Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Success Tools: Topics du Jour

Luciano Passuello has come up with a great twist on journalling: the Topics du Jour. In a terrific blog post he presents a "one journal topic per day" method of journalling about the most important aspects of your life. His post suggests making a 30-item list (one for each day of the month) and then writing a paragraph or to about "today's topic" (Career, Health, Relationships, whatever). Of course you don' need to match 30 topics with a 30-day month. 10 topics will do, or any number, so long as you cycle through them, jounalling on one topic a day.

Passuello argues forcefully that ta many "Top-Down", "Big-Picture" goal-setting excercises tend to freeze the creative portion if the mind, whereas little mini-essays keep your mind free to meditate, fantasize, and create without the straitjacket of heavy duty, organized planning. Please read his post. It's a great idea.

In my posts on the Major Definite Aim (here and here ) I came to a similar conclusion. Just bringing the aim into the mind on a regular basis naturally generates solutions and alternatives. I also agree that these solutions emerge naturally over time, as the mind reflects back on the progress made so far. I have found solutions often tend to evolve over months, and even years, and Passuellos "Du Jour" method is a great way to keep the mind engaged with the important topics of your life. Furthermore, since, in his method, the mind gets a bit of rest between re-appearances of the topic, the unconscious has a chance to come into play, bringing with it many powerful resources. Of course, one of the earliest references to a cyclical method of self improvement was the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin:

I made a little book, in which I allotted a page for each of the virtues. I rul’d each page with red ink, so as to have seven columns, one for each day of the week, marking each column with a letter for the day. I cross’d these columns with thirteen red lines, marking the beginning of each line with the first letter of one of the virtues, on which line, and in its proper column, I might mark, by a little black spot, every fault I found upon examination to have been committed respecting that virtue upon that day.

So, we are in good company.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Success Videos: Nathan Myhrvold

A short interview with Nathan Myhrvold, subject of the previous post.

Success Tools: Idea Capture

I recently came across an article by Malcom Gladwell about Nathan Myhrvold's company Intellectual Ventures (thanks to fellow-Twitterite Angela Maiers ). The purpose of this company, Gladwell explains, is "to make insights—to come up with ideas, patent them,and then license them to interested companies." While this is not so very different from Thomas Edison's workshop over a century ago, I would argue that the scale of Myhrvold's undertaking is noteworthy. There are a number of reasons for this:

1. Every scientific discipline has branched and sub-branched , and the volume of actionable discoveries and research is of enormous magnitude.

2. The number of actionable problems , those amenable to profitable solutions, has also increased. A century ago we didn't need Universal Remotes, methods of syncing our address books, or even a reliable place to put our car keys. We only knew of a fraction of treatable diseases. In the pharmaceutical field, we didn't know what a receptor was so there was no impetus to do research on blocking them. In fact, separate discipline of just generating problems would probably be a profitable venture.

3. There are a lot of technologies that "work" now. A lot more than 100 years ago. There are infinite ways these working technologies can combine to produce beneficial and profitable outputs. One of the amazing takeaways from Gladwell's article is how much new inventions are feasible just from the combining of already successful technology or research from disparate fields.

Thus, today, we need a lot of ideas. And , as Gladwell's article demonstrates, a good collection of ideas, from various disciplines, can generate , not a few, but hundreds of profitable businesses.

And here is the best part: a lot of these ideas can be monetized without excessive capitalization, or even the creation of a business. Patents can be licensed without building factories. Algorithms can be written for cellphones without building a cellphone. E-books can be published without a printing plant. Songs can be mixed and distributed without building a million-dollar recording studio.

So, the first imperative is: capture those ideas. One of my favorite bloggers, Matthew Cornell has a superb post on idea capture and, in another post, discusses the vast amount of ideas he and others collect... numbers in the 10,000 idea range are discussed!

This is not unusual. Gladwell reports that at an informal dinner, the group from Intellectual Ventures generated eight single-spaced pages and thirty-six different inventions.

Idea capture is crucial. Large numbers of ideas are crucial. In the old model, a business was built from a single idea (Fedex, McDonald's, Starbucks, etc). But now, it is clear that ideas themselves are capital. Ideas themselves are currency. Creativity and knowledge capture is a source of profit apart from the execution of the idea. Exposure to ideas from multiple sources is crucial. Besides patents, other sources of direct profitability from ideas includes: writing, composing music, trading, real estate referrals, algorithm design ,marketing, consulting of all kinds, even Internet site names. I am sure there are many more. I am going to predict that, in the future there will be an ever-decreasing cost of monetizing our ideas.

So I suggest you collect a lot of them.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Mind Power: Research Confirms Power of Visualization

I have written before about my own and others' strongly held belief in the power of visualization (for instance here and here ). Well, stop the presses. A post in Smart Economy Entitled Mind's Eye Influences Visual Perception details scientific research that has found that, to quote Smart Economy "what we see with the mind's eye directly impacts our visual perception" Smart Economy again: This is the first research to definitively show that imagining something changes vision both while you are imagining it and later on (italics mine).

There is also evidence, apparently, that the longer you visualize, the more your perception is influenced. This research may end up verifying what a lot of people thought was kind of "spooky": all the claims that repeated visualizations, guided imagery, even goal-setting, "treasure mapping", etc. do have at least some basis in scientific research.

"You'll see it when you believe it" May be truer than any of us can have imagined.
Please read the entire post.

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