Brainstorming is for solutions, not for ideas.

What headline should I use? A story about a camel?

Here is why: people don’t gather around the campfire, buckle up for smarty pants time and start throwing ideas into the air! People tell stories around the campfire. Also, families don’t sit at dinner, put the genius hat on and emit weasel ideas to each other, families share their life.

In general, gatherings are where we humans put our experience out, mix it with the one the others put out, and then absorb it back in, as a better, fuller and more optimised interpretation of life.

That is the reason why brainstorming for ideas is a horror that must be ended.

Brainstorming, everyone’s favorite fun or worst curse, is a good practice only if employed at the right time. Before brainstorming, there are previous steps to consider.

First, you set on the idea through ideation. Second, you reach the agreement that it’s a good idea through analysis. Only third do you brainstorm, and you do it to find solutions.

Brainstorming solutions are basically a plan on how to make the idea a reality.

I hate committees, and you should too

Ideation is the process of selecting and fine tuning ideas, not the process of finding ideas.

The idea to search for ideas is stupid. Yes, there are stupid ideas, plenty.

If one is a person without ideas no process or activity will help, it is a personality aspect.

Many introverts falsely believe to not have ideas because they lack the easiness of spelling it out loud. That is why before any ideation process, every participant must make their own set of ideas, filtered by their own values and knowledge. Then they present their set, in turns, unintrerupted, so that introverts get their chance to express themselves.

Then the group waits for incubation.

This is the biggest missed step everywhere, incubation.

Without incubation, no creativity, only ingenuity, which is a very different beast. After incubation, you can start ideation, the process of picking the right idea and forming it to become more general than the original, a.k.a. fine tuning the idea.

Spotting ideas is a personal activity.

I don’t think we can search for ideas, and therefore ideas cannot be found.

Ideas surface out of personal interpretation and we spot them or not. Sure, we all like to bounce concepts, stories and leads with one another, but after we bounce this in small talk, or water cooler interesting chat, or say, after meeting impressions, or sharing personal events, we melt what we got back from the bounce in our own, personal and unique interpretation.

ideas are the patchwork of originality inside your model of the world

Ideas then surface as part of our view, our personal take on the subject matter. The skill is to spot ideas: the patchwork of originality inside your model of the world, regarding the subject at hand. It can be trained like any other skill, but that also means idea spotting can be a talent. In fact, the truely skilled or talented spot ideas in other people’s minds.

Without incubation, no creativity, only ingenuity, means that with ingenuity you pull out undone concepts from your incomplete model on the subject.

Ingenuity is a product of the randomization process which any brain does to find possible predictions. Ingenious people are prone to produce volumes of ideas and, failing to see the haste, we waste, money, time and energy on possible stuff. But anything is possible.

Ideas are when the brain finds probable suff.

Probability appears when possibility is immersed in inference and deduction.

Incubation is needed because, while deduction can happen on the spot, inference is based on the time consuming retrieval process inside our brains. Retrieval of memory is complex and usually requires the activation of weak neural systems, which in turn take time to build enough excitation.

Intuition is when ideas are correct, meaning, when we use exclusively true facts and data in the model we build on the subject and stick to that to come up with original bits.

Time is of essence for good ideas.

Look closely and you’ll see how the biggest business people gave themselves the time they needed to incubate. Sometimes that incubation time is their actual career, sometimes is their hobbies, sometimes it is their workaholic habits, but it is always something that buys time for incubation.

A mission is an idea, a vision is a solution.

They can occur in inverse order, that means you may have your vision and extrapolate a mission from it. That is what extrapolation does, generating ideas from solutions. That is why it is possible to stumble in a good business and get a mission and a vision later, in the growth stage.

Ideas are a dime a dozen, good ideas are priceless. Ideas are a dime a dozen, because an idea is the pretty sister of an opinion. Good ideas are priceless, because we see their real value only late after execution.

There are plenty stupid ideas.

Ideas become stupid when the emitter fails to see that it is only an idea, and confuses it with one of the following three things: an explanation, a theory or an instant solution.

You will not find very often people who can formulate explanations. A solution is not an explanation, and this is why we keep repeating mistakes: after embracing a solution we don’t invest in getting the explanation. Explanations are comprehensive stories on what occurred, complete with how it could have been prevented. There are many solution finders around, but few explainers.

Theories are great in business, not only in science. You know, the whole drill: assumptions, predictions, ways to test, demonstrations and the awesome q.e.d. at the end. For some reason we fail to incorporate this model of discovering and saving knowledge in business, despite an acute need for it.

If you think it is because business is more about practice and less about theory, I hope you do realize that some businesses are so removed from the practice they were once founded on, because of their size, influence and history, that they have become social experiments a long time ago. Where is it a better place for finding theories that work?

Experience gives ideas. Expertise gives solutions.

Knowing what you get from either experience or expertise, is where you make your mark as a manager in keeping people engaged, spending your hiring budget properly and creating roles.

A person with both experience and expertise is rare, because experience is general and expertise is specific. The unicorn executive has specific experience and general expertise. Specific experience is findable because of luck, but general expertise is extremely rare, because time is limited for everyone.

Leadership means trickle down meaning

There is no trickle down economy, but there is plenty of trickle down things in business: objectives, direction, vision, mission, empowerment and other parts of leadership.

In fact, leadership is all about trickle meaning from the top to the lower layers in an organisation, answers from “why am I here”, and “why should I stay here”, to “why would I sacrifice anything here”.

Management can be a seriously awesome activity and executive level management even more so, as it has the opportunity to offer people true unmediated value in the form of meaning, the missing ingredient of existence.

Here is a funky camel for you:

Inspiration is a myth

The thing about inspiration is: it doesn’t exist on its own!

It all starts with wishful thinking:

Hope and action together result in Wishful Thinking

All inspirational messages are wishful thinking made of hope and action.

“Everything happens for a reason!”,

… means: let’s hope there is a reason that will justify our self indulging actions.

“Life is an adventure!”,

… means: hopefully I am in some adventure and so something interesting will come out of my boring, routine actions.

“Love solves everything!”,

… means: I hope love is the answer, because all my actions seem futile.

“Happiness is a choice!”, OMG the worst of the pack,

… means: I hope that I can choose to be happy, instead of actually doing something about it.

The thing is all inspirational messages give birth to shame.

I suck, stuff happens to me for no reason! I am awful, love didn’t solve everything! My live is so not an adventure, I must be horrible. What the fuck is wrong with me, I cannot choose to be happy!

Shame of being human always comes from wishful thinking.

However, there is a right place for wishful thinking.

There is no shame involved when you are actually set on the path for achieving your goals.

You can afford to be as human as possible when you are “having a strong feeling that you’re going to do something and that you will not allow anyone or anything to stop you”.

A dictionary defines this as determination.

Determination transforms the intersection of Hope and Action into Inspiration

There is no such thing as inspiration to be found.

Inspiration appears at the intersection of hope and action in the presence of determination.

Determination is a global state in one’s life. It wraps all endeavors, all the little things one defines herself by. Determination acts in a way like a photo filter.

Look at this sentence:

“Life is an adventure!”

… through the lens of a determined person.

You’ll see a different picture:

“I want to go from Europe to Silicon Valley and fund my startup and there is nothing else I can think of doing with my life, and I am not afraid because I feel life is an adventure worth having.”

Determination is a big deal.

Unless one has the “hipster” problem, when determination is just not enough and determined action is too little:

The half assed approach is does not inspire

One last thing, unless determination is all encompassing, you will get bored.


Oh, and a note on being human: being human does not justify being moody, especially since everything is temporary.

Be predictable

The problem with market research is that consumers don’t think how they feel. They don’t say what they think and don’t do what they say — David Ogilvy.

This one insight about market research is in fact the gist of personal development.

Actually, if you think about it, striving to be an ideal consumer could very well turn you into an exemplary member of the human species.

Let’s see together why.

Think what you feel

I can only think how I feel, if I know what I feel.

Exploring feelings, that is spawning them into existence, is done solely based on experiences lived.

Emotional introspection reveals the nature of my feelings hence it answers the what.

My thinking bursts into imagination in seconds.

So, I am required a huge assortment of experiences to have a complete cross spectrum set of feelings. But then I have them while I don’t know their nature. Which means that for every unit of effort spent on experience, at least an equal amount of effort should be put into introspection to “get myself”.

Only then my thoughts wandering the realms of imagination will be on par with my feelings gathered from the realm of reality.

Never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? It’s probably worth it.
The Beach, the movie

Say what you think

Obvious right?

What else says personal success, other than having the confidence to say what you think?

It’s just that, what you’ll get back is gonna make the personal success transform into personal “life lesson”, or “personal problems”.

The problem with saying what you think is the feedback, not the action itself. The action is rather easy. A few acting classes, a few attempts to be blunt, direct, frank, honest … even sincere from time to time, and you’ll learn the trick of wearing your heart on your sleeve.

However, every action causes reaction and the hard part comes from what people will do to your heart. They will rip it apart for showing itself unmasked.

Everyone attempts naively to say what they think as children, then when they learn the effects we all quit the practice.

As an adult, it gets even more complicated because most of adult life as we know it sucks.

It sucks big time because we’re all bored creatures pretending not to die, acting surprised when death does happen around us, and having trauma or new years resolutions on the same level of importance.

To say what I think, I must be able to detach from others. To say what I think, I need to cultivate an armour against the social recoil of my authenticity. I must build myself a door through which only I can pass and exit the group dynamics and leave my conditioning at that door on my way out. Only then will I be able to be genuine and complex in my outward behavior.

Star Trek roof in that Wraith of Khan / Girls get loose when they hear this song / 100 on the dash get me close to God / We don’t pray for love, we just pray for cars
Starboy, The Weekend

Just pretending not to die.

Do what you say

The trick of this quality lies in the fact that most people maximise what they say.

Words are cheap.

A word is an incantation, even the smallest word, the most unthought articulation, even if not heard by others, will produce effects when uttered.

Knowing the power actioned by words is the cause of building myself a word economy, a way to value and evaluate what I say. Because the simple introvert restraint of not speaking doesn’t lead far. You have to say things, that’s the trick. If you say nothing, it doesn’t really matter what you do.

So how do I build my speaking free market?

I should know myself and be good at what I do. Everything that I say is in fact speaking about me and if I don’t know myself I cannot understand what am I saying about myself, which is in fact the real value of every word.

The more a word says about myself, the better it describes my “self”, then the more expensive a word is, and the greater care I take to count what I can afford to say.

Then when I say it, I can do it, because it is about me.

Because it’s not where you go. It’s how you feel for a moment in your life when you’re a part of something. And if you find that moment… It lasts forever.
The beach, the movie

Be predictable. Predictability is what power becomes as humanity sprints into uncertainty with the confidence of a child jumping into their parent’s arms. Be there to catch it.

Letter to the struggling creator of anything

Dear creative human,

You are always busy. New ideas, new work, new output every hour after hour. At the end of the day it’s all meant to push you, bit by bit, closer to the place you want to be in. May the place be called “The top of the (collective) mind”.

When you do get in the “top of mind”, with a badge of “known” or “established”, you receive the magic rainbow of: authority, creative freedom, influence and respect — personally handed to you by Roy G. Biv. Let me introduce this place as “The Promised Land”.

Between you and “The Promised Land’s” endless supply of daily joy, the universe has placed a horde of folks which will do anything they can to fight you and your calling. We’ll call these folks “The gatekeepers”.

The place where you are now, nobody cares and nobody will ever care what that place is. In all honesty, I am convinced some people have already answered many fundamental questions and have solved truly profound problems, but we’ll never know they did it — because, like you, they are in this huge, hot, empty and sandy land I’ll call “The desert of anonymous”.

As you hike along “the dunes of unnoticed material” and walk along endless piles made from grains of existential purpose, shattered smoothly by the senseless passage of time, the brief fifteen seconds of fame are the cherished water to wet your lips with — just enough to keep carrying on.

From time to time, there might be an “Oasis of opportunity” hovering above the ground like an unreal vision — some stupid joke Faith keeps repeating and laughing at, all by itself. You’ll enter it, filled with hope. However, while refreshing, the oasis of opportunity is still just a closed circle of friends making some “Promised land” in the middle the same huge “Desert of the anonymous”. Sometimes, even worse, you’ll enter it just to find it shatter when your better judgement gets a hold of you, a fata morgana of creative recognition.

Nevertheless the true wanderer, the berber skilled on surviving anonymity conditions lives with the ordeal. Some have a map, some start out the journey really, really early and some follow the right footsteps “leaning in” the right direction.

Struggling with your hike effort and thirst for audience you will be often spotted by the all seeing eye of the peers. This, just like the one in the famous Mordor in The Story, sees everything and only likes his army of minions. The all seeing eye of the peers is what will always keep innovation at the gates because if, by any chance, you are breaking taboos, shattering established foundations or challenging long held beliefs — you will be scorched. The flaming eye of peers shall spot you and burn you as many times as needed until you either conform or give up.

This is the main foe to fight in the Desert of anonymous and the best strategy is, like in The Story with The Hobbits, to move low profile and decisively act only when the army of minions attacks some other group at war. Being distracted, the all seeing eye of the peers might not spot you just enough to ensure safe passage trough the Desert of anonymous right to the walls of The Promised Land.

Once you’re close be warned: handling all the ancient creatures guarding the walls, lands and gates of The Promised Land means an even greater challenge than crawling all alone and miserable trough the Desert of anonymous. Yet all the truly brave creatives will muster up the guts and force, because they’ve beaten the desert, survived it and at least they got near The Promised Land, having now a chance to go trough what we think of as:

“The Promised Land defense system”

1. The moat of critics

Every wondering soul who didn’t get in, who got tired of trying, who got a really bad fall from the wall, ended up in the moat around The Promised Land. This is the moat of critics.

They are being thrown slices of old bread from the towers of The Promised Land and drink the muddy waters in the moat. They can’t get out because only the Desert of anonymous can be their home since in The Promised Land everyone knows them from the moat.

The technique to pass this first defense is to very carefully bridge the moat: once you fall in no one can pull you out — until you are too old to matter anyway. These folks will shake your bridge and they will throw their mud at you. Simply make sure to walk on determination and hang on inspiration and the swing from the moat’s edge to the Wall Of Publicity will be clear, pure flight. If you get dirty, jump back and clean up because the moat of critics has the stickiest of mud; you don’t want to be stuck to the Wall Of Publicity while the journalists fire their bows at you.

2. The Wall Of Publicity and the towers of journalists

The Promised Land’s towers are filled with journalists aiming at you bows of inconclusive reviews, armed with arrows made of mean phrases and with burning tips of ignorance, all while you strive to climb the Wall Of Publicity, a living wall, made taller and taller by every human who manages to climb over it. Give up fast enough if you’re shot! Just jump back and try another wall.

Walls Of Publicity are usually climbed faster with “controversy” at your belt. Also, a shield made of the highly reflective “sensational!” will blind the towers’ archers by the very sun of the hot Desert of anonymous. If you’re missing “controversy” and “sensational”, then you can always try to catch one of the grown leafy Trends — there are many of them, swinging freely on the badly maintained Wall Of Publicity.

3. The Gate of curators, BDFLs and promised land xenophobe residents

Curators are the noble class and land owners of The Promised Land. They own by right of birth some portion of The Promised Land.

You need their permission to cross their land. Those who own the outskirts of The Promised Land are the most fierce in their terms for the permission, since every wall jumper ends up in their backyard begging for a visa.

Once you’ve jumped the Wall Of Publicity the way around curators is to walk the public roads. Considering the curator’s terms, spending the night under a street spotlight is usually far better than spending the day on a privately owned part of The Promised Land.

Benevolent dictators for life (BDFLs) are traders who take stuff from the “Oases of opportunity”, and bring the stuff in The promised land.

Remember them, the “Oases of opportunity”?

Sometimes these oases produce some uniquely fine idea, or even a superfine concept, which either the opportunists or the brave take to The Promised Land’s fortification. If what they bring is of value to the residents of The Promised Land, they live to become BDFLs on the trade route of creativity that they have founded. The problem with these is the dictatorship part: you do it because they say you have to do it; they do it because they know the route, they have the contacts and the influence.

You might want to stay away from these smugglers of creativity and try to make it on your own. Otherwise, be prepared for some years of mental slavery before you’re finally given your part in the bargain.

Your next problem: some of the The Promised Land’s residents are xenophobic. They are those who suddenly learned that whomever lived longer inside the The Promised Land, clearly must be better beings than those beggars from the sands of the Desert of anonymous. Unfortunately they own the third Gate.

Some of these xenophobes are born inside The Promised Land and some, just a few, a tiny faction, really are better, better than anyone other than themselves: they are the geniuses, the ultra productive, the prolific creative machines, the singers of the word of God — or something of sorts — those who did not have to struggle one day to learn anything and yet they’re simply outstanding. What the xenophobe residents will do is mock your normality and call it mediocrity, blissfully ignorant at the side of your creation that is special and unique, made better by each hour you’ve spent working hardly on it.

To avoid being held at The Gate, disguise. Walk confident, make a friend who lives on the other side, talk to people who come out and who go in — a clear strategy:

learn the culture, move like an insider and speak the subculture.

If you’re acing all these, no one will ever ask a thing. Not who you are, nor where you’re coming from and all the gates will open like you said “Sesame!”.

Once you have entered trough The Gate, well, that’s it! Bravely step in and rejoice! You have found The Promised Land and Roy. G. Biv. awaits you to hand over your very own special rainbow. Huzzah! Yay! Hooray! Oh, and once you’re in, dear creative human, please do write me a letter and ask a dove to deliver it to me. The dove will find me — they all do.

Now that I’ve made enemies of about each type of people guarding The Promised Land, by revealing their wicked ways and doubtful days, and since I despise the Desert of anonymous so badly, I think I may strive for the remainder of my days to find that spring of creative youth which I know it to be somewhere at the edge of understanding. Send the dove there before I reach the spot.

The doves always find it first.

Control freaks, everywhere

From to Lagerfeld

Producers are currently doing to music what designers did to fashion: make it impossible.

It is amazing how deep the desire to control the reality is rooted in the human brain. It’s like we’re fascinated about how reality just elegantly flows into existence and we desperately want to do the same. If we can’t do it, then we invent a way to ruin it.

That model is visible in some forms of art. Just like models, in a wild gallop towards fame and fortune, slowly agreed on disappearing from the catwalk, to make room for stitch lines to be straight, so do singers, in an even wilder gallop towards iTunes sales and Youtube views, slowly agree to disappear from the studio to make room for the Auto-Tune effects.

Fashion designers cannot possibly make clothes that are more beautiful than the women who wear them.

This is simply because in no way ever will the human brain appreciate fabric more than skin, or embellishments over natural lines. Frustrating as this is, they resorted to making the woman an accessory of the clothing they create. Just pay attention to more than the weight, that only drew a big chunk of attention, but the makeup, the hairdos, the facial lack of expression that became the arcane art of the top models. They, the models, are invisible, so you can see only the cut, the material and the print and lust for it as cold and unnatural this may be.

Producers cannot sing — apparently at all. From Timbaland’s weird interventions in the melody to’s embarrassing melodic talking — they are simply folks who know music very well, but who cannot sing.

Producers cannot produce songs that sound better than singing.

Well, frustrating as this is they reverted to a general rule of wiping away any singing at all and turn the singer into an accessory of the tune, as if it’s there only for the brand, the personification of some name — all else, like voice, being irrelevant.

Part of this is a general problem with creative industries: that the creator does not have the actual control, but the distributor, the influencer, the organizer, the agent, the promoter, the manager and the list could really get never ending. Talented people or those who bask in the grace of some gift like a good singing voice, an unreal beauty, an exquisite or exotic way to see or talk about reality itself etcetera, all these people live inside a container of other non talented humans which do all kinds of jobs that the first group has not time or talent for. I’m not the inventor of this idea. Some critics, for example, have been repeatedly put in the same cultural corner as envy, by cultivating the harshness of their critique in order to compensate for their lack of natural ability. But I call this on many other occupations and circles of influence, cohorts of folk deeply informed and cultivated in some area they love but without any tangible, real possibility to create more of the thing they know so much about.

This is not specific to fashion or music. Visual arts, such as painting and sculpture, have been shaped by what galleries would display. But in this context the situation is way better: those lucky selected artists are still in the spotlight. In fashion and music, however, this is not true anymore: in music if you take the producer out the performer cannot replicate the performance, in fashion if you take the designer out, the model has no clothes to cover the blandness anymore.

But the question is not why this happens in some creative industry or another. After all its all normal and O.K.: creation is a yang or positive, strong energy and it will, constantly, draw close the yin or negative, weak energy — which in this case is this army of intermediary folk between the audience and the message maker. The yin is constantly killing the creation, bringing on rules and order, bending the creative burst into silence — until it erupts somewhere else. Its O.K. this happens constantly.

However, aside from this natural order, i wonder what exactly, in our minds, is producing this tendency to kill natural beauty, born talent, genius innovation, clear originality and natural expression — why are we so heavily biased towards an artificial depiction of the world that we are gazing at inside our humble tiny timescale of “one life”?

The first duty in life is to be as artificial as possible. What the second duty is no one has as yet discovered. Oscar Wilde of course.