041: Your Idea is Worthless. The Sooner You Realize the Better.
Wednesday, January 8, 2014 – 46 minutes
You have an idea. A really, really good idea. Seriously, it could be big. You’re scared to tell someone about it though. After all, this idea is worth a lot, right? I hate to break it to you, but no. It’s not worth a lot at all. In fact: it’s completely worthless. The sooner you understand why, the sooner you’ll be on your way to creating actual value.
I’ll also show you how to get people to notice when you launch something.
You’re not limited to being either an executer or “idea” person. You do the work or you don’t—you're either lazy or not lazy. Which are you?
— Sean McCabe (@seanwes) January 6, 2014
We insulate ourselves from risk of failure by holding ideas in our mind—it’s safe there & can't fail. The problem is it also can't succeed.
— Sean McCabe (@seanwes) January 7, 2014
- You have an idea
- 07:10 So what?
- 07:43 You’re not unique. Your most one-of-a-kind idea has already been thought of by hundreds if not thousands of other people. Beyond that, in all likelihood someone else has actually ACTED on that idea and made something.
- 08:02 Everyone has ideas. Ideas are ridiculously easy. I don’t care how good you think your idea is, no one deserves a pat on that back for an idea. They’re completely worthless.
- 08:41 We ALL have ideas. And you know what? 98% of us don’t do a THING to bring them to fruition. You want to be special? You want to be unique? Be the 2% that does something about that idea. Be the 2% that works to bring that idea into reality. Yes, I said work.
- 08:57 “I’m just not really an execution guy.”
- 09:06 It’s not a “one or the other” thing. You’re not limited to being either an executer or “idea” person. You do the work or you don’t—you’re either lazy or not lazy. Which are you?
- 09:39 I want it more than you do.
- 09:46 Because I’m going to find the time, I’m going to make the time, outside my day job, waking up early, staying up late, learning the techniques, teaching myself code, training on the software, taking the classes. I’m going to do the work. I’m going to do what it takes to make it happen.
- 10:09 I’m that other guy. I’m the guy that’s going to go do something with the idea. And it’s not that not knowing your idea is stopping me. I’ll come up with the idea. That’s the easy part. The hard part is executing.
- 10:26 Remember, I never said your idea isn’t good. I said it’s worthless. There’s a difference.
- Why don’t we execute?
- 11:37 Why do 98% percent of people—all of whom have ideas—do nothing with those ideas?
- 12:10 The reason: False sense of accomplishment.
- 12:18 Even if you have an idea as good as the concept of Facebook, it doesn’t matter. Because it’s worthless. This makes people very upset. Because all they have is their idea. They tell it to someone and that person says “Yeah, that sounds like a good idea,” and they feel a sense of accomplishment and validation from that even though they haven’t done anything.
- 12:45 I see people who go their whole lives hanging onto one idea. They never actually execute this thing, but they’re in love with the idea of this thing.
- 13:08 “Almost doesn’t count.”
- 14:31 We insulate ourselves from risk of failure by keeping an idea in our mind. Because when an idea is in our mind, it’s perfect. It’s exists in an ideal state and it’s safe. It can’t fail because it hasn’t been acted on. The problem is it also can’t succeed.
- 14:55 I’m just going to come right out and call it what it is: it’s laziness. Being an “idea” person is not enough. People that only think of themselves as an “idea person” are just lazy. They’re not willing to get dirty and do the real work.
- 15:15 “Does that mean you always have to be hands-on forever?” No, of course not. As you grow, you can very well hire out different tasks and expand, but in the early stages you need to be willing to get in there at the beginning and do the work.
- What about outsourcing?
- 16:05 Yes, you can pay other people to do the work from the beginning, but you have a lot of things to keep in mind with outsourcing as an entrepreneur:
- You now have to have to invest a lot of upfront money as opposed to bootstrapping.
- You now have to manage the quality. When you are personally invested, you maintain your own quality. When other people are doing the work, that’s something you have to actively manage.
- You now have to make sure you convey your ideas effectively and clearly and solve any issues that arise from miscommunication.
- You now cannot iterate as quickly. You can’t fail as quickly and make adjustments. A larger team isn’t as agile.
- 17:13 So yes, if you don’t know how to do something, you could outsource it… OR you could learn to do it.
