28: How To Come Up With Better Ideas

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This is a podcast episode titled, 28: How To Come Up With Better Ideas. The summary for this episode is: If you liked this episode, we bet that you’ll love our blog content. blog.drift.com/#subscribe Subscribe to never miss a post & join the 20,000+ other pros committed to getting better every day. --- --- The secret to coming up with better ideas. "Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process. You can help this process by going for a long walk, or taking a hot bath, or drinking half a pint of claret. Suddenly, if the telephone line from your unconscious is open, a big idea wells up within you.” - David Ogilvy Join the community of Seeking Wisdom listeners at seekingwisdom.io and on Twitter @seekingwisdomio. Follow David (twitter.com/dcancel) and Dave (twitter.com/davegerhardt) on Twitter.

Speaker 1: What's up, what's up, what's up? We're back!

Dave: Today on Seeking Wisdom. We're going to talk about how to come up with better ideas.

Speaker 1: Damn school me, Dave.

Dave: All right, so how to come up with better ideas. We wanted to do this episode because you and I were trading a couple messages the other day. And I said to you, there is a direct relationship between how much I'm reading and like listening to podcasts and articles and books and how much I'm able to create things crosstalk.

Speaker 1: Yeah, and the quality of your ideas.

Dave: The quality of the ideas. Like if you look at anything I've written or anything I've done, there's a direct, like I was reading something, I was deep in a book, deep in something that's related to that. And you said," Boom, congratulations. You earned a point. You unlock the secret."

Speaker 1: Man, Dave just unlocked the level. Right? And I had to point that out to him. So he just took it up a notch. And it's something that is, man, it takes a while to figure this out. And Dave figured it out quick.

Dave: I wish I knew earlier, but like we always say there's stages crosstalk.

Speaker 1: You weren't ready, grasshopper.

Dave: So the secret is really like how much you're consuming. And this is, this goes back to one of your big themes, which is like always learning.

Speaker 1: Exactly. This is why reading is so important. And you know, I think I had said a long time ago that like, at least for me reading isn't about necessarily learning what's on the page in front of you, which I think people take it literally. Reading is about unlocking the answers that you already know inside you.

Dave: You actually, so this is, I'm glad you brought that up, because this wasn't in my notes and this is one of the most important things is when I first started here and started to really get into reading, you changed my perspective on reading. Like I used to try to read and try to remember every single fucking thing and little bullet in a book.

Speaker 1: That's what they taught you at school.

Dave: It's what they taught you, right? It's why you take notes, it's why you have book reports and tests. And you said to me, look, how much is a book cost, like 12 bucks, right?

Speaker 1: Yep.

Dave: If you get one thing out of that book, how is that not worth it?

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Dave: And so that has changed my perspective on reading, as you read to get one little nugget, one thing you didn't know before.

Speaker 1: You lower the bar, the expectations that you have because we've been all taught in school kind of the wrong way. And I think that's one of the things that we get taught incorrectly, about memorization, about reading, about reading is the... You're reading in order to remember facts, and that is not why you should be reading, right? It kind of forces it into something that people don't like to do. Whereas reading, I kind of see as almost reflection, right? Reading is almost meditative. Reading is something that is helping you unlock things that you already know or helping you remember those things that you already know and learning, figuring out how to apply them in your current context.

Dave: The other thing is like you and Noah Kagan actually mentioned this when we had him on the podcast, which is like, how many times do you, when you do take notes, how many times do you actually ever go back and reference those notes?

Speaker 1: If you're Dave you, crosstalk, if you're me never zero.

Dave: For most people yeah, you spend all this time taking notes.

Speaker 1: Mm- hmm( affirmative).

Dave: And then you don't ever go back to them.

Speaker 1: No, but it depends on your type of, the type of learner that you are, right? And so like, some people learn by taking notes, right? Like notes actually help them learn and remember things. That's not me. Some people remember things by talking about them, right? So doing them via voice actually helps them. The audible version of it helps them. Some people, neither of those things work and they're more kinesthetic learners. So they're kind of have to like learn it physically, right? It has to be a physical thing that they're doing in order for them to learn. And we're all different, right? I'm not a kinesthetic person. You know, I do learn by doing, but it's more, I need reflection time. In order to learn something.

Dave: Yeah, I even notice I like to take notes and make lists.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Dave: But I actually surprise myself because like I force myself to go look at the list, but I actually, I know it.

Speaker 1: Yes.

Dave: You know, you already know it. And this is the thing that you mentioned about books, which I think is important.

Speaker 1: Oh yeah. So books are, I mean, I'm always harping about books because there's such a low, they're the cheapest investment. I'm always surprised by when I talk to people who, they want to grow, they want to learn, they want to get to a certain goal that they have in mind. And then I ask them and I see how little they are investing of their own income in back in themselves. And the number one return is always going to be to invest in yourself and learning and growing. And that can be through videos, that can be through reading, mentors. We've talked about lots of different ways. It doesn't have to be books, books just so happened to be the cheapest, in my opinion, and the easiest to access.

