Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's the Idea, Stupid

What is the cost of a great idea? What price would you put on the idea of electricity? How about the automobile or the Internet? Two things happened over the weekend that turned my understanding of the value of ideas on its head. First, was a post in a private entrepreneurs forum on Facebook by Farrukh Naeem who reminded us of the true nature of ideas and giving - to provide inspiration, help and guidance to the recipient. Second, I got around to reading Linchpin by Seth Godin, which is all about treating and respecting your craft as art. He also discusses gifting without an expectation of reciprocation. This, in part, describes the "Linchpin"-- those who go the extra mile in work and in play, not because of their job description, but because of their character. True art is about the spread of ideas. Then, it hit me.

The Best Ideas are Free 

Is it not true that the best art and the best ideas are free? Consider the following groundbreaking ideas:

  • Freedom of speech 
  • Freedom of religion 
  • Human rights 
  • Love thy neighbor 
  • Every person shall have that which they intend 
  • Mercy, compassion, respect, dignity... 

You cannot patent or copyright these ideas, nor can you repackage and make them downloadable on the Internet with an "opt-in" form.

Thomas Edison, one of the most celebrated inventors in history, did well for himself with his inventions. But can we really put a price on the idea of the light bulb and the benefits enjoyed by generations of humanity? Today we pay a few dollars for a bulb at the local Wal-Mart, but the idea is priceless.

As he famously said:

Edison started with the right intention and received that which he intended and much more.

Then it Hit Me 

These days I spend a lot of time talking with aspiring entrepreneurs. I'm not a coach or anything of the sort. I share with them my successes and failures and the lessons they can extract. My compensation is the emotional charge I experience during these conversations. The grand prize is when someone tells me the information I shared changed or helped them in some way.

I collected what I consider the most important lessons of my journey in the book I released this year. Like a lot of authors, I busied myself with math. If I sell this many, I will get this much and so forth. Then, I would go to events with a stack of books vowing to gift them only to "important" people of influence. Each time I left empty handed having given all of the books to people most would not consider important.

Like the unemployed social worker I met at a Women’s Business conference a few months ago. She was struggling with a business idea and was all over the place psychologically. I spent most of my time with her answering a ton of questions and helping her focus. I finally gave her a copy of my book and said, "Read this as you develop your business."

As usual, the experience gave me an emotional charge and before I knew it, I was fresh out of books. Not a single copy went to a so-called VIP.

Since the book's release several months ago, I have received a number of messages from readers. Such as the young lady who told me she carries a copy with her as a reference guide; or the guy who re-read chapter 3 one morning because he needed to re-focus. Then, there is the woman who recently described her daily self-improvement routine and included reading posts from this site as part of the routine. 

Until recently, I asked myself the wrong question each time something like this happened--How do I sell more books to get this message to more people who need it? The correct question is, How do I get this message to more people who need it? The difference in questions is subtle but significant. One focuses on selling, while the other focuses on giving value.

Then came Farrukh's post and Seth's book, providing me with the right question in order to get the right answer. How do I get this message to more people who need it? Just give it away. 

Get the Book 

So, that's my grand epiphany.

I am making the ebook version available at 100% off from Smashwords.com. To get the book, click here and enter the following coupon code at check out:


You can choose from several different formats, including .epub and Kindle. No requirement to opt-in or reciprocate in any way.

Create as many copies as you like and pass them along. Consider this "express written permission" to quote the typical copyright verbiage.

Unfortunately, giving away the paperback is not so easy because of printing and shipping costs. Anyone who is in financial hardship and requires a paperback, contact me here. For the rest who absolutely must have a physical copy, your only option is to purchase here on Amazon.com. However, if you see me at an event, I will give you a free copy. Just ask.

If you find the book helpful, please send me a message and let me know. Even if you think I am off of my rocker, I still want to hear from you so I can learn and get better.

This approach is a long way from Kansas--my days of billing New York State for $100,000 projects. But time has changed and so have I. Now is a time for sharing the magic and the art.

Godspeed and I look forward to seeing you in The Players Lounge.

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A 20 Year Journey Towards Clarity
Focus on Serving, Not Monetizing

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