- Stop just being an “idea person”
- 17:24 So many people say “Ohhh no, no, see I’m an IDEA guy. I don’t know how to actually DO that stuff. I just come up with the good ideas.” Screw that.
- 17:40 Sure, have ideas. We all have ideas. But don’t think of yourself as an “idea person”. Go do something about it. Have a willingness to learn, get dirty, and do the hard work. Oh, you don’t know how to do it? LEARN to do it if you don’t know how to. Show some initiative and drive.
- 18:48 I’m speaking to the entrepreneurs here. I understand the legitimacy and validity of hiring people and building systems. Just be willing to learn and do the work in the early stages and then bring people on board with you instead of just saying “I’ve got cool ideas,” and then refusing to put forth any effort to go about understanding how to go about implementing them. I’m all about deferring to professionals.
- Multiplier of ideas
- 21:09 An idea is a thought. It’s in your head. It’s probably in a hundred other people’s heads. It’s worth nothing without execution.
- 22:19 Even a Lame Idea with Mediocre Execution is better than an Good idea with No Execution.
- 22:31 Though it’s worth noting that Poor Execution can result less than zero. Even if the idea is Good, a Poor Execution could result in a loss.
- 24:01 I never signed a single Non-Discloure Agreement during the 3 years I ran a partnership web firm, or in the past 10 years of freelance. Why? Because ideas are cheap.
- 24:33 Here’s what I would tell the client instead:
- I respect your privacy, and I’m not going to share any of this with those not involved in the project.
- However, the signing of an NDA is not a method I hold for achieving such a relationship.
- Trust is of the utmost importance. It is crucial for establishing a healthy business relationship.
- My policy is simple: I promise not to disclose confidential information.
- You’re far better entrusting someone with high ethics and no NDA than you are someone with low ethics and a signed document.
- In my experience, an NDA is simply not indicative of the kind of trust that I have come to find is required for the start of a good relationship.
- 27:12 Q: “Would you sign an NDA if it was required for your dream job?”
- 27:19 A: Well, my dream job would not require my signing an NDA, so my answer would be no, but I’ll give you a story of how a client that “required an NDA” decided to forego it to come under my process because they wanted to work with me.
- 28:12 There are good clients that will come under your process even if it differs from their process.
- 28:19 Q: “So you’re saying, Sean, is that if Disney comes to you and asks you to do a logo for them, and they don’t budge on the NDA thing—you would stick to your guns?”
- 28:32 A: That’s correct. When I first got into this industry, I thought the epitome of arrival was working for those name brands—those household names that everyone knows. That’s when you’ve “made it”. But I’ve realized in more recent years that “making it” is doing the best work I can, to the best of my abilities, and having a client that fully trusts my process to be able to do that. That is where I get the most fulfillment, the most sense of accomplishment, and achievement in my work.
- Your biggest hurdle
- 31:15 Everyone thinks their biggest challenge is keeping this fantastic idea under wraps for as long as possible. But that’s not your real problem.
- 32:08 “Well, if the biggest hurdle isn’t protecting my precious idea and it’s not doing the actual work, what is it?”
- 32:16 It’s getting people to notice you. It’s getting people to see what you’ve made. It’s getting people to hear about you. It’s getting even a second of someone’s attention.
- 32:28 Do you see why everyone has it so backwards? You’re keeping the idea in secrecy (and you want NO ONE to know) until you finish the work and then you’re trying to get EVERYONE to notice. That’s just not the way it works! People don’t notice announcements, they notice consistency. Adoption takes time.
- 33:05 This is what I discovered with my Learn Lettering classes. I was deathly afraid of putting it out there that I was going to be working on a big series of courses. I thought, “If someone hears about it, they could compete with me!” Well, who cares??
- 36:05 You can’t just ask someone if they would buy what you’re making. You may get 10% of those people that say they’d buy your product to actually buy it.
- 36:25 “How do you confirm?” You capture money up front. You say “Ok, I can process your credit card right now.” If it is truly valuable to them, they will show it with their money.
- Start something
- If you want to make something a reality, you have to get to work. You need to do the work. That’s what separates the achievers. Everyone has an idea. Most people are not willing to put in the effort and actually wake up and do the work that’s required to bring an idea to fruition.
“Ideas are just a multiplier of execution.”
– Derek Sivers
People don’t notice announcements, they notice consistency.