In the past 10 years, I’ve started 3 companies. One failed badly, and I currently have two in operation. I am obsessed with ideas! Let me explain…
My journey began at the university. In my last year of the Master of Engineering degree, I was majoring in software engineering at the University of Auckland. It was a fairly typical engineering course. The course was heavy on theory, a lot of texts, plenty of assignments, and projects. To be honest, there were times when it was boring. In my final year, I was able to select an elective. For those who aren’t sure what an elective is, it’s an option to select to study for a single semester. There was a wide range of possibilities, most of which were associated with my degree, but some were different.
I decided to take the time to examine my options because I was determined to break out of the normal, discover something new and break beyond my familiarity zone. After much consideration, I settled on the marketing paper—management 303. The decision was not due to an interest, hobby, or any other similar. I decided to go with it due to the only paper that was completely different from the subjects I had been studying. It was a simple choice at the final. I had no idea that the information I’d learn in this class could be the catalyst sparking my interest for the next decade.
I still remember the first time I went to a class. The teacher was going through a series of presentation slides that featured various inventors and the concepts that helped make them famous—Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Edison, etc.
“The one thing that they all shared was”
“they each carried an unwritten notebook in which they wrote down their thoughts whenever they came to their minds.”
He then explained that there was definitely a process after the idea was documented to be a reality. However, it was the act of thinking about issues regularly and jotting down solutions that allowed these men to be successful. In other words, the invention is a routine—a method of thinking.
The instructor then asked students to take the next 20 minutes trying to think of 10 solutions to common issues. Then, when the time had passed, we were asked to present our ideas to him. The majority of our suggestions were pretty awful. The majority of the ideas were not good! In reality, all ideas were terrible apart from one. The issue was quite simple.
The majority of New Zealand homes have a garbage bin that is wheeled and an additional recycling bin where you can put plastic containers and bottles to recycle. At night, before garbage pickup, all homes would empty their trash on their driveway to be picked up by the garbage trucks at the beginning of the day. In the event that you have a long driveway as a lot of New Zealand homes do, you’d either move your garbage bin by hand or carry the recycling bin using another hand. Another option was to go on two trips. As a child, I was a snob about the idea of garbage days, and I wanted the job done quickly! Therefore, option 1 was the only alternative. The problem was that if one wasn’t vigilant, the cans and bottles that were in your recycling bin would spill out and roll all around the place. This was extremely annoying!!
Create a hook to connect to the handle of your garbage bin so that you can hang the recycling bin when you have to empty the trash. This will enable you to carry the garbage bin as well as the recycling bin with no spillage.
Simple… Within 20 minutes of a variety of concepts, we came across one. It wasn’t a thorough review of everyone’s thoughts, but I can imagine the other gems that were considered the day before. The great thing about ideas, they’re easy to create. Many, in truth, they’ll be awful, but if you can generate enough of them, there’s bound to be one that is truly unique. It’s is a game that changes everything. The most exciting thing is that anybody is able to achieve it. It’s just a method of thinking. Like all things that are learned requires practice.
Since I got the ‘Ideas” bug during that lecture, I have had hundreds of ideas, and have I have brought some of them to life. This has evolved into an obsession. It’s a passion I would not have discovered without this elective. I’ll conclude with this wonderful quote: