Don’t Be the ‘Idea Guy’

Over the years I’ve run into “Idea Guys”. You know the type, they’ve come up with a brilliant idea that nobody in the world but them could have come up with. They’ve done all the hard work, now its just a matter of pounding out the code to make it a reality and become rich.

Typically “Idea Guys” are so mesmerized by their brilliance they’re not able to see that its all about execution. Many of the great companies of today weren’t the one’s that had a brilliant idea that no one else had thought of, they were the folks that recognized a good idea, and executed like crazy to turn it into a success.

Please don’t be the “Idea Guy”. And if you’re looking for a business partner or co-founder make sure they’re not one either. Instead look for someone who has great ideas…or good enough ideas, but prides themselves on executing against their ideas until they find their way to success.

Consumption Kills

Earlier this week I talked about my need to create. I’ve found that consumption is my biggest barrier to creating.

In today’s world we have endless distractions. Twitter, Facebook, Email, RSS, IM, HackerNews, and on and on. I could fill my entire day by opening up a browser tab to each of the above and refreshing…over…and over…and over. I’d find lots of interesting articles, videos, and updates from smart people. All of which would distract me from creating.

Over the last year I’ve noticed that my level of consumption has increased. I’d like to blame Twitter, or perhaps the people I follow for creating so much interesting content, but there’s really no one to blame but myself. I’ve let myself lose discipline and focus at the times when its most important. While waiting for a console to start up, a script to run, or a page to load I’m drawn to my email, twitter, facebook, and countless other sites that do nothing but distract from what I should be focused on. All the sudden, rather then thinking about the problem I’m working on I’m thinking about some article, or email, or other unimportant thing that I’ve come across.

In my prior life I worked in an environment that helped prevent distractions during times of focus through pair programming. Having someone sitting next to you is a solid way to prevent distractions. The key to preventing distraction is discipline. A pair forces that discipline through peer pressure. However, discipline doesn’t need to come via a peer, leading a life of discipline can be a choice you make for yourself.

As I reflect on the past year I clearly see that I’ve be undisciplined, unfocused, and as a result haven’t produced or created to the degree that I’ve come to expect from myself.

My re-newed commitment to creating starts with a re-newed commitment to discipline.

Creating

Over the course of the last 3 years I’ve learned quite a bit about myself. Three years ago I left the comfy confines of a corporate job to go out on my own. I was lucky in that I teamed up with my pops who had already built a client base for his consulting business that would be immediate clients for consulting work of my own, and as the theory went, ideal candidates for several of the software products we were looking to create. A post about the ups and downs, all the learnings, and madness that has ensued is for another day. Today, I’m focused on what I’ve found to be the most important aspect to my overall happiness, creating.

With any new company there are huge resource constraints that you must work within. I’ve felt this in a big way. I’ve had a ton of ideas for things I’ve wanted to build, but all too often I’ve had to restrain myself from diving in so that we could continue to make enough money to sustain the business. The tradeoffs for going big with your ideas vs. continuing to muck your way through the work that pays the bills is a difficult one. As a developer, I like to create. I particularly like to create new things that I’m interested in and that I think will be loved by those its aimed to serve. Too often I’ve found myself putting off creating. I have lots of excuses.

We need to pay the bills A client is waiting for that all important deliverable blah blah, blah, blah The all suck.

Over the last year, I’ve felt the ill effects of not creating. My motivation evaporated. I didn’t want to go to work. I stopped thinking of new ideas. Why bother when they weren’t being made real.

No matter what I do, I’m still going to have things I need to do that will prevent me from creating. The good news for me, is I have the ability to put aside all of those things and go and create. I’m starting small, trying to pick a few features that I’ve wanted to add to one of our software products and getting them implemented this week. My goal is to continue that tradition every day by finding at least 1 small thing to add, improve, or tweak for the better.

I’m getting back into the habit of creating.