Dave: Tell me why, not me, but people that are listening.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Dave: You still read blog posts.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Dave: We all do. But give me like a minute on books verse blog posts.

Speaker 1: Yeah. I read lots of different things, magazine articles, blog posts, anything that I can get my hands on and books, of course. You know, books are just, it just comes down to, it's harder to produce a really great book. It's yet even harder to produce a book that will last 10 years, 15 years that doesn't just show up this year and is gone tomorrow, right? So like, because of that, if you select books that have stood for some amount of time and has still aged well, those are books that probably have had more thought put into them because it just, because of the fact that it was a harder process.

Dave: Yes, and it unlocks even more, like for me reading through some of these old books now, it actually like has double the power because I'm like, damn if this was true in the 1950s, and it's still true today, this must be the thing that's worth following.

Speaker 1: Dave, don't tell them all the secrets. crosstalk.

Dave: Like we always talk about, we can tell them, now if you listen to this podcast, you're not they obviously.

Speaker 1: No, no, no. This is the community, this is our tribe.

Dave: These are the haters. You can tell the haters all your secrets. But the reason that they're haters is that they're never going to actually do anything with it.

Speaker 1: No, so Dave has been deep in some 1950s books really deep.

Dave: Really deep.

Speaker 1: And he's just been leveling up. It's unbelievable.

Dave: Yeah, but here's the thing, I actually haven't learned. This goes back to what you were just saying. I haven't learned anything new.

Speaker 1: Sure.

Dave: But it's been amazing to read five, six books, all about the same topic that keeps like unlocking a new level because it's just like man, all these five or six copywriters that were killing it in the 1900's, the mid 1950s to 1980s. They're saying the things that we know.

Speaker 1: Yes.

Dave: Here's a good example. They're saying, marketers don't understand that the people that you're trying to sell to are selfish.

Speaker 1: Mm-hmm(affirmative). Tell me more.

Dave: If you say that out loud, you're like, yeah I'm selfish, me personally as a consumer, I don't want your product. I don't care. I want what's in it for me, right? But if you go look at 99% of people's marketing or their ad copy or whatever, it's terrible, and they don't understand that principle.

Speaker 1: You know why?

Dave: Why?

Speaker 1: Because they're being selfish themselves. They being the people who wrote the ads. And so their concern is, how do I write the coolest sounding ad for me? How do I like create something that makes me look good? Me the writer of the ad. And they're not putting themselves in the seat of the customer and figuring out what is their self- esteem issue.

Dave: It's so true.

Speaker 1: It's just a tiny shift. It's being done out of selfishness, but it's the wrong persons selfishness.

Dave: The other one that like just made me think of that is you know, the other piece of advice that I've gotten is from all these books is, all your copies should be filled with pronouns. I, me, we, but-

Speaker 1: That's strong.

Dave: But all the writers out there, the writers I use in air quotes, will tell you your stuff needs to be like journalism.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Dave: And if you're writing, if you're doing marketing for a company, like the only thing that matters is to be understood. And it's amazing to have gone through it and read that.

Speaker 1: And the same is for not quote writers, but great writers, right? That's why you read some of the great writers where, whether it's Hemingway or Faulkner or whoever, and you see their writing is very different than people today who consider themselves writers. Right? It's simple. You can understand it. That's why you could read it in the fourth, fifth grade in elementary school. And it still stands the test of time.

Dave: Exactly. All right, there's two key points that we could talk about copywriting stuff all day. We'll talk about some of those lessons on another episode, but two lessons that have to do with this whole, like how to come up with better ideas. So we've talked a lot about consuming, right? So the more you're reading, the better ideas you're going to unlock. But the key, I want to read you this quote from, from David Ogilvy, who is a copywriting guy that we talked about, he said," You know the key to coming up with a good idea is that your unconscious has to be well- informed or your ideas are going to be irrelevant. So you need to stuff your conscious mind with information and then unhook your rational thought process."

Speaker 1: Damn!

Dave: "Go for a walk, take a hot bath, drink a half pint of whiskey. And then suddenly if that telephone line from your unconscious is open, a big idea will hit you."

Speaker 1: Damn, we need to print that out and frame that. Let's make Seeking Wisdom posters with just that crosstalk.

Dave: But you told me that's a secret, right?

Speaker 1: Yeah, that's a secret because I brought that up. I don't think I've ever read that, but I brought up something very similar, which is, the technique for coming up with ideas that I found works fantastic is basically reading as much as possible, multiple different genres and subject areas, ideally at the same time. And we'll talk more about that.

Dave: Yep.

Speaker 1: And then, but, and people do that part and then people do the, very few people do the action part, but they skip this part in between, which is you need reflection time in order for those ideas to gestate in order for those ideas to take, hold into your subconscious and you know, for different people, you can find different things that work for you. For me it could be walking, for other people it could be running or working out. Some people talk about the shower. Basically, the idea is that you're put in a place where you have nothing to do, you're bored, and so your thoughts, you just let your imagination take hold, and all of a sudden, all those ideas that you've implanted, that you've kind of nursed along, they come together, right?

Dave: It happens to all, it's the reason why your ideas come to you in the shower.

