Photo Credit: Sai Kiran Anagani —

Give Your Ideas Away.

They didn’t cost you anything.

I consult for a lot of entrepreneurs and founders. I help them out with marketing, strategy and a little coaching here and there. For the most part, this is a great experience, and I get to help some awesome visionaries who are excited about what they’re doing.

But I get at least 2–3 emails a week from a founder who has something akin to “The Next Facebook” and wants me to sign an NDA before she or he can tell me about it. You know, in case I steal it.

As if I’m trawling through my emails for startup ideas that I can make off with.

They always promise that the idea will be a game-changer, and it will be worth my time. Unfortunately, with no data or information, all I can conclude is that a total stranger on the internet wants me to sign a legal document.

When you’ve heard the pitches that I have (This week — hypnosis, AI sexting, perpetual motion machines…) you learn to be a little cynical about bright ideas.

Some people believe that just coming up with an idea should be enough to validate them as future millionaires. They think an idea is an asset, a piece of high-value R&D. They post on Quora trying to find out how to sell their ideas to other entrepreneurs.

The responses are always on-point. Nobody wants their ideas. Nobody really cares.

If they were working in actual R&D for a major tech firm like Apple, Facebook or Google, that kind of security and confidentiality would be expected. But until they’re playing with billion dollar budgets in the big leagues, it just looks petty.

So what should you do? I think you should give your ideas away. I’m not talking about standing on the corner with a sign that says Free Ideas, I mean open up your process and let some other people get inside. They could change your world.

I’ve been working recently on the concept for a new social app. I’m excited about it, and when the idea has become a little more than a roughly hewn piece of rock, I’m probably going to explain the concept in a blog post.

For now, I’m talking to every developer, designer, and marketer that I know, pitching the idea. I’m gauging their feedback and measuring the idea’s value. I want to get their input, their opinion and a few sparks that could turn into raging fires.

You know what I’m not doing? I’m not asking anyone to sign a pointless NDA.

I’m not particularly concerned about keeping my idea as some kind of heavily protected national treasure. I don’t want to be paranoid, and protective, and avoid giving my idea the chance to sink or swim on its own.

I believe my idea is a good one. A solid one. An exciting one. But I’m also acutely aware that in its current state, it is worth nothing. It’s a few pieces of paper and some slides, some mind maps, one or two post-it notes and a slice of my time.

There is nothing of tangible value there yet. Could one of my contacts steal the idea? Absolutely. Could they execute it? Who knows. But it wouldn’t matter. I think the value I gain from their incredible viewpoints and their creativity far outweighs the risk.

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I’m Jon Westenberg. I’m passionate about writing, marketing, business and creativity. You can ask me to work with you, invite me to speak at your event, or set up a conversation on your podcast. I’m excited to hear from you!