Archive for the ‘Inventions’ Category

Do you have any “bad” ideas?

July 31, 2010

I just got a question from a podcast listener.  Brad from California asks:  “Dan, I hear you share about all your good ideas.  Do you ever have a bad idea?”

I had to pick myself up off the floor after laughing so hard.  Do I ever have a bad idea – oh yeah.  About 10 times a day.  And you know why?  I don’t know of any way to get to the good ideas without going through a whole lot of bad ones.  If you are waiting to share or experiment with an idea until you have a perfect one, chances are strong that 10 years from now you’ll still be waiting.

“If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.” — Albert Einstein

Most people are afraid of good or bad ideas.  Good ideas require change and that’s intimidating.  Bad ideas make us look foolish or stupid, or waste time and money.

But take a look around you.  Anyone who is doing something great had a lot of bad ideas to get to where they are today.  I don’t know of any exceptions.   If you haven’t “failed” recently or had a bad idea, success will likely elude you as well.

Yes, I have bad ideas – lots of them.  I’ve failed with writing ideas, seminar ideas, product ideas, and employee ideas.   Perhaps I should track them for a time period.  I suspect my ratio is about 15 bad ideas for every 1 that has real potential.

My advice:  Welcome your “bad” ideas.  They are your friends.  Treat them with the love and respect they deserve.

“Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have.” – Emile Chartier

Business is up and down – that’s good

June 29, 2010

Pat Cuartero was a Merrill Lynch analyst.  But as he says – he discovered a higher purpose – getting more people in New York City to play with yo-yos.  He funded his startup with $8,000 on credit cards and netted $32,000 in the first five months.  It was enough to persuade him to leave his “real job” and develop his passion for yo-yos.

Instead of just selling yo-yos, Pat developed YoYoNation – a robust community of enthusiasts.  There are blogs, forums, contests, and yes, you must register to be part of the community before you can buy a yo-yo.

He’s projecting $1.6 million in sales by the end of this year.  You can get cases, string, bearings, t-shirts and other gear once you’re part of the community.  You can start with the standard Duncan Butterfly Yo-Yo for $2.99 or step up to the handmade Oxy Ti titanium model for $549.99.

Anyone remember Tiddlywinks or the Slinky?  Probably just waiting for a champion to come along.

What’s your passion and what are you doing to develop it?

Have any bad ideas?

March 7, 2010

We all want the next great idea – the Frisbee, the Hula Hoop, the iPod, GPS or Tootsie Roll.  In working with people I often ask them to list 20 ideas for things they could imagine and would enjoy doing.  And then I watch them struggle as they filter each idea – often with a quick “Yes but” that destroys even the consideration of a possibility.

What if I asked you for a list of 20 things you would hate doing?  As soon as you have some life experience, knowing what you don’t want is often the most helpful tool in the process of clarification.

Maybe creating a list of 20 things that wouldn’t work is the best tool for finding the next great idea.  If you’re making adhesives, you don’t want a product that doesn’t stick permanently – but then you discover Post-It-Notes.  You wouldn’t want a magnetron that melted a candy bar when you got too close – but then you discover the micro-wave oven.  The last thing you want in your sterile labrotory is mold – oh wait, that’s penicillin.

Your mistakes, failures and bad ideas may be the very ingredients you need to uncover your greatest idea ever.  Could you learn how to generate more bad ideas?  It seems the good ones just magically slip though.  Don’t miss the opportunities brought to light by your mistakes.

That Was My Idea!

February 11, 2008

I love seeing innovative ideas come to life.  I like watching Donnie Deutsch’s The Big Idea where he interviews people like friends Julie and Mindee with their new product Boogie Wipes.  A simple idea with a clear business plan. 

Then I see kids working on biomedical ideas to come up with winning products like a recent team from Johns Hopkins University.  They developed the Ratavirus Vaccination.  This dry form vaccine will eliminate problems associated with refrigerating and distributing liquid form vaccines in less-developed countries.  The 2007 second place submission, entitled enLight: Enabling Life with Light, was developed by students at Stanford University. This novel treatment for Parkinson’s Disease enables the effective and reliable control of neural activity using light. The device combines gene delivery of a light-sensitive ion channel with an implantable optical stimulator to directly and specifically control the neurons affected by Parkinson’s.

Whoa – when I was their age I was proud of using a clothespin to hold a piece of cardboard against the spokes on my bicycle – made a really cool sound.   The point is – there is a place for moving ahead with your idea – whether it’s a biomedical marvel or a better bicycle spoke noise maker.  Too often I hear people say, “I wish there was a better _______.”  Then two years later they see the very item and say, “Well I thought of that way back when.”  Just be aware that ideas are a dime a dozen.  Having a great idea puts no money in your pocket.  Thinking about an idea or visualizing a novel or improved product is a great mental exercise but doesn nothing to help others or improve your bank account.  But the person that creates a plan of action – and ACTS – now that person can end up very rich!

 Browse around on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office site to see if something similar is already in existence.   Need more help on developing your idea?  Check out my blog page on Inventions, Patents & Trademarks.