The value of ideas

An Account Director friend of mine has a saying:

“A million ideas, never a millionaire.”

The opposite is implied through absence.

“One idea, a millionaire.”

In an industry where ‘the idea’ is, quite rightly, highly regarded, it’s interesting to hear a phrase that attributes little value to ideas themselves. Ideas simply gain value once they are pursued.

John Hegarty echoes this sentiment in his book, ‘Hegarty on Creativity’.

“A great idea is only a great idea when you’ve shared it with the world.”

I suppose that the learning to take from the phrase is that those who have many ideas, struggle to invest their time and effort in any one of them. On the contrary, those who have few ideas, follow each one with tenacity.

In ex-Saatchi Creative Director Paul Arden‘s excellent book ‘Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite‘, Paul says that it’s not always good to have ideas:

“Some people have a gift for coming up with ideas. But for those that don’t it is a real struggle.

Oddly, the people who struggle most are often the ones who become most successful.

Having too many ideas is not always a good thing.

It’s too easy to move on to the next one, and the next one.

If you don’t have many ideas you have to make those you do have work for you.”

On another page, Paul asks

“What is a good idea?”

His answer is simply

“One that happens.”

Perhaps this is indicative of the fundamental difference between an entrepreneur and a creative. The entrepreneur invests in the fulfilment of few ideas whilst the creative invests in the creation of many.

Very few have the ability, time or energy to do both.

Hey. I’m Alex Murrell. I'm a Planner at Epoch Design in Bristol where I help deliver highly creative, innovative and effective pack, instore and online communications for some of the world’s biggest FMCG brands. Want to know more? You can find me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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