I have a small group of friends that I talk to on the daily basis about every single idea that comes through my head. When these dear friends see that I am calling/texting them, they know they are about to hear some crazy business idea. Most of these, well the majority, don’t make it past the idea stage. It’s through talking with these 4 very important people that I realize if the idea is able to be executed or not. Having to explain my case to them, answer their questions, and convince them that this is a good idea, is how I solidify or destroy my idea.
Why this works
In school there was always one point in the semester where we, the student, would have to “teach the class.” The teacher would split us all into small groups to cover one section of the textbook. Of all the sections covered by the end of this exercise, the one section that would stick the most was the one that we taught. We had to study the material, present it, and answer any questions that the other students may of had, solidifying the learning in our own heads. Since we are forced to think about this topic from all of these different angles, it gets burned into our brains. This is exactly what happens when we present our ideas.
Process of the typical idea
First we think of this awesome idea. It is pure genius. How has no one ever heard of this? That’s because no one is as smart as us! We let the idea soak in for a few days and we just can’t shake how good it is. Now we will go off and present this to our friends so that they may witness the spark of genius we just had.
After explaining our brilliant idea, we are surprised to see that our friends are a bit less excited than we are about it. They proceed to poke holes into the idea by asking questions we hadn’t thought of. Some we answer with, “I don’t know, that’ll come later.” Deep down however, we know that they just pointed out a valid flaw in our idea.
Lastly, we accept that this idea is not worth pursuing. No worry though. We are brilliant! Tomorrow is a new day, and a new idea will rise!
Of course, there will be that rare occasion when an idea is actually good. No matter how much your friends poke holes or ask questions, you hit them right back with authority. They will exhaust every perspective and finally say “this is good.” When that happens, we run with it. We know that we chose the smartest possible people to work with, so if they say it’s good, it’s good.
What to look for when building your group
There are a few things to consider when finding the right people to spit ball your ideas to:
We want our ideas to be viewed from multiple angles. There are many perspectives that need to be considered before going after this idea. This is why we want a group of people with different backgrounds. We want different things such as age, occupation, education, income, culture, and personality.
There is no time to be dealing with “Yes People.” We don’t want someone that’s just going to say how great every idea is. We want people who are honest enough to tell us that our idea sucks! The people that we trust with our ideas should help us develop them by pointing out things that we may have missed.
Ultimately, patience is very important. I mentioned that I talk to my group of friends on the daily basis. They are incredibly patient in hearing every single one of my crazy ideas, day in and day out. With each new idea, they treat it as if they never heard any idea from me before. The look at things with fresh eyes, and help think things through.
These people are all around you. They are friends, family, colleagues, they don’t have to be big fancy consultants. They are real people. Everyone has their own special perspectives, and you never know who’s it’ll be that’ll ask the right question that leads us down the right path for our idea. I talk to my wife, my best friend, my high school teacher, my mother, and even my grandmother. If an idea passes through all of these brilliantly unique minds, I know I have something good.
When you find your people, thank them. Acknowledge how appreciative you are that they listen. These people care about us and our ideas. No one wants to see you succeed more than them. Talk to people to solidify your ideas.