Generating ideas is easy. It’s executing them once they’re exposed that’s challenging. For six years, creative industry guru and entrepreneur, Scott Belsky, studied prolific creative professionals. He found that those who were most successful followed similar procedures. Using formulas seems counter-productive to the freestyle image of creatives. Belsky details his findings in his new book entitled, Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming The Obstacles Between Vision & Reality. Following is another article in a series detailing his message. Here, a second set of nine tips will help you engage your community to advance your ideas.
1. Spotlight Pressure. Belsky highlights an annual conference where leaders in technology, entertainment and design convene. They give eighteen-minute presentations on new ideas and breakthroughs. It’s hoped that some of their more important and timely ideas will gain the spotlight and momentum. Accountability infiltrates the conference by offering cash reward of $100,000 to three participants with exceptional ideas. They’re granted “One Wish to Change the World.” The combination of an influential audience and expected progress updates at next year’s conference creates a powerful sense of accountability. Those around you can play a crucial role in holding you accountable for your ideas.
2. Network Power. Online networks can provide an expectant audience, which fuels your drive to deliver your product or service regularly. Those who have a vested interest in your work and life increase your accountability quotient. When you “go public” on any project and proclaim your goals, your accountability is amplified.
3. Shared Workspace. There’s value in having someone look over your shoulder. Sometimes we need a push. Coworking is a growing movement. Here, professionals across industries, whether freelance or full-time telecommuters, gather at a neutral space to work together. While they may never collaborate, they share a work environment that fosters focus and professionalism. The exchange of best practices and impromptu collaboration thrives among disparate workers. Coworking can provide job opportunities, increased creative output; and promote diversity of skills.
4. Seek Stimulation from Serendipity. Periodic surprises help us to stay stimulated. Diversity of opinions and circumstances increase the likelihood of “happy accidents.” Serendipity comes from differences. Stimulation is not only necessary when developing new ideas; it’s also critical when refining solutions to a particular problem. Your brain benefits from new angles that come from outside your point of view. To take advantage of serendipity in the everyday work environment:
- Work amidst other fields of expertise. Coworking gathers people with varied expertise in the same work environment and prompts unexpected exchanges and revolutionary insight. Diversity of expertise sparks new ways of looking at old problems.
- Take advantage of mistakes. When you do make a mistake, allow yourself to briefly continue down the same path. The alternative perspective, (sometimes difficult to get), acts as a lens to see things differently. An example of a “mistake gone good” is the creation of Post-it notes, which developed from a faulty batch of adhesive.
5. Overcome Self-Marketing Stigma. Marketing matters, yet it’s often maligned when we’re the product being promoted. We avoid doing it for fear of being viewed as self-centered. Your ability to access the resources and opportunities in your community depends upon others recognizing your qualifications, initiative and interests. If people aren’t made to recognize your strengths, how will they know when, where and how to engage them? Ideally, self-marketing is about building relationships and learning. Today, whether self-employed or an employee, your career is 100 percent your responsibility. Fight the desire to wait for instructions and learn to showcase your skills and expertise without an invitation.
6. Effective Self-Marketing Builds Respect. Successful serial idea makers Belsky has met are focused on marketing themselves and their brands. It’s an ongoing aspect of brand development based on authenticity and builds respect. Good self-marketing strategy begins with intrinsic interests that can become personal projects that demonstrate your strengths. As your strengths become utilized, people will start to respect you for something that is real and earned. As you develop your respect-based self-marketing campaign, consider the following:
- Identify your differentiating attributes. Identify the strengths that differentiate you from others, without judging how they might be perceived. Unique features can be regarded as strengths or weaknesses depending on how they’re communicated.
- Develop a communications strategy. Identify the reasons your differentiating attributes can serve as strengths. Be introspective and advocate your unique perspective you bring to every project and problem.
- Execute your communications strategy. Share your story, which includes your differentiating attributes, with others. Start a blog or Twitter account allowing you to share your musings and ideas; and engage others. Fine-tune your outreach to particular groups of constituents, acknowledging their own self-interests and sensitivities.
7. Find Your Own Frequency, Then Tune in to Engage Others. Ideas are unlikely to happen without the participation of other individuals from various groups, including customers, clients and critics. “Frequency theory” suggests that we all emit our own unique frequency in our everyday lives. Our frequency determines the people we befriend. We prefer to gravitate toward people with similar interests and a shared understanding and appreciation for our ideas. However, by doing so, we miss out on the full force our community has to offer. Only by connecting across the spectrum will we find a diverse audience and a sustainable market.
8. Ground Your Ideas Outside Your Community. Having the support of a like-minded community isn’t enough. Without some degree of mass appeal most ideas will falter. When you conceive new ideas and execute them, you must assume a practical lens that grounds your expectations, tastes and perceptions. Don’t confine yourself to one very comfortable spot along the frequency spectrum. A best practice is to ground every creative process in diversity. Work with people who ask the difficult, practical questions that are frustrating but important to push your ideas forward. Also, pursue a week of skepticism between an idea and the decision to take action. Pausing between ideation and action allows the energy in the creative process to either die or thrive. Create a sacred space for an idea to stand the test of time.
9. Recognize When You Are No Longer a Solo Show. Self-reliance may foster your creativity but it’s a hindrance when it’s time to scale, engage partners and build a team. The skills needed to lead yourself are different from those required to lead a team. You can become a victim of your own talents as you’re forced to delegate, share ownership and “let things go.” Leaders of any creative endeavor should first focus on the things only they can do; and delegate the rest. If you fail to share ownership, you’ll also fail to get those around you to care. Engage your team by sharing credit, responsibility and financial reward. No great creative project can thrive (or survive) off the energy of one person.
To make your personal and professional ideas happen, begin with a relentless bias toward action. Define and prioritize the necessary Action Steps to bring your ideas to fruition. Execute your ideas and engage your community, encouraging their valuable feedback, while they help promote your ideas. Next…developing your leadership abilities to advance your ideas.