💡Open source your ideas
4 min read

💡Open source your ideas

At the Braintrust last weekend, I learned something from Anders, an up-and-coming expert for ideas.

Create value from your ideas by making them open source!

Depending on who you ask, you may hear ideas are most powerful or ideas are worthless.

We all have lots of ideas but whether these ideas would work in the wild, whether they would create value to the extent we think, is always an open question.

At Trickle I often started with an amazing idea for a new button style or page design and moved forward enthusiastically. Isn't it awesome to be your own boss?! 🥳

Well... it turned out my idea had yet to encounter the wild jungle of implementation. And wow, was I in for a surprise! 😳

Some parts simply didn't work as I expected. Others did but came at a surprisingly high cost of implementation. All too often there were edge-cases that I didn't have on the radar. Those turned out to have important side-effects that needed to be addressed.

After many iterations, we often ended up with a design that looked similar to the ones you see in popular, ready-to-use frameworks. Not always, but more often than feels comfortable to admit. I regularly beat myself up for not having gone with the ready-made solution in the first place.

On the other side, you know how powerful ideas can be.

  • Install a computer hard drive in a small device to put 1000 songs in your pocket? (iPod)
  • Rent out your own flat as a hotel room to make some extra cash (Airbnb)
  • Put the source code of your software out in public and develop it with others (Open Source)

Derek Sivers helped me to make more sense of it. Ideas are just a multiplier of execution!

Ideas are worth nothing if they are not acted upon. Once you start acting on them, the power of an idea has indeed a big influence on the outcome. The more powerful the idea, the more impact you can generate from it. However, you'll only discover the power of your idea along the way.

And just like in math the law of multiplying by zero holds. Knowing, but not acting on it, has the same result as not knowing in the first place.

Now here it gets very interesting, because something recently changed!

The notion of keeping an idea a secret is still rooted in a time before the information age, where it was very hard to trace where an idea came from.

These days, when you share your idea openly in the digital world you can get a lot of value already:

  • Your idea get stress-tested by other people, giving you much better information about its potential
  • You'll build a reputation based on your idea and people interested in the idea will see you as a valuable source of information
  • Conversations about your idea can lead to new connections to experts, potentially opening up all kinds of opportunities for you in the future

Talking about your idea in public is not only a rewarding activity in itself. The more you go on record with it, the stronger you will be associated with your idea. The internet keeps a record and this includes who talked about an idea first.

So even without the hassle of proper execution, an idea can open up all sorts of new doors for you.

Anders is just starting on his journey as an idea expert, but by talking about it he already got my attention. I'll keep track of where he goes, because of his ideas.

And me? I used to have too many ideas. Now I just have an awful lot to talk about ✨

A Prompt :: Open Source One of Your Ideas

Take one of your best ideas and talk about it in public. Put it up on Twitter or your blog. Use Medium or Quora in case you don't have a platform, yet. Go into as much detail as you can. Make a pitch. Send it to a few people that you think would be interested in it. See how it feels and what happens next.

Reply with a link to your idea in public, so that I can help you to feature it!

In each newsletter, I describe a tool of the Knowledge Entrepreneur Stack. Keep an eye on these tools and use them for leverage.

Linktree is a service that started by solving a very particular problem. So simple, that many people dismissed its relevance at first. We all use different social media platforms, so if you want to send someone to your profile, which one should you share? Linktree gives you a single link that you can easily customizable with a list of links to your profiles. What sounds so simple creates tangible value in practice! I now see how hard it is as a knowledge entrepreneur to keep track and share your arsenal of links. Linktree itself is getting more and more popular so its URL sets a signal for "OK, let's check out where I can find more about this person, without having to search for it in the footer of the website". For entrepreneurs, it removes another barrier when starting. No website required, just set up your Linktree and add your profiles along the way.

Profile :: Building Career Moats (Cedric Chin)

In each newsletter, I put a spotlight on a knowledge entrepreneur, so that you can use their journeys as inspiration.

Cedric is a wonderful example of a knowledge entrepreneur that was—and to some extent still is—employed in a company while pursuing his expertise on the side. I took notice of his blog around a year ago in the context of mental models. It was obvious that he was working in a company and practiced thinking in writing in public about a powerful idea: "today, job security is the ability to get your next job, not keep your current one". He coined the term career moats around this concept as "an individual’s ability to maintain competitive advantages over your competition (say, in the job market)". Since his blog, newsletter, and social media audience grew, he introduced a paid community. Currently, he is writing software for extract takeaways from articles. I'd say his "moat" is pretty substantial now and spans far broader than only on his career.

Small Bits from Around the Web

In each newsletter, I include a few links that were brought to my attention during the week.