Fogbeam Labs The FogBlog

Project: 10 Ideas A Day, For 6 Months

by Phillip Rhodes

Posted on Saturday September 01, 2012 at 02:54PM in Technology

An interesting post showed up on Hacker News recently, titled Stop producing shit. The post struck me as a bit unfocused and rambling, but there was one bit in particular that jumped out at me. The author of the post shared a James Altucher quote that I found quite fascinating:

Exercise: come up with 10 ideas today. Then throw away the list. Come up with ten ideas tomorrow. And so on. I’ve written before: but in six months your life will be completely changed as a result.

I may be wrong, but intuitively, that feels like a very powerful exercise. I'm fascinated enough with the possibility, that I'm going to commit to doing the exercise for the next 6 months. I may tweak the parameters a bit, but it will basically reduce to "come up with 10 new ideas per day." In my case, I'll be mainly focused on business ideas, or product ideas that could be deployed here at Fogbeam Labs.

I won't try to blog this every single day, but if I find some interesting revelation or insight from doing this, I'll definitely blog it. And I'll probably try to post a snapshot of the ideas every so often.

Oh, right... you're supposed to throw the list away each day. OK, that's one parameter I'm going to tweak. I'll keep each day's list, partly because I don't want to accidentally reuse an idea, and also because I want to see how my idea generation evolves over time. Also, if there's a genuinely good idea in the lot, I don't want to lose it!

Otherwise, here are the parameters I'm setting for myself:

  • No reusing "old" ideas (by "old" here, I mean, ideas I've had and chewed on in the past), the focus should be on new ideas. I may relax this a little the first day or two, just to help seed the list, but the purpose here is not to rehash old stuff.
  • No trivial derivatives. If the idea on day 1 is "a bitcoin marketplace for cat pictures" then no fair putting "a bitcoin marketplace for dog pictures" on day 2.
  • Each idea should be something fairly concrete. That is, it should be something that I'm reasonably sure can be done, not an idea for a research project. So, "start an online business selling Fizbits" is game, but "use genetic algorithms for NLP??" is not.

Now, let's hope this turns out better than my joking response on the original HN thread:

I might just give it a try, to see how it goes. I'll start a list of ideas, and try to add 10 new (unique) ones to it every day. I'm guessing after about day 2, it'll be hard to come up with 10 new unique ideas, that aren't just ridiculous. By day 3, it'll probably look like:
  • Start a service to let people launch the remains of their deceased pets into orbit.
  • an Android app that makes Farting noises (probably already exists)
  • a YCombinator clone
  • Something that combines the best elements of Slashdot, XKCD, 4chan, and Ebay.
  • An AS/400 compatible RPG environment, to let businesses move off of (expensive) iSeries hardware and onto commodity Linux boxes without expensive porting costs.
  • A bitcoin marketplace for cat pics

So, what techniques do you use for generating new ideas, brainstorming, etc? Join the discussion on Hacker News.

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