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The “One Thing” That Transformed Many From Zero to Billions And How You Can Do It Too

“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward: they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.” — Goethe

Play with me for a while and I promise that you’ll have a better understanding of this article.

If you’ve seen the illusion below, you are free to scroll down and read the rest of the article. But for you out there who have not seen it, please cooperate.

It’s the optical illusion that circulated on Facebook around 2016. Look at the picture here and try to find out what object aside from brick wall is here. Give yourself a time limit.

Photo by Arron Bevin from Facebook

I’m not going to kill your sanity by not revealing the answer. Look at the video below to see what’s really going on here. If you found it, you’re one of the few who saw it instantly.

After seeing the cigar, go back to the first picture and try your best to unsee it. Try to remove it from your perception.

How did that go?

I bet it’s difficult to unsee the cigar. That’s how our brain works. Once you see it, you cannot unsee it. Once the stimulus is encoded in our brain, if you pay attention, it will always stand out.

Think about the times you’ve shown interest in a subject, suddenly it’s everywhere. Or when you bought a certain brand of shoe, you notice people who are wearing it. Simply because you brought the matter to your consciousness. Therefore, it increased your awareness of its existence.

Once You See It, You Cannot Unsee It

It’s the same thing with what I’m about to share in this post. Once you decide you want to see it, you’ll see it everywhere. It’s crazy because the first time I brought it to my consciousness, it feels like it’s literally everywhere.

To prove to you that it works, let me share some people who paid attention to it, acted on it and literally transformed many lives from zero to billions and became no one to someone.

  • Art Fry had a problem while singing in his church’s choir. He kept losing his place in the choir book because the small slips of paper would disappear and fall to the floor. He needed a way to stay on track without the messy hassle. Then, he developed an idea. He thought of putting an adhesive on a back of a paper so it could stick on anything. He shared the idea with his co-workers and they used yellow paper scraps to make samples. They then handed out free samples and people asked for more. And that’s how Post-It Notes was born.
  • George De Mestral was walking into the woods when he noticed cockleburs kept clinging to his clothes and dog’s fur. He was fascinated and studied them under his microscope. He discovered that they have tiny hooks that easily attach to small loops found in clothing. He experimented with different materials until he came up with Velcro — a combination of “velvet and crochet.” Now Velcro is widely used for clothing and to fasten shoes.
  • Joseph McVicker wanted to create a doughy clay to use as a wallpaper cleaner. But he found out later that his sister-in-law, a teacher, used it as a modeling clay in her classes. They rebranded and redeveloped it as a cheap and creative plaything. Play-Doh was born and the sales shoot up.
  • AirBnB concept was first conceived when the founders decided to turn their loft into a lodging space to make ends meet. It originally started as airbed and breakfast concept. After several rebranding and going through ups-and-down, they finally hit the sweet spot. AirBnb is now a leading competitor of hotels and has a $31 billion valuation as of 2017.

Can you see the pattern now?

People behind all of these names have one thing in common. You probably know where I’m heading here.

If you want to truly transform your life, increase your awareness of it. Work on it until you can share it with the world on how it can also change their lives.


They’re everywhere — waiting to reveal themselves for those who seek them. You see proof everywhere of how one idea can literally change our world.

Who would’ve thought that you can move across countries in a matter of hours? Thanks to the concept planted by the Wright brothers and further developed by other creative minds.

Even the Medium we use to share information is a by-product of ideas clustered together to make it work. It benefits the person who produced it but it surely benefits millions of readers too. Look at where you are right now and notice ten things that you see around you (except Mother Nature). They’re literally the product of ideas.

The thing is:

Ideas are actually great — but they are useless.

Wait, didn’t I just tell you that ideas created zero to billions? Why is the confusion now?

Here’s what Henry Ford said which sums it up:

“The ideas are of themselves extraordinarily valuable, but an idea is just an idea. The thing that counts is developing it into a practical product.”

Ideas are of no use if they just remain inside. They must be nurtured and converted into tangible or actual results in order to impact the world.

When you open your eyes to the possibility of anything, you actually welcome more opportunities. You attract ideas that can possibly transform your life and others.

If you’re thinking, “I am not creative. I cannot produce that kind of ideas.”

Well, here’s the crazy part that you should catch.

You don’t need an original idea to produce an outstanding idea. Pablo Picasso once said:

“Good artists copy, great artists steal.”

Of course, your senses should tell you that he didn’t literally mean that you should steal other’s ideas and plaster your name on it. That would mean three things: plagiarism, copyright infringement or counterfeit. All illegal in any shape or form.

It means that if you want to produce great ideas, pay attention to other great ideas and product around you.

How can you make it better?

How can you apply that idea to another area and implement the same concept?

Here’s how you can capture ideas and transform them into valuable products:

Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

Open Yourself To The Greater Possibilities

If you are not open to learning, you’ll find it difficult to absorb any material. “Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in”, said Leonardo Da Vinci.

If you want to attract more ideas, open yourself to the possibilities that you can see them. When an idea sprouts, do not reject or accept them right away. Capture them for now, record on a notebook and come back later on for deeper processing.

Keep writing as they sprout. Eventually, you’ll see that you have a compilation of ideas waiting to be launched into reality.

