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Start Here: “The Ultimate Guide to Habits”

“You just need to get started” is bad advice

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I’m fascinated by people at the top levels of every field. Whether it’s CEOs, best-selling authors, presidents, or even Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity, I love learning the techniques and mindsets that pros use to become the best.

At these rarefied levels, top performers use different techniques than average people.

Today, a guest post that will challenge your notions of success and of finding an idea to pursue.

How do the world’s most successful academics get published into toughest academic journals…multiple times each year?

How does a PhD student at MIT get a book published while studying an insanely challenging area, including…

“…distributed algorithms and lower bounds for wireless networks, with a particular focus on the intersection between theory and practice. A major direction in my theory work is the introduction of an abstract interference adversary that incarnates the diversity of unpredictable interference encountered in real wireless networks; e.g., as caused by unrelated devices on the same band, multipath effects, or electromagnetic inteference…”

Here’s one piece of the puzzle: They don’t “just get started” like so many of us have been taught to do.

The fallacy of “just get started”
How many times have you heard someone say, “You just need to get started”?

I’ve even said it myself — that the hardest part of nearly anything meaningful (health & fitness, managing your money, etc) is getting started.

But Cal Newport, a published author and PhD in computer science at MIT, disagrees.

Getting a chance to hear someone disagree with you and back it up beautifully with logic and examples is a rare thing. So today, I’ve invited Cal to write a detailed guest post about the importance of ideas — and the fallacies of thinking “just getting started” is the right answer.

He’ll show you why it’s important to look beyond quick tactical wins and instead focus on the strength of your idea, which takes painstaking practice and ongoing iteration.

In my Earn1k course — where I help people focus on earning money on the side — we blend quick-win tactics with ongoing attitudinal and behavioral change. For example, you can quickly learn which of your ideas will never make you any money. But to find an idea that will be highly profitable, and to construct a referral and lead-generation strategy that will have you drowning in new business…and to price your services so you’re making rich profits…that is not a 1-page worksheet. It takes work. And yet, it’s important to blend the two to capitalize on getting started and dominating over the long term.

Honestly, this is not the kind of stuff most blog readers want to hear. They want “tactics” and “tips” about how to “hack” their lives. But it’s important to blend quick wins with deep theory and rigor. The most successful people know this — and maintain a balance of quick wins and long-term strategy.

Take it away, Cal…

* * *

The Idea Virtuosos: Why the common advice of “You just need to get started” is bad advice”

By Cal Newport

Imagine that you’re a computer scientist submitting a paper to SIGCOMM, an elite academic conference focused on computer networks. Your task is daunting: Of the nearly 300 research papers submitted to this year’s conference, only 30 were accepted. Each of these accepted papers survived detailed reviews from at least five different experts and were then subject to an intense debate of their merits at the conference’s 2-day program committee meeting.

Not surprisingly, the papers that make it through this gauntlet are spectacular: they each present an original idea which is then examined, evaluated, justified, and discussed in painstaking detail.

Here’s a typical table; it’s taken from the winner of the best paper award at this year’s conference:

Multiply this level of detail to fill ten double-columned, small-fonted pages, and you’ve got yourself a reasonable submission.

At SIGCOMM there’s no wiggle room: to get a paper accepted your idea must be a blockbuster, otherwise it will crumble under the intense scrutiny it faces both from your own analysis and the many experts who will tear down your claims of importance, piece by piece.

What fascinates me about this feat is that the world’s top computer science professors replicate it many times each year. The professor I work with at MIT, for example, last year published two papers at SIGCOMM, not to mention two papers at equivalently elite networking conferences, and two more at a pair of elite conferences in related fields.

It follows: if you’re interested in the process of finding standout ideas — be it for a start-up, work project, blog topic, or book proposal — there’s perhaps no better experts to learn from than the idea virtuosos running top academic research labs. These professors face an impossibly high quality threshold for their work, and yet manage to match it with a half-dozen or more brilliant ideas each year. Once you dive inside their world, however, an unsettling reality becomes clear: it’s possible that the conventional wisdom about big accomplishment, which says getting started is the key to success, might be dead wrong.

It’s towards this unsettling notion that I turn your attention in this post.

My Scheduled Life

I’ve been at MIT for six years — the first five spent earning my PhD in computer science, and the last spent as a postdoctoral associate. Of the many things that surprised me about the Institute — a list which includes the alarming quantity of yelling and the inexpressible value of white boards — one that stands out is its dedication to meetings.

Here, for example, is a screen shot of my calendar from a typical week earlier this summer:

The events highlighted in red are regularly scheduled meetings associated with my research group, while the events highlighted in yellow are one-on-one research meetings I happened to schedule that week. They all involve the same activities: discussing research papers and debating — often vigorously — the ideas they spawn.

This calendar highlights a reality of life at MIT: discussion and brainstorming are a core component of our research process. It’s understood that only the best ideas can survive the submission process of top conferences like SIGCOMM, therefore a huge effort is invested in identifying the best possible projects before getting started. As seen on my calendar above, it’s not unusual to dedicate 6 or more hours a week in formal brainstorming meetings, with at least another 6 – 12 spent exploring on your own time.

At MIT, the quality of the idea is everything.

Ideas vs. Progress

Notice that MIT’s idea-centric process (e.g., finding the right ideas is key) contrasts with the progress-centric process (e.g., getting started is key) that dominates popular discussion on getting things done.

For example:

  • Proponents of the progress-centric process says “getting started” is the most important step. To paraphrase a commentator on a past article I wrote on this subject: “You will fail at 100% of the opportunities you never try!”
  • Proponents of the idea-centric process, by contrast, note that the vast majority of ideas are mediocre. If you jump at every concept that seems viable, you’ll probably end up accomplishing little of consequence.
  • Proponents of the progress-centric process fear that they must tell people to get started right away, or these (hypothetical) others will remain mired in a procrastinatory sea of fear and comfort with conformity. To paraphrase another commenter: “Most folks just sit around waffling on everything and thus don’t do anything except complain about the status quo.”
  • Proponents of the idea-centric process aren’t interested in the psychological issues of other people; they want the unvarnished truth on what will maximize their chances of success.
  • Proponents of the progress-centric process believe that the only way to test out an idea is to try it. To quote Scott Young (an insightful observer on these topics): “While you can learn something about a field by sitting on the sidelines, you won’t truly know about it until you dive right in.”
  • Proponents of the idea-centric process believe that in many fields, deep knowledge and expert feedback can differentiate between mediocre and great ideas. This requires a time-consuming commitment to learning about a field and a thick skin for harsh feedback, but you’d be hard pressed, for example, to find a successful serial entrepreneur, writer, or researcher who would start a project before feeling strongly about its chances for success.

In practice, this leads to the following types of difference:

  • A progress-centric person who has an interesting idea for a book jumps right into writing it, while an idea-centric person runs the idea through a wringer — talking to agents and writers, looking for similar works that have sold recently, etc. — before deciding to invest the years required to write and market it.
  • A progress-centric person quits his job to start his on blog-based online business, assuming he’ll figure out the details as he goes along, while an idea-centric person invests the months — maybe years — of hard work necessary to find a business idea with a real chance of supporting him, understanding that the right answer might be for him to build a valuable skill before going freelance.
  • A progress-centric person spends a month getting the small business she works for a strong Twitter presence, because that’s the thing to do, while an idea-centric person spends the same month studying more successful firms in their space, trying to identify what they’re doing better that could be efficiently replicated.
  • And so on…

Hypothetical situations, of course, can only take us so far. Let’s continue with two real world examples of idea-centric thinking in action…

The Difficulty of Finding Good Ideas: From Admissions to Animation

Earlier this summer I published a book on the college admission process. Its premise is simple: most people believe that getting accepted at a top college requires a stressful high school life; to counter this dangerous myth, I tell the stories of students who did well in the process while leading a low-stress and interesting life.

To the outside observer, the idea seems clear and obvious, therefore they likely assume the difficult part of this project was forcing myself to actually write. Reality, however, defies this assumption.

To see why, consider this screen shot from my e-mail archive:

Shown above are two crucial e-mails relating to my book. The earlier message, titled “one more…,” is from a conversation with my agent about potential book ideas. It contains my first reference to the idea of tackling college admissions as a book subject. (In the e-mail, I say: “One of the hottest issues right now is that of overachieving students burning out in their…quest to get into the right college…[but] many of the top students I interview…to put it simply, [are] relaxed.”)

The later e-mail, titled “Broadway Deal,” marks the Broadway Books imprint of Random House buying my book proposal. (Remember, for non-fiction, you sell the idea before you write the book; this e-mail timestamps me selling the idea, with all of the writing coming later.)

