How To Have The Best Idea of Your Life
Author: Jacquelyn Ng
How much time are you willing to sacrifice for a great idea? Contrary to common belief, creativity is not a talent but a skill that needs to be honed just like any other. Fredrik Haren has built his name upon helping startups and businesses hone this skill. He is a Swedish speaker tackling the topics of creativity, change and global business. Fredrik’s book has appeared on ‘The 100 Best Business Books of All Time’ list and he continues to inspire many, having given over 1500 presentations in over 60 countries. If you’re experiencing a creative drought, here are three certified tips from a world-class speaker for budding startups, entrepreneurs or anyone in need of inspiration.
1. TRAVEL, TRAVEL AND TRAVEL SOME MORE
Fredrik is a strong proponent of travel and its extraordinary effects for enhancing creativity. By incorporating ideas from other cultures, you can devise a more worldly and informed perspective on your business. Warby Parker, a brand that sells designer eyewear, started when one of the co-founders, Dave Gilboa, lost his glasses on a backpacking trip. They turned the situation on its head by buying a yellow school bus and traveling across the US, creating a mobile store called The Warby Parker Class Trip. They have since sold 1 million pairs of glasses.
It’s not just limited to designer glasses startups, this 2014 study has proven that creativity is enhanced by experiences abroad after examining 270 high-end fashion houses and their creative output over a period of 11 years.
For those who cannot travel, Fredrik recommends a ‘micro-break’. The opportunities for wanderlust can be found in your local area. Trying out an activity from a different culture or embracing a different side of town, these are all ways to incorporate the spirit of traveling in your daily life. Fredrik adds that ‘it is about having an open and active mind – not necessarily an active passport’.
2. WRITE DOWN 5 OF YOUR BEST IDEAS
How often have you had a great idea and thought “I can use that!” but ended up never doing anything about it?
Fredrik would argue that is the antithesis of creativity, to have an idea and not act on it is about as innovative as never having an idea at all. By writing down your five best ideas, you can have a bird’s-eye view of your greatest hits and observe when and where these ideas came about. Did they come to you when you were alone in your room? With some close friends? In a foreign country? Once you’ve determined your creative sweet spot, replicate that environment and there you go, ideas galore!
Fredrik has written a book aptly titled ‘The Idea Book’, in which he gives you half of the space to write down your “brilliant ideas”. This can very well be the place your five best ideas are written down. Don’t underestimate the power of such a casual medium, a 2005 survey has found half of all inventions occur by accident. Perhaps this Idea Book can be your accidental gold mine.
3. FOLLOW THIS FORMULA FOR CREATIVITY
Couldn’t think of your 5 best ideas earlier? Then this may come in handy. More than anything, when trying to think of a great idea, Fredrik recommends combining two ‘unexpected’ things that do ‘not seem to have anything in common’. By trying to find the common denominator between the two, an idea is born. He has devised an equation for this scenario: Idea = p(k+i). The equation describes a person (p) who combines knowledge (k) and an idea (i).
For example, Airbnb combines a home and a hotel, resulting in one of the most popular startups today. Giphy combines a search engine and gifs, creating a search engine solely for gifs to account for the rising popularity of visual communication. The combinations that work are often far more simple than you think.
Behind every successful startup is a great idea, and behind every great idea, there will certainly be creative input. Here’s to hoping Fredrik’s three tips help you on your path to success!