30 days/300 ideas
A few months ago I sent 10 ideas for passive revenue streams to James Altucher and Aaron Brabham at The Ask Altucher Podcast. They read all 10 ideas on one of their episodes and said “Who is this guy? Can we f***ing hire him?!” (Shameless self promotion: listen to the episode here.) As a big Altucher fan it was a cool moment for me.
Afterwards James told me to not stop. “Keep sending ideas to people.” he said. “You’re already an idea muscle; send ideas to people every day and you can’t fail to create wealth for yourself.”
So I took his advice and I decided to do an experiment: I would send 10 ideas to a different person or business every day for a month.
The experiment is over now and it could hardly have gone any better. Here are my results:
- 30 emails/300 ideas sent
- 19 responses
- 7 Skype conversations
- 10 possible collaborations
It was an incredibly exciting experience and now I am completely sold on the technique of sending ideas to people. I WILL NEVER STOP. I might not send ideas every single day because it takes a lot of work figuring out candidates and contacts, and I want to make sure my ideas are always solid, but this technique is now firmly a part of my life.
Here is a quick synopsis of each interaction (it’s long so feel free to scroll down to the next section to see the 5 lessons I’ve learned):
- I’m a member of a private entrepreneurship facebook group. The moderator asked for feedback on a business idea so I sent her 10 ways to bring it to life. She loved it and suggested we work together.
- I signed an online petition once and now I get tons of emails from some political organization. They sent an email with a fake headline that said “re:_______”. It insulted me because it’s obvious clickbait; do they think I can’t remember whether or not I emailed them before? So I sent 10 headlines that would have gotten me to open their email instead. No reply, and the next day they sent another email with the same subject line. So I unsubscribed.
- I use Smore.com to validate business ideas. I haven’t seen anyone else use it quite the same way, so I sent them 10 ideas to serve entrepreneurs. They sent a friendly thank you.
- I saw an interview with a lady in Australia who just wrote her first book. I sent her 10 ideas to promote the book in the States. She asked to talk on Skype and to possibly work together.
- Mercy Corps is an amazing organization with headquarters in my city. They do great work all around the world and I would love to find a way to be a part of it. I came up with 10 ideas for them to spread their message and get more donors. I had to send it to half a dozen people before I got a response, but finally I received an incredibly sincere thank you. (That’s not good enough, I’m going to keep gently pushing until I get my foot in the door!)
- I took some of those ideas and adapted them to Medical Teams International, another international aid organization with local headquarters. No reply (Mercy Corps is cooler anyways, jerks!).
- I’m a big MMA nerd so I wanted to make a connection with the UFC. I figured Dana White would be very hard to reach so I sent ideas to one of their regional VP’s. I received a kind thank you, and he offered to meet up for drinks if I was ever in the area.
- Bellator is the second-biggest MMA organization, and they just got a new CEO. I sent him 10 ideas for new things I’d like to see as a fan. No response yet, but I’ve only reached out once so I’ll send it a few more times.
- I traveled to Iran two summers ago and after seeing the amazing potential there, I came up with some ideas about starting something like Angel List’s Syndicates but for emerging markets. I found a company in Europe that does something similar so I sent them my ideas. We’ve had two Skype interviews so far and I might end up working on some marketing projects with them.
- I went to Iran two summers ago and fell in love with it, so I sent their tourism department ideas to get more travelers. No response (but I’m pretty sure it’s the NSA sabotaging me!). I took the same ideas and sent them to some other tourism departments too.
- Speaking of which, I found out about a podcast that deals exclusively with the Middle East so I sent them ideas for episodes. No response.
- I heard an interview with a financial manager who works with international clients. I had some random ideas for Americans to open bank accounts overseas so I sent them. He was interested and offered to do a test run; we’re going to try the idea and if it works we’ll split the profits.
- After the episode an Altucher fan reached out on twitter and jokingly asked if I had any ideas for dentists. Challenge accepted. I sent some ideas. We ended up talking on the phone and might start a side business together.
- Another listener reached out for business ideas as well, which led to some web design work and possibly a more permanent partnership in the future.
- Lewis Howes mentioned that his current goal is getting his podcast to a certain number of downloads (can’t remember the number). I sent him some ideas for how to achieve that. He told me he loves me.
- I love Dan Carlin’s podcasts. His fans are always complaining that he doesn’t produce enough shows, so I sent him 10 ideas for simple content to appease the whiners. He sent a friendly thank you. I’m going to try to stay on his radar though because I’d love to find a way to help with what he’s doing.
- A local gun range was hiring. I filmed a video of myself giving ideas on how to grow the business. They were impressed by the video- no one else had done that- and it led to an interview. Ultimately they hired a guy with more facial hair and tattoos than me.
- We have a coworking space in town that is for people who make physical things; it’s a giant warehouse with equipment for metalworking, woodworking, mechanics, etc. I had come up with 10 ideas for them because I think it’s a fascinating company, but my little brother made a comment about how he wanted to work there so I gave him the ideas instead. He sent them and got invited to go meet the marketing director in person to talk about working together.
- I had some content ideas that I can’t personally execute on, so I figured maybe they could at least serve me by creating connections. So I found a local PR firm I thought would be interested and sent them. No reply.