Notice the gap between the two dates. I started investigating the topic of college admissions in April of 2007 and didn’t complete and sell my final book proposal until October of 2008 — a span of 18 months!

(I’m not alone in this dedication to getting a book idea right; Ramit told me, for example, that it took him nine months to get from the general idea of writing his personal finance book to a specific 10-page outline.)

This same lesson keeps turning up the more you seek it. Consider, to name another example, the creative process behind the spectacular success of Pixar Animation Studios, which has an outrageously high average international gross of $550 million. In a Wired Magazine cover article, penned by Jonah Lehrer, it’s revealed that the Pixar team is obsessed with getting their movie just right before diving into the business of actually making it.

They start, for example, with a series of intense story discussions in a Pixar-owned cabin, located 50 miles north of San Francisco. For Toy Story 3, it took 123 days between the start of this process and the completion of their first story board. This story board was then turned into a story reel (an animated flip book version of the movie where employees provide the voice acting). Using the reel, the team brutally dissects and improves the script, remaking the reel with each tweak, until the movie flows smoothly — every joke hitting, every plot point unfolding logically.

Up to this point, very little money has been invested. Only once the reel is perfect do they actual start the long and expensive process of animating frames and recording professional voices.

Your Personal R&D Lab

What’s the right way to integrate the idea-centric process into your own work flow? I want to conclude with a few practical guidelines for moving away from The Cult of the Start and embracing the importance of finding the right idea.

  • Learn the Field
    The ability to distinguish between mediocre and good ideas requires that you understand your field. In some fields this might require diving into a series of (probably) mediocre starter projects to get a feel for how things work. In many fields, however, talking to insiders and finding examples of both good and bad projects (and understanding the difference), can take you surprisingly far.
  • Seek Feedback
    Find people who know what they are talking about and ask for their unvarnished opinion on your idea. Assume most of your ideas will get shot down. (At MIT, for example, I assume a ratio of 1 paper for every 6 – 10 ideas that I give serious thought towards.) This is okay; even top idea generators expect a low hit rate.
  • Be Specific
    Establish a specific routine for systematically sorting through and exploring potential ideas. If you don’t have a routine, it’s easy to default to doing nothing at all. This routine should include regular exposure to material related to your field (for a writer, for example, this might mean subscribing to Publisher’s Lunch and keeping tabs on what’s selling and who’s writing it). Have a separate routine to follow after an idea passes a viability threshold. This routine should involve both harsh expert feedback and a thorough search for people who have done something similar (and their fate).
  • Seek Compulsion, Not (Internal) Consistency
    Your threshold for acting on idea should be an indefatigable compulsion to get started. That is, after looking at the idea from many different angles, comparing it to similar works, and seeking expert feedback, if it still seems strong: get started. Most people, by contrast, act on any idea that seems internally consistent. That should be your criteria for starting to investigate an idea, not your threshold for action. (Notice, defining this threshold is one of the hardest challenges of the idea-centric approach, and is something that requires practice and experience. If you want to see a well-defined threshold in action, talk to a venture capitalist — they are among the world’s experts on sorting the potentially big — no one, of course, can predict certain success — from the probably small.)

Conclusion

If your goal is to increase the speed that you churn through your project list, then this advice is not for you — the sooner you get started on optimizing your TweekDeck configuration, or whatever, the better. The same applies for lifestyle changes (be it a new fitness program or learning a new language): these can be important projects in your life, but they’re not the type of accomplishment where the quality of the idea matters — so ignore what I say here.

On the other hand, when you’re talking about lasting accomplishment — the type you’ll be remembered for — it’s hard to avoid the reality that great ideas require a great investment of time to uncover. The sooner you make peace with this mindset — even if it means waiting longer before quitting your job to become an entrepreneur or diving into your brilliant book idea — the sooner you can start making important things happen.

Cal Newport’s latest book, How to Be a High School Superstar is ostensibly about hacking the stress out of the college admissions process, but is secretly a guide for anyone interested in building a more interesting life.

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121 Comments

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  1. Fascinating article! I have spent more years than I care to count starting new projects and spinning my wheels. I have finally come to the realization that I should do some research before investing blood, sweat, tears, time and money in another project.

    Here’s my question: what if your field does not exist? What if no one is doing or writing about or studying what you want to do/ write/ study? Should you take that as a big-ass HINT and move on- or should you have faith that you are a trailblazer and one of your ideas will stick?