Speaker 1: Absolutely.

Dave: This happened to me last weekend, I was playing golf, was in the middle of reading this book, then went and played golf. And like in the middle of my round, I was like, oh, that's it. That's the idea. I just pulled out my phone and started writing the notes. And it's incredible how that happens.

Speaker 1: So you need to take that reflection time. So we need to talk about multiple books, which I think some people get wrong. Along with, this is probably the second thing, which is like the first thing that people get wrong is the thing that we're all taught in school, which is you read line by line. You read in order to memorize facts. That's wrong.

Dave: Yep.

Speaker 1: And so the second thing is that you read one book at a time, right? The single threaded view, I think that's the wrong approach because it's also an approach that kind of like, like the first penalizes you, right? It forces you, even if you hate this freaking book, like I'm going to force myself. I can only, I can't start another book until I finish this book.

Dave: Which is another thing that we didn't mention here, but you got to free yourself a little bit. And if you're reading a book and it's not hitting with you and you're not getting into it, get rid of it.

Speaker 1: Get rid of it.

Dave: Just because somebody told you, you should read it. If you can't read it, if you're two chapters in and it's boring as shit, dump it.

Speaker 1: Come on, you spend more than 12 bucks on Starbucks today, close the book.

Dave: So this is something that James selfishness has written about.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Dave: He calls it idea sex. And this is something that you do. You're always, you have like five or six books that you're always reading at once. Why, like what does that do for you?

Speaker 1: Yeah. It also causes confusion because when people ask me, what book am I reading? I'm just like, I don't know.

Dave: Pull out the phone, get the list out.

Speaker 1: I have to pull out my phone. Dave asked me which book and I have to like pull out the phone and say like, I'm reading 10.

Dave: Do you get things from like common themes that you're pulling through all of them?

Speaker 1: So, I try to read books of different types. So could be non- fiction, all at once, right? Nonfiction, several nonfiction books, which are usually business related, right? Or personal growth related, I should say. Because some of them can be fitness. Some of them can be business. Then I try to read some fiction. And then I try to read, I like in the non- fiction category, but biographies, try to read a lot of biographies, listen to a lot of biographies. We've talked about Shoe Dog and Sam Walton's Made In America, but I have an endless list of biographies that I read. And the reason that I try to do all of these different types at once, is one, sometimes I get bored. You know, sometimes you're reading a book and it's not going anywhere and you're not in the right state of mind. And so then I just move on to, I just keep my place and then move on to the next book. And I come back and revisit that book when I'm ready. The second is that I found that the more books that I have going on at once, something that James Altucher calls idea sex, happens and these different ideas from different places kind of like have sex and they come together and then new innovations are born of that. And I think innovation is usually, innovation that I've seen is usually applying ideas that exist from different realms, different genres together into a new application, and that is the innovation.

Dave: Yeah, I love it. All right, we need to wrap up because it's getting close. I think you have a meeting. We got to go. But last thing that a James Altucher mentioned.

Speaker 1: What's that?

Dave: He said, one of the things, so if you do all this and you're still having trouble coming up with better ideas, here's a little tip from him.

Speaker 1: Give me the tip.

Dave: The tip is force yourself, set aside 10 minutes every morning in your journal, blank piece of paper and just force yourself to write down 10 ideas.

Speaker 1: I love it. The 10, we should come back to this 10 idea thing. I did it for little over six months. I'll have to check my notes.

Dave: Did it work?

Speaker 1: Yeah, it worked really well and forced myself to do 10 ideas. I had a notebook on random thoughts. We'll do another episode on this.

Dave: I want your advice real quick though, before we go. I was going to do that, but then I realized that from reading that's already happening on its own.

Speaker 1: Damn Dave is getting deep.

Dave: See, I'm growing up. I'm a grown up.

Speaker 1: He's grown up.

Dave: All right, we'll talk to you on the next episode of Seeking Wisdom. Go to iTunes, leave us a review. We have over 100, some of our rival podcasts, they don't have any reviews. So keep giving us a headstart.

Speaker 1: Come on, we got to hit 200.

Dave: Yeah, we got to hit 200.

Speaker 1: Then 500 and then 1000, were taking over, Seeking Wisdom. Act like you know, tell somebody, five stars.

Dave: See you.

Speaker 1: Come on, we got to hit 200.

Dave: Yeah, we got to hit 200.

Speaker 1: Then 500, then 1000, were taking over, Seeking Wisdom. Act like you know, tell somebody, five stars.


If you liked this episode, we bet that you’ll love our blog content. blog.drift.com/#subscribe Subscribe to never miss a post & join the 20,000+ other pros committed to getting better every day. --- --- The secret to coming up with better ideas. "Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process. You can help this process by going for a long walk, or taking a hot bath, or drinking half a pint of claret. Suddenly, if the telephone line from your unconscious is open, a big idea wells up within you.” - David Ogilvy Join the community of Seeking Wisdom listeners at seekingwisdom.io and on Twitter @seekingwisdomio. Follow David (twitter.com/dcancel) and Dave (twitter.com/davegerhardt) on Twitter.