The Two Steps to Make Good Ideas Happen

I’m not Christian, but I think its great to take Jesus as an example here. He had some good ideas. Turn the other cheek. Don’t judge people. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” I like it. There’s nothing wrong with an idea like that.

Jesus had no money. He had zero contacts. In fact, he was probably treated like a bastard when he grew up in Nazareth. For reasons I describe below he was probably picked on by the other kids. Certainly the neighbors didn’t think he was anything special. He had to move away to get his ideas across. And when he came for a visit they laughed at him.

And yet his idea got spread faster and further than any idea in history. How did that happen?

He had passion for his vision. He would talk about it to everyone he saw. Nothing was more important than his passion. “Let the dead bury the dead,” he said to a man who paused because the man wanted to bury his father. This is a metaphor. The past is gone. Even a second ago is dead. Dwelling on the past is when you try to bury the dead. Let the dead bury the dead. Else you will continue to be lost in the past.

Everything was dead to him except his vision. And one by one, many people agreed. People followed him. People who were able to persuasively convince others, even years later after he was dead.

If your idea is good and you can express it plainly and simply, then people will follow. You can say, people followed him because he had esoteric powers. But this isn’t true. Most people who ended up believing in his “ideas” followed him long after his death. Many people who knew him in his life ostracized him and even killed him.

Find the right people to include in your vision. Make them partners. Jesus gave “equity” in his idea to his disciples. And they, in turn, to theirs. Share ideas. Combine them. Mate new ideas with old ideas to create something unique but blended with something that has withstood the test of time. Christianity combined nicely with Roman polytheism by including saints. Saints gifted with various powers that can help you. And Christianity itself was a derivative of a tribal religion called Judaism.

There’s, of course, pain among the way. You have to sacrifice. When you have a good idea, its good precisely because it’s a unique twist on an old theme. This is an important nuance in all good ideas.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: 

The “old theme” means it’s withstood the test of time. Whether it’s thousands of years or just decades, millions of people have subscribed to the basic goodness in the idea. Imagine, for instance, if Justin Bieber did a remake of “Yesterday” by the Beatles. Whether or not you or I liked it, it would be a guaranteed huge hit. Because we know a billion or so people love the song “Yesterday” so it’s withstood the test of fifty years time. Justin Bieber probably doesn’t even have to add that much of a unique twist in order to make it a success. (Although I will probably be in the camp hating him for it).

Some people will hate you and resent you. They like the old idea just the way it was! Some people will revolt. And be repulsed. Everybody hated Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs – anyone with unique twists on old ideas that changed the world. But when you pursue past this, while staying with your vision, then your vision will become reality. Because 99% of your competitors will drop out when the hate starts rolling in, or the resentment, or the jealousy, or your old bosses flip out when you move past them, or when people start telling you, “that’s not the way this is done” or “you can’t do that!” . You will suffer through this and be alone. But that suffering will open doors that nobody else has ever walked through. Until now.

By the way, two types of people might hate this particular post. The first is people who are staunchly atheist and hate all things religious. And, lo and behond, I have mentioned an organized religion in this post. I have nothing to do with Christianity. I’m Jewish but I try to learn something from anything I can. Yoga, Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, etc. Why not? Who cares?

And I felt the analogy was appropriate here. Don’t let past prejudices ruin a good analogy. The second type of person who will hate this are staunch Christians who might disagree with my poetic  license on a 2000 year old story. In various books on the history of Christianity I’ve rarely seen Jesus referred to as a bastard. Although in the first chapter of the first book of the New Testament he is indirectly referred to as one by none other than Matthew.

Matthew gives the genealogy of Jesus from Abraham to Jesus. In Judaism you are always referred to as “X, son of Y”, where Y is your father. And the entire genealogy Matthew gives is like that. But when he gets to Jesus he says, “son of Mary”. In other words, the earliest Christian writers refer to Jesus by his mother. If even they did that, imagine what the bigger kids down the block must have called Jesus. And how that might have influenced his later psychology.

So ok, that was the analogy. Now I’m going to tell you what to do. TWO STEPS:

A) Make two columns. The first column is an old idea that worked. The second column is the unique twist.  For instance, Zappos worked here in the US. Can a version of it work in South America? Harry Potter was enormously successful. Can a version be made where an IRS tax agent suddenly realizes he’s a wizard? For thousands of years people have needed lawyers. How about a website where all basic legal documents (wills, divorces, loans, etc) are free? Is there some industry that is successful where you can remove the middleman and help people directly?

It doesn’t matter if the ideas are bad or good or even not original. Come up with ten. Today, tomorrow, the next day. Your ideas will keep getting better and better. You will become an idea machine within six months. I know this because I did it. I did it with trading ideas. I did it with business ideas. Book ideas. Chapter ideas. Investing ideas. Speech ideas. Post ideas. Ideas for clients. All sorts of money-making ideas. Maybe 10,000 bad ideas.

When you finally have an idea you think is good enough ask these questions:

Can I think of someone this would really help? More than one if possible.

Am I capable of implementing this? (e.g. don’t try to make a rocket to Saturn on your own).

Can I find five things wrong with this idea? (if yes, then move on)

Can I execute on this super-cheap so that if it doesn’t work I can move on to the next one?

List the things that would cause you to discard the idea. Always have an exit plan in case of fire.

Then…

B) Pick ten ideal partners you want to have (your “evangelists”). Write to all of them. Give them the idea for free. Tell them it’s theirs and, if they want you to, you’d love to work on it. Tell them how much money they will make and how much fun they will have. If they don’t respond, write to ten more. Then ten more. If they still don’t respond, then you have not yet come up with a good idea.

Remember that they don’t care about you at all. They want to make money and have a better life and be happier. Just like you. Your idea needs to do that for them. Don’t call in favors. DO A FAVOR.

And if nobody responds, try something new. Come up with more ideas. Or refine the old ones. Keep repeating. Even Jesus had his missing years while he fleshed out his ideas. You can too.

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