    • That’s a very interesting articles. Also I’ve found out some things I was really curious about 🙂

    • Good article, and I agree sometimes its true we should think before we start, but for the overthingking majority I believe they should just start, or as I have seen many of them will just give up. Angela you are right, researchis key before the blood sweat and tears or it might just be a waste, but if you have done your research, have had some expert opinion (not friends and family who tell you your idea is great) – then if you are still convinced go for it. Some things in life are unknown, but if your have all the right information you will take the best descision and be abel to look back and say i tried.

  2. I can’t help but think of one of Gretchen Rubin’s favorite sayings: The opposite of a great truth is also true. Some people just need to get started and others need to focus in on getting the details right.

    The real take away here is to take a look at your own projects and determine if you haven’t gotten started or if you haven’t gotten serious about making it work.

    • Very well said!

    • While i have found worthy interest in the real world examples that Cal sites, it feels like he’s making just as cogent an argument for the proponents of “just getting started.” The only notable hair to split would seem to be how one should start as opposed to whether “just getting started” should be debunked as a common sense and apparently effective strategy for other real world successful types.

      The journey of a thousand miles or 123 hours or cabin-fever or 365-days of strategic analysis to a treatment/proposal begins with the first step. I contend that often that first step is a simple externalizing of an inner impulse through some visceral action. Then as Goethe says, “All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.”

      Just a thought.

  3. I think it’s a question of scale. A project like writing a book and a project like learning yoga require different approaches. It’s completely fair to be idea-centric when it comes to larger projects that require a lot of energy. But I also think it’s good to be progress-centric when you run into emotional roadblocks on particular projects. You need both; it’s a balance sort of deal. The trick is learning when to take which approach.

    Great guest post.

    • That’s a really good way of thinking about it. When it comes to reorganizing your spice drawer, or whatever, either shit or get off the pot.

      By contrast, if you’re going to quit your job to start a business, that’s worth some more thought first.

  4. This article is just plain dumb. The author defines “just getting started” too narrowly: eg. the person who quits his job and jumps into a business idea without thinking.

    But even the “idea centric” person needs to “get started.” They just get started differently: they do their research by studying and theorizing, while the “progress centric” person starts by trying it out.

    It seems the main difference between an “idea centric” and a “progress centric” is PROCESS. And I’m not convinced, based on the author’s logic, that one is better than another.

    QUOTE: “You’d be hard pressed…to find a successful serial entrepreneur, writer, or researcher who would start a project before feeling strongly about its chances for success.”

    I can think of a lot of successful companies and people that try things all the time. Take Google for example:

    Winners: Google Ads, Gmail, Search
    Losers: Wave, Nexus 1, Video, Catalog Search, Dodgeball, Buzz, Lively, Page Creator, Friend Connect, Latitude…..

    • Is it dumb? Or do you just disagree with it?

      There is a difference. And the way you represent that difference reflects on you.

    • Yes, totally agree. This article is really about HOW to get started. Cal dances around the problem of not getting started (doing nothing) but never really addresses it.

    • I used the word (maybe incorrectly), because it opens with, as Tyler as commented below, a “dumbed down” premise: “You just need to get started is bad advice.”

      I can turn that around as well: “Is it bad advice, or do you just disagree with it?”

      In both cases you and I used a strong word (“dumb,” and “bad”) to express a strong sentiment.

    • Of course the main difference is “process.” I am presenting two different processes for trying to accomplish influential results, and I’m arguing that the idea-centric process works better.

      (And you’re crazy if you think Google doesn’t puts a fantastic amount of due diligence into their acquisition decisions.)

    • Cal: thanks for the response. If Google puts so much due diligence into its ideas, how come so many are losers?

      From a “making money perspective;” Google ads continues to be the only winner.

      Isn’t “idea centric” supposed to produce better results?

    • “If Google puts so much due diligence into its ideas, how come so many are losers?”

      Because sometimes even due diligence isn’t enough.

      Look, it’s like the full version of Sturgeon’s Law. When asked why he wrote that crappy science fiction stuff, his reply was, “Yes, 90% of science fiction is crap, but 90% of *everything* is crap.”

      90% of ideas vetted with due diligence will fail, but 90% of *all* ideas will fail.

      (This, by the way, is why Jim Collins of “Good to Great” is such a misleading writer. I’ve never heard of him looking at companies that historically used exactly the same methods he advocates, and then failed anyway. He only looks at survivors, and *then* looks for commonalities — hence the term, “survivorship bias.”)

