Cat Herding For poets. #19 #cong18


No one teaches you about dangers of ideas.
No one warns you how crap they are.
Believe me they are terrible and you are too drunk to see.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Ideas are dangerous because they are crap.
  2. Find a partner who will go “Oh oh” .
  3. Don’t fall in love.
  4. Write it down and forget about it.
  5. You will need to read the post for this one.

About Alan O'Rourke

Alan is a seasoned Head of Growth experienced in B2B Saas.

An award winning Author, Entrepreneur and Marketer, Alan has over 15 years in sales, marketing and product.

As a serial entrepreneur Alan founded, building a user base of almost 30,000 users worldwide before selling the company.
Author of three successful marketing books, Alan previously founded and ran one of Ireland’s leading design agencies winning awards for design and business excellence including a BAFTA nomination.
Passionate about all things growth, Alan has lectured at the Dublin Web Summit, Dublin Institute of Technology, European Institute of Management Practice and judged the Institute of Creative Advertising and Design (ICAD) awards among others.

Contacting Alan O'Rourke:

You can connect with Alan on LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter and Instagram or via email.

By Alan O’Rourke

“I had an idea” I’d say.
“Oh oh” said she.

It was a common refrain in our house. And still is. And we both smile at it.
And to be clear, the conversation is reversed just as often. Ideas have always come aplenty for my wife and I. My wife (The talented Mary Carty, she should have also written a congregation submission by now) and I met in art college*cough* years ago.  Ideas and creativity is integral to who we are. It drives us and nourishes us. I have worked for years coming up with creative design ideas for clients and now do the same in marketing and business.
While ideas and creativity are lauded growing up. No one teaches you about the dangers. No one teaches you how to direct and control it. No one teaches you how to harness it to actually get stuff done.
In fact you are thought early to grab ideas and hold on tight. Ride that idea to see where it takes you. It is the romantic image of the artist and business founder isn’t it.  For every successful genius who got lucky with their idea. There is a million other disasters you don’t hear about (Unless you are reading about young white start up founders and why their start up failed).
So here are a couple of things I have learned over the years.  Tips to manage, filter and herd ideas that might help you.

1. Find a partner who will go “Oh oh” with every idea.

Ideally follow by “How will we eat / pay the mortgage / put our child through college”.

2. Don’t fall in love with / get personal with your ideas.

This is hard. Especially if they do not come often.  Having an idea is positively orgasmic. It is amazing. It hits all those nice endorphin centres (not a scientist) and makes you feel really epic.
Look at it like being drunk. Your critical appraisal of the situation is impaired.
Don’t drive that car. Don’t sleep with that person you didn’t notice three pints earlier. Don’t fall in love with your idea.
Enjoy and revel in the feeling. But don’t act on it until the morning.
Which leads me to the most important lesson I learned.

3. Write it down and forget about it.

This is done for two reasons.
One, it gives you distance to go back to an idea and look at it critically with fresh eyes. From personal experience looking back at my shelves and shelves of ideas in notebooks, they are nearly all shite.
Or not worth the time investment.
Or things I would not have loved doing anyway.

Two (and this is key), writing down the idea and forgetting it gets the idea out of your head.  I have had ideas I have fallen in love with. I become afraid of losing them so keep holding on to them. Obsessing over them. Developing them. And looking at them.
Do you know what happens day to day? Nothing. You get nothing done. Especially on the idea you have already been working on for months. Ideas without implementation are useless. You just waste time. And ultimately, you feel crap because you achieve nothing.
Writing an idea down gives you distance to critically evaluate an idea.  The good ideas will stick with you and will come up again. And from a distance you can actually plan and set aside time to implement them . To get shit done.

Trust me, getting shit done is the only part of ideas that will make you happy long term.

4. The last tip I learned was relatively late but you probably cannot do until you have some experience under your belt.

  • Create a decision matrix or list for yourself.
  • Decide what kind of life you want for yourself and your family.
  • What kind of money do you want to earn and who can pay that.
  • What kind of people do you want to surround yourself by?
  • What topics do you like talking about and more importantly not talking about.
  • What kind of activities drain you and what ones give you energy?

Then judge every idea against that criteria.
For example, I might come up with the best software idea ever for managing employees on start-ups.
But if I learned that start-ups have no money.
Sales take two years to close.
I hate creating content / talking about HR.
And HR people are boring as crap to talk to.
I can quickly discount that idea and move on to better ones.

The best idea I had over the years?
Racing tracks on walls. Did I do anything with it? Nope!

Here is Mattel Hotwheels idea years later.

Dammit! Maybe don’t listen to strangers on the internet about what to do with your ideas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *