Giving ideas away

I’ve giving a talk – well 5 minutes of comments which will likely be off the cuff etc and probably not not worth posting here – at the first Unrulyversity session of the 2013/14 academic year. The session is titled “Where Do (Entrepreneurial) Ideas Come From And How Do You Know You Are On To A Good One?”.

Gathering my thoughts I recalled a book I once chanced upon at someone’s house and promptly devoured. It’s a little book of brain food by advertising legend Paul Arden. The one idea that stuck from that book was a simple but perhaps counter-inuitive one. If you want to have ideas start by giving others away.


“Do not covet your ideas. Give away everything you know and more will come back to you. You will remember from school other students preventing you from seeing their answers by placing their arm around their exercise book or exam paper. It is the same at work, people are secretive with ideas. ‘Don’t tell them that, they’ll take credit for it.’ The problem with hoarding is that you end up living off your reserves. Eventually you’ll become stale. If you give away everything you have, you’re left with nothing. This forces you to look, to be aware, to replenish. Somehow, the more you give away, the more comes back to you. Ideas are open knowledge. Don’t claim ownership. They’re not your ideas anyway, they’re someone else’s. They are out there floating in the ether. You just have to put yourself in a frame of mind to pick them up”

Saatchi & Saatchi Creative Director, Paul Arden. (Obituaries here and here and here)