Talking and writing about ideas gives them form

I think we’re all agreed that not talking about your ideas and slapping an NDA all over them is never good advice.

Chris Dixon eloquently talks about this in “Why you shouldn’t keep your startup idea secret”.

I would go further and encourage you to talk to absolutely anybody about an idea you have listing in your head, without shape or form.

Talk to people who don’t know your industry, or who don’t know about problem you’re trying to solve. If you catch yourself waffling, or searching for the right words to convey the idea, it needs work.

Email people you normally tweet with out of the blue. They’ll welcome the surprise, and pay attention.

Write about your ideas publicly on your blog. If you’re feeling particularly ballsy, light the touch-paper and stick that blog post on Hacker News. (Make sure you stand well back.)

An idea only grows with a thousand bumps and bruises: rebuttals, criticisms, “it won’t scale” and plenty of “that already exists”. Afterwards, the idea might still be unclear, will take on a sharper silhouette.

Then it just takes execution, but that’s a whole other story…

Avoiding the medium-sized stuff

I don’t really post links on this blog these days, but once-in-a-while an article comes along that I feels deserve more attention than a quick link on Twitter.

Connor Tomas O’Brien write an enlightening post about avoiding medium-sized stuff:

The small stuff is okay, too. Tweets and Instagram photos and Vine clips – stuff that’s easy to create and easy to digest. The small stuff can stay. The small-scale stuff is fun.

The medium-sized stuff: projects that don’t really mean that much to me, but that take more than a trivial amount of effort to get finished. Recently, I’ve been taking on a lot of projects with timeframes measured in days or weeks. That’s not long enough to do anything very interesting. These projects are not horrible to work on, but, were I to pan out and see my life on the scale of years or decades, I realise it’s these particular projects that I’ll end up forgetting, these particular projects that will lead me to wonder, “Hey, what did I actually do over this year and that?”

Big projects are scary. It’s much more tempting to take on a bunch of medium-sized projects than one huge project, because in doing so you mitigate the chance of failure. But it’s the stuff that could fail that’s the stuff we remember, not the stuff that’s safe.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently and I’m thankful to Connor for giving this thought a shape and meaning.