    • Hal: but isn’t the point of Cal’s article that ideas that go through the “due diligence” process, and are then “launched,” will have a higher success rate?

    • Higher, but not necessarily high. I’m reminded of a tag line for NeXTStep: “The easiest to use UNIX ever!” Not “easy,” mind you — just easier than the other guys. 6% survival would be an improvement to 5% — but it would still give rise to the phenomenon you’ve noted at Google where “so many” ideas fail. My point is, “So many compared to whom? Why are you so convinced that’s actually a high failure rate?”

      (This raises the meta-question about argumentation these days… Not many people I see are able to wrap their minds around “-er” comparisons well. They want to argue against premises as if they’re binary and absolute, and thus that any exception is a refutation. Er, um, not necessarily.)

      The other benefit to vetting would be those ideas that do survive are of a higher quality.

    • Hal: you said “the other benefit to vetting would be those ideas that do survive are of a higher quality.”

      Ok, I’ll bite: how do we determine if an idea is of “higher quality?”

      I say, in business, “higher quality” means a viable, profitable product. Is there any research, in business, that shows that going through Cal’s process will produce these types of ideas?

    • “Ok, I’ll bite: how do we determine if an idea is of “higher quality?””

      No idea. It’s wholly subjective. Like Justice Stewart, though, I know it when I see it.

      “I say, in business, “higher quality” means a viable, profitable product.”

      Ah. An optimist. That’s an idea more honoured in the breach than in the observance. In most businesses, at least in the way you’re talking, “higher quality” means it flatters one superiors. Any profit it makes beyond that is a happy accident.

      “Is there any research, in business, that shows that going through Cal’s process will produce these types of ideas?”

      Probably not. There’s probably no research indicating children feel comforted by teddy bears, either.

      There’s ample observable empirical evidence, though, that you’ve decided to be a contrarian on a pro forma basis. The problem is, readers begin to doubt the sincerity of your objections after a point.

    • Hal: You think I’m being “contrarian on a pro forma basis?”

      I don’t think so: I’ve challenged, from the beginning, that WHEN IT COMES TO MAKING MONEY, a PROGRESS centric approach isn’t necessarily better than an IDEA centric one.

      This blog is about making money. That means profit. On a blog about money, Cal’s approach needs to be evaluated based on whether it INCREASES the rate of profits for a company, individual, or product.

      I haven’t said anything about “flattery of one’s superiors.” I’m just talking about which ideas make money, and which don’t.

      If Google releases a PRODUCT and that products doesn’t make money, that product has failed. That’s how we determine the “winners and losers.”

      My observation was: Google seems to put out a lot of products that don’t succeed. I said that was an example of “IDEA centric process.” Cal replied and said: “No, Google uses “PROGRESS centric process.”

      Under the IDEA centric process, the failures aren’t a big deal: it’s all a part of the journey.

      Under the PROGRESS centric process, the failures mean a failure of the whole process… because the process hasn’t resulted in better ideas. (ie. ideas that make money).

      Just a reminder again: this blog is called I Will Teach You to be Rich (we’re talking about making money).

    • “You think I’m being “contrarian on a pro forma basis?” I don’t think so…”

      I see what you did there. Quite funny; quite droll.

      Skipping most of the rest of your demonstration-by-example of what pro forma means, we get to: “… this blog is called I Will Teach You to be Rich (we’re talking about making money).”

      It’s true, it is called that. But, again, given that neither you, nor Ramit, nor anyone else I’ve noticed here actually *is* rich (at least, according to Forbes), and therefore there doesn’t appear to be any empirical experience being shared, I assumed the name of the blog was sarcastic and satirical, in the insincere Limbaugh/Colbert mode.

      Not unlike your comments, if it comes to that. And no evidence to the contrary has been shown. {shrug}

    • Justin and Hal: I’m all for good comments but you guys are debating minutiae and driving me nuts. And if you think “rich” means you appear in Forbes, you don’t understand this site. Take it offline.

  5. Dr. Newport’s guest post here is really well thought-out, but I’m going to have to disagree with the principle in practice. To overgeneralize a bit, the people I know and work with need to be more progress-centric. Failure isn’t their issue. Their problem is not that they’ve started fifteen companies, each of which has struggled, or that twenty of their half-written articles or books have fallen flat. Their problem is that discussion of improving one’s life never turns to action. And that’s not necessarily their fault–we’re often trained from a very young age to endure through hard situations needlessly, focus on safe options rather than risks, etc.

    In any case, I think the article’s thesis is a useful thought exercise, and is quite compelling if your sole goal is to cull only the best ideas ever, but if my goal is to earn more, to accomplish my goals, or to achieve my career dreams, I can’t easily recommend anything other than a progress-centric mindset.

    • I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your comment.

      I want to note, however, that people’s psychological barriers to making change in their life is separate from the issue of what process has a better chance of producing influential results.

  6. It’s unfortunate that a great concept has to be opened with a stupid premise to get people to read it. Controversy sells, not quality, and thus the heading “You just need to get started is bad advice.” Clearly the quality of the thought process is hugely important in the result, but you’ll never get there if you don’t get started, make mistakes, and refine your idea on the way.

  7. I liked this article but something that stuck me was the definition of “getting started”. It wasn’t explicitly defined and I think its reference was ambiguous – Cal seems to imply that “getting started” actually means “launching your product”. For example, the reference to Pixar – I could argue they did “just get started”, they went to the cabin and started brainstorming and carving the idea. With regards to you, Ramit, you did “just get started” by researching the book idea, testing the market etc.

    In both examples, action was taken right away but it was a specific kind of action, preparatory action — in neither example was a mediocre product launched right away. I think that’s the difference. Cal implies that “you” shouldn’t launch a product without first preparing the product – a great point which I think underlies much of this blog and the advice from successful entrepreneurs.

    I think the article should have been titled, “you just need to launch your product is bad advice.” But with that, I’m not totally convinced. Market research, product preparation, etc. should always be a first step, I agree, but at some point I think there comes a time to get your product out there, PROVIDED, you still have control over the business to make changes “quickly”, e.g., a web based business – a lot of the mixergy interviewees with successful web based entrepreneurs suggest launching your product, analyzing how its used, what’s working, what’s not and iterating – adapting the product to the market. In contrast, iterating obviously wouldn’t work for a situation like submitting your paper for a review, as Cal uses for an example, where you only have one shot.

    anyways, good read.
    pete

    • It’s a good point, because the boundary of what constitutes “getting started” can be loose.

      In this article, I meant getting started to mean fixing a particular idea and starting the process of “producing it.” In research, this means actually starting to build a system or prove a theorem; in movies, this means hiring the crew; in business, this means setting up the infrastructure, polishing the product, etc. In essence, I’m arguing to spend more time sifting through ideas before this fixing stage.

  8. I think it’s fascinating how he’s overlooked in his idea centric matrix the system at MIT for generating idea’s in institutionalized (and is institutionalized in other schools and studies). My wife is a professor, she has to generate the same exact thing. Through her phd studies this entire process also took place. I gaurantee that this training in idea concept holds in all top level research universities. Additionally my sister is a novelist. Took creative writing through school. The exact same approach in terms of idea generation and vetting also took place (they call it workshopping). The higher up in every world you go, the smaller that world becomes and the easier it is to ask for opinions amongst your peers (the threat of idea loss also becomes much easier to manage). The trick is stepping into that new world and understanding there is a place to bounce idea’s off the wall, you just need to find the right court to play on. From that perspective you can transfer this same methodology to even fitness or banking programs. It doesn’t do any good to talk to your out of work, mooching off parents sibling about banking expertise, nor should you discuss getting fit with a professional athelete. You need to find the correct forum of support and recognize that’s the place to flesh out the idea. Going to the wrong court may be getting started, but progess is recognizing your on a tennis court with a racqetball racket and doing something about it.

    • MY personal problem is finding that group of “peers” to vet my idea. If I’m not part of group who reviews my idea? If I put it out there in some public forum I’m liable to get as many “greats” as I get “dumb”. How do readers on this site vet their ideas? Who do they include? Family? Friends? Strangers?

      I’d love help “workshopping” an idea but don’t know who to invite.

  9. At first I was really skeptical, but after reading the article, I think I could benefit from following some of this advice. I’m very much a “progress-centric.”

    But, being “progress-centric” can help someone develop the experience and knowledge necessary to envision a project of grand scale. So, there’s still hope for us.

  10. What an excellent article. I’d say that “seeking feedback” is the most important component of the idea-centric model. Whether it’s your research article, a book proposal, or a reel for a movie, collaboration with others is essential to refining or rejecting an idea.

*