The Pile of Old Ideas — Volume 1

John Sexton
Oct 8, 2016 · 46 min read

This is a pile of old ideas that I had collected and partially developed over a period of many years.

I wrote about the process of accumulating these ideas, the stress it caused me, and how I ultimately decided to resolve the situation in an article called How I Got Out of Idea Debt.

This list is sort of an appendix to that article, and isn’t really intended to be read on its own (or at all). I’d strongly recommend checking out out the Idea Debt article if you plan to read this one.

The original Pile of ideas was even bigger than this, but there were many ideas on the list that were so stupid, undercooked or confusing that I just deleted them outright. Below are the ideas that I thought deserved at least a few sentences of closure before putting them out to pasture.

They are loosely categorized and barely edited. Some of them are just lists of facts or notes from books, while others are article ideas or my own opinions. I cannot vouch for their quality or accuracy. If something on this list interests you, by all means take it and use it however you see fit.



Part 1. On The Brain

Brain Facts Megalist

Information Addiction: Breaking Dopamine Loops

The A-Ha Moment

Science of Choking Under Pressure

How to Learn

To Change Behavior, You Must Change Environment

Reducing Choice Overload

Fear and Negativity

Fear Creates Mediocrity

Get Unstick: Ignite Your Creativity with Movement

Getting What You Want and Suffering Anyway

Key Brain Areas for Creativity, Teamwork and Emotional Intelligence

Overview of Key Neurochemicals

Setting and Pursuing Goals: Understanding the Neuroaxis

Intentions and Suffering

How Mental States Affect Your Brain — Neuroplasticity

Neuroscience of Fear

Neuroscience of Laughter

Your Brain is the Ultimate Virtual Reality Device

The Power of Surprise: Unexpected Rewards Feel Best — And Hook Us

Your Brain is an Asshole: Negativity Bias of the Brain

Neurons: The Ultimate Team

The Informed Unconscious and Pattern Recognition in the Brain

Part 2. Creativity and Innovation

Strategy for Innovation: Convention Plus Extension

Clearing Out the Mental Queue

Dimensions of Learning

Importance of Framing

Problem Solving: Thinking is Stupid, Doing is Smart

Communicate Your Intentions as well as Information

Lifecycle of an Idea

Getting To Obvious

Creativity and Conflict

Evaluating Ideas

Features of Innovative Companies

Tips for Adults Who Want to Remember How to Play

Blocks to Creativity

Your Mouth is a Minefield: To Be Creative, Shut Up!

Creativity vs. Innovation: What’s the Difference?

The Mental Workbench: Working Memory and Creative Restructuring

Brainstorming With Omnigraffle

Four Ways to Be Creative

Exploring Intersections: Neuroscience and Improv

Exploring Intersections: Neuroscience and Design

Exploring Intersections: Improv and Design

Tension Between People vs. Tension Between Ideas

A Hypothetical Brainstorming Session

Brainstorming Techniques

Conducting an Effective Brainstorming Session

Anatomy of an Effective Facilitator

Part 3. On Business, Strategy, Design & Branding

Using Questions to Hook People in Presentations

Your Product Is Not Your Business

Authenticity in Pitches

Hosting Business Speed Dating Events

Hosting Successful Lunch and Learn Events

Notes on Ensemble from Philip Glass

Notes from Steve Jobs WWDC Keynote

The MVP Before Your MVP

On SEO: Do You Deserve to be Found?

On Growing a Business: Bodies are not a substitute for Clarity.

Leadership Gamified

Our Way vs. The Best / Newest Way

Thoughts Inspired by “Ira Glass on Storytelling” series.

A Personal Branding Case Study

Mission Statement Reviews

You Don’t Need 12 Logo Concepts

Case Studies as Stories

Ideas vs. Execution and Enjoying the Process

Part 4. On Life

Accidents or Opportunities

Be Interesting by Being Interested

Doing Work that “Matters” vs. Work that Matters TO YOU

You Won’t Get What You Think You Want, And That’s OK

Moving to Chicago for Improv

Moving to Los Angeles for my Wife’s TV Show

Follow the Fear

Planning vs. Discovery

The False Prize of Being Right

Emergent Properties of Teamwork: The Fifth Note

Trust is the Reward for Consistent Behavior

What I Learned About Myself From Leaving My Job

Unlearning Academia

On Finding a Voice and Believing in Your Contributions

Simplicity and Consistency: The Keys to Success

Social Sharing: The Feeling of Being First

Part 5. On Improvisation and Improv Comedy

My Comedy Role Models

When “No” Means “Yes, And” — Understanding Improv’s #1 Rule

How Improv Applies to Business

Improv is the Art of Open Mindedness

A Conversation Without Words

Relationship Between Action and Emotion

Bubble Theory of Improv

Science of Seating in an Improv Theatre

Large Team Sizes are Dooming the Harold to Failure

Improv is 100% Execution

Getting over Stage Fright

Mirror Neurons in Improv

Don’t Enter Unless You are Needed

Key Improv Concepts for Life and Business

Important Questions for New Comedy Groups

Improv as a way to increase Empathy for Customers and Users

Defining “Scene” in Improv

Developmental Stages of an Improviser

Improv Book Outline

The “Enemies of Comedy” Cartoon Characters

10 Ways Improv Can Help Your Company

An Outline for an Ideal Improv Team

If This is True, What Else is True?

Understanding “Groupmind” in Improv

Groupmind vs Groupthink in Business

Improv is a Lab for Human Behavior

Improv Principles in Social Media

Improv Show Evaluation Rubric

Improv Shows: The Original User Generated Content

Helping Audiences Enjoy Improv Shows Better

Constantly Changing your Show Format is Hurting Your Team

Thoughts on Developing a New Improv Training Program

Questionnaire for New Improv Teams

Realism vs. Believability in Improv

Listening to Your Team Off Stage, Too

Living in Scenes vs. Talking About Them

Make Yourself Look Good by Making Others Look Good

Social Media is to Improvisation as Advertising is to Stand-Up

Tweet-sized Scene Inspiration

The Improviser’s Mindset

The Standard Improv Rules Aren’t Enough

What Makes Improv Different From Other Forms of Theatre

Yes, And: How a Core Improv Concept Can Benefit Your Business

Yes, There Are Mistakes In Improv

A List of Key Improv Skillsets

Part 6. On Web Development

Building Sites Jekyll First

Code is a Commodity

Your Two Brains in Web Design

The Theme Options Arms Race

Lifecycle of a Website: Different Designs for Different Stages

Understanding Your Tools is More Important Than The Tool Itself

Establishing Trust in Web Design

Don’t Solve The Same Problem More Than Once

Producer vs. Project Manager

Part 7. On Gaming

DLC is Content Strategy for Video Games

The Forza Intro Videos are the Perfect Examples of “Start With Why”

Video Games are Experiences for Any Time

Game Stories: Story Telling vs. Story Generating

Games Should Be More PLAYFUL, Not More Cinematic or Difficult

What Makes Video Game Experiences Great?

Loading Screens are Taps On The Shoulder

My Frustrating User Journey with Destiny

Let the World Tell the Story

Part 8. Information Architecture & Farts

A Taxonomy of Farts

Thanks for Reading!

I hope I never have to do another one.

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