How To Test Your Next Great Idea

I’ve learned a valuable lesson I’d like to share about new ideas – great ideas, even entrepreneurial startups. 

When I describe a new concept in detail and the response is, “what a great idea”, I don’t do it.

A great new idea should be disruptive.  The response you’re looking for is “it will never work”.

Imagine Thomas Edison trying to get people to like the light bulb even after all his failures.  What’s wrong with a candle or gaslight?

Or a 24-hour all-news cable TV network?  The reaction to swashbuckling entrepreneur Ted Turner’s fledgling CNN was McNews, a reference to McDonalds and a shortsighted slam at the notion that viewers would support a cable news channel.

Steve Jobs’ iPod was even a stretch to early adopters – after all, there were already MP3 players on the market and lots of CDs.  

Facebook – that was for kids, wasn’t it?  It will never amount to anything, they said.  But founder Mark Zuckerberg was fueled by the impossible.

YouTube was so off the wall it would have been rejected by Google had the young men who started it in a garage actually worked for Google.  Their lawyers would have killed YouTube for stealing copyrighted material.  Instead, Google paid $1.65 billion to buy what is arguably the future of online video and later figured out how to compensate the content providers.

If others think an idea is great, it is probably not innovative enough.

If they hate it, and I love it with a passion – that’s the green light to do it.

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The Power of Admitting Mistakes

Mark Zuckerberg, the young CEO of Facebook went public recently by admitting he made “missteps”.  It was the first time Zuckerberg spoke about Facebook since his whirlwind social network went public in May.

After its stock offering, Facebook lost half of its market capital and analysts, investors and the public appear to be wondering if Facebook was overrated.

As soon as Zuckerberg stood up and admitted his mistakes, Facebook’s stock rose 3.5% in after-hours trading.

Confidence is earned when people do as Dale Carnegie suggested “admit your mistakes quickly and emphatically”.

In today’s world, we spin our mistakes.

Better to own up to them and earn the confidence of those around you.

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Be Grateful You Can’t Predict the Future

Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, two young stars of the Philadelphia Flyers National Hockey League team were traded almost a year ago.  Both had long contracts and one had a “no-trade” provision about to kick in.

Then, the “dark” day when the Flyers shocked the world of hockey and sent their stars Richards to the Los Angeles Kings, a hapless team that never won the Stanley Cup in 45 years and Carter to Columbus, a small city expansion team that could extinguish a star real fast.

Richards was disappointed and hurt.  Carter was angry.

Fast forward to June, 2012 several months after Richards’ new team, The Kings, unexpectedly acquired Carter from Columbus and reunited the two NHL stars.

June 11 the Kings finally won the Stanley Cup.  Richards and Carter had been to the finals with the Flyers in 2010 but lost.

Mike Richards and Jeff Carter had no way of knowing when they were traded and life was bleak that out of bad would come all this good.

What if they had given up? What if they thought, now I will play my entire NHL career and never win a Cup.

We can’t predict the future — even what’s going to happen a year from now.

Isn’t that great?  

Remember it when times are tough.

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