How To Generate More Ideas

Coming up with more ideas is the same as achieving many other things. In fact, many of the underlying techniques of how to come up with more ideas same the same principles of of other popular self-improvement topics:

  • how to build bigger muscles
  • how to find your perfect mate
  • how to make one million dollars
  • how to lose weight
  • how to get a raise

It all boils down to doing the “thing” more.

In building biceps, it’s doing more barbell curls. In finding your perfect mate, it’s going on more dates. For coming up with more ideas, it’s only about trying to come up with more ideas, more often. Just like your biceps, idea generation is a muscle.

No one that is “great at generating ideas” was born that way, they usually just tried coming up with ideas more often. The more you flex your idea generation muscle, the better you get.

And the fact is, the more ideas you take in, the more you’ll put out.

Every idea you see, hear, feel, taste, do, and touch all have impressions in your mind that can influence your ability to generate new ideas.  That being said, everything that exists was at one time an idea, so a simpler way to say it is, “experience more”.

Someone who has only ever eaten white rice will have a harder time coming up with a new flavor of ice cream than someone who has experienced every fruit in the world.

See, hear, feel, taste, do and touch more and you will be able to generate more.

Business Boot Camps

There are plenty of programs for students  to learn more about career choices and industries in their field (think internships and co-ops).  Why do businesses stop doing that for experienced people?

What if you could build a bootcamp / externship-type program for your business where you bring in talent from other industries to work in your space for a while?  What if you could even do this between the different groups within your company?

Do you think skills you have from working in one industry could be useful in another? There’s an easy way to find out once you find a company with this type of program embedded in the organization.

How else could you benefit from the knowledge someone else has in another field?

Online Learning Team Building Platform

I’ve been thinking about how to strengthen online teams… Many online courses require participants to form teams to complete some of the work. There are two ways to go about this:

  1. Create a team of people you already know
  2. Join a diverse team of strangers supplied by the platform

If you’re with your friends and colleagues, team building aspects may not be an issues. But if you’re on a new diverse team, you might benefit from some additional team building activities.

Instead of nesting team building activities into each separate online platform, why not build a platform that specializes in creating stronger bonds between online teams for the purposes of coursework? Then the teams could utilize this new team building platform for becoming a better team, and the learning platform can focus on being a better learning platform.

What would you do to help online teams get stronger?

 

Learning How to Learn for A New Role

Taking on a new role in an organization or a new company is an interesting opportunity that can make people experience a myriad of emotions ranging from being charged up and motivated all the way to feeling imposter syndrome.

When the role is out of the traditional field or work that the person has been doing, or even in a new company, one of the key challenges the person faces is learning how to learn.

After being in a role or place for a while, a person develops the ability to know where to go for information, how to stay ahead of the curve in terms of what’s next in their respective field, or even where to start when they doesn’t initially know something.  When starting something or somewhere new, that usually has to be learned all over again.

The key then is knowing that, while initially obtaining certain specific information (like laws, codes, or processes) could be important to hit the ground running,  the focus for longer term success and growth in a new domain or place is really figuring out where to go to get the right learning.

Some of the vital places to look are standard industry or internal group resources that are readily available, but there are a myriad of less obvious resources as well. I like to search for people on twitter that have conversations or are well known in that field, and then see where they re-tweet information from or list as their sources. These types of resources are the ones that aren’t as obvious, but more valuable.

So, how do you learn where to learn from?  Who could benefit if you wrote out exactly how you’re learning in your current field? And would that process even surprise you? Any good tips on hacking the on-going learning process for a specific field?

Accelerate Your Career Growth by Understanding How Promotions Happen

When you start to analyze how and why people get promoted in any large organization you can see that interesting patterns have developed.  The important part in understanding those patterns is making sure that you are using them as you develop your career plans. I imagine every organization is different to some degree, but there must be some universal truths as well.

Can you accelerate your next promotion or opportunity within the same company?

Note: I’m not commenting on the topic of how to do it by moving out and around other companies.

Here are some thought starters on the topic:

  • Which matters more–your skills and track record or the actual role? Look around, are some positions geared towards faster advancement opportunities just because of the role itself and not even the skills or work you might be able to do within that role?  Yes!  Sure, it does even out over time, but if you can get it to work in your advantage earlier it could be a good bet.
  • Do certain groups seem to be have a better track record for advancement?  If no one from the group your in has been promoted within in the last few years, how much harder would it be to work out for you? Go where it’s more normal.
  • Can who you work with help or hurt your advancement?  Not just the team, but what business partners are you working with and do those groups generally aid in your career development in some way?  For instance, supporting or collaborating with other groups that are fast-growing and expanding probably give your position a better chance of advancing vs. collaborating/supporting a group that is historically stagnant or declining.
  • Are the skills you’re learning in that particular role going to help or exponentially accelerate your growth to the next level?  Finding a role that helps is not nearly as transformational as a role that will accelerate exponentially. Of course, the latter type roles could also bring about a bigger risk as well. One good example: my company (this is public info) recently had a mid-level job posting for a person to work directly on a deep and daily basis with one of our new Executive Members that has an amazing track record of success. I’ve never seen a role like that and the things the person would be exposed to and get to interact with, not to mention the networking aspects, would be almost even a level above exponential acceleration.  Seek those types of roles. (For those of you wondering if I follow my own advice – I didn’t even try because of the 60% travel requirement and I was a new father at the time. Sometimes life decisions easily outweigh career decisions.)
  • What can you create to completely change the career growth trajectory curve?  Who says you absolutely have to follow the traditional trajectory through each level of your company’s hierarchy? What can you create or do that is so amazing that it helps you radically jump through the organization?