You don’t need to be in a thinking chair to generate ideas. Most of the time, they come in the least expected moments — when you’re in the shower, washing dishes, fixing your car, walking your dog or when your mind is wandering somewhere except reality.

You can let your mind wander and welcome different ideas. Daniel Goleman, author of Focus suggests:

“Once we’ve hit upon a great creative insight, we need to capture the prize by switching to a keen focus on how to apply it.”

Get your ideas on paper and reflect on them later. Don’t let them go to waste.

Pay Attention to Your Own Obsessions

The Wright brothers were widely obsessed with the idea of flying in the air. Henry Ford was insanely obsessed with producing a horseless carriage. He had clear criteria in his mind on how the car should turn out. He described it in his biography My Life and Work:

“I will build a motor car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one — and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces.”

It took him time but he succeed. He nurtured the idea and he consciously looked for opportunities to improve it.

If you’re just starting with your idea search, it’s good to start on the territory you’re most comfortable with. Authors of Idea Hunter framed the following questions to start your idea hunt:

  • What is it that constantly grabs your interest and curiosity?
  • What are you good at? What do you want to be great at?
  • Where’s the market for this?

A good idea is something that could help improve the lives of others. If you want to truly create a name of your own, consider how you can be a servant to others through your ideas. Remember, all ideas that people welcome are those that can help them ease their life.

In the words of business mogul Robert Herjavec:

“Before you create wealth, you must create value. The more value you create, the more wealth you accrue.”

Always Be Ready to Capture a Great Idea

“Money never starts an idea; it is the idea that starts the money.” — William J. Cameron

Ideas usually come when you’re inspired. Be inspired by the people who successfully did it. Do not limit yourself to one source. Read books, watch documentaries, listen to audiobooks, browse catalogs, observe how people in the grocery store move or pay attention to the folks in the coffee shop. Seriously, the list is endless.

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen,” said John Steinbeck

I like watching Shark Tank not only because I could get great ideas, but because I see the sense of accomplishment in the eyes of entrepreneurs when they tell their story of how they came up with the product.

Mark Cuban could hardly believed the product that Joe Moore is pitching on Shark Tank. He was asking $500,000 for ten percent of his company. His product looks like a simple band aid that you attach to your nose to prevent germs from coming in. He caught every shark’s attention when they found out he has $8 million dollar contract for future orders. When Herjavec offered him $4 million to buy his company, he rejected it. Now the product is distributed in more than 40 countries and racking up millions in sales.

Moore said the idea was inspired when he observed how allergens, dust and pollution continuously bother many people. He paid attention to that and committed to address the problem. He did. Many countries like UAE benefit from his product.

The next time you are waiting for your turn, be mindful of what’s going on around you. The next evolutionary idea might be there. Capture it.

You Just Have to Keep It Going

Now that you have a compilation of ideas, it is time to revisit them. Those ideas are useless until they have the life of their own. You don’t need to have a grand project to launch. All you need to learn is how not to get stuck.

Real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran gives a wise advice:

“You don’t have to get it right. You just have to keep it going.”

Choose one idea and start from there. Brainstorm ways on how you can bring them to reality.

Google suppliers or possible sources that can help you. Do not overcomplicate it. Look at paper clips, sticky notes or paper coffee sleeves. Are they complicated? No. But they forever changed lives.

The point is:

“Don’t get stuck. Nobody changed their position by remaining stationary.”

Master the Habit of Searching For Ideas

Not every idea will make sense at the beginning but that’s fine. When you consistently do something, it becomes a habit. When you always search for ideas, they will always find ways to come to you. They are like opportunities.

W.H. Murray said in his book, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning the acts of initiative, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance which of kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.”

You become a magnet of opportunities if you purposely attract them. It may mean collaborating with others to help you improve the idea. Two brains fused together become really powerful.

Sometimes great ideas come out of pain. Many changed the world because of their desire to ease their pain.

What pain or difficulty are you having right now?

Maybe it’s one of your tools that just doesn’t make sense and you wish it could be better. Maybe it’s a household product that you wish can speed up your process. Maybe it’s a product that doesn’t live up to its purpose.

Thomas Edison once said:

“There’s always a better way to do things. Find it.”

Before you launch and be serious about your idea, authors of Idea Hunter suggest to reflect on the following:

Do you enjoy spending time and energy on this initiative?
Deep down, do you really want to be involved in this project?
Will you learn something through the launching effort that will expand your circle of competence?
Do you want to be known as the person who brought this idea to life?
Can you imagine a set of circumstances where you would not want to be associated with this idea?

It would be pointless to pursue something if you don’t want your name associated to it. Look at the long-term effect and see if you’ll be happy having that idea attached to your name.

Let Your Ideas Take Care of You

Open yourself to the idea that you can help make the world a better place. Ideas don’t need to be just tangible — it can be your writing, your songs or any craft you have. As long as it helps others, your idea will eventually find its tribe.

When you increase your consciousness on big possibilities, you begin to see that you can transform them into reality. You don’t improve life by merely wishing. You accomplish it one idea and one result at a time.

You. Can. Do. It.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 319,283+ people.

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