chris and Pam, but I didn’t hear about the Summit until about everyone I knew was there. Should I mark my calendar for next time? Is it worth going?

    • Lisa Gerber

      I really did like WDS. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll go again but it’s worth it to go once, for sure. One thing, I went with my husband which was tons of fun but also meant I didn’t really socialize as much as I would normally – skipped evening stuff and went out with him.
      I thought the conference had great content but you know, those relationships are what cement the time spent there. I say this because it might be part of the reason I don’t feel the need to go again.
      It was very inspirational, however, and I did get to meet Srini Rao and Michael Schecter and Phil Gerbyshak. So there was that. :)