I’m not saying you should use promotions merely as a way to guide your career planning.  In fact, I’ve taken some interesting steps back or sideways in my career to learn different skills that have proved to be absolutely more valuable in the long run.  What I am saying is that you should understand the different ways advancement happens if you hope to continue growing through your career.

A Different Kind of Niche Learning Site

Want to know a quick way to stand out in the increasingly crowded marketplace for online classes?  Get smaller, go niche.

Sure, you could take niche to mean “we’re only going to offer classes in this particular subject and be the absolute best source for online classes for that subject”.  Or you could take a page out of The Amazings and focus your niche on who actually provides your content.

The Amazings is a great site that is built on the idea that society has always learned from its elders and therefore is focused on having teachers that are over 50 years old.  A great niche concept that is sure to standout in the marketplace.  Hopefully it’s also going to be a site that helps get even more experienced expertise into the public.

So, what’s your niche?  What aspect of your online learning concept will you “make smaller” and focus on?  

How about a site where people in Corporate positions at large companies can teach others looking to excel in those types of positions?  Hmmmmm.

Realizing vs. Recognizing The People You Work With

Do you take the time to realize who you’re working or interacting with?

In the business and Corporate culture there is lots of talk about taking the time to recognize and reward the people you work with and/or your employees. However, there’s hardly any talk about taking the time to realize who you’re working with.

Realizing who you’re working with is tough.  It demands that you don’t wait till the end of a project or to see if the expected outcome is delivered, and it requires that you get to know the people you’re working with and really pay attention to them.

Realizing who you’re working with has many more benefits, too.

By taking the time to understand the potential of someone you get to work with (or lack thereof), you can help them achieve greater than what was originally asked.  Or, you can realize that the best thing to do is to stay out of their way.

In my own experience, realizing a few of the truly gifted people I got to work with (and some I still do) has allowed me to learn so much more than I otherwise would have and has hopefully allowed them to rely on me in a different way.

I wonder if everyone that worked with Steve Jobs in the very early days knew they were working with such a great mind, especially if his legendary personality rubbed them the wrong way.

I wonder who you’re working with right now that has an even greater mind and all you have to do to help let it flourish or learn from it is make the effort to realize.

What I Learned About Business From Steve Aoki

 

Steve Aoki is a DJ/Producer that puts on one of the greatest shows in music today.  Seeing him live is an interactive experience and his energy is infectious. By the end of the show you’re jumping up and down along with him–more than you ever have in your life–covered in champagne and cake, and you never want it to stop.

Then, when you leave the show and think you’ve seen the best of what he has, you learn more about him and realize that he’s a great role model for your business too.

Here are a few takeaways from watching a true maestro of his craft like Steve Aoki:

1. Amaze
When Steve Aoki puts on a show, he delivers.  He brings more energy to the party than anyone there and is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure people are having a memorable experience.  While his main product might be the music, his live shows can make an audience member a lifelong fan.  It’s not uncommon to see floats, cake diving, champagne showers, special previews of unreleased music, and just about anything else to make sure that his shows stand above the rest.  When was the last time you thought through your product demo or meeting with the goal to amaze?


2. Hustle

If you look at his schedule you’ll see that he is putting on a show practically every night, sometimes two per day.  You’ll then notice that he’s doing this around the world.  Africa one night, UK the next, over to Spain, then off to California in four days.  Did you ever have to leave for that conference a day early for a “travel” day. Yeah, he’s been traveling and putting on a show everyday for years and I thought my fifty minute commute was bad. That being said – he still delivers at every show and will stop and connect with fans anytime they ask. What time can you carve out in schedule for that extra work? 


3. Collaboration & Partnership

Succeeding in certain businesses is about being able to find the right people to partner with and collaborating with everyone that needs to be involved.  Over the years Aoki has demonstrated this by making music with some of the best in the business, as well as up-and-comers.  Are you trying to work with the best in your field? Are you taking the time to develop newbies?


4. Engagement

I already mentioned how he’ll stop whatever he’s doing and talk to a fan along his travels or on his way to a show. Take a look at his twitter feed for some other amazing examples of fan engagement. He’ll fly into a new town, ask where the best local places are, invite people to come eat where he is, randomly pop into college classes and invite people to hang on the lawn, and is constantly reaching out and connecting. He’s on just about every major digital outlet and always providing updates to keep his fans engaged. How often and how creative are you methods of engagement? 


5. Risk Taking

It was definitely a big risk the first time he sprayed a club with champagne or got on a float to crowd surf over thirty thousand people or partnered with an unknown lyricist to make a new song.  Yet, those risk are what has allowed him to keep upping his game and bringing his art to the next level.  What risk have you taken recently?


6. Trust

Consistency builds trust and I’ve already mentioned how consistent he is with his output. His authenticity adds to that level of trust. He’s just as into the music, the show, and all the fun stuff going on around it as his fans are.  He’ll even jump into a large cake and be covered in it before he’ll go and do the same to his fans.  Are you willing to do everything you ask people on your team to do?

I was going to call this post “Everything I Know About Business I Learned from Steve Aoki” but I don’t think anyone can learn “everything” about anything from just one person.

But that’s another story.