But it’s kind of completely true. My favorite motivational social media megastar, Gary Vaynerchuk, brought this to my attention recently. “Ideas are sh*t, execution is the game.” I cleaned up his swear word with an asterisk, but you get the gist. This motivated me to explore some of my past ideas.
I had an idea once. It was the best dumb idea ever. It was an idea for a tow truck company named, Big Toe Truck Co. and all the trucks would be shaped like giant toes. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime idea! But did I do anything about it? No. As I set out to write this, I googled my old idea to discover the image on your screen. Check out these idea burglars! My toe trucks were going to be in all colors as to not discriminate.
My wife, Piper, brought up an idea for a more functional nursing bra for working women. I told her that it’s a good idea, but she wouldn’t do anything about it so it didn’t matter. She didn’t seem as motivated by me, as I did by Gary V. She just seemed mad and not smiley.
Clients come to us for ideas. But what they actually need from us is creative execution. Ideally, they would have the idea before they come to us. I believe the best ideas can and do come from anybody. I think a room full of five actuaries could yield as many good ideas as a room filled with five “creatives”. Too often, smug, insecure creative-types just like to hold that creative card over others to feel in control. The best creative directors seek out collaboration and alternative viewpoints.
Gary was right; ideas are crapola without effort. We’ve had people in our office with an idea and the funds to support it that we still decided to pass on. Their ideas were not necessarily bad (they weren’t good), but we know how much effort goes behind executing an idea. It’s a lot of work. If we’re not stoked from the get-go, it’s unlikely we will produce our best work in support of their vision. And that’s not fair to someone’s idea — whether it’s dumb or not. We should be supplementing and assisting in someone else’s vision instead of making it our own.
We launched youhavefoodonyourclothes.com, which later became theburgerhat.com. It was an e-commerce website where you could buy clothing with realistic images of food on it. If I am being objective (impossible), it had a great name, an average concept (a bit too trendy), and lackluster execution. I don’t know if it could have been successful, but I do know we didn’t care enough. We cared, but not anywhere close to enough to make it successful.
Still, ideas are fun and can change the world. Just don’t ever, ever, ever use the word ideate. In the spirit of ideas, I am proposing the following forum. Let us turn the comment section into everyones’ ideas they’ve had, but never acted on. The dumber, the better.