- A new restaurant opened by my house that specializes exclusively in soup. I was a little skeptical about the idea so I sent them 10 ideas to get customers (bring in a ski lift ticket, get 10% off). No response.
- Jason Surfrapp mentioned on James’ show that he doesn’t know what’s next for him, so I sent 10 ideas for whacky projects that I would follow along with. He sent me a long email back and we corresponded a couple times.
- I’m Basque and like any self-respecting Basque person I’m ridiculously proud of my heritage. I found out about a lady who chartered a flight from New York directly to the Basque Country for a special tour. It made me happy to see people promoting the land of my people so I sent her 10 new tour ideas. When she gets back from her trip we’re going to talk more.
- In researching her tour I discovered an organization dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship in the Basque Country. I sent them 10 ideas. No reply.
- A Facebook friend is doing a round-the-world trip to do research for a book idea. I sent him 10 ideas to build an audience on social media during his travels. We’re going to work together and possibly pursue a side business we’ve been talking about.
- I use Ting for my mobile service. I hear their ads everywhere so obviously they’re spending money on growth- they might as well give some to me! I sent them 10 marketing ideas. I got a response saying they’d pass it on to the right person….
- I got on a local job board and picked a few companies that were hiring that I was interested in. No substantial responses yet, but I’m still pushing.
- I’m a 29-year-old male Nerdfighter. So what?! I sent 10 ideas to the Vlogbrothers but haven’t received any reply.
- During the recent elections here in Oregon we voted on legalizing marijuana. I don’t smoke but support it for various reasons, so I sent 10 ideas to the pro-campaign. I never heard back but the smelly hippies prevailed anyways.
- I’ve sent a bunch of ideas to #AskAltucher All-Star @ScottBalster and we might team up together on a project.
- I’ve been keeping a list of ideas to pitch at the next Startup Weekend. I met someone on twitter who is going to a Startup Weekend in another city but didn’t have any ideas to pitch. I shared my doc with him and told him to help himself (as long as he gave me stock in the company when it blew up!). We’re going to talk on Skype and brainstorm ideas together.
Here is what I learned in this experiment:
- Don’t *only* swing for home runs. Select people to send ideas to kind of how you choose colleges to apply to: safety, realistic, and stretch. What I mean is don’t just send ideas to Oprah and Obama- chances are slim-to-none that you’ll get through. But if you get on a local job board and send ideas to companies that are hiring in your city, there’s a much higher chance that you’ll make a meaningful connection. Sending ideas is all about adding value to people, so start sewing those seeds in networks you already belong to.
- Mix it up. Don’t get stuck sending similar ideas to similar companies. For the benefit of your own idea muscle, stretch yourself and brainstorm on wildly different sectors and industries. You’ll increase your own mental dexterity, but you’ll also cultivate the ability to give companies outside-the-box ideas that they’ve never considered. “Here’s an idea that is successful outside of your industry and how you can adapt it to grow your business.”
- How to find who to contact. Not sure who to send your ideas to? Here’s how I did it: get on linkedin and look up the company. You’ll be able to see everyone in the organization; find the person with the appropriate job title. Sometimes linkedin will only give you their last initial and will say you need a pro account to see their full details. Just copy their name and title and paste it into google along with the word “linkedin.” It’s a pretty bonehead workaround but it’ll give a link to their full profile. Once you have their last name, use Clearbit for Gmail (it feels like secret agent tricks!). If you can’t find someone’s email, just put the ideas in a googledoc, change the share settings to “anyone with the link can see”, and tweet them the link with a really catchy headline like 10 Magical Ideas To Make Money Like Lady Gaga! Or something more applicable to their business.
- Be persistent. Chances are if the person is important enough for you to send ideas to, they’re really busy. If you send your ideas once and you don’t get a reply, don’t give up. Keep resending or retweeting until you get a response- chances are they’re just not seeing your messages. If you’re worried about being annoying, or just want to be really creepy, you can find out if people have seen your emails by using Streak for gmail.
- Most importantly: seeing opportunities is a muscle in itself. Lots of people ask who they should send ideas to. The longer my experiment went on, the less that was an issue. I got to the point where every day something happened that made me say “I should send ideas to them!” I would pick up on something someone said about a problem they were having. I would see an advertisement which made me think that company was spending money and energy on getting new clients. As I would research a company to come up with good ideas I would start to see connections between them and others, opening the door for more opportunities. The point is once you train yourself to come up with ideas and give value, you’ll see opportunities absolutely everywhere to solve problems for people.
Like I said, after this experiment I am completely convinced of the power of giving away your best ideas. I’m excited to see where these new relationships take me and I can’t wait to generate even more connections.
Now here’s the call to action: send 10 ideas to someone today! Please tweet me and let me know how it goes. Don’t know where to start? Send me 10 headlines of articles I could write that you would read. I’ll give you props in the article. And if I can help you develop your idea muscle or answer any questions, just ask! I’m @GarinEtch.
Since I first wrote this article, I’ve spent several years working for some of the biggest digital publishers. I’ve taken everything I’ve learned about creating infoproduct businesses and put them in this 7-Day Challenge. Join today to bring your own ebook empire to life in just 7 bite